Dec 09 2013
Even though I have been a bespoke tailor for many years, I am still learning about the uniqueness of made to measure tailoring, which proves you are never too old to discover something new!
My latest revelation came to me not so long ago as the days turned colder and the time had come to take my trusted M&S overcoat out of the wardrobe to be worn on a brisk Yorkshire day.
I hadn’t put it on for 12 months and as I wore it, the comments of my customers came rushing back to me – they are always telling me that they can really feel the difference when they wear the Master Tailor clothing I have made for them compared to off the peg clothing.
I never really appreciated their comments until that day when I finally understood what they meant.
And here’s why. As I was born into a clothing manufacturing and men’s tailoring family, all my clothes were made to measure tailoring from being a small child.
In fact my Leeds Grammar School blazer was made to measure especially for me along with my short trousers. Therefore I always took for granted that clothes fitted me and therefore, this was nothing special.
The only item of tailored clothing that was ever off the peg was overcoats – primarily because we didn’t manufacture them!
So this is how I came to own a wool/cashmere overcoat from M&S – it’s good quality and beautifully made. In addition, I also really enjoyed wearing it!
However, last year I decided to treat myself and had a beautiful wool/cashmere overcoat made in a Bateman Ogden cloth with a really heavy satin lining. This lining gives the coat a really luxurious feel.
But when it turned cold the other day, for some reason I decided to put on my M&S coat and boy, did I notice the difference. It felt so uncomfortable and I could really tell the difference between that and the superior fit of my made to measure coat.
Now I completely understand and appreciate how my customers feel when comparing their old suits to the new one we have just made for them.
So I guess the moral of this story is that there are better things in life but we will never know how much better until we try them.
This little tale leads me quite nicely into what you need to look for when buying an overcoat and preferably a made to measure one at that.
So as a bespoke tailor, here are my top tips for buying the right overcoat for you.
1. What is an overcoat?
An overcoat is heavy top coat with long sleeves which is worn over clothing when it is cold – paired with a suit it can really finish off your outfit in a luxurious way.
But it doesn’t just have to be confined to formal wear. When worn with smart casual jeans, it can add a distinctive flare and take your look to the next level.
And whilst I am going to advocate one of my made to measure overcoats, if that is beyond your reach then do shop around for a good quality, fine looking alternative.
However, before you get to that stage, you need to think about whether you want a single or double-breasted overcoat and what type of fabric you would prefer. But probably the first thing you need to consider is what length you would like your coat to be.
2. What length should I choose?
This is the first thing you need to decide and you have two choices – a full-length coat or a three-quarter length coat, depending on when you are most likely to wear it.
Brad Pitt courtesy of fashionistacriticalanalysis.blogspot.co.uk
A full length coat usually looks a lot smarter than a three-quarter length one and can be worn for both formal and more casual occasions.
They are also very flattering if you are quite tall but some fashionistas don’t recommend them for shorter men.
However, I think you should be able to wear whatever you feel comfortable in and with the right cut and fabric, there is no reason to avoid them if you are small.
Three-quarter length overcoats are usually favoured by younger men and should fit closely to your body.
3. Which type of coat should I choose – double-breasted or single breasted?
Courtesy of markmarengo.com
A double breasted overcoat usually has a double row of buttons with a single row of buttonholes. So when you fasten it you normally have to lay one edge of the front over the other. It will also give you more warmth because two layers of fabric are placed over your chest.
The only thing to point out about double breasted overcoats is that they tend to come in and out of fashion. But don’t let this bother you because you will always get your wear out of them and a good one should last at least 20 years – after all, they are a timeless classic.
Courtesy of www.lyst.com
Single breasted overcoats are considered to be more practical because they can look most stylish when worn open and equally as good when fastened. They are also very slimming.
Most have a single row of three or four buttons and close with a narrow overlap which fastens down in front.
4. What else do I need to think about?
Another point you need to think about is how your coat fits and looks. Make sure it sits squarely over your shoulders and waist to maximise its appearance.
You might also want to consider where the pockets are situated, the type of lapels and whether the overcoat has a vent at the back, which can give you more flexibility when walking.
