(hot in a 16oz, rubbish…)
Just about to leave leave beautiful San Francisco to head up to chilly but ever exciting New York. It’s always a pleasure to bring a little of Savile Row to the United States. Thankfully, business is brisk and there’s no let up on how people enjoy wearing beautiful hand made suits. It’s interesting, as of course we try to find the direction in which people are going with their cloth choices. What we’ve found you may find quite surprising. Especially with my more established clients there’s a large trend for two complete opposites in cloth types.
Namely, very traditional heavier weight fabrics such as 13oz and up to 15/16 oz. I say established clients, because they’ve got to know our clothes and they realise that our soft, unstructured make allows for a very light and comfortable garment. The pay off of course is that you can take advantage of cloth’s that are heavier which drape well and are extremely durable to wear.
Then the other popular choice are the lightweight Fresco fabrics which literally feel as if your wearing fresh air. coming in at 8/9 oz. They’re a bit of an acquired taste as although light, they’re quite firm to the touch. But as usual there’s a trade off as they’re extremely light and cool to wear but they don’t crease. Hurrah, a light cloth that’s managed to avoid the easily creased curse
However, business may not be brisk because of either of these great types of cloth. They may just like seeing us
(our airport escort, i wish…)
Young Tom Ritson as you can imagine is having a fantastic time out here. Also, a little celebration is in order this weekend as it’s exactly 30 years since I started in this trade. Good job I like it.
(one of our friends in black tie. John Kahrs well deserved Oscar,Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
This is a very interesting article and clear dress code for formal wear. Savile Row tailoring has changed quite a lot of the years and especially at the finest end of our business, well to me personally, dress wear. Put simply we’re all enjoying a great return to people enjoying beautiful bespoke tailoring. However, we’ve a long way to go to return to the days when black and white tie formal wear was so common place.
When I was in Anderson’s when they were on Savile Row we had a specialist dress wear maker called Ted Arronowski. He was a lovely Polish gentleman who flew with the Royal Air Force then stayed in England after the war. Even ten or fifteen years ago we were blessed to have a lot more active coatmakers who were all highly skilled.
Ted however, was and still is legendary even though he’s passed on years ago. The reason for this is that all he made was dress wear. Black, white tie and all tail coats. His speciality was the way he put on the silk facings by hand which isn’t easy. He always managed to keep them soft with a beautiful roll but still managed to keep them clean without a bubble or crease.
Everything was either satin or corded silk as we still use today. However, as the skill level dropped off then sadly a lot of people started using silk facings mixed with man made fibres. They look and feel reasonable and are certainly a lot easier to use but still pretty horrible as far as I’m concerned. And before you ask we never use them.
Anyway, I digress we got sent this link from Kelsi Trinidad of the Gentle Manual. Its’ a super guide and I know a lot of this knowledge is lost and unclear. I can’t thank them enough for making such a clear simple point of reference.
We make a lot of dinner suits, or tuxedo’s as they’re called in the USA. Also, we make a few white tie outfits which is a lot rarer these days but looks fantastic if you want to turn a few heads.
Another invite and another attempt to decipher the sometimes daunting dress code. With categories like White Tie, Black Tie, and Lounge, it can be overwhelming and confusing at times. Whether it’s charity gala, or a formal wedding, dressing the part doesn’t have to be a cryptic task. Take a good look at our thorough infographic and rule guide below for your edification.
Also known as “full dress,” the White Tie dress code is the rarest and most formal of them all. Even the White House only has a couple White Tie events in a year. Though for most people, an invitation to an event that has a White Tie dress code is a pretty unlikely one, it is great to know the rules if you ever given the honor. First, you should know that this dress code the most strict. The required parts of a White Tie ensemble include a white waistcoat (style of vest) worn over top of a white full-dress stiff bosom shirt with a detachable white pique wing collar. This shirt is secured white shirt studs and white cufflinks. A matching white bow tie is an absolute essential, hence the name of this dress code. On the bottom half is worn black pleated trousers with a black satin strip that covers the outer seams (known as the tuxedo stripe). These formal trousers can either be tightened with adjustable side tabs or held up by white suspenders that are worn under the waistcoat.
We should note that proportions are very important when it comes to full dress. The trousers are high-waisted (by today’s standards) and the waistcoat must cover the waistband of the trousers but cannot extend below the front of the tailcoat. Although this is this strictest code, you can add a subtle touch of your personal style with your choice offormal cufflinks (silver, mother of pearl, etc.), adding a boutonniere, or maybe integrating a white pocket square. Proper footwear is either the more traditional black patent court pump with grosgrain ribbon or black patent leather oxfords. The most common events that call for White Tie attire are charity galas, official ceremonies, government ceremonies, and the opera.
Lord Grantham wearing White Tie/Full Dress in Downton Abbey
The words “Black Tie” may conjure up memories of high school dances, but now that you are all grown up, this type of affair is a bit more involved than renting the generic polyester tux set from your local suit emporium (gross). When you attend the company awards nights, your sister’s formal wedding, or charity event that calls for Black Tie, it’s important abide by the rules to look your best. You don’t want your peers to get the impression that you’re as clueless as a pimply teenager. A classic black tuxedo is still the standard at these events. The typical tuxedo jacket has a single button and is single breasted with a satin peak lapel and no vent. A black bow tie and black patent leather oxfords are a must. Optional additions to the basic tuxedo include a simple (usually white) pocket square or an elegant opera scarf if you’re feeling a bit spry.
Black Tie is the most commonly used dress code for any polished event and knowing how to dress for it is a great weapon to have in your arsenal. A variation on the traditional Black Tie dress code is Warm Weather Black Tie which features a white jacket instead of black and is sometimes called upon for summer formal events. Formal or evening weddings, company awards dinners, and some private dinners are all occasions that may require you to don a tuxedo.
Cast of AMC’s Mad Men wearing Black Tie
The fact that the word “optional” is in the title is only begging for confusion. A host may choose this dress code if they want to be considerate of the fact that not all guests may have a tuxedo. At these events, it is acceptable to forgo the tuxedo (if you absolutely must) and opt for a polished black suit. However, if you have the means, we still encouraged you to wear a tuxedo of some sort. Because of the precarious nature of the word “optional,” we suggest you to contact the host if you need clarification.
A Black Tie Optional event is still formal in nature but it has a slightly more relaxed rules for attire. A tie is still necessary and so are your polished black shoes. Accessories can be used to express personal style. Instead of a bow tie, you can opt for a necktie with ahandsome tie bar or a classy lapel flower. Tie bar placement is key, so if you are a tie bar rookie, check out our ultