The Best of the Vest

The days of the Dandy are back and that’s a fact.

Last week I clocked four young lads in Leeds on a Saturday night out, suited and booted-up to the max. Sharp threads breed confidence and like giants they swaggered past a group of shouty, red-faced Wetherspooners, wobbling into The Leopard Lounge for early-doors titillation.

Whilst the wheel of fashion continues to spin, dapper remains very much the done thing and that’s been great for bespoke tailoring. Cool young things with Frodo haircuts have all jumped on to the good ship slick and for good reason. The Suit brings gravitas, sex appeal. It’s got history. It’s got soul.

There’s been a shift from the skinny lapelled Mod look, towards a more 70’s ‘Boogie Nights vibe’, with wide lapels and bold checks. One thing I’m doing more of is the “Horse-shoe” waistcoat as worn by Steve McQueen in the original “Thomas Crown Affair.”

Isn’t it a beauty? I’ve worn waistcoats all my life. When I was nine, my brother Edward and I had matching gold three piece suits bought for us by my mother on a business trip to Rome with my father.

As a student in London, I wore bright silk numbers from the Kings Road to go with my ripped jeans and statutory Dr. Martens.

Now, as your tailor, I am rarely without a trusty ‘vest.’ I think it takes the suit to another level. It gives the body a reassuring hug and provides the scaramoosh factor when the jacket comes off.

One of my earliest memories of the horse-shoe waistcoat was that worn by Alex “Hurricane” Higgins, the bad boy of British snooker.

Who can forget the immortal words of legendary commentator Ted Lowe, when he declared in his hushed tones, “Here’s Alex, lining up the white.” Classic.

Many designers look to the past (and other designers) for inspiration for their collections and so do my customers. Nigel recently came to me with the following picture he’d found on the Anderson & Sheppard website.

I’ve made him several work suits and this was to be the basis for his wedding tux. Pretty damn gorgeous eh?. Anderson & Sheppard have got to be one of my favourite tailoring firms and the vest with its low opening adds some real oomph to what is already a beautiful coat.

Here’s what we came up with.

I’m a huge fan of the one button on a tux. Two is the work of the devil, as is a notch lapel. We used Midnight blue mohair and proper silk facings for the peak lapels and pocket jets. Expensive, yes, but worth every penny.

One of the most flamboyant suits we’ve made in a while is for Daniel, a photographer, who also wanted to go down the horse-shoe route.

His suit is in a blue and white striped seersucker cloth from Italy with a duck-egg blue spotted lining. Seersucker is an all-cotton fabric, perfect for spring and summer. It’s woven so that the threads bunch together, which creates ‘space’ between the body and the coat, promoting air circulation which helps keep you cool. Simples.

And here’s Chris, a recent victim of our service in a horse-shoe vest made-up in a silky cloth from Barberis.

Waistcoats, velvet collars and dressing-up to the nines will always be the heart and soul of Michelsberg tailoring. I thank my lucky stars that for the moment, ‘The Suit’ is in Vogue but acknowledge that the party can’t last forever.

Perhaps I should start planning a range of slouchy knitwear and sports-clobber now before the wheel turns too far?

Sod that. I’d rather go bust.

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