When we think of tailored clothing, our minds tend to go straight to business or wedding suits. If you’re lucky to have a job where putting on a made to measure suit is part of your day to day routine then you might consider tailoring to be part of your ‘work wear’. If not tailoring is irrelevant to our work uniforms, right?
Well in one profession, the classic appearance of the work uniforms involved, means that looking at a tailored fit is essential to create the right impression. For chefs and kitchen staff, getting the classic chef white look is so important that manufacturers and suppliers provide garments with panelled constructions, like a tailored suit jacket, to make sure that the fabric shapes the body in the right way.
With customers making judgements on the quality of an establishment based on the appearance of staff, finding uniforms that are a great fit makes a real difference. The sartorial detail often goes as far as replicating the mandarin collar look, which has been the standard finish to chefs jackets since the emergence of what is now the commonplace chef outfit which arrived in the nineteenth century.
As well as more recent practical development to the tailored construction of kitchen clothing, such as the addition of mesh panelled backs for temperature management in recent years, we’ve also seen the emergence of chef whites which are specifically tailored to be more flattering to the female figure. With women’s chef jackets having a panelled construction for a fit which hugs the best and waist more, for a more feminine silhouette, the world of tailoring has certainly started to make a telling difference to work wear well beyond the confines of business suits.
Whilst not made exactly to measure for each individual, the greater thought that is put into manipulating the shape of a garment through the construction and cutting of fabric is a replication of the principles of tailoring as a discipline. The use of chest darts to shape the fabric around the shape of the body rather than simply having excess fabric billowing out is characteristic of this change and just one way in which the methodology of tailoring has been applied to more practical work wear, when it needs that stylistic flourish.
Similarly, for many women’s chef jackets, we’ve seen greater consideration given to the width of the ‘scye’ (the whole of fabric through which the arm passes into the sleeve) in order to give the arm a more fitted look. This is another approach which comes from the world of more traditional tailoring, and reflects the way that suit cuts have developed in more recent years, with closer fits all round, including around the sleeve.
So there you have it, tailoring in functional work wear for the heat of the kitchen, not exactly where you’d expect it!