The Boardwalk Empire Suit

I recently wrote about the great utility of the mid-heavy weight brown suit, espousing its value for both town and country use. My musings on the subject provoked me to action, as they often do, and I decided to commission Cad & The Dandy to weave (or rather, sew) my dream of a Prohibition-era dandy suit into reality.

I decided to go for their machine stitched made-to-measure service. As my last Cad & The Dandy suit was a hand-stitched bespoke with a few fittings, I was slightly apprehensive but I needn’t have been. Yes, there are no basted fittings; the suit is virtually complete when you go for the first fitting, but this is what you get with made-to-measure and it isn’t being sold as anything else. The trousers, as ever, fit beautifully. As usual, I asked for double-pleats with no break, with side adjusters and brace buttons.

Another requirement was a double-breasted waistcoat. Waistcoats are, for me, a default with a tailored suit and double-breasted versions should, ideally, always be made-to-measure as the off-the-rack versions tend to be tighter at the waist than they are in the chest. For the jacket, I went for a peak lapel and two buttons. I was tempted by the more rakish, and currently fashionable, one-button but decided against it as it didn’t feel right for the ensemble. Another of my quirks is the ticket pocket on the right hand side; I never use it but love the asymmetry.

The fabric is a splendid chocolate brown wool cavalry twill from Holland & Sherry, which has a beautiful sheen in daylight and feels substantial enough to last half a lifetime. “You don’t see many brown suits” choked an acquaintance politely, when I was first shuffling about in it. Others were less kind; “Isn’t that more like a 70s suit? Something you’d wear to a cheesy disco with a gold flowery shirt?” Not in my book. This, to me, was a recreation of the earthy elegance of the Boardwalk Empire wardrobe, which is thick with unusual patterns and unfashionable colours.

I can predict the question on most people’s lips; is this as good as the bespoke hand-stitched suit? Yes and no. The half-canvas gives the chest a great shape, pinching perfectly at the waist. The thing that I miss is the wonderfully natural roll in the hand-stitched fully canvassed lapel. The point is, if you haven’t got the cash, the machine-stitched version enables you to have a star fabric for a very reasonable price. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the fully hand-stitched suit but it fits very well and is beautifully finished.