Rock of Eye

Rock of Eye


Sometimes you just know.

Sometimes you don’t need to measure. Sometimes you just know.

The expression “Rock of Eye” or “Rock of the Eye” dates back to the late 18th century and literally means “to be guided by the eye,” to do by feel and intuition rather than by precise methods.

English tailors call Rock of Eye … the ability to immediately see and understand tasteful proportions using instinct born of experience.

Fourth generation Sydney based bespoke tailor J.H. Cutler with whom we spoke on this topic refers to the line that is hand drawn between two fixed points that determines (say) the curve of a side seam: “The drawing of that line demonstrates Rock of Eye. You can’t teach it. It’s about flow, and it all comes down to instinct and experience.”

The expression originated as the phrase “Rack of (the) Eye”, where the later “Rock” is a variation on “Rack”, which is a word dating from the 15th century meaning a narrow path or track, which, in this case, seems to imply a path to be followed, a guide. The guide is the eye and the eye knows by instinct, intuition, and feel, which is perhaps a natural gift honed and raised by experience into an art form. 

The use of the term is not restricted to the tailor’s trade e.g. some curators are credited with having Rock of Eye.

How might Rock of Eye apply to the decisions that you make in your life?


Reference: Rock of Eye


1. Rock of Eye. Illustration Credit: Henry Herbert Tailors
2. Waistcoat Pattern. Credit: Maurice Sedwell Tailors
3. John Cutler. Photo Credit: J.H. Cutler

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