And finally, there is the fabric. I think wool/cashmere is a fabulous material for an overcoat – it is also very luxurious to look at as well as warm, something you definitely want your overcoat to be.
5. Am I best getting one made instead of buying it on the high street?
As an expert in men’s tailoring, I would say the advantage of having your overcoat made for you is that it will be made to your personal specification so the fit will be spectacular.
Most men, like I myself did, don’t really think of having a coat made for them. But the advantages are that you know exactly what you are getting and can choose the fabric, length, where you want the pockets and the design of the lapels.
But whatever you decide, a well-designed overcoat should be considered a long-term investment which you will wear over and over again. It is timeless and will look good whether you wear it over a suit or a pair of jeans.
Have you any overcoat stories? How do you prefer to wear it – casual or smart?
Sep 02 2013
Courtesy of stevemcurry.wordpress.com
Thank goodness for IndustriALL Global Union who have been behind the introduction of an international agreement designed to improve working conditions and safety standards in Bangladeshi clothing factories.
It only took 1,100 people to die in one of the worlds worst industrial disasters for some western retailers to find their conscience – before that, all they were interested in were their profits.
But now 70 European based retailers, including H&M, Benetton and Carrefour will be responsible for all costs associated with improved inspections, training and other programs needed at Bangladeshi factories found to be in disrepair.
Courtesy of the guardian.co.uk
However, let’s not get too excited. Bearing in mind that there are 3.6 million people working in Bangladeshi’s clothing sector earning £25 a month, this new agreement will only affect about one-fifth of more than 5,000 garment factories in Bangladesh.
And what about garment workers in China and India – who will be looking out for them?
1. Why you need to care where your clothes are made
As a bespoke suit tailor with over 35 years in the clothing industry, I have always been conscious about where the suits I provide are made.
Here in the UK, we have a tendency to think more about the price rather than the actual quality of the garment or the conditions of the workers who make them.
You might think you are getting a good deal when you buy a cheap item of clothing – yes, it will look good to start with but take my advice, not only will the quality be lacking, but it will have a limited life span.
And can it really be acceptable to wear something which has been made by someone working in dreadful conditions being paid next to nothing?
That’s why we at Master Tailor have an open and honest ethos – all our suits are made in the EU and conform to EU legislation. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
2. Aren’t cheap suits better value for money?
Absolutely not – remember you get what you pay for! There is nothing worse than seeing a three piece ‘tailored’ suit that doesn’t fit properly so this is not value for money, however much you paid.
But at the same time, you can spend a fortune on a ‘designer’ or branded three piece tailored suit and still come away with an ill fitting garment. As a bespoke suit tailor, I have had clients show me some of their designer suits and more often than not, they have been the wrong size, fit and shape for them.
To be honest, if you are paying £600 for a made to measure suit you will get a good suit but if you spend £900 on a ‘designer’ suit, you still get a suit that in reality is a £600 suit.
This is because many designers put their own individuality and expression into their suits and for this they charge the customer extortionate sums.
3. How can I look my best?
Courtesy of chicstories.com
The key thing when buying a suit is to make sure it fits properly – of course, when you buy a made to measure suit, it should fit you like a glove. Here are my top tips for making sure you choose the right style.
If you are tall and slim
§ Avoid pinstripes as they emphasis narrowness
§ Wear a double breasted jacket
§ Wear pattern fabrics
§ Single breasted button three is fashionable but tend to lengthen the body
§ Avoid shirts with long collar points and narrow ties as they make the face look longer
If you are overweight
§ Avoid check designs and wear pinstripes and chalk stripes
§ Wear double breasted jackets as peaked lapels move the eye upwards from the waist
§ Wear medium to dark colours
§ Avoid button down or spread collar shirts – wear longer collar points
§ Wear a tie with a bold design
If you are short
§ Wear pinstripes and narrow chalk stripes
§ Wear a shorter length jacket as it will make you look taller
Remember a good suit should hug your shoulders and not slouch off them, whatever your shape.
Is there anything the consumer can do to improve the conditions of clothing factories in the Far East, India and Bangladesh? What tips have you got for the perfect fitting suit?
