Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Made to measure (part two)

Ever more ready for made for measure.

Following on seamlessly from yesterday’s introduction, I invite you to continue to accompany me through my virgin journey in to the tailored unknown. Thanks to Susie my experiences inside the tailoring studio have been visually documented. Here I describe my first fitting and in this post it is clear that my talented tailor has been busy. I have the utmost respect for a true tailor. It is something of a dying art, kept alive by the passionate few. People like the chaps at j.a. daye certainly help keep the tailoring ticker in good health.

The baste stage. My suit is beginning to take shape...and what an agreeable shape it is to as it proudly stands on the clothes rail.

A few days after our initial meeting I returned to the studio for my first fitting. As I entered the room I had no idea what to expect but excitedly looked for the first sight of my baste. A baste is a half-made suit that is not properly finished and only temporarily held together with white baste stitching. This allows it to be easily taken apart and remade. It is is the blueprint for the finished suit and can be radically altered if necessary. Thankfully, no drastic alterations were required, only a few tweaks.

A close up of the baste and my choice of sleeve lining.

From the above shots you might have noticed that only one arm is attached at this stage. The reason for this is that only one arm is needed to judge the length and pitch of the sleeve at this stage (unless the initial measuring established that the client had one arm significantly different to the other...). Why the left? Well, just because it is easier for a right handed tailor to make amends where required.

Finding the right pitch...

After reading Simon Crompton's recent bespoke suit fitting experiences I recalled that one of the most important things to discern in the sleeve at this stage is its correct pitch. By this I mean how it hangs in relation to the body. If there is more material in the back of the sleeve, it hangs forward, more in the front and it will hang further back. Unlike Simon it seems that my arm hangs a little forward. Ellis soon made the required adjustments by inserting a few pins where necessary.

Opting for a shorter sleeve...this shot captures the appearance of the cross hatch fabric extremely well.

Throughout this whole process I trusted and had full confidence in Ellis. He seemed to know exactly what I wanted. After succinctly describing exactly what I wanted the suit to be and how I would wear it, he was soon in tune with my way aesthetic. After I confessed that I was in the habit of rolling up my suit jacket sleeves during the Summer he suggested cutting them a little shorter to reveal more cuff. Furthermore, the addition of the polka dot sleeve lining would make for a more interesting reveal in the warmer months. As he expertly attacked the baste with pins my confidence and excitement continued to grow.

The re-pinning of the shoulder.

At one stage the eager eyed Ellis was not one hundred percent happy with how the shoulder was lying so re-cut it and re-pinned it to make it much tighter. We were soon both happy with the shoulder and sleeve and moved our attentions to the lapel and collar.

Showing off a little cuff and collar.

The obsessively observant amongst you might have noticed that I have changed shirts in this series of images. The reason I had to change out of my recently acquired Raf Simons x Fred Perry Polo and in to a white shirt is simply to ensure the suit is correctly fitted. The white shirt enabled Ellis and I to work out exactly how much cuff and collar we wanted the suit jacket to reveal. As we've declared time and time again on the blog, the real beauty of menswear lies in the details. I spent a great deal of time with Ellis ensuring that the details were well thought out, as the finished suit (should) ultimately demonstrates.

Working out the lapel

Following the good work on the front of the jacket, Ellis soon turned his attentions to the back of the jacket. I have to confess to possessing a highly curved back...a 'girlie' back if you will. The result is that most of the suit jackets I own do not sit well and there is a collection of cloth below my shoulders. Ellis attacked the cloth with pins once again and after a few insertions, I was soon left with a template which fitted me like a glove.

Hiding the flaws whilst accentuating the positives.

The real beauty of a well measured, well made suit is that it will hide any flaws and accentuate the positives. Rather than look a little odd, this suit jacket was sure to accentuate my silhouette in the most positive manner possible.

The sit down test.

When we were both pleased with the result in the mirror, Ellis asked me to perform a quick seated test to ensure I could sit comfortably in my new tailored second skin. Having passed with flying colours, the suit jacket was put to one side and the focus was on my lower half.

Making light work of the trousers...

I've always had trouble with trousers. Just ask my family. They will recall with much laughter how they used to buy school trousers which were aimed at children twice my age just so they could fit my expanded waist. These of course were far too long for me and I was something of a squat child and so my Nan had to amend them before I was able to wear them to school. I kid you not, even at a young age my trousers were wider than they were high. I can only laugh about it now. Thankfully, most of the puppy fat has gone but I'm rarely happy with how a pair of trousers fit me off the rack. However, as soon as I tried on this work in progress I knew these would become my new favourite trousers.

Showing off my Mr. Hare's...it would be rude not to.

The initial cut was near perfect. The odd little tweak on the length and fit were the only required amends. As I wanted this suit to be my ideal relaxed Sunday Best I opted to go a little higher and reveal a little more sock and shoe than I normally would. After investing so heavily in my shoe options in recent months it is only right that I wear trousers which show them off.

My final lining choices

As Ellis made light work of marking out my ideal pair of trousers we put the fast evolving baste to one side. This blueprint would soon be passed on to one of j.a. daye's expert local tailors to make my suit. Before it left the studio there were still a few finishing details to discuss. Most interestingly, for me at least, were the lining options. As mentioned yesterday, I had fallen for the idea of having a polka dot lined sleeve and contrasting striped body but I still had to choose which particular fabrics I wanted. To help me make my choice, Ellis brought out an array of different fabrics that he had collected on various trips to Japan and beyond. The array of options actually made my decision more difficult especially as I was enamoured with the traditional Japanese prints. Sensing my confusion, Ellis put forward the idea of adding a strip of my favourite print to the trim. It was an inspired idea. Decision made, I just had to play the waiting game.

The final sketched vision (below) combined with my re-cut and amended baste would soon make my sartorial dreams a reality. Tune in later this week for the final post on this series which will showcase the end result!

The final sketch...


percy said...

The linings and outer look amazing really like the denim style material and the cross hatch is inspired... should be looking quite the dapper one this winter!
on the other hand my acute jealousy goes beyond words :)


tanya said...

so excited that you posted this so quickly after yesterday's exciting instalment. feels like we're with you every stitch of the way. cant wait to see the end result!

Christopher said...

this is truly a great series of posts. thank you.

Style Salvage Steve said...

Percy: Thank you! The aim is to look dapper this winter and beyond. No doubt you will get your chance one day soon.
Tanya: Well normally I would pace it out a little but but I'm eager to share it with you. I am excited!
Christopher: Thanks so much. I've been meaning to do this for such a long time but I had to wait for the right opportunity. So pleased you like it.

we could grow up together said...

wait u still in hong kong?

Style Salvage Steve said...

we could grow up together: No I wish! I returned to London last Thursday and I had this suit fitting on my Monday in HK.

James said...

These past two posts have been AMAZING! The suit looks great too.

neverkissandtell said...

Fantastic! I'm green with envy! do you have a ball park figure on how much this is costing you? I'm considering it myself?


Joshua O. said...

I'm with neverkissandtell.

I've always had to get alterations on OTR suits and never really liked it. I've wanted to invest in a bespoke suit that will fit me like a glove. It's not even the jacket that's really the problem, it's the trousers that's the bigger one for me :X!

I heard Jantzen was a good tailor in HK. (URL: http://www.jantzentailor.com/). I'm willing to check out tailors next time I go to Asia!

Imelda Matt - The Despotic Queen of Shoes said...

I tried made to measure (albeit via a designer friend) in China and ended up flocked vinyl zebra print shorts and the UGLIEST 70's geo print shirts imaginable.

Lesson learned. Next time go in person.

However, your experience is lookin' sharp.


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