Reiss Made to Measure

Personal tailoring is, without a doubt, the most magnetic vogue of the past five years. Since the New Dawn of the mid-noughties, the process of ‘getting something made’ has come on leaps and bounds.

Before this renaissance, tailoring only really existed in a few limited worlds. The most splendid of all, Savile Row, provided but small inspiration. The grand and dusty emporiums that make its name, rich with history and fame, lacked the democratic touch; the numbers in the ledgers forbade its bespoke experience to all but a privileged few.

New tailoring was inspired by the lack of something, not the presence of it; the void between off-the-rack and the Row. In addition to the new firms that sprouted to take advantage of the interest in competitively priced made-to-measure and bespoke suiting, bigger brands realised that they couldn’t be left behind. If customers started walking through the doors asking for ‘tailoring’, it would do the brand identity no favours if none could be offered.

Reiss have been quietly offering made-to-measure suiting for about three years. Unlike other premium high-street retailers, they haven’t really embellished their personal tailoring offer. There is no inaccurate guff about ‘full bespoke suits’ in their materials and their assistants rather bluntly referred to “the generic Reiss block” as being compatible with my frame. In fact, the explanation of the product is very simple and honest.

There is one small book of swatches of mostly pure wools, with a couple of cheaper poly-wools, and you’ll find most of them on the racks of suits in store. It isn’t a particularly varied book; there are few loud patterns, virtually nothing original. Slate grey and blues dominate, very much within the Reiss standard.

Beyond that, there are only five or six further stages to consider: choosing a suit or separates; a jacket style – tuxedo, one button, two button or double-breasted; a peak or notch lapel; slanted or straight pockets; cuff buttons; vents and trouser pleats.

The process is rather simple. Reiss measure you up in store, you make the vital choices and they order the suit to be made (in Morocco). It’s not oversold. In fact, the assistant I spoke to informed me that it was only about £100 more than the off-the-rack price and while this represented “a good price” the standard Reiss suit is already “pretty good.”

The average spend is about £600, which isn’t inexpensive. There is little to no personalisation, no hand-sewn details; “This is how it comes” the assistant said “it looks pretty much like a normal Reiss suit.” The example shown was almost entirely finished, ready for the fitting. “This guy was pretty small, as you can see.”

The only real problem with the product is that it won’t suit those who have their eye on natty fabrics, or interesting cuts; they can add a waistcoat, but only a single-breasted six button and if you want a suit like those worn by Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire, this is not for you.

However, for a great number of people, this is what they want from tailoring. A brand with high street presence that can offer fairly standard, slick-looking suits fitted to your frame – for a slight premium on the off-the-rack version. The swatch book is simple and the pricing transparent. It might not have the gilded glamour of an 18th century dressing room or the romance of a Parisian artisan but Reiss’ quiet personal tailoring service deserves a little amplification.

Autumn Staples

It’s difficult not to fall in love with a city like London during the autumn. The leaves that provided sun-dappled splendour in summer now crunch underfoot, scattered across the cobbles and tarmac like Nature’s confetti. The majestic clotted-cream buildings reflect the late afternoon’s strawberry pink light like some monumental meringue, and the cool October wind bites into the tanned skin of summer.

It’s also rather difficult not to fall in love with one’s autumn wardrobe. After the casual linen and cotton days of summer, falling back into the heavy formality of winter wools is a marvellous relief. The substantial jackets, the layering, the soft scarves that brush your cheek. October is always a happy time of re-appreciation. Central heating, which we were relieved to be rid of in April, is somehow fascinating and life-affirming; log fires, which had bored us by February, are once again a crackling theatre of fizz and flame. In summer we longed for natural living and warm weather’s simplicity; at this time of year, the wonders of the indoors sparkle again.

It is possible to get carried away with autumn replenishment. In many ways, selling stock in autumn is easier than at other times of year. The collections draw us in from the cold and tempt us with the reassurance of their utility as well as their design and we suddenly discover an intense need for mustard cord jackets, long scarves and huge cable jumpers that offer not only the necessity of warmth but also an indescribable cosiness that re-engages our senses with the pleasures of sartoria. By December a velvet blazer will be but a boring component of an unnecessarily long winter, but now it is a wonder. As summer’s heat pushed us further apart, autumn’s chill draws us closer together; affectionate hands will be momentarily thrilled by the unfamiliar brush of a velvet shoulder.

