Reader’s Question: Where To Hire Quality

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“I recently read an article of yours on mensflair.com regarding dress for Ascot, and thought you could help me with a little bit of a problem I have.

I live in NYC, and am coming back over to London for a friend’s wedding soon.  The dress I require is a morning suit.  The only choice I have found here in NY is one of exceptionally poor quality and since your article referenced renting a morning suit, I wondered if you have any suggestions of where I might look in London for a high quality choice.

Any help/insight you could provide would be amazingly useful.

Thanks so much

Steven”

Dear Steven,

Thanks you for your e-mail, happy to help if I can.

First up, one man’s tat is another man’s treasure, so in reference to ‘quality’ I’ll try my best.

hire-neal-palmer

I’d certainly try Neal and Palmer in the Piccadilly Arcade. Without wishing to burden you with the obvious, ‘quality’ is a factor of cost. High grade cloth will wear quickly requiring replacement sooner. As business models go, this makes providing hire suits at a price most can afford pretty difficult. But if you’re prepared to spend the money these guys are worth a punt. I’ve not hired from them myself, at £175 for their top of the line premium quality morning suits I can’t afford to, but I always admire their beautiful waistcoats every time I pass, and have been meaning to follow this up with a review. They do have cheaper ranges to hire – a light weight wool morning suit for £99.

A beautiful shop, they offer bespoke and made to measure services, off the peg retail and hire. In all they’re the complete deal. I skimped on the cost of hiring my suit because I wanted to buy a double breasted waistcoat, but otherwise I’d have certainly given them a look.

hire-moss-bros-light

Next up is the default recommendation. For me this is Moss Bros, which may elicit moans from some, but I’ll explain my choice. To begin with, their normal black herringbone morning coat is the traditional 12-14oz pure wool jacket that most retailers sell. Indeed, Moss Bros sell it new themselves. In my experience it’s more than enough to pass muster. The other reason is fit. Firstly, it’s not a bad fit for an off the peg garment – and I know this because I used to sell them. Secondly, and few people know this, because they have such a huge stock of various ages, if you find your hire jacket a little loose you should ask the assistant for an older one. After a few dry cleans the cloth shrinks a little thereby providing a slightly closer fitting garment –particularly handy if you normally find off the peg a little big. This small amount of shrinkage can often make a difference. Unfortunately, the trousers aren’t pure wool, BUT, they do come in odd and even lengths, which isn’t always so in the case of smaller firms. Finally, waistcoats are also available in various lengths, from extra long to extra short. I suppose what I’m saying here is that ‘quality’ is a matter of fit rather than mere cloth. However, if cloth is your consideration and you’re after something more akin to super 100’s, they also carry a lightweight pure wool jacket for hire called the Royal Ascot. I tried the retail version over the weekend when I was hunting for a double breasted waistcoat and I thought it was pretty swift. Available in selected stores it has been designed specifically for the event. Although, I don’t know whether the same trick about asking for an older stock jacket still applies. I’d use either the Regent Street branch or Covent Garden.

There may well be others out there, but these are two I’d happily put my own money on. I hope this helps you out.


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Andrew Williams blogs at www.bespokeme.com and is based in London. For him style is a frame of mind not just a state of dress.

Comments

  1. gary says:

    i wouldnt wear this kind of thing. its old fashioned looks silly. get yourself a nice suit with maybe a waistcoat.no one wears this kind of thing in italy

  2. “no one wears this kind of thing in italy.”

    Really?

    http://i44.tinypic.com/30a5qpe.jpg

    Lapo Elkann does.

  3. Will says:

    I couldn’t agree more, although the Moss Bros ‘experience’ doesn’t always rank up there with some tailors, they seem to be quite able to fit all shapes and sizes sufficiently and smartly. While many people may already own a preferred waistcoat, the store still has some traditional and more imaginative ones to hire if you require.
    ‘Old fashioned’ or not; a room full of chaps in, hopefully, well fitted morning suit looks very elegant.

  4. Hi Andrew,

    I fully agree with your comments on the nice cut of the Moss Bros morning suits – I was actually quite surprised by it and was tempted to buy the whole ensemble, but the 350 or so pounds (for coat, striped trousers and waistcoat) made me defer this investment for next year when I really might get tickets for Ascot (you can buy everything in the store as well, they just need to order it which might take a while – that’s my experience of the store in Cambridge at least).

    By the way, a very nice blog indeed – I am reading nearly all of your (and your friends’) entries when the newsletter comes in. Keep up the nice work!

    Best wishes,
    Andreas

  5. Andrew says:

    Andreas,
    Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. Although I can’t take the credit for mensflair. Honours go to Bilal.

    A

  6. Fashion Style of Leadership says:

    It only looks silly on people who don’t have it properly fitted (too short a crown on their top hat). As for waistcoats, you can also look into Bookster.

    Morning suit with starched detachable imperial collar and ascot will far outshine anything modern.