Category Archives: Tailoring

Tailoring where you don’t expect it – Chef Whites

When we think of tailored clothing, our minds tend to go straight to business or wedding suits. If you’re lucky to have a job where putting on a made to measure suit is part of your day to day routine then you might consider tailoring to be part of your ‘work wear’. If not tailoring is irrelevant to our work uniforms, right?

Well in one profession, the classic appearance of the work uniforms involved, means that looking at a tailored fit is essential to create the right impression. For chefs and kitchen staff, getting the classic chef white look is so important that manufacturers and suppliers provide garments with panelled constructions, like a tailored suit jacket, to make sure that the fabric shapes the body in the right way.

With customers making judgements on the quality of an establishment based on the appearance of staff, finding uniforms that are a great fit makes a real difference. The sartorial detail often goes as far as replicating the mandarin collar look, which has been the standard finish to chefs jackets since the emergence of what is now the commonplace chef outfit which arrived in the nineteenth century.

As well as more recent practical development to the tailored construction of kitchen clothing, such as the addition of mesh panelled backs for temperature management in recent years, we’ve also seen the emergence of chef whites which are specifically tailored to be more flattering to the female figure. With women’s chef jackets having a panelled construction for a fit which hugs the best and waist more, for a more feminine silhouette, the world of tailoring has certainly started to make a telling difference to work wear well beyond the confines of business suits.

Whilst not made exactly to measure for each individual, the greater thought that is put into manipulating the shape of a garment through the construction and cutting of fabric is a replication of the principles of tailoring as a discipline. The use of chest darts to shape the fabric around the shape of the body rather than simply having excess fabric billowing out is characteristic of this change and just one way in which the methodology of tailoring has been applied to more practical work wear, when it needs that stylistic flourish.

Similarly, for many women’s chef jackets, we’ve seen greater consideration given to the width of the ‘scye’ (the whole of fabric through which the arm passes into the sleeve) in order to give the arm a more fitted look. This is another approach which comes from the world of more traditional tailoring, and reflects the way that suit cuts have developed in more recent years, with closer fits all round, including around the sleeve.

So there you have it, tailoring in functional work wear for the heat of the kitchen, not exactly where you’d expect it!

What to consider when buying a suit

A guest blog from Norton & Townsend

The purchase of a suit for any occasion can be an expensive and time consuming process. Whether for a wedding, a job interview, an evening suit or just a casual spezzato style suit having a list of considerations in your mind can help make sure you end up with the right suit at the end.


It sounds like an obvious one, but it is often overlooked by those buying new suits. What is the suit for? Does it have a particular purpose or is it for a certain occasion? For formal occasions, the dinner jacket might be required. Consider the colour and fabric of the jacket, as well as the type of lapel. For a formal jacket for example in this case, typically a shawl collar will be required. Making sure the suit you buy matches the stylistic requirements of the occasion isn’t the only aspect of suitability however. The material of the suit also plays a part.


Not only does the material of the suit affect its style, but also importantly it can have practical implications as well. Take into account the time of year you’ll be wearing the suit. Heavier jackets (this information will typically be available in grams per square metre) will keep you warmer during the winter months, particularly those with a high wool content. High quality tailors will often work with a local supplier for fabrics particularly wool, in the Yorkshire region for example Moon & Sons are well known as a supplier of wool products. Lighter fabrics are naturally more suited to warmer months.

Your Body

Everyone has a different shape and it only makes sense that one size doesn’t fit all. This is one of many ways in which bespoke tailored suits have a real edge on off the peg options. Whilst you may be able to buy suits which in theory come on different sizes, these are scaled up in particular proportions. So if you need a longer leg, you’ll also need to go for a wider fit around the leg, if you need a longer arm, you’ll need to longer fit around the body. This ‘Mr. Average’ fir doesn’t really suit anyone.

