As a tailor, I get a real kick out of making something for a special occasion.
A wedding, or, red-carpet movie premiere is a huge deal and so the pressure of delivering something perfect, on time, is palpable.
A sharply cut suit can make you feel taller, sexier, powerful and more confident. Providing the armour to help my customer ‘own it’ at that key moment in their life is a very rewarding experience.
Whilst it’s great to do those ‘one-offs,’ clothes are a basic part of our lives and should be used to make it easier, both at work and play.
In short, they need to be functional, as well as look good.
It is my dream that every man will treat his ‘Michelsberg’ with the utmost care and respect. After a day turning heads, it should be lovingly brushed by hand, the coat placed on a broad wooden hangar and the trousers put to bed in a warm, top-of-the range, trouser press.
The cruel hard truth is that more often than not, they are used and abused, chucked about, soaked in rain (and wine) and battered by the rigours of a working life.
Living in airports and hotel rooms for days on end, or, charging down to London and back with a lap-top bag over the shoulder, can really take its toll on a man’s threads.
Selection of cloth is critical. The fabric needs to be durable and shed creases easily. Whilst a heavier weight of fabric (11 ounces and above) will undoubtedly perform better, the downside is that it will feel hotter to wear. Not so good if you are in Dubai, it’s 80% humidity and you’ve run out of Right Guard.
I find that lighter weight wool / mohair blends work well in hot climates, as mohair is a durable, stiffer fibre with great insulating properties.
It feels quite hard and springy to the touch, and so bounces back when crumpled-up, and usually has a more open weave which allows heat and moisture to escape more easily.
Mohair does have a wonderful sheen, or ‘lustre’ to it, but some of my customers like a more matt finish. In this case, a lightweight wool cloth woven using a highly twisted worsted yarn will also have bounce and perform just as well.
The next thing to discuss when creating a ‘work horse’ is the saddle-bags, or, dreaded P word. Pockets.
Not the ones on the outside of the coat. Far from it. They are a tailors friend. Pleasing to the eye, they can make a wonderful design feature, and provide an attractive break in the cloth without ruining the line, particularly useful if a customer is very tall.
I believe that slanted pockets make you look slimmer, and the addition of a ‘ticket-pocket’ (the smaller extra one above the side pocket on the right-hand-side) narrows the waistline, as it draws the eye to the slimmest part of a chaps body.
The ‘out-breast-welt’ (the one on the left-hand-side of your chest) is more that just a place to pop your Bond-like hanky. Slightly angled, it helps to create that sought after ‘V’ line to the body and visually adds width across the chest.
Outside pockets are a thing of beauty, the golden child to the black sheep of the family that lurks beneath – the inside pockets.
Throughout the fitting stage on a new suit, we go to great lengths to achieve a sinewy silhouette with the correct ‘balance.’ I find nothing more pleasing than a coat that hugs the body, and when unbuttoned, hangs perfectly level, yet still retains it’s shape.
So, when a bulging wallet, smartphone, or diary, is added to the mix, it makes the tailoring gods weep.
Yes, I can feel their tears raining down upon me as coins, pens, sunglasses, crumpled tissues and fag packets find accommodation in the house of beauty that is a Bespoke Suit.
At work, I use a briefcase for my stuff. At play, it all goes in my wife’s bag (with her carrying it I should hasten to add!). But that’s just me and my slightly OCD tendencies.
Most of my customers insist on having inside pockets, and so I’ll dig deep, re-enforce them and do the forward fitting with their clobber inside. This means that when the coat is finished and the button fastened, it won’t feel too tight.
Tailoring a coat around the tools of a man’s trade is fair enough, but even I was gobsmacked when I was asked to accommodate a kevlar body vest for a security professional. No curved lines with that one.
The only inside pockets that bring a smile to my face are “secret” pockets. Hidden away, perhaps in a jacket lining, they are the perfect place to sneak one’s ‘stash.’
Whilst a safe-haven for a bag of weed, or, packet of Mr Blobbies might be useful to some, here at Michelsberg Tailoring we naturally frown upon drug-taking and sexual frivolity at any level.
In all seriousness, a hidden cash-pocket in the waistband of the trousers can be invaluable at the races. A day of high jinx, based on alcohol consumption and hard-currency, is a pick-pockets wet dream, so hiding your queens-folding down the front of your strides makes it harder for them. Ahem..
‘Hare’ pockets are also quite popular amongst my customers. A poachers delight, they usually feature in shooting suits, have a water-proof lining and provide a temporary home for a bunny who gets on the wrong side of a 12 bore shotgun.
I mainly use them in overcoats and tweed jackets, as the weight of the cloth (and construction beneath) will support what is a perfect place to pop a scarf, newspaper, or, hip flask.
Yes, every customer has their foibles. Some are dandies, with jackets made-up in luxurious fabrics, fitted to within an inch of their life.
Others, who sit at a desk all day, consider a bespoke suit their overalls, and want something made of tougher stuff, fitted on the looser side.
In a perfect world, none of us would have to work. We’d surf in the morning, be dressed by our valets in a Super 150’s Escorial Suit, have lunch with friends and then retire to the yacht, fire up the jacuzzi and settle down for a gentle evening under the stars.
For most of us, we are out there earning a crust, and as such, not all our suits can be stallions.
A good old cart-horse might not be built for speed but will happily plod away for years, with enough room on board for the metaphoric kitchen sink.