The 1 Winter Style Mistake That Drives Everyone Nuts

Experts break down why that thread is there and what so many people overlook about it.
When it comes to winter coats, there's a small detail that often gets overlooked.
Catherine McQueen via Getty Images
When it comes to winter coats, there's a small detail that often gets overlooked.

Each year as the weather cools down, the coats and jackets come out. While there are so many great colors, patterns and styles to admire as you walk around outside, there’s also a small detail that tends to get under many fashion lovers’ skin.

We’re talking about that oft-neglected X stitch on the back of coats and other garments. Far too many people seem unaware that it’s meant to be removed, so as a public service announcement, we spoke to clothing experts about the purpose of this stitch and what to do with it.

“The X stitch, often in a contrasting thread, is solely for packing purposes, to ensure that a vent or slit in a garment that has been carefully pressed in place does not become flipped up or creased in transit from the factory to the consumer,” Kelsy Parkhouse, a fashion designer and founder of Carleen, told HuffPost.

There’s even a term for this type of stitch (which is shockingly not “Lil X”).

“The X stitch on the back of coats, jackets and some skirts and dresses is known as a tacking stitch,” Kara Jubin, founder and creative director of KkCo, told HuffPost. “It’s basically a loose ‘tack’ stitch to keep the vent flat and closed to prevent it from folding or wrinkling before it gets to you.”

Meghan Markle wore a J.Crew coat that still had its back vent tacking stitch on a visit to Birmingham, England, in March 2018.
Karwai Tang via Getty Images
Meghan Markle wore a J.Crew coat that still had its back vent tacking stitch on a visit to Birmingham, England, in March 2018.

When your garment makes it to your home, the tacking stitch should go ― at least before you wear it for the first time.

“I wish people knew to remove it!” said menswear designer Hannah LaCava, . “It doesn’t make the garment look any better. In fact, it can make the silhouette look odd, especially when seated. Back vents are supposed to be open because it helps give the garment movement and make you less restricted. It also compliments your back side. It also prevents the garment from bunching.”

Fortunately, it only takes a few seconds to take this small but impactful step.

“Simply snip the threads and pull them out,” Parkhouse said. “They should remove easily.”

Keep in mind, however, that not all such stitches are meant to be removed.

“Some designers are using versions of that tacking stitch as a decorative detail,” said Brizan Versteeg, a menswear designer with British tailoring training. “Margiela has intentionally used a white stitch to sew the label onto jackets and they make that stitch visible on the outside. So that’s not meant to be cut away ― it’s become part of the branding mark.”

He hasn’t seen that lower X tacking stitch used in such a way thus far. Still, some people might be inclined to leave it on for other reasons.

“I think there are situations when you’ll see people intentionally leaving labels on something to show how fresh and new it is,” Versteeg said. “Especially with higher end designers, there’s a sense of ‘Yes, I own this and it’s so new I don’t even take the labels and things off.’ There’s a sense of newness and never having anything old. So I could see that stitch being a place where people play with those conventions.”

For the rest of us, however, the directive remains simple: Cut that X off your clothes. You’ll get fewer looks on the subway.

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