For tall or slender gentlemen, often going with a slimmer fit of trouser and arm can be a great look, avoiding excess fabric and that ‘drowning in material’ look. But you’ll also need longer arm and leg measurements for example.
Short gentlemen might need a shorter jacket skirt, muscular men a wider cut around the shoulder, a wider cut of the arm Scye and so on. These aren’t factors that are taken into account with off the peg suits. Your body is unique, so why shouldn’t your suit also be? Considering the shape of your body ought to be one of the main consideration when buying a suit.


Everyone likes value, but learning to spot it takes time. The cheapest price isn’t always the best value. Buying a suit is one such example. The comparatively poor quality of suits that are bought off the rack, mean that although they might be cheaper at face value, the fact that they’ll only last a few wears mean that this can be a bit of a false economy. Buying a bespoke suit, which is well constructed with high quality durable materials which will last you longer than an off the peg suit might well offer better value for money.

Best of British

steve knightThe last few months have seen a host of British male celebs taking to the red carpets.  But let’s face it even without the awards ceremonies and film premieres,  every week the world’s best-dressed men get photographed looking polished and sleek while going about their daily lives.

We all know that every red carpet appearance is accompanied by a plethora of styling professionals but it’s amazing how those guys with true personal style still manage to stand out, even in every day get-up

So is there anything we mere mortals can learn about style from their well-executed wardrobe choices?

Tight fit….

Sharp cuts and tight fits are still a shortcut to style. But we’re not talking blood-stopping skinny jeans here.  Take “fitted” into suit jackets, shirts and trousers. They just make everything look better.  Think  Eddie Redmayne. The 34 year old is well versed in pulling off a very specific look.  His potential was spotted early on when he starred in Burberry campaigns and his impeccable style has been described as “ boarding-school pupil interning at a private equity firm goes to wedding” .  But even in dress down mode he teams chinos with fitted shirts and jumpers to keep it casual but sleek.

Whatever the weather…

If youre making an appearance in the UK your look needs to reconcile the brutal and often unseasonable British climate with razor-sharp style?  Ditch the tie and wrap on a scarf whilst keeping your look dark and monochrome to reflect the weather, and you’ll be able to combine functionality with celeb approved style.

Check it out …..

A three-piece suit isn’t always an easy look to pull off, but Gary Barlow was spotted recently smashing it.  The muted charcoal tones of his three piece with a discrete subtle toned check introduced both pattern and colour .

Broadly speaking…..

Every appearance Idris Elba makes these days appears to be a screen test to be the next 007.  His physique and potential for the role was shown off to its best with a tight fitted broad shouldered jacket with a fitted waist.  Definitely shaken not stirred!

Make mine a double …..

Well built, stylish men will know that double-breasted jackets are always their friend. Put them in a traditional single breasted jacket and their broader upper bodies tend to look box-like.  But a well fitted DB jacket makes a feature of a V-shaped torso and add peak lapels and you get the ultimate in streamlined outline.

Ditch the shirt…..

Recently seen on screen in everything from swashbuckling Russian army uniform to dog-collar, James Norton proves that down-dressing is never a bad thing. Ditching  the shirt for a T-shirt with suit can be a hard look to pull off (never go for a V or scoop neck) but the War and Peace actor nails it, keeping under layers lighter to separate mismatched trouser and jacket combo while ultimately pulling together the whole look.
So take a style note from the Best of British to update your look as we head into Spring!

How to choose the perfect fabric for your tailor made suit

Jorge Oliveira

Credit Jorge Oliveira

If you think a suit is just a suit then you’d be wrong. From the style of jacket or trouser, through to the choice of colour or fabric, a great-looking suit will give you confidence, earn you respect and create a strong first impression. However, buying the perfect suit isn’t easy and with a wide range of places and people to buy suits from, you need to choose a suit that looks smart, suits you and your lifestyle.

