The Boardwalk Empire Suit

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I recently wrote about the great utility of the mid-heavy weight brown suit, espousing its value for both town and country use. My musings on the subject provoked me to action, as they often do, and I decided to commission Cad & The Dandy to weave (or rather, sew) my dream of a Prohibition-era dandy suit into reality.

I decided to go for their machine stitched made-to-measure service. As my last Cad & The Dandy suit was a hand-stitched bespoke with a few fittings, I was slightly apprehensive but I needn’t have been. Yes, there are no basted fittings; the suit is virtually complete when you go for the first fitting, but this is what you get with made-to-measure and it isn’t being sold as anything else. The trousers, as ever, fit beautifully. As usual, I asked for double-pleats with no break, with side adjusters and brace buttons.

Another requirement was a double-breasted waistcoat. Waistcoats are, for me, a default with a tailored suit and double-breasted versions should, ideally, always be made-to-measure as the off-the-rack versions tend to be tighter at the waist than they are in the chest. For the jacket, I went for a peak lapel and two buttons. I was tempted by the more rakish, and currently fashionable, one-button but decided against it as it didn’t feel right for the ensemble. Another of my quirks is the ticket pocket on the right hand side; I never use it but love the asymmetry.

The fabric is a splendid chocolate brown wool cavalry twill from Holland & Sherry, which has a beautiful sheen in daylight and feels substantial enough to last half a lifetime. “You don’t see many brown suits” choked an acquaintance politely, when I was first shuffling about in it. Others were less kind; “Isn’t that more like a 70s suit? Something you’d wear to a cheesy disco with a gold flowery shirt?” Not in my book. This, to me, was a recreation of the earthy elegance of the Boardwalk Empire wardrobe, which is thick with unusual patterns and unfashionable colours.

I can predict the question on most people’s lips; is this as good as the bespoke hand-stitched suit? Yes and no. The half-canvas gives the chest a great shape, pinching perfectly at the waist. The thing that I miss is the wonderfully natural roll in the hand-stitched fully canvassed lapel. The point is, if you haven’t got the cash, the machine-stitched version enables you to have a star fabric for a very reasonable price. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the fully hand-stitched suit but it fits very well and is beautifully finished.


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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. Anthony says:

    Winston

    That is a lovely looking cloth – I think the 70′s comment is a bit off the mark and you can pull it off.

    I have taken a similar trajectory with Cad & The Dandy: the first suit I had made by them was their “bespoke” option, but for the second, being on a bit of a budget and to allow me to compare, I opted for “semi-bespoke” (I’m using quotation marks as these are their terms, not mine) so that I could spend a little more on the fabric. I love the first suit they made and wouldn’t change a thing. The second, I have to say, has much more structured shoulders than I would have preferred (though I didn’t discuss this aspect up front as I assumed the house style was the softer shoulder I had in the first suit) and the jacket was generally too big in the waist and chest. The waist was taken in a little, which has made the jacket wearable, but we had a difference of opinion about whether I should pay for this alteration. In the end we agreed that I shouldn’t. I had a couple of questions relating to the article:

    - Other than the roll on the lapel, was there anything that you would have changed about this suit? Was the short sleeve length your preference?
    - How much alteration did you need after the first fitting stage and was this all included in the price?
    - Do you get any discount or special treatment for writing about C&TD and appearing in their promotional material on their website? (I genuinely don’t mean to be rude, but to me it seems it would be bad practice not to mention such benefits when writing about their service).

    In all, given my experience, I would not bother with anything other than their bespoke option – though your piece demonstrates that you can get a very decent suit in your preferred cloth and style for a good price, I feel there is too much scope for something sub-par unless you know enough and are careful enough to specify every element up front.

  2. David Royce says:

    Yes, would be good to know if you receive any promotional discount. I ask because you are raving about this suit although it does not seem to fit you particularly well in a number of respects.

  3. John says:

    I’d like to see you in jackets with longer sleeves.

  4. Mxolisi says:

    Winston, Is there a reason why you opted to pleats? I’m on somewhat of a flat front vibe lately and the biggest challenge is finding places that sell flat front trousers.

  5. Anthony,

    - Other than the roll on the lapel, was there anything that you would have changed about this suit? Was the short sleeve length your preference?

    I wanted a shorter jacket and sleeves that were proportional to the jacket length. The sleeves were cut to my satisfaction.

    - How much alteration did you need after the first fitting stage and was this all included in the price?

    After the first fitting, the alteration was all about making sure it was of a certain standard for the tailor and to my satisfaction. The alterations that did not differ from my original requests were included in the price.

    - Do you get any discount or special treatment for writing about C&TD and appearing in their promotional material on their website? (I genuinely don’t mean to be rude, but to me it seems it would be bad practice not to mention such benefits when writing about their service).

    It’s a frankly put but fair question. I don’t get anything for writing about the suit. This is not a puff piece. I did get a discount, but the reason I did was because I helped out with their photoshoot, for which the discount on ‘my next suit’ was offered as an incentive.

    David,

    Considering that I receive countless comments from people about my other bespoke/made to measure suits, claiming that they ‘don’t fit’ in some way, I am rather nonplussed by your comment. These comments lose their intended sting after a period. As I previously stated, the sleeve length is my preference, and is the only unconventional part of the suit’s structure and fit. Everything else is considerably more than satisfactory and any dissatisfaction with it on the part of another is, to my mind, simply petty and small-minded.

    John,

    Sleeve length is personal. There might be a ‘Savile Row standard’, but I really couldn’t care less. Unless it looks comically bad, which you cannot claim this does, I think it is all about individual choice.

    Mxolisi,

    I opted for pleats for several reasons, but chief among them is that they add triangular structure to the trouser that allows for elegant finishing over shoes. They create the effect of the prow of a ship in the ocean when they settle on the shoe, rather than the flatter finish of pleatless trousers. Again, it’s personal taste. I just prefer these.

    If you’re struggling to find flat fronts, it might be worth noting that Uniqlo’s standard (and only) trouser is flat-fronted.