09 MAY 2019: Since the first tailor moved into Savile Row in 1785, the neighbourhood has been applauded the world over as the place for handmade suits, created from the finest fabrics, by the most skilled of craftsmen, for the most discerning gentlemen.

Credited with designing the original tuxedo, Henry Poole & Co, the Godfather of Savile Row, was the first tailor on the street, and is still in business at No 15. Then there’s Gieves & Hawkes whose former clients include Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington; Beale & Inman dressed Charles Dickens, Kofi Annan, Pierce Brosnan and the notorious Mob boss, John Gotti. Currently one of the hottest tailors around, Ozwald Boateng, dresses the likes of Keanu Reeves, Jude Law, Seal, Mick Jagger and David Bowie and is the youngest tailor and first black designer to open a store on Savile Row.

From the moment you settle on going bespoke you are guided through a detailed consultation process which begins with your chosen Savile Row tailor and his team deliberating over what you want from your suit and how best to realize it.

The process kicks off with a tailoring consultant who discusses style, fabric options and finishes. A cutter will measure you, and from these dimensions draft an individual paper blueprint. After the pattern has been cut, it is chalked out on your chosen fabric and the suit is cut by hand, leaving a little extra cloth at the seams to allow for future fluctuations in girth, thus enabling alterations.

The level of detail is remarkable. Other than colour, cloth and style, overall design distinctions are carefully considered – the lining, the stitching finish, placement and number of pockets, buttoning, sleeve detail, double or single pleats, inside or outside breast pockets, will they be inside or outside, slanted trouser pockets, belt hoops, mitred angle button. There are myriads of intricate details which go into the final piece.

One of the greatest plus points of custom tailoring is the professional advice passed on, which includes accentuating your physical attributes and minimizing your unbecoming bits. This guidance guarantees your considerable spend to be a sensible investment, in comparison to the alternative off-the-peg high street version, which proves to be false economy.

After cutting, the garment is passed to a number of expert craftspeople who work in tangent with the cutter. Each of these tailors is responsible for the hand rendering of their specific item. The cutter supervises all facets involved in the production – from the waistcoat-maker, the coat-maker and trousers-maker, tweaking the design at various phases through its creation.

All finishes are completed by hand including edge stitching, padding of lapels, individual buttonholes and application of buttons. All linings are felled by hand, with linen being used to reinforce pockets and gorge, sleeves are stitched in place by hand and shoulder pads and canvases are hand-cut and shaped.

At your first fitting the garment is fitted by the cutter who then starts to alter the suit to your posture. The next fitting is where previous alterations and adjustments are perfected. The suit is inspected for break over shoe, trouser seat and drape. In advance of the third and final fitting, the garment is fully completed and set for the final pressing by a separate finisher whose job is only to press.

A suit could take up to sixty hours to make, with production time ranging between six to ten weeks. The result is a well fitted and highly individual garment made to your personal and exacting requirements.

Although the price tag of a fully hand canvassed bespoke suits starts at around £3,500 ($6,128) it is possible to purchase a unique garment through the Personal Tailoring services offered by numerous Savile Row tailors. This combines their finest ready to wear garments with the flexibility of personalising it to your requirements, starting from as little as £800 ($1,400)

There is a downside though. Once you have encountered a garment personally crafted for you, you may find it to be the beginning of a lifelong passion for sartorial elegance.

Sidebar 1:

If you’re vertically challenged, avoid trousers with low waists or turn-ups and make sure they don’t puddle around your shoes. Choose solid fabrics. Vertical stripes help if they’re not too far apart. The most flattering shape for a jacket is short and nipped in high at the waist.

Should you be slender, select bulky fabrics and opt for full cut trousers, with turn-ups. Order a double-breasted jacket with a ticket pocket and wear your pockets square. Avoid narrow lapels and narrow stripes.

If you’re on the heavy side, go for the easy fit, solid two-button, single-breasted suit with your trousers sitting on our natural waistline with forward pleats and above all, avoid vents in your jacket. A three-piece suit will accentuate your vertical line and your shirts should have long, angular collars – be sure to order the collar large enough to be comfortable as you don’t want anything to look pinched.

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Cindy-Lou Dale

Cindy-Lou Dale is a professional editor, writer and photographer, specializing in high-end travel, luxury motoring and affluent lifestyles. She also writes compellingly of current affairs, African politics and introduces her readers to new-age philanthropy.

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