When it comes to style, looking good is often about how you wear something rather than what you’re wearing. Conversely, wearing a suit actually plays a crucial role in how you wear it and with this in mind, buying a suit made from the best quality cloth will go a long way towards how good it looks and feels to wear.

Cheap suit equals cheap fabric

As a general rule of thumb, the cheaper the suit the cheaper the fabric. It’s worth mentioning at this point that man-made materials can often make a suit look shiny, so bear in mind that a pure wool suit, on the other hand, will retain its shape thanks to the natural spring of the cloth. It is possible to buy a good wool suit ‘off-the-peg’ and some of the best known names on the high street make affordable, great-quality suits, but if you’re looking for unbeatable fit, tailor made or bespoke are definitely where it’s at.

The old adage ‘buy cheap spend more’ is true when it comes to tailoring and investing in a handcrafted suit means buying a garment that will last a lifetime, but if you’ve never bought a bespoke garment before, the process can seem a little intimidating at first. Great fabric really is the key to a great looking suit but if you’re choosing from a selection of swatches (some tailors carry as many as 20,000) it can be difficult to picture what the finished suit will look like. A good trick to try is to hold the fabric against your wrist as this will help you envisage yourself wearing it and remember that the cloth is likely to appear lighter in colour once the suit is finished. If you’re worried the colour is too light, the chances are that it will be so go for a shade darker.

The heavier the cloth the better the drape

Although suits are much lighter in weight than they once were, it’s wise to choose a cloth that’s as heavy as possible bearing in mind when and where you’ll wear it. The heavier the cloth the better the drape and a mid-weight cloth (11oz – 12oz) would be ideal for wearing for the majority of the year in the UK. If this is to be your first bespoke suit, this is the best weight to start with.

Wool is used to make the majority of bespoke suits and worsted or woollen yarns can be woven to produce tweed, flannel or gabardine to name but a few. Although cashmere or a cashmere-blend are widely considered to be luxury options, it’s worth bearing in mind that it can look shiny. If this is the look you’re after then fine but if you’d like a more traditional English look, wool is the better option.

There’s no denying that buying a bespoke suit is a major investment so if you’re still not sure which fabric to choose, ask for some swatches to take home and think about. Take your time choosing and take the advice of your tailor as his experience should guide you towards the best fabric: remember that a great looking suit is the perfect advertisement and he wants you to look good just as much as you do!




How to master the art of tailoring

Britain – or Saville Row to be more specific – is famous for being the birth place of impeccably crafted tailoring and whilst a handcrafted suit should be a staple part of the wardrobe of any sharp-dressed man, choosing the perfect type of fit can prove to be very confusing indeed.

Perfecting the art of tailoring isn’t easy but once you’ve discovered that perfect fit, great tailoring has the potential to make you look and feel fantastic. First things first and you need to make sure that your suit fits you perfectly. Now this might sound simple: surely it’s just a question of going to a menswear store and picking out a suit a jacket in your size, right? Unfortunately this is wrong and investing in a suit that flatters your size and shape means visiting a bespoke tailor who will take many detailed measurements to ensure that your suit covers your sartorial needs perfectly.

The art of tailoring isn’t simply measuring, cutting and sewing a garment: a skilled tailor will use their expertise to assess your body shape and gait to create a garment that’s made to fit you perfectly. Experienced tailors also understand fabric intimately and will guide you towards a choice of cloth that is suitable for the style of suit you have in mind.

Choosing a style of suit that flatters your shape is important and as a very basic rule of thumb, remember that double-breasted suits are a good choice for tall, slim men whilst single-breasted suits are a relatively safe all-round option. Again your tailor will be able to advise you on the best style and cut to suit your body shape.

Fashions change and with an almost limitless choice of style options available, choosing those all-important details can be daunting. However, this is where bespoke tailoring really comes into its own as buying a tailor made suit offers the opportunity to achieve an individual look that complements your style and personality. A longer length jacket gives a classic look whilst a shorter jacket looks more contemporary. If you’re a little on the short size then you should go for a short jacket as this will make your legs look longer but if height isn’t an issue, either length will work for you.

