All posts by bespoke

Tailored Uniforms – The Mechanics of Chef Jackets

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We can sometimes consider the parameters of what we consider tailoring to be limited purely to the world of expensive bespoke business suits and formal wear. But look into the development of the clothing of kitchen staff, both historically, we can see a great deal of significance behind the outfits design and presentation, as well as several different tailoring techniques being carried out.

The chef’s jacket is known as a ‘white’ for a reason. It has traditionally been white in colour. Though at the time, this was for the purpose of communicating the cleanliness of a restaurant’s kitchen in a time when severely unhygienic kitchens were commonplace, it has come to be a stylistic mainstay of the chef’s clothing. More of the stylistic choices of the appearance of the chef’s jacket can be explained by necessity and importantly the need to create an impression of cleanliness, even if this was a misleading one in the kitchens of 19th Century Europe where the style developed.

The Double Breasted Chef Jacket

The double breasted look of the chef jackets that we recognise today, like these Chef Jackets, comes from the desire to be able to re-button a jacket with one layer over the top of the other. This allowed for spills to be covered up by the top layer of fabric and the pristine impression was maintained. This is a look that many suit jackets today carry, although part of this is believed to have derived from the military tradition of double breasted jackets. It’s also in part because double breasted jackets offer better insulation against the wind and can fasten in closer around the body.

Fitted Chef Jackets

More modern suit jackets have a slimmer of more fitted tailoring. Interestingly this is also true of Chef’s Jackets. Especially for women working in kitchens, the fitted and slimmer fit of jacket is considered more flattering than the unisex fit. This look is achieved using tailoring techniques such as constructing the jacket from several different panels. These can be shaped more responsively to the human shape, with loose fabric being brought in at the seems. This avoids the bin bag look of larger fitting garments, when fewer individual panels lead to a lot of spare fabric and a lack of shape in the jacket.

Tailoring techniques are used to create the shape of a garment, whether its a smart piece of formal wear, or a practical piece of work wear. If shape and control of fabric are needed, a tailor won’t be far away.

Parlor Tailoring’s Lapel Guide

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One of the most notable shifts in tailoring over the last 12-18 months has been the re-emergence of the wide lapel on formal and casual jackets and blazers.

Typically in more modern times, the last 8-10 years in particular suits have become far slimmer and closer fitting, this has been mirrored in the trends in suit lapels, which have in turn become far narrower to match the suits. Similarly, they’ve become simplified with thinner notch and shawl lapels becoming more commonplace on suit jackets, formal jackets and casual blazers. The last year or so has seen an increase however, in the more traditional looking peak, and a broader overall lapel appearance. But what do these terms mean, and what have they typically been used for? Here’s your Parlor Tailoring Guide.

 

Peak Lapel

The peak lapel is conspicuous because of the way the lapel forms a point as it reaches up towards the collar of the blazer. This point stands out beyond the general line of the rest of the lapel and collar, and is considered a decorative flourish on traditional and dress jackets. Many formal coats also mirror this look. This style has come back into vogue in the last 12 months or so. Whilst its typically been the basis for business suits and more formal wear, the peak lapel can now be seen on a variety of jackets, with the wide lapel coming back into fashion.

 

Notch Lapel

The notch lapel has generally been the most popular over recent years. The gradual narrowing of suits, for slim and skinny fits, has meant that in order to maintain an elegant sense of proportion between the different features of the jacket, the lapel itself has had to narrow in line with the jacket. As such, simpler less ostentatious lapels have been favoured by designers for this narrower look. The notch lapel is tidy and slightly plainer looking than the peak variety. The collar and lapel meet at a slight indentation in the line of the lapel, which is known as the notch. This more understated style has been considered a better choice for the slender looking lapels of more recent years, and has come to dominate, featuring on everything from formal, business and casual jackets and blazers.

 

Shawl Lapel

The shawl lapel originates in formal jackets, particularly the Tuxedo. It is characterised by the way it is one continuous uninterrupted line of fabric from the lapel through to the collar. The way it flows around the collar and neck is where it gets its name- the shawl lapel. Whilst this is still quite commonplace on formal jackets, because of its simple and slim design, it has become common on more fashionable slim fit blazers in recent years, along with the classic Tux look.