Aug 26 2013
It hasn’t been a good couple of months for Labour leader, Ed Miliband. Not only is he having to contend with the fury of Unite leader Len McCluskey over his plans to change how union members fund the Labour Party, but last week he became the victim of an egg pelting.
Courtesy of www.telegraph.co.uk
And to top it all, 51% of voters say they do not like him – oh dear!
But in my view, he has far more serious things to worry about and should be concerned by the fact he isn’t wearing his suit properly.
Courtesy of telegraph.co.uk
Every picture I see of him, I notice he fastens the lower button on his jacket instead, as it should be, just the top button. If he wants to look like a Prime Minister in waiting, he needs to sort himself out and quickly.
Having been a made to measure tailor in North London for many years, I always tell my clients that the lower button on a suit jacket is just for show as the front of a jacket starts to curve away from this point once it is fastened and may cause tightness across the front – not a good look.
This is just one of the tips I give my customers. I often have to explain to them the finer points of how a suit should fit – it can make such a difference to how they look.
1. How can I make an impression?
Courtesy of www.dedragonbeauty.com
If you want to own the room as soon as you walk in, then you need to be wearing a perfectly fitting suit. There is nothing like a first impression and it can make all the difference to what you want to do.
For instance, some years ago whilst on a beach holiday, I pulled myself away from the side of the pool, threw on my shorts and t-shirt to go into a neighbouring five star hotel to book a table for dinner.
Courtesy of rlillustrations.blogspot.com
I approached the maître d’ of the restaurant and asked if I could book a table. He quickly advised that the restaurant for that night was full.
An hour later, I telephoned the restaurant to check availability for that evening and surprise surprise, I was able to book a table!
First impressions do count and you literally have seconds to get it right. If you want to learn how to wear a suit the right way, then you need to understand all the components of a suit.
2. How do I get the perfect fit?
When buying a made to measure suit in the UK, you need to pay attention to every aspect of the suit and how it fits your body. A made to measure suit should never just ‘hang’ on the shoulders – like it would if you bought it from the High Street.
Here is my step by step guide of what to look for when buying a bespoke suit:
The shoulders – a good suit should hug your shoulders and you in a firm, friendly way.
The collar – this should rise up about halfway on the shirt’s collar. If there is a space between the two, then this is not a good fit.
The gorge – this is where the lapels meet to create a V. Shorter men should get fitted with a high-gorge while tall men should get fitted with a low-gorge.
The lapel – nothing defines a suit louder than the lapels.
The pocket – wear your top pocket square to that all the attention is focussed on your chest and not your belly.
The sleeve – this is where you need to think about width. You should make sure these are tailored for a more sculpted look.
The buttons – as they say twos company, threes a crowd. Foolproof low buttons build a long, slim look.
Sleeve buttons – these should be functional as well as decorative. Leave a button undone if the suit was custom tailored for you. If you don’t, it won’t look right because sleeve buttons are designed to contribute to the slimming look of a jacket.
Sleeve buttons were designed to enable the sleeve to be rolled up, either for writing with a quill pen, or like in the old films where a Victorian doctor is washing his hands after being with a patient.
Jacket pockets – straight pockets really suit those with a larger build and are more traditional. However, slant pockets which have a slight upward angle are good choice.
Flaps – this gives your jacket a classic look.
Trousers – these should be trim with a flat-front but do make sure they stop at the top of your shoes.
3. What finishing touches can I add?
The tie – this is often the first thing that someone will notice about you. Try and keep it classy and bold and make sure it ends at your belt line. No longer, no shorter! Tuck the short end into the loop at the back of the tie.
A watch – every bespoke suit should have a timeless accessory so don’t skimp on the watch. A good tip is to consider a vintage model to finish off your look.
Shoes – I believe every man should own a pair of black lace-ups with real leather soles – anything less is unacceptable. Dress shoes should be as contoured as your suit and make sure you stay away from square toes.
4. Will this boost my confidence?
In my view, as a made to measure tailor in North London, a well-tailored suit will give you confidence like nothing else in your wardrobe.
When you have dressed for the part, you need to make sure you play the part so walk tall, stand to attention and control the space you exist in. What are you waiting for?
Have you ever found a made to measure suit has changed your life? Did it boost your confidence? How would you advise Ed Miliband to wear his suit?
