Monday, August 24, 2009

Suits : An Evolutionary Tale

by MTM

Having been recently bitten by the bespoke suit bug, I have been on a sartorial evolution. I started off with a cut that reflects an English style - tapered waist with a structured shoulder and body. However, since then, I have discovered the practicalities of softer Neapolitan cuts. The style and cut I have been evolving to can be summarised as a closer fitting cut with very high armholes and a pronounced waists. This is representative of the cut offered by Cesare Attolini. I have been alternating my sleeve head between roping and shirt shoulders. My next project will have what the Italians call "waterfall shoulders" where there are dimples that form on the shoulder when they ease excess sleevehead material into a smaller armhole.

Photo 1 : 6X2 double breasted jacket with white Mother of Pearl (MOP) buttons. The fabric is a VBC S120 wool hopsack. The hopsack is appropriate for Hong Kong Summers because of the open weave nature of the fabric allows it to breath. Note that the entire suit is unstructured with very little canvas and shoulder padding.

Photo 2 : Two button single breast suit with smoked MOP buttons. The fabric is Holland & Sherry Cashique (a mix of S150, cashmere and mulberry silk) and has an indigo tonal chalk stripe. While this fabric is very thin it is actually not as cool as the VBC. This is because the Cashique has a tighter weave and hence doesn't breathe as well. This particular suit was based on an English cut and has very structured shoulders, which actually flattens out my shoulders.

Photos 3 & 4 : Two button single breasted suit with brown horn buttons and peaked lapel. The fabric is Charles Clayton S120 Prince of Wales check. The cut is based on Tom Ford. Tom Ford's recent foray into men's fashion has produced very pronounced lapels. My tailor managed to get his hands on an example and deconstructed it for me. There is more waist suppression and the pants are particularly snug. The lapels are huge at 4.25 inches.
Photo 5 : Three-roll-to-two button single breasted suit with black horn buttons. The fabric is a vintage cloth I found at a well known Hong Kong establishment, WW Chan. It is and unbranded worsted wool fabric. Its S number is not specified, which means that it is likely below 100. It is charcoal in colour with a burnt orange and light grey pin stripe. The cut is based on a Cesare Attolini jacket. Here is a note on cloth - some place a lot of importance on high S fabrics, however a higher S number does not necessarily mean better fabric.
Generally, the higher the S number, the more expensive is the fabric. High S fabrics allows weavers to make lighter and highly patterned cloth due to the fineness of the fibers. While the fabric is lighter, softer and generally more luxurious, they are not as durable for frequent wear. This is fine if one has sufficient suits to rotate on a monthly basis. However, this is rather impractical unless you have a large number of suits. In building my wardrobe, I have opted for a mixed of high and low S numbered fabrics. More recently, I have been gravitating towards S100 or S120 high twist fresco fabrics. They are much more durable and the open weave makes them a better choice for Hong Kong Summers. These fabrics also offer greater structure and tend to wrinkle less, making them ideal for business travel - sitting on planes and scooting in and out of taxis.
As for fabrics, I have a personal preference for English fabrics over Italian fabrics. While Italian fabrics are held in good regard, may Neapolitan tailors have a preference for English fabrics, particularly tweed and flannels. Neapolitan tailors like Rubinacci and Attolini along with Florentine tailor Liverano & Liverano all carry a huge selection of fabrics made under special order from English mills.

Photos 6 & 7 : My latest project for Winter - a two button single breasted jacket with patch pockets. The fabric is Harrisons Moonbeam made from Angora and lambswool. The drape is absolutely beautiful. My tailor has also taken great lengths to ensure that the patterns match, an exercise that required extra fabric and care.

Now a note on fit. Notice the bunching on the right hip. This indicates that there seems to be excess fabric on my right. It breaks the smoothness that is created by the rest of the jacket. This can be fixed by lifting the fabric at the right shoulder seam. This actually suggests that, all thing being equal, my right shoulder has a slight "drop" over my left, which needs to be compensated by the tailor.


Anonymous said...

the dress material looks very nice,the fabric is good and everything is fabulous.


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Ed Charles said...

I like the extra pocket on The Prince of Wales Check. I have a classic cut d/b Prince of Wales in Holland & Sherry that I had made at Zink & Co is Sydney. You've reminded me that I must take it out for a spin for lunch this week.

It's like wearing a suit of armour.

The Sydney Tarts said...

Mate, looking very dapper ;-)
Loving the suits.

Gautam said...


Any chance of a higher-res pic of your 4.25" lapels? Would you happen to have any DB's with 4.25" lapels?