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Tailoring to a man’s needs

 “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society”.  Mark Twain

The modern man’s suit was born in the Regency era in the United Kingdom. After this period, court garments stopped being associated with affectation and started being designed to liberate the wearer.

That sounds surprising for my fellow Italians, who think our country is the epicentre of fashion.

Graham Browne, one of the many bespoke tailors in London, is focused on a ‘city style’ and I went to visit him to find out what this means.

A bespoke tailor makes a suit to the specific measurements, taste and style of his or her customer. The cut and fabrics are essential to make a suit fit perfectly.

No shortcuts

Cutting is the most important part of tailoring. It dictates the shape and determines fit.

For the tailor, the secret to achieving both of these things is touching the cloth many times. It is essential to feel the material in order to know how it will react to the shears.

There are many fabrics with which you can make a suit. Some are more heavy and thick, others light and fine and not all of them will please the sensibilities of a client.

A well-fitted suit that is made with average quality fabric is always better than a suit with high quality materials but that fits badly.

English Style vs Italian Style

The English suit is more conservative than the Italian suit. It aims to make the best of its wearer, manipulating the shape and working against gravity.

The English style is influenced by the lines of the military uniform, such as the longer front and the hourglass-shaped hacking jacket; this shape puts emphasis on the chest and shoulders.

The British cut tries to build a structure, where your body can feel comfortable, but it also accentuates a man’s figure and minimises his imperfections.

Whereas a Neapolitan suit, which customarily comes with high armholes, little padding and other features designed to make the wearer feel relaxed, the British suit is more formal and consequently gives the wearer a feeling of power.

The need for a sensation of power is directly related to the goals of the quintessential city businessman.

The heavy canvassing and shoulder padding produce both a physical and psychological effect. The strong lines make the wear look much more muscular than she or he actually is.

The suit is also a way to mark yourself out from the crowd and reflect your social standing.

The most important points are the shoulders, chest, waist and the lines. The suit is structured to fit to the wearer; to make him look different and comfortable at the same time.

Materialistic

There are a vast variety of fabrics available and the ideal one for a particular suit will depend on the context it is to be worn in.

Firstly, clothes are a protection: they have to stop you feeling too cold or warm. They should also promote a sense of luxury and softness with cashmere and wool being the most commonly used in winter for warmth.

There are other fabrics derived from wool, such as flannel, tweed, gabardine, and fresco. All of these have a different weight and feel.

However, nowadays, the temperature inside offices are more stable and people do not need to wear very warm clothes for work. For hot weather, cotton, silk and linen are mainly worn. Also, light cashmere can be used or silk blended with wool.

Tailors rarely use synthetic materials. While cheap, they are not recommended by experts because they can cause skin irritations.

Finally, here some tips from Graham Browne on how to get the most from your suit:


  1. Only wear your suit once a week because the fibres require time to recover after being worn;
  2. Avoid stretching;
  3. Give your suit fresh air;
  4. Hang it properly;
  5. Use good quality clothes brushes to groom your suit and do not dry clean frequently.

Men’s suits will always have a place in a world that requires individuals to show that they respect the people they are meeting, at occasions as diverse as weddings and court proceedings.

With every body shape being unique, the bespoke suit remains the only way to achieve the ultimate look.

 

Words & film by Stefania Barbaglio

Find out more about Graham Browne: www.grahambrowne.co.uk

More articles by the author:

The luxury of fish and chips

Enabling a life without limits

Wheelchair bound: The importance of feeling independent

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