In short, there’s plenty to think about when choosing your jacket’s lapel at a tailors such as Norton and Townsend, why not talk this through with your tailor if in doubt to make sure your opt for the right variety?

Want to look a million dollars or look like a millionaire?

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shadow-dollar-sign-1239535Surprisingly they might not be the same thing?

Following in the footsteps of Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel we reckon that developing a solid style “uniform” is the way forward. It shows that although you may be in town with your supermodel girlfriend (yes, you!),  you also have serious work to do.

The “millionaire uniform” of choice is jeans, T-shirt, crewneck sweater, and clean white sneakers all of which are practical without being dumpy. The best part of this look is that anyone can pull it off. The trick is to take your time and find the right basic elements that fit your body like a glove.

It’s a look that could be got so wrong though.  Whilst you don’t have to spend a fortune, you should invest in high-quality items and those overused greying sneakers will have to go! However, once you’ve found items that fit well and work for you, buy a few different colours of each. Just stick to some universally flattering colours like navy, grey and olive green, all of which are bang on trend this season and stay away from head to toe brights!

Soon you’ll be looking a million dollars!

Our Top 10 Men’s fashion faux pas

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We had a straw poll around the office and friends and family and came up with this highly non-definitive list!  In no particular order

  1. Clothes that don’t fit – Overly baggy clothes will make you look you’re wearing sloppy hand-me-downs. If your body type makes it hard to find well-fitting clothes off the rack, make your tailor your best friend.
  2. Dirty or warped shoes – It’s an area that too many guys overlook in terms of cleaning and proper care. A stylish man keeps his shoes clean – free of scratches and dirt. Also keep at least two pairs of dress shoes in the same color so you can let one pair rest for a day from sweat and stretching. Doing this prevents them from warping in unwanted ways. Place shoetrees in your shoes when you’re not wearing them to maintain their best form.
  3. Improper trouser length – Don’t fold up your jeans or your chinos unless it’s an intentional fashion statement that you’re making. Your pants can come down to the bottom of your shoes but make sure they come just above the floor to avoid any unwanted fraying. Also, you only need a slight break, or crease, in the pants leg. Don’t be the guy who has his feet swimming in a bunch of extra fabric. All it takes is a simple trip to the tailor to get them hemmed.
  4. Wrong socks – When you’re wearing a suit, match your sock color to your pants, not your shoes (for professional and formal occasions). This is the same as mismatching your suit pants to your jacket. If you’re wearing a navy suit with black shoes, reach for navy socks. And when wearing a light suit, make sure the socks are darker than the suit but a shade or so lighter than the shoes. This rule of course can be broken if done deliberately for your style’s sake. And while we’re on the subject of socks, when wearing a suit, your socks should come up to your calves, and stay there. When you cross your legs, you shouldn’t be showing any part of your legs. Isn’t it lovely when you see a man’s hairy leg peeking over his socks? But when dressed casual, it’s a great idea to go short on the socks or go completely sockless. So fully covered for professional wear, or try the sockless look if you’re out for a casual occasion.
  5. Being too “buttoned” up – If a jacket has two buttons, only fasten the top button. If it has three buttons, you can close the top button only, the middle button only, or both the middle and top button. The key is to always leave the bottom button undone. This is a tradition that has been used for decades, and will keep your style looking smart.
  6. Sweatpants in public– Unless you’re going to the gym, avoid wearing sweats out in public. You’re not wearing them to look your best, you’re wearing them because you’re lazy.
  7. Tucking T-shirts in – Tucking in polo shirts is acceptable, but t-shirts should be kept casual. If your t-shirt is too long then it’s probably too big on you.
  8. Mismatching styles – Don’t wear your sporty Oakley sunglasses with a blazer, or a pair of cargo pants with the dress shirt you wear to the office. Keep your outfits coherent and matching in style.
  9. Bulky pockets – I see a lot of guys walking around with bulging pockets. If it’s your wallet that’s creating that bulge, spend some time taking out all those old receipts or business cards. If you need to hold on to them, keep them in a safe place and take them out when you need them. Get a slimmer wallet or a money clip to save space.
  10. Keep your facial hair well groomed – The hair on your face should be orderly. Your face is the first thing noticed, and so maintaining your facial hair is important if you want to look sharp. Either keep a cleanly shaved face, or keep your beard trim. There should absolutely be no hair underneath your chin on your neck area.