Getting the length and width of the sleeves right is very important: if the sleeves of the jacket are too long, the whole jacket will look too big, even if the rest fits perfectly. A hand tailored bespoke jacket will have sleeves that finish at your wrist bone and will allow ½ an inch of shirt cuff to show. The sleeves of a suit jacket should never be too tight or at the other extreme of being loose and too baggy.

Trouser fit and cut is equally important as the suit jacket and it’s worth bearing in mind that slimmer trousers will add height. It can pay to go as slim as you dare when it comes to cut but spray-on suit trousers are a definite no-no! The length is also important as wider trousers should sit lower down over your heels whilst narrow-fit trousers should sit on the top of your shoe. It’s Ok for your socks to show when you sit down – if in doubt, treat yourself to some smart socks!

Who buys a bespoke suit?

image credit myles davidson

image credit myles davidson

Who buys a bespoke? The simple answer is anyone! As little as twenty years ago buying a bespoke suit meant visiting Savile Row and the sort of people who visited Savile Row was limited to barristers, bankers and politicians. In short you were not just anyone.

Times have changed though and buying bespoke is becoming increasingly common. Although Savile Row prices still make a trip ‘up west’ the preserve of the wealthier gent, affordable bespoke tailors are setting up shop across London and around the UK. There’s nothing quite like a bespoke suit and with its exquisite detailing and superb quality fabrics, tailor-made is a rapidly growing trend amongst professional men as awareness grows and prices fall.

This might sound an obvious questions but what is a bespoke suit? A truly bespoke suit is one-of-a-kind: handcrafted to fit you and only you. Don’t be confused or misled by suits which are described as ‘made-to-order’ or ‘hand-finished’ – these are off-the-peg garments which are made using standard patterns and won’t take into account your unique measurements, body shape and gait.

What has driven this increase in demand for bespoke tailoring? It’s hard to identify anything specific but the advent of online shopping has made male consumers more engaged and therefore more discerning when it comes to fashion. Today’s men are looking for something individual and this is where bespoke tailoring comes in: despite the fact that it’s clearly not possible to buy a bespoke suit online, men now see custom tailoring as a way to make their mark.

The very best tailors recognise what men in the know have known for some time: a suit makes a man. Wearing a bespoke suit demonstrates that you understand detail, take pride in your appearance and are professional. In today’s competitive world donning a bespoke suit is an unbeatable way to stand out from the crowd.

Another factor which may lie behind the rise in demand for bespoke is the increasingly competitive job market. Everyone works hard these days to develop their own personal ‘brand’ and employers know this. It’s now a fact that the biggest employers in the UK search social media when recruiting new staff and look for people who know how to present themselves. Turning up at an interview wearing a cheap, ill-fitting suit just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore.

There’s a world of difference between a truly bespoke suit and a cheaper, made-to-measure custom suit and this is reflected in the price of bespoke tailoring. Whilst there’s no denying that ‘going bespoke’ is still not a cheap option, if you’re undecided as to whether to take the plunge, it’s worth bearing in mind that a bespoke suit will last decades and, provided you don’t become emaciated or pile on the pounds, could easily outlive you. This makes the investment in bespoke tailoring well worth considering.

At Norton & Townsend, based countrywide, they have an insight into one of their markets “Many men buy bespoke for the first time when they get married and what better excuse could there be than buying a beautiful, handcrafted suit to buy on your big day? After all, if your bride is going to spend big money on a dress…”

Wedding suits aside, a bespoke suit also makes an incredibly useful and versatile addition to your professional wardrobe. Yes it might cost more than an off-the-peg version but the self-confidence that comes with wearing bespoke is pretty hard to beat and you never know, it might just give you that competitive edge you’ve been looking for. So if you think you’re the type of man that would never wear bespoke, don’t you think it’s time to think again?