Aug 20 2013
Courtesy of gq-magazine.co.uk
When do you call a spade a spade and not a shovel? This is a question I have been pondering since stumbling across an article in a recent edition of men’s glossy magazine, Esquire.
The article in question was focusing on the latest phenomenon to hit the high street – buying Savile Row designed suits at high street prices.
Debenhams, Austin Reed and Marks & Spencer have all teamed up with leading Savile Row tailors Patrick Grant of E Tautz, Nick Hart of Spencer Hart and Richard James of Richard James to offer customers Savile Row tailored suits.
Courtesy of fashion.telegraph.co.uk
Marks & Spencer has worked with Richard James to produce its collection of suits. One of the UK’s top Savile Row bespoke tailors, Richard James set up in 1992 and has been credited with having done much to revitalise the world of quality tailoring.
Its trademark, slim modern suits, jackets and trousers together with the bold use of colour have earned it a large celebrity following including Tom Jones, Pierce Brosnan, David Cameron, Tom Cruise and Sir Elton John to name but a few.
Courtesy of richardjames.co.uk
The suits designed for Marks & Spencer are all priced at a fraction of what they would cost on Savile Row.
But it is not clear where they have been made – the implication is they are made in the UK, but the reality is quite different.
- Is an illusion being created?
Marks & Spencer is marketing its Savile Row inspired suits stating they have been made with “traditional British tailoring techniques” using cloth sourced from the Alfred Brown woollen mill in West Yorkshire. And to top it off, they have included a Union Jack on the garment label. In my mind, this all implies that the suits are British-made.
But on closer inspection, the small label in the pocket reveals the suit, that I looked at, had been made in China.
As a made to measure tailor in London, my clients all know that my suits are made in the EU using the best technology and I do not hide this from them. They also know, that I offer the ultimate bespoke suit.
- Does it matter that high street stores are selling these suits?
I have no concerns about how Marks & Spencer are constructing these suits; I just feel they are creating illusions about them.
Savile Row tailoring is the ‘Rolls Royce’ of bespoke tailoring. Generations of skilled craftsmen have set the ultimate standards for quality tailoring. So in my opinion, as a made to measure tailor in London, it is rather an insult to this tradition for retailers to claim they are offering Savile Row quality at a fraction of the price.
The Marks and Spencer suit is made to an acceptable quality standard but not to the same spec as a Savile Row suit. However, the ‘branding’ will command a higher price to its normal suits, so the question is, is that fair?
A simple analogy is this, would you believe a car salesman who offered you a hand made car for 10% of the actual selling price of a Rolls Royce?
I rest my case.
Is it ethical to suggest that these suits are UK made when in fact they are not? Is it morally right that you can buy the same Savile Row garment construction at 10% of the price?
Aug 10 2013
Courtesy of digitalspy.co.uk
Teen singing sensation Justin Bieber is in the news again, not for fighting with the paparazzi but for daring to wear red trousers – not a good thing according to the British public!
The Canadian pop star was snapped wearing an all in red number, including trousers, at one of his concerts.
But according to a recent poll, almost half said they weren’t keen on red trousers, while 24% admitted they didn’t “like it at all” when they saw men wearing them. Even celebrities, Jonathan Ross and Rio Ferdinand, keen advocates of wearing red, have failed to reverse opinions.
Courtesy of the www.telegraph.co.uk
And who has been responsible for this life-changing poll – none other than respected researchers YouGov, the organisation normally responsible for finding out which political party we like or dislike.
Apparently, red trousers are associated with “toffs” and “hipsters” but the first word that sprung to most people’s minds when asked what they thought about a man in red trousers was, would you believe it “red” – hardly an earth shattering revelation is it?
The next word associations were “gay” and “idiot” followed by “yuk”, “prat” and one too rude to repeat!
So what’s wrong with wearing red? Socialite and fashion journalist Henry Conway wrote in a recent column that red trouser-wearing is something representative of the British upper-class.
As a men’s suit tailor, I just think there is nothing wrong with wearing what you want and I can’t understand why anyone would waste time trying to find out whether we like men wearing red trousers or not – has YouGov nothing better to do particularly with all that’s going on in the world?