Some of the best items to celebrate autumn, and enable us to march confidently into the crimson horizon, are also the simplest. I have already written a paean to the wonderful Chelsea boot, the weekend footwear of choice for the coming months, but there are other staples that deserve a mention.

The first is the corduroy jacket, which is to autumn what seersucker is to summer; a go-to jacket for casual and semi-casual occasions that lends a professorial air to ensembles. The best thing about the beloved cord jacket is that it doesn’t matter if it gets a bit battered over time. You can add a couple of elbow patches, which is not something that is possible with most other jackets. The lapels can curl, the sleeves can be rolled up, but it doesn’t seem to matter when it’s corduroy. Its bohemian quality lends it an air of the artist. Add a proud silk puff and the rougher edges don’t seem to matter; it has another character, which is quite unique.

The second item is the fisherman’s jumper, an indulgence for a cold weekend and a veritable radiator for the body. The best thing about the fisherman’s jumper is that it isn’t a fake; it isn’t an item of design pretending to be an item of utility. Rather, it is an item of utility that has developed qualities of very individual design. It isn’t exactly something for decorative dandies, but it doesn’t preclude ornamentation either. Wear a cream cable-knit one with a silk or cotton cravat, slim jeans, oxblood tassel loafers and a warm winter coat for a functional, sporty but surprisingly elegant ensemble.

25 Iconic Cars for Style Aficionados’ Appreciation, Part 1

There are many beautiful and stylish cars that would be appreciated by style enthusiasts, but included on this list are only those that earned iconic status or were in some way influential.

1. Citroen DS

From the moment DS was unveiled at Paris Motor Show in 1955 it caused a stir among general public with it’s radical design and unconventional never-before-seen features. Editors of Classic & Sports Car magazine named Citroen DS “Most Beautiful Car.”

“The Citroën is a benchmark design, but we were still astonished that it came out on top when you look at the sexiness – and values – of some of its rivals” – James Elliott, editor of Classic & Sports Car.

2. Jaguar E-Type

Jaguar E-Type was the British sports car icon of the 60s. It was positioned at the top of the Daily Telegraph’s “100 most beautiful cars” list.

“The most beautiful car ever made.” – Enzo Ferrari

3. Aston Martin DB4/DB5

DB4 is responsible for establishing Aston Martin’s reputation. Unique Italian design and quality English construction made it a sensation of 1958 London Motor Show.

DB5 is a synonym for James Bond car appearing first in Goldfinger. Released in 1963, DB5 was evolved version of DB4 and most popular in DB series.

„Men like me don’t own vehicles like that. To paraphrase Jeremy Clarkson, if this car were a woman she would be out of my league.“ – Jim White, The Telegraph

4. Lotus Esprit

Italian ‘concept car’ design based on Lotus Europa chassis made for one of the most beautiful profiles of a car ever. Stunning looks secured many movie appearances, most notably in James Bond films. Built between 1976 and 2004.

„When Sean Connery was Bond he had an Aston Martin, when Roger Moore took over he got a Lotus, and that seemed somehow appropriate.“ Jeremy Clarkson, Top Gear

5. Ford Mustang

1965 Mustang was Ford’s most successful launch in modern history and originator of  ‘pony cars.’ Immortalized trough appearances in many movies starting with Goldfinger.

“I told the team that I wanted the car to appeal to women, but I wanted men to desire it, too.” – Joe Oros, Design Director

6. BMW New Class

Neue Classe is line of cars that revolutionized the definition of BMW. Beginning with production of a Sedan 1500 in 1962 and ending in 1976 with production of last cars of legendary 2002 Coupe.

“Its body is a work of precision, its construction a genuine masterpiece.” – A car magazine’s road tester

7. Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gull-Wing

Introduced in 1954 it was the fastest production car at the time. With cool distinctive gull wing doors it was the hottest car of the late 50s.

