Tailoring Fads I’ll Be Avoiding

“You can only be brought up with taste” a professional acquaintance of mine opined “despite what people think, you can’t buy it and you can’t learn it quickly. It takes so long.”

His opinion is worth respecting. He is mature of year and very well thought of in luxury circles.

“You see so many people copying something, but they always make a mistake, or they focus on the wrong thing.”

It was these words that stayed with me when thinking about how easy, to some degree, copying something is.

Arguments can be had till the cows come home about the differing quality of tailors, whether off-the-rack is better than cheap made-to-measure and which bespoke tailor produces the finest Milanese buttonholes.

The reality is, for the vast majority of those who aren’t Tumblr-addicted forumites that the co-creative process in menswear has experienced a renaissance. Not since before the turn of the 20th century have we seen such a capability to add our own touches, accents and identity to the pieces we buy.

Personalisation is now all the rage.

Of course, for some, personalisation is, and always has been, the name of the game. Tailors have long traded on it; something made for you, with your preferred cut, in your preferred cloth, with your preferred details. It has always been the great ego-rub, the only solution for a man who has conquered everything else. Chiefs, Kings and Sultans would only ever have something made to their specifications. Tailors are there to do their bidding.

However, personalisation is, ultimately, rather dangerous.

Which Chief, King or Sultan could be accused of being a ‘perfect ruler’?

For personalisation to be ‘perfect’ it assumes perfection in those making the command. Of course, a fawning tailoring brand, desperate for public exposure, would say that the pink stitching on your lapel is daring, inventive and brilliant on social media; secretly they think it’s hideous, and they kind of resent you associating their brand with your appalling taste.

“You can have thinner lapels” says the tailor to the client with square-toed shoes and an earring, but under his breath he is fuming that his far superior sense of design and taste is being ignored. An angry tailor is not a happy sight. And you’d wish to goodness they’d just send the non-conforming clients away with a flea in their ear, but they can only do this when they can do without the business. Otherwise the flattery must continue.

In order to provide clarity on my own views of ‘taste’, I have listed out some fads of personalisation that I have seen but will be avoiding.

Coloured buttonhole stitching

One of the laziest customization options from e-tailors is that of coloured buttonhole stitching.

It’s ‘personalisation’ for the sake of it. It doesn’t work and it looks cheap and, arguably, like the tailor ran out of thread of the correct tone.

How is having yellow buttonhole stitching on a charcoal suit ‘showing your identity and personality’?

Skinny lapels

One of the fads that came about through fashion’s adoption of 1960s tailoring (think Hedi Slimane at Dior Homme) is the demand for skinny lapels.

This rarely works. You usually have to be skinny and tall. It’s somewhat androgynous, and therefore won’t work with classic menswear, which is structured and masculine.

Double buttonhole on the lapel

This is one of those ‘just to be different’ BS ‘personalisations’ that has no heritage and no purpose. Like coloured buttonhole stitching, it’s distracting and looks like a blind tailor made a mistake.

Piping on the lining

This has long been controversial. The lining of a suit has been sold to those new to tailoring as the one place in which their taste and personality can be really expressed.

The problem is that vast multitudes seem to have absolutely no taste and a personality that suggests an aging portrait in the attic.

Most tailors that offered you the chance to choose your lining colour and piping to match – “Allowing you amazing colour combinations!” – have now retreated and only offer a select number of linings, due to the repeated horrors of aligning vomit yellow with toilet cleaner pink.


  1. LAStyleGuy said:

    You are spot on, Winston. Funny you’d mention the custom buttonhole stitching. There’s a reality TV show in the US–Million Dollar Listing LA–where a bunch of 30-something male realtors parade people through expensive homes. Each of them has cuffs adorned with the contrasting stitching on one buttonhole (I’m assuming they’re all outfitted by the same wardrobe person.) You can spot it a mile away, even on TV, and I don’t know whether to laugh or scream when I imagine the realtors gushing about how wonderful they look.

    September 17, 2015
  2. ANON said:

    re skinny lapels the suit Bill Clinton wore to his daughter’s wedding is a good illustration of your point (probably made worse by the fact his suit is too big for him due to his daughter putting him on a crash diet beforehand – http://tinyurl.com/ouw7c9n ).

    I suppose it is conceivable that if a coat had lapels that sat very high on the chest a double buttonhole might have a practical purpose (but only if matched by two buttons on the reverse of the opposite lapel, which is clearly never the case).

    September 17, 2015
  3. Matt said:

    Here’s my list:

    1. Skinny fit suits. They are almost guaranteed to look awful unless you’re built like a 10 year old girl.

    2. Double buttonholes in the lapel. Pointless and naff, particularly if they are also of the keyhole variety and thus shouldn’t be on a lapel in the first place.

    3. Leaving cuff buttons undone to ‘subtly’ advertise the fact that your suit is bespoke / M2M. A conceited affectation which puts one in mind of that Harry Enfield character who used to approach people in bars and bawl “I couldn’t help noticing that I’m considerably richer than you!”

    4. Coloured silk flashings under the buttons on the jacket cuffs. Serves no purpose other than to alert others to the fact that the wearer has ‘subtly’ left their first cuff button undone.

    5. Ties which are tied incorrectly on purpose. By this I mean a tie that is deliberately tied so that the rear blade is longer than that at the front and hangs down and slight to one side. Ironically it is the complete opposite of the sense of sprezzatura that the hapless wearer is usually trying to convey.

    September 17, 2015
  4. Bags said:

    Yeah, perfect fitted suit is very important. Even in some professions it is neccessary… but nowadays it is hard to find proper tailor. Tailoring is art which is slowly dying…

    September 21, 2015
  5. Simon said:

    Great article.

    How about the fad of wearing suits with no socks. It looks awful!

    September 22, 2015
  6. Matt said:

    I someone walking around Midtown NYC yesterday wearing a jacket with 3 buttonholes cut into the lapel. It appears we may be entering an arms race of misplaced buttonholes!

    September 24, 2015
  7. Brian said:

    What about those who believe only their opinion matters, and is “correct” ? Is an unbuttoned sleeve vent uglier than a narcissistic, pretentious windbag? The only rule in personal style should be, don’t push yours anyone else.

    October 7, 2015

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