Having your clothes made is an addictive business. No sooner is one commission finished than you begin to plan the next.
Whether it’s bespoke or top end made to measure, the knowledge that you can have your heart’s desire made real is a powerful temptation; and like Oscar Wilde ‘I can resist all things but temptation’.
As it happens I’ve already commissioned a second suit from a new tailor recommended by Adam Atkinson of CHERCHBI. This suit is rather pedestrian in comparison to the last, a simple single breasted navy suit with peak labels.
But before the cloth has even been cut I’m considering my next commission. There are innumerable options but I have rounded it down to a few basic concepts. The first is the weekend suit.
According to my father, when he and my aunt were children my grandfather would go to the football every Saturday afternoon without fail. The uniform for this occasion was suit and tie, raincoat and cap. He was by no means alone; this was the uniform for all the men of this era (1950s). Remarkable really, when you consider he was a toolmaker in the local car factory.
Since then society has increasingly moved towards the informal in its modes of dress. It is odd then that we still admire most those men whose wardrobe staple, at work rest or play, was the suit. The pictures of them we most keenly study almost always see them suited.
Of course, in those pictures the guises of the suit are more varied than we are used to seeing today. Who now owns a white flannel suit for summer? Few enough own even linen suits, or wear tweed suits in the countryside. But the point is that a suit need not be grey or blue and it can be worn with just as much casual aplomb as jeans and a shirt, to infinitely better effect.
In truth, no single item in a man’s wardrobe flatters the essence of manliness quite like a suit. If well cut and well made, it is nothing short of armour in which to take on the daily trials of life; in one swift stroke it hides, disguises, conceals, enhances and augments. Only a military uniform, I would imagine, could empower the wearer more. And yet like most men of my generation I am inexorably dragged kicking and screaming towards ever greater informality of dress.
But, having matured in years and feeling less and less concerned about the opinions, or approval, of others I have come to the conclusion that what I need is a casual suit.
I want something as natural to throw on of a weekend when going out as my chinos and jean jacket. I want something which I can where as comfortably to dinner or a bar on a Saturday night as I can to visit a shirt maker or fashion show; something which is a suit, but doesn’t necessarily feel like one. Of course I doubt I’ll ever muster the casual, easy aplomb demonstrated by Bryan Ferry. But hope springs eternal.
To that end it’s not so much the style of suit that’s important as the cloth. The basic rule of thumb for suiting is that the further away you move from plain grey and navy blue worsted cloth the less formal and less business appropriate the suit is. This provides many options including cord, cotton and linen. However, I’ve decided that my weekend suit needs to be a bold check and a wool cloth.
My feeling is that any plain cloth would still be a little too formal for my project, and while cord would be less formal it lacks seasonal versatility. Linen, even a check linen cloth, would have the same problem. But a wool cloth of around 10oz with some form of bold check would provide the seasonal flexibility I’m after – except on all but the hottest days – while checks have a natural informality. They also resonate with country tweeds and so seem a much more fitting material for a weekend suit. I have seen this concept of the weekend or casual suit done well and it’s one I’m desperate to get underway. But, as I have some equally pressing needs within my suiting armoury I’ve held fire.
In the next posting I’ll highlight two other concepts under active consideration.