Did we say Top ten? Make that 11! We were unanimous on this one and we couldn’t leave it out!.

Socks and sandals – Have you seen anyone ever pull this off, and look sexy? Ever? Case closed.

Why do so many people now buy their shoes online?

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elena_lace_up_brogue

Back in the day buying a new pair of shoes meant trailing around the high street shops but over the past few years, shoe shopping has changed beyond all recognition. Yes, high street shoe shops are still going strong, but increasing numbers of people now prefer to buy their shoes from an online store.

So many shoes, so much choice

One of the main reasons that buying shoes online has become so popular is the incredible choice available. Rather than choosing a pair from a limited stock of designs and sizes, the wealth of online shoe shops has opened up limitless possibilities.

In addition fashion in general has become far more ‘disposable’ than it once was and because of the huge range of low-cost high-fashion footwear online, many people have a bigger selection of styles in their wardrobe. Whereas we might once have had a pair of shoes for work, a pair for weekends and perhaps a pair evening shoes, many of us have shoes which we wear with just one particular outfit. The variety and low prices available online have made all this possible.

Choosing shoes to suit your feet

Fashionable footwear is notorious for causing foot problems but buying shoes online offers the opportunity to order several styles in different sizes, before trying them on in the comfort of your own home. Many online shoe shops offer free delivery and enticing discounts, encouraging customers to multiple pairs, before choosing the shoes which fit them the best.

Problem feet can be very hard to buy for but by knowing which foot-friendly design features to look for, finding the perfect shoes online should be relatively easy. Cheap shoes unfortunately tend to be uncomfortable as the poor finish and manmade materials can cause rubbing, which in turn leads to blisters. Buying comfortable shoes doesn’t necessarily mean having to spend a fortune but if you have problem feet it really is worthwhile spending as much as you can afford.

A number of comfort shoe brands have become incredibly popular, thanks to their designs which don’t compromise on style over comfort. Alegria, Mephisto, Panama Jack and Think! all make shoes which look and feel great, in designs that include a range of comfort features, including removable insoles, cushioned soles and super-soft linings.

Which online shoe shop?

There are countless online shoe shops and with so many to choose from, it can be incredibly difficult to decide where to order from. It is definitely worth shopping around so if you have a favourite brand, search for it online by name and compare the prices in different online shops, not forgetting to take postage costs and returns fees into consideration. One of the best I’ve come across is Cheerful Soles: they offer free delivery on all orders and because returning items to them is hassle-free, they really do make online shoe-shopping as easy as possible!

If you are in the UK it’s probably best to restrict your shoe shopping to UK-based sights as buying from overseas can incur hefty postage costs if you have to send something back. That said, if you’re buying a brand you are familiar with and you know are likely to fit, it can be well worth taking advantage of the often cheaper costs of buying from abroad.

Your Suit – Pack it or Wear it?

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credit yves le gall freeimages.com
credit yves le gall
freeimages.com

We asked two of our bloggers to take two different views on the subject and leave it up to you….

Jake “Very Simple Rule: If your meeting is the day of the flight, you wear it, if it’s the next day, you pack it”. There are caveats to this rule: If it’s a high street suit, you should wear it because it might not recover in time for your meeting the next day. If your meeting is in the tropics, your suit might retain the moisture that keeps it wrinkled.

Other than those two conditions, however, it’s almost always better to fold your suit, shirts, and ties in a way that minimizes wrinkles and should result in a good look the next morning. Most hotel rooms have very warm, dry air, and this combined with steam from the shower actually helps in the straightening of wrinkles.

A tailor in Hong Kong taught me the best way to fold a suit.  Basically, you pull the sleeves and collar of your jacket inside out completely, so you could actually put it on inside out and wear it. Then, keeping the sleeves with the body of the jacket you fold it in half, then half again until it fits in your luggage. Click here to see more…..

Pants and dress shirts are easy, as they can be folded once, then rolled until no fabric is wrinkled, same as a tie. Just make sure that when you reach your destination, you pull your suit out and hang it immediately.

Greg “No contest. Pack it every time providing you have the right luggage!”

