There have been many questions lately from many sides, about my experiences with London tailors Cad & The Dandy. Many of you who follow my own blog will be aware that over the last year or so I’ve had three suits made by them, marking my rite of passage into the bespoke world. So, given that I picked up the latest of these three just last month, I thought that it might be time to set the record straight and offer you a comprehensive insight into my dealings with Cad & The Dandy.
Let’s begin at the beginning then, because Cad & The Dandy are to all intents and purposes, a rather controversial tailors, as far as the London tailoring scene goes. Many gentlemen (me included) are initially drawn towards Cad & The Dandy, because they offer an accessible entry into the world of bespoke tailoring. Personally tailored suits start at £550.00 and full-bespoke at £950.00. All their suits, regardless of whether they’re machine made or fully handmade are cut from a paper pattern in true bespoke tradition which, as with the genesis of a bespoke fitting suit, hugely increases the fit of any of their suits from the outset.
My first order, around a year ago, was a navy blue gabardine three-piece suit, made using Cad & The Dandy’s half-handmade service which I can confirm provides exceptional value for money. For a first suit, the fit achieved without a basted fitting (basted fittings are only available when using the fully handmade service) is quite frankly remarkable.
The marvellous thing about Cad & The Dandy’s half handmade service is how much the jacket feels like a full-bespoke piece. The jacket is made by a coat maker, rather than on a production line (as with their machine made suits) and this allows the lapels to be hand-padded, giving them a lovely roll and body – they come out looking and feeling precisely the same as full-bespoke lapels. The chest is still padded and canvassed by hand too, to give it the curvature and body in the chest canvass, which only a bespoke suit can offer. These benefits are hugely noticeable and I would always recommend this service over Cad & The Dandy’s machine made service, although that too offers a very good entry-level option.
The only thing to be aware of is that the half-handmade canvass feels rather heavy on. With my three piece suit, made up in a thirteen ounce, double-milled cloth, I find on occasion that it can get quite hot – something I haven’t experienced on either of my fully-handmade suits, which no doubt about it, do breath better and come out lighter. Even my double-breasted jacket (which is cut in a 14oz cloth) feels less heavy and it must be said to the full credit of Cad & The Dandy, I’ve been extremely impressed by how the suit breathes, I haven’t felt uncomfortably warm even once!
My other two orders have both been fully bespoke commissions. In both cases, I have found that the fully bespoke service produces a wonderfully form-fitting suit, with plenty of shape (which you have lots of control over – there are no fixities of house style to deal with) and the amount of hand finishing used is fantastic. Cad & The Dandy’s fully handmade service has all the handwork expected of a Savile Row suit and its handmade in England, with much of the work taking place on the company’s premises in Savile Row and the City of London. The chest and lapel are hand-padded as before, trouser waistbands and waistcoats are also canvassed. Sleeves are set by hand, pockets are finished by hand, the lining is finished by hand, all buttonholes are beautifully hand-sewn – you get the picture. The result is extremely handsome; the attention to detail that goes into the fully bespoke suits is clearly noticeable, both when you look at them or wear one – they really do feel handcrafted somehow.
The other huge plus point to a fully handmade suit, is the benefit of a basted fitting, which helped improve my own personal pattern hugely. Thanks to the flexibility of the basted fitting for the chocolate cocktail suit (my second commission), we managed to improve the drape of the rear vent, the shoulder pitching and sleevehead position over the blue half-handmade suit, and my chocolate suit really does fit like a dream. The pattern improved again with the new double-breasted suit. It fitted so well at the forward fitting that a further fitting wasn’t required. After some minor tweaks (which took a mere hour to turn-around) I walked out of the shop wearing it that day!
You can read a more detailed review of this last suit on my own blog, but for this review, I’d like to offer some advice on cloth choice.
Having had the chocolate suit in a lightweight 9-10oz lounge suiting and the double-breasted suit in very solid medium-heavyweight worsted, I’ve come to the conclusion that the chocolate brown cloth was, on the whole, a poor choice. I supplied the cloth myself because I wanted something dressy but had a limited budget. The cloth is a very lightweight super 160s, its super-soft and super-glossy. However, unlike a lot of English lightweight cloths, it’s rather floaty and has quite a lot of stretch which has meant that it drapes poorly.
Now that the suit is a few months old and has been worn on a number of occasions its developing a little bit of stretch across the front when the coat buttons and the suppression in the waist is giving a little. The moral of the story here, is to invest in mid-weight cloths and if you are buying a lightweight cloth, make sure it’s nice and crisp and that it doesn’t have much stretch in it – give the swatch a good feel when you take a look at it. Cad & The Dandy will be able to advise on such things, but unfortunately on that occasion I didn’t give them a chance.
I have one further piece of advice too; make sure that if you want a particular gorge height or a lapel cut with a strong belly, specify it when you place your order. Foolishly, I neglected to when I ordered the chocolate suit and it came back with a lower gorge and a straighter lapel line than on my blue number, because in the absence of my own specifications it was of course shaped to Cad & The Dandy ‘s house cut. I have grown to like the shape, but it wasn’t expected and I do still prefer the higher gorge on my other two suits.
The last thing to emphasise is that in my experience Cad & The Dandy really do offer an excellent service. I set a very tight completion date on my last order (in order to wear it to a wedding) and the company pulled out all the stops to ensure that it would be ready in time, the whole service was undertaken extremely quickly for a bespoke suit without complaint. They were similarly accommodating of my other previous orders too.
Furthermore, perhaps the most important thing to emphasise is that always feel welcome and a valued customer when I go in there. I think it is also worth mentioning that I was yet to become a blogger when I ordered my first two suits – so please do not fear that I may have been given preferential treatment because of my status as a reviewer. In fact, thinking back, when I went in to place my first order I made it very clear that I was a student with a limited budget and at no point did I feel anything but valued in just the same fashion as any other customer who could have been spending thousands.
Overall then, I can attest to a very enjoyable and satisfying experience with Cad & The Dandy and to the quality of their product. I would like to re-emphasise that there is, in my opinion, relatively little that separates Cad & The Dandy from other more expensive London tailors. It is true, that more expensive or exclusive tailors offer more fittings and can refine the finer points of the fit, beyond that which is feasible for the kind of price that Cad & The Dandy offer. This is not the same kind of bespoke process that Huntsman or Norton & Sons use, but it nonetheless is a thorough service which yields a suit of impressive quality, with all the hallmarks of British bespoke tailoring.
With this in mind, perhaps the greatest worth of Cad & the Dandy is in its extremely impressive value for money. I do not know of anywhere else where you can get a fully canvassed bespoke suit which fits superbly, with a hand-padded chest, lapels and hand-set sleeves for under £1000.00. I always leave feeling extremely privileged to have worked with them, and that have an extremely precious piece of clothing in my possession, which a lot of care and skill has gone into producing. That, I think, is the essence of the bespoke experience and Cad & The Dandy have got it right every time.