Shoulder pad images from MacCulloch&Wallis.
It is easy to make the mistake of looking at garments and thinking that the shape of the silhouette is largely due to the fabric, and the fit of the pattern that was used to cut the fabric. To believe that all garments can be made from fabric and pattern alone is to ignore the importance of the garments internal structure.
A good garment can be ruined by the wrong fusing, the drape of a collar can be spoiled by a stretched seam and the hang of a tailored jacket, coat or top can be ruined with the use of the wrong shoulder pad.
There is something about shoulder pads that can seem a little kitsch or dated at times, as though we’re worried that putting a shoulder pad into our garments will somehow make them look like a 1980s powersuit. This is probably because for some of us, the shoulder pads which we have come into contact with in womenswear garments are of the removable, flimsy, foam kind. Or we picture shoulder pads as coming in a one size fits all size and thickness. There is something about this kind of should pad which is like a strange add on to the garment itself, rather than a true part of it’s shape.
In contrast the best, most subtle and most powerful uses of shoulder pads are in garments where they are sewn in as a part of the armhole and often used in conjunction with a suitable piece of shoulder head roll. In truth, shoulder pads are available in a variety of types, sizes, thicknesses and with different materials for different types of garments. You can find them in shapes which will suit a set in sleeve, or some that will suit a raglan or drop shoulder. They are also, depending on type, very easy to edit to your own taste as you see fit. With the more tailored shoulder pads especially, you can open the shoulder pad and take out or add in filling as needed to create everything from the most traditional to the most unusual shapes.
To begin with you may find it easier to only base your shapes on existing, pre-made shoulder pads but don’t be afraid to experiment with building your own from scratch with foam, wadding, horsehair, canvas and basically any sort of material that can be easily cared for once the garment is sewn together. Or otherwise you could of course make the shoulder pads removable, so that you are not limited to only materials that can be washed or drycleaned.
Below are images from the Autumn-Winter 2011 collection created by the team at Mugler. They are accompanied by possible basic shoulder pad shapes that could have been used in the garments to give you an idea of the different silhouettes that can be achieved with pre-made and custom made shoulder pads.
Mugler, AW11, Paris.
Catwalk images from Vogue.co.uk»
Shoulder pad images from MacCulloch&Wallis»