“The 300 SL is the ultimate in an all-around sports car. It combines more desirable features in one streamlined package than we ever imagined or hoped would be possible”
– Road & Track Editors

8. Mercedes Benz W113 SL Pagoda

Probably the most elegant Benz of them all the „Pagoda“ was made from 1963 until 1971. It had a tough act to follow (300SL Gullwing) but it immediately appealed to high-class Americans who bought almost half of the cars produced.

„That high, sleek roof has all the elegance of Jackie O’s casually tied headscarf or Sophia Loren’s loosely draped shawl.“ Jason Barlow, GQ

9. Porsche 356 Speedster

It was the first Porsche and true parent of legendary 911. It was much faster and cooler cousin of Volkswagen Beetle. James Dean had one.

„More than 60 years later, the Porsche 356 design holds it’s own against almost every car built before and since.“ – Ian Merritt, automotive journalist

10. Porsche 911

A classic sports car if there is one. Introduced in 1963, the 911 lived trough many changes and modifications but it is still marching strong under the same name. The original was built until 1989.

”I’ve always sold the Porsche as the kind of vehicle you can enter into a grand prix one day and drive your kid to kindergarten in the next,” – Bob Snodgrass, a Porsche dealer

11. Ferrari 250 GT Lusso

The most elegant of the Ferraris GT Lusso holds a special place in the legendary 250 series, the company’s most successful early line. Steve McQueen owned Lusso was sold few years ago at auction for $2.3 million.

„Most 250’s are beautiful but the Lusso stands out even in that crowd.“ – Peter Orosz, automotive journalist

12. Lamborghini Countach

Total of 2,042 cars were build. A dream car of many kids growing up in the 70s and 80s Countach was in production from 1974 to 1990. Its wedge-shaped design was copied ever since in many high performance sports cars.

„Nobody believed it was a car.” – Valentino Balboni, Lamborghini test driver

13. Mini

Lounched by British Motor Corporation in 1959, it stayed in production until 2000. Mini’s iconic status is unmatched. At The Car of the Century award Mini was voted the second most influential car, behind the Ford Model T.

“God damn these bloody awful bubble cars. We must drive them off the streets by designing a proper small car”. – Leonard Percy Lord, captain of the British motor industry.

Part 2 to follow…

Linkroll: Dandies, a Cad, and the Sartorialist…

• All the dandies together. (dandyportraits.blogspot.com)

• Interview with Cad and the Dandy. (stjames-style.blogspot.com)

• Sartorialist is still worth a visit now and then. (thesartorialist.com)

• Looking informally formal. (lordwhimsy.com)

• A closer look at Crittenden’s Ivy sport coat. (ivy-style.com)

• Why Pierre Cardin is greatest menswear brand of all time. (asuitablewardrobe.dynend.com)

• Affordable Italian brand: Tagliatore. (dieworkwear.com)

• A trip to Parisian shoemaker Aubercy. (part 1, part 2)

• Old cashmere is better. Unless you’re willing to go high-end. (putthison.com)

• An essay on belts. (tripenglish.wordpress.com)

• A shoemaker’s tools of the trade. (stylesalvage.blogspot.com)

• Style at the Olympics in the 1930s. (sartoriana.wordpress.com)

• Burgos shirts, Madrid. (permanentstyle.co.uk)

• Authentic Neapolitan style. (gentlemansgazette.com)

• For outdoor clothes turn to British. (greyfoxblog.com)

Linkroll: Gold Stripes, Alden, J.M. Weston…

• A rich man’s fabric: super 210s worsted with 24k gold stripes (suitorial.blogspot.com)

• Alden navy suede tassel mocc. (aheadlongdive.com)

• J.M. Weston’s new shop on Jermyn St. (theshoesnobblog.com)

• Loro Piana made-to-measure knitwear. (therakeonline.com)

• Favourite dressed-down formal combination. (permanentstyle.co.uk)

• Film: Invisable shoemaker. (vimeo.com)

• Tie tying in silence. (vimeopro.com)

• Discussion: List of bare necessities to avoid being poorly dressed. (styleforum.net)

• A great fall outfit. (thenordicfit.blogspot.fi)

• Wearing a neckerchief. (dresslikeagrownup.blogspot.com)

• Hanging out at a tailor’s shop. (asuitablewardrobe.dynend.com)

• Friday is for dressing up. (fineanddandyshopblog.com)