The Mission: Identify the perfect luggage which can accommodate 3 suits and five days worth of accessories and toiletries for your business trip. Ideally keep it under £300! A Tall order and where to begin?

Question 1: Should I go with a garment bag or a suitcase?

Question 2: What is the best make and model of the above for my purpose?

I use a wheeled bag designed for hanging garments such as suits, you hang the garment then the case folds in half zipping together. I get some wrinkles but they are gone by the first business day after hanging over night.

Why buy bespoke?

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teoman yukselThere’s no denying that buying a bespoke suit is an investment but when you consider that wearing a suit that’s been made to fit you and only you, will make you look taller, slimmer, fitter and younger – plus it’s likely to last a lifetime.

Buying an off-the-peg suit is easy: all you have to do is pop out of the office at lunch time, call in at your favourite menswear department and walk out with a brand new suit. However, ready to wear suits – even the most expensive ones – are cut from standard patterns and offer limited opportunities to add your own personal style.

Buying bespoke, on the other hand, offers so much more. Agreed bespoke suits are more expensive but nothing quite beats the confidence of wearing hand tailored garments that have been made to suit your exact size, shape and gait.

The bespoke process

Admittedly, if you’ve never bought bespoke before, the process can seem a little daunting. Choosing a tailor is the first step and although Savile Row is beyond most budgets, there are legions of great tailors providing bespoke tailoring throughout the UK – look no further than www.nortonandtownsend.com or if in doubt, ask for recommendations.

Even ordering a simple suit can get quite complicated as, unlike off-the-peg, your tailor will offer you the choice of hundreds of fabrics and styling options. Remember that your tailor will guide you through the process but it’s still a good idea to have some idea of what you want in advance. The internet is a great source of ideas and inspiration but if this is your first bespoke suit, it’s probably best to keep things simple.

Choosing the right cloth

Suiting cloth is available in a range of weights but as a general rule of thumb a mid-weight cloth is ideal for a suit that you’d wear for the majority of the year. Heavy-weight cloths are a tailor’s dream as the drape is fantastic but in reality will be far too warm for all but the coldest months. Lightweight cloths such as linen are ideal for keeping cool in hot summer weather and cashmere, although cashmere – considered to the most luxurious option – can look shiny. Again your tailor will advise you.

Know your suit style

The style of your suit is incredibly important and if you’re labouring under the illusion that the choice is limited to single or double-breasted then you need to think again. Single breasted jackets are by far and away the best sellers but when you take into account lapel size and width, pocket detailing, jacket length, waist and vent style or trouser width things can get a lot more complicated. This is where the knowledge and expertise of a bespoke tailor comes in and they will guide you towards the best suit style to suit your body shape and gait.

Buying bespoke is an unbeatable way to build your perfect suit and will ensure you get exactly what you want. Yes bespoke is more expensive than off the peg, but when it comes to handcrafted tailoring, made to fit you and only you, buying a tailor made suit is the only way to buy your perfect suit.

 

 

Do you know cut of your cloth? Suit fabrics explained

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Suit style is important but when it comes to buying a new suit, the cloth you choose should be the first consideration. Remember that a suit says a great deal about the wearer and is a great opportunity to showcase your style and personality to the world. A new suit should be chosen not only for the fit but also from the cloth from which it is cut.

Luckily there’s only a relatively small selection of fabrics which are suitable for suiting which helps to narrow down the choice but nevertheless a number of things should be taken into consideration when looking for that perfect cloth.

Breathability is important as no-one wants to feel hot and sweaty during the summer, whilst chattering teeth aren’t too pleasant when the temperatures drop in winter. Fabric softness should also be considered: itchy wool is likely to drive you made and a suit that feels to started and crisp offers little in the way of comfort. So what makes the ideal cloth for suiting? We asked for some advice from master tailors norton and townsend

Wool

Wool is the still the most popular choice when it comes to suits and this is largely down to its versatility and classic look. Wool is naturally breathable, making ideal for wearing throughout the majority of the year. Wool feels soft to the touch and is crease resistant; however it is sometimes dismissed as being bulky and unflattering by those who prefer more slimming fabrics.

