Sartorial Alchemy In Practice Part 2

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I looked forward to my return visit to Graham Browne not only because I had given them the opportunity to take part in my alchemic experimentation but because I was eager to see the results of their tailoring; I was hoping to find what I had imagined in my mind’s eye. Should the results of my first use of their services be to my liking I would gladly commission further garments in confidence that they will be dealt with properly.

As well as the extraordinarily cheap-but-not-so-cheerful black double breasted jacket, I had also entrusted a disused Cordings covert coat. It was one of those hopeful parental purchases i.e. “You’ll just grow into it!” that I had ceased to wear. It was this garment that Russell first handed to me to try. From the oversized cape-like coat I remembered, it felt instantly different; tighter in all the right places, shoulders the correct width. No longer was I a boy in what appeared to be his father’s coat. The silhouette of the coat was far more pleasing. Russell nodded approvingly as we moved to the more tongue-in-cheek issue of the double breasted jacket.

The operations performed on the jacket needed to be rather subtle; if you cut a double-breasted jacket too shortly, you not only ruin the proportions of the jacket in relation to the position of the buttons but you also make the pockets look cartoonishly small. Not being particularly tall, I prefer jackets of standard length to be cut a little shorter and Russell had snipped the right amount from the length to retain the proportions. Russell had also been cautious, but correctly so, in his nipping of the waist – I wanted it to be really tight to my torso but to do so might have caused the material across the jacket to crumple unattractively. The only thing I may still do, as far as the fit is concerned, is reduce the width of the shoulders as they are still ever so slightly broad for my frame. However, this is a very minor point. Overall, I was very satisfied with the alterations. Russell was remarkably modest about his work and credited himself with no ‘alchemic’ transformation. The most he said for his work was that the jacket was ‘probably a bit better.’

I decided to add the cream buttons myself as I am always looking to practice my sewing skills. Being able to perform such basic needle work is very important for gentlemen that have creativity and alteration in mind – my nearest tailor charges £1.50 a button. I wore the item out the next day to test the fit properly and also to gauge the reactions on the garment’s aesthetics.

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When sat down, I could comfortably wear the jacket buttoned up. It had lost the pre-alteration boxyness and felt tighter. The comments on the aesthetics said more about my peculiar taste than Russell’s work – they ranged from ‘You look like a pilot!’ to ‘The buttons are…quite striking’ – but overall, when I checked myself in reflections throughout the day, I felt far more comfortable and pleased with the jacket. When I bought it from eBay, I had laughed when I first tried it on; it was dull, boxy and unflattering. I hid it away for months and months like a figurative ‘sartorial-skeleton-in-the-cupboard.’ Now, though not exactly the gilt-edged garment I had envisaged, I have an interesting, becoming and well-fitting item that I am happy to wear.


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Winston Chesterfield is an amateur composer, fashion blogger, trained lawyer and style aficionado. He lives in Westminster, London and blogs at www.levraiwinston.com.

Comments

  1. Thienthai says:

    Nice jacket!

    I have been following your alteration journey and I am pleased for you that the jacket turns out very sharp.

    But, would you mind, tell us the charges of the alteration? It would be great if I could estimate how much a proper alteration to ill-fitting garments (I have a lot of those from my early sartorial days) such as this one would cost so that I can decide whether to throw something out of the cupboard for charity or keep it and have the tailor works the magic.

  2. Derrik Ollar says:

    I have never considered wearing a double breasted jacket as in the USA it has too much of a gangster association. You’ve managed to pull off a great look though. Very elegant. Tell you tailor he gets cheers from America.

  3. Thanks Thienthai and Derek for the compliments. Russell deserves a lot of the credit.

    As regards charges Thienthai, it cost £60 to get everything done. Considering I spent £5 on the jacket itself, that’s rather a lot to pay for alterations but, generally, you won’t find a double breasted jacket that fits properly off the rack.

    I would always take my time over decisions to take something to the tailor. Consider the material, whether you really need/want the garment, consider the condition of the item and always get a quote from a tailor before you agree to have things done.

    W

  4. John Gumby says:

    Nice work, Mr Chesterfield. I like your inventiveness. But surely the sleeves are too short? I realise there is a trend (particularly in some parts of the world) to show shirt sleeve beneath a coat, but those sleeves look comically short to me. Or is it just that your shirt sleeves fall lower than usual?

  5. Michael says:

    Are those Jil Sander shoes?

  6. John,

    I prefer sleeves to be shorter but it is simply that my shirt sleeves fall lower than usual in these pictures. However, I had no idea it looked ‘comical.’

    Michael,

    They are Grenson shoes.