A Monsieur Henri de Pantalon-Rouge celebrates the wearing of red trousers via a blog and website and I say good for him!
- Why you shouldn’t be dictated to by fashion
Fashion is a funny thing – quite frankly people can look horrendous when trying to keep up with the latest trends. I also think that men who follow so called fashion really are incapable of thinking for themselves.
An example of this is during a recent business trip to Munich. Whilst waiting at Manchester airport, I had the unfortunate ‘pleasure’ of mingling with hordes of holiday makers jetting off on their annual vacation.
Courtesy of metro.co.uk
And what a mismatch of clothes I saw – contrasting colours mixed with brand labels that looked just awful. These people were all following so-called fashion and it was not a pretty sight!
At Munich, however, during a four hour wait for my return flight home, I was amazed to see that the average German passenger was still casually dressed but was colour co-ordinated giving an air of self-confidence and well-being.
As a men’s suit tailor, this is what I try to instil in my clients. Some of them like to look at current trends, but at the same time want to add their own touches to make them stand out from everyone else.
Quite recently I made a 100% bright yellow two-piece linen tailored suit for a very large well-built gentlemen – he looked amazing and was very pleased to be able to express his own interpretation of fashion.
- How can I look stylish?
Men’s clothes need to reflect the busy lives they lead but I always advise my clients to choose a style and fabric that suits their size and shape. This is a key factor when buying clothes – you need them to complement your figure.
Remember no-one has a perfect shape so don’t compromise on fit and style, especially when your tailored suits can be made to fit you. Choosing a suit shouldn’t be rushed, it’s rather like drinking a fine wine!
When getting measured for a suit, a good suit tailor will always discuss with you your current wardrobe – your likes and dislikes. This way you will get the suit you want.
- What type of fabric should I choose?
A suit is only as good as the fabric it is made from. A knowledgeable suit tailor should talk with passion when discussing the various weaves, materials, fibres and counts of wool. These days, fabrics are getting lighter in weight and the counts of wool finer.
Here are some to the types of fabric you might get told about:
Pinstripe – a fine or broken vertical line
Chalk stripe – a thicker stripe
Bird’s eye – a diamond shape
Prince of Wales – a square check design
Herringbone – the weave resembles the bones of a Herringbone fish
Tweed– usually woven from coarse wool – ideal for sports jackets or country suits
Flannel – a smooth woollen cloth
Cavalry twill – a diagonal weave usually made into trousers
A good tip is to ask your tailor to let you have some samples of cloth before you make a decision. Don’t be shy, he can only say no!
Are there any other colour trousers that men shouldn’t wear? What has been your fashion faux pas?
Aug 01 2013
Courtesy of www.corbisimages.com
Have you noticed how clothes sizes seem to vary? A 32” waist trouser can be one size in one shop and a completely different size in another. No longer can you buy a suit off the peg and expect it to fit according to the size advertised.
And what do you do if you can’t mix and match and you are a 36” waist but 40” chest – this is just one of the problems when buying a ready to wear suit.
Of course, as a custom suit tailor, I am going to always recommend you invest in a custom made suit and preferably under my supervision. However, I know many of you when on business in the Far East will be tempted by the cheaper prices and quick turnaround.
But be careful. While many tailors in the Far East are amongst the finest craftsmen in the world, there are some who claim their suits are bespoke and hand tailored when in fact they are not.
A client of mine told me a story recently about the first time he ordered a made to measure suit in Hong Kong. It was delivered to his hotel 22 hours later but just as he was leaving for the airport, so he was unable to try it on.
courtesy of www.smh.com.au
Once at home, he discovered that one shoulder was a good inch wider than the other, the sleeves were so tight he could not bend his arms and the trousers were so well-fitting they resembled the stovepipe pants favoured by rockers in the 1950s!
Even though his name had been sewn on the inside pocket of the jacket, it was quite obvious that the suit had been made for a very thin person with a substantial deformity.
It remained hanging in his wardrobe for some time to remind him never to buy a made to measure suit in Hong Kong again.
1. What do I need to watch out for?
Anna Powell courtesy of The Guardian
There is a big difference between European sizing patterns and Far Eastern sizing patterns with the latter not always suited to the European shape and fit.