Worsted wool

Extremely durable yet smooth to the touch, worsted wool cloth is a compact textile that does not need to be spun. Rather than being spun, worsted wool is combed using a carding process which leaves the longer strands of fibre to produce a fabric that is smooth yet tough. Worsted can be woven in a variety of ways to produce suiting cloth such as tweed, flannel or gabardine.

Cashmere

Cashmere is perceived to be the last word in luxury when it comes to suiting cloth but it can result in a shiny looking suit which is likely to make it unsuitable for work. On the other hand cashmere is unbeatable when it comes to creating the perfect suit for a wedding or formal occasion.

Cotton

Cotton is still a very popular choice for suits and you might be surprised to learn that sales of cotton suits come a close second to wool. Like wool cotton is completely natural and offers natural breathability and ease of movement; however it does tend to crease easily which can make a suit look scruffy or ill-fitting.

Linen

Cool, crisp linen makes a wonderful suit for summer and is synonymous with laid-back languid style. However, linen does crease easily – especially in humid climates – and is prone to staining, calling for regular dry cleaning to maintain the look of the suit.

Silk

A silk suit offers the last word in luxury. Breathable and naturally able to regulate your temperature, a silk suit will keep you warm in winter and cool in summer. The ideal choice for wedding or luxurious event, a silk suit is undeniably expensive but should be considered a worthwhile investment if you attend lots of black-tie functions.

Velvet

If a velvet suit makes you think of the 1970s and Liberace then think again. Luxurious, touchable and incredibly stylish when in the hands of a good tailor; a velvet dinner jacket looks can be worn year round.

A tailor made suit can prove an expensive investment so going bespoke means getting it right first time. When choosing fabric for a bespoke suit, think about when you’re planning on wearing it, your body shape and how comfortable you’d like to be. Take these factors into consideration and you’ll be fine.

 

 

 

 

 

How the Mod suit evolved

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thomas grayMods are synonymous with style: famous for wearing sharp suits and in complete contrast to the some of the scruffier ‘looks’ around in the late 50s, Mod fashion still has a classic aesthetic appeal and the tailored, sharp Mod-style suit is enjoying something of a resurgence.

The renaissance of Mod-style is due in part to celebrities such as Paul Weller and Sir Bradley Wiggins but also to a very British appreciation of bespoke tailoring. Not only was the suit as we know it invented on London’s Savile Row – still the centre of men’s tailoring – but almost every fashion cult was born here in the UK. In fact Mod could be described as the perfect combination of rebellion and convention which just happened to include a brand new version of the suit.

Although it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when Mod started but from the start the movement was defined by smart suits which were strongly influenced by Italian and French fashion, whilst listening to Modern Jazz. All-things Continental proved a strong influence with early Mods enjoying French films which became their style guide, fostering an appreciation for the suits worn by the actors rather than the content of the films themselves.

These style conscious Modern Jazz fans favoured a tailored look, a look that we still recognise today as the face of Mod fashion in the late 50s and throughout the 60s. The Mod look developed over time and sharply tailored suits with slim narrow lapels would gradually emerge as favourite look, complete with slim-fitting pointed collar shirts and Winklepicker shoes. The very height of cool, early Mods would take great pride in their appearance.

Mods have always liked a smart suit but over time the style evolved and updated. Jackets gradually became waisted and veered away from a boxier style. The length of the vents on a jacket became very particular points of style but lapels were always thin and trousers always slim fitting with narrow, tapered bottoms. Mohair was the suit cloth of choice and although the suit came to be viewed as a Mod ‘uniform’, in reality nothing could be further from the truth. Rather than being ‘uniform’, each suit was tailored to fit the wearer perfectly and the Mod’s love of individuality meant that bespoke was the only option.

Bespoke suits are expensive and this was certainly the case during the 1950s and 60s. However the Mod movement included a strong Jewish element and because many Jewish boys had fathers who just happened to be tailors, they had the contacts they need to make suits in the new Mod style. The Mod look is all about looking different though and for those who couldn’t access bespoke tailoring within their very limited budget, having chain store suits altered was the next best option.

Mod fashion is still going strong and some of the original Mod labels are still thriving. Mod fashion is still as accessible today as it was back in the 50s and 60s – after all, what could look smarter than a beautifully made bespoke suit?