In women’s ready to wear clothing, this has been a big problem because many clothes are now made in the Far East as well as India and Bangladesh and they don’t fit European women properly. One frustrated shopper, computer programmer Anna Powell-Smith set up a website after reading an article which criticised shops for their misleading labelling.
What Size Am I? asks women to enter their bust, waist and hip measurements, then calculates what dress size they should go for at a range of High Street retailers.
2. How can I make sure the tailor I choose will make my suit?
courtesy of him.uk.msn.com
Unfortunately, you can’t. Most workshops in the Far East only employ a few staff so if they have too many orders, your order is more than likely going to be outsourced to someone else.
The danger of this is that you don’t know if the material you chose for your custom made suit is the same one and if it has been put together to the same standards as used by the tailor you employed.
Most of these custom suit tailors have one objective – to put suits together as quickly and cheaply as possible. Remember 24-hour suits will be made from a cheap fabric which is more than likely not going to last 24 hours!
- How bespoke will my suit be?
Be very careful of adverts claiming to offer bespoke or hand tailored suits. If a suit is a genuine bespoke suit it means it will be made to Savile Row standards which can cost £2000 or more. If you‘re not paying that, then it could be nothing more than a poor substitute.
I had this recently when a new client showed me a suit that had been advertised as ‘hand made’. I didn’t have to look very hard to see it had been machine-made and many shortcuts in putting it together had been taken. To be honest it looked like a cheap blazer and for that, he had paid over £300.
Sometimes, you will find the adverts also claim to use the latest technology to capture your measurements but the reality is they just use a digital camera, so be warned!
- How can I tell if the fabric they offer is good quality?
Many tailors in the Far East will give the impression the fabrics they offer are European made but most times they are Far Eastern copies.
Warning signs are when you are told that the ideal fabric for a suit for work should be manmade. Or you are told that the cloth they will use will be cashmere or 130’s pure wool when in fact it is a cheap copy.
It you are told it is cashmere, you should always check it. The best way to do this is to rub it against your chin, which is the most sensitive part of the skin. If it itches, then it is definitely not pure cashmere!
Another test is to see if looks shiny like silk. If it has a shine it might mean that it contains rayon which can make the fabric feel very soft.
Have you had any suit nightmares? What advice would you give to anyone buying a made to measure suit?
Jul 25 2013
courtesy of The Huffington Post
I hear the strangest stories in my job, but perhaps nothing quite as strange as that of Swedish train drivers swapping their trousers for skirts after their bosses banned them from wearing shorts in the hot weather!
Nov 22 2012
One of my customers a Nigerian lawyer living in Fulham London was recently telling me about people’s perceptions about how we dress. He likes his bespoke suits to be well fitted and look very sharp. When walking down his street wearing a suit on his way to work people nod or say hello in a polite and friendly manner. By contrast if he is going to the gym on a dark evening wearing a hooded top the same ‘people’ look at him with a terrified expression in case he is a ‘hoodie’. It is the same person but his clothes do make a difference. This reinforces the fact we are all judged by our appearance and also how easy it is to create the wrong impression.
Nov 22 2012
Recently I commissioned some photography for one of our other websites. www.mensclothingroom.com The photographer was an excellent chap called Andy Snaith email@example.com . I was struck by the similarities between the eye for detail of a professional tailor and that of the photographer. A suit that doesn’t fit or is badly made is the same as a simple snapshot. The photo may seem ok until you compare the same result from the professional photographer. If you have never had a professionally made to measure suit you cannot appreciate the difference when compared to ‘off the peg’
Nov 22 2012
After watching the Obama/Romney TV debates last month, I thought that I would love to debate made to measure and bespoke tailoring with the new breed of internet tailors. We would discuss the merits of their claims about specially created patterns, hand cut, handmade tailoring and what that entails for customers.
In turn I would explain how our technically advanced methods are more accurate and produce higher quality made to measure garments. Why the term bespoke is misleading. Why more modern methods mean consistency and not cheapness. Why the genuine Savile Row tailor is being misunderstood.
I doubt very much if such a debate will happen as there are very few people in the retail tailoring industry who understand both traditional and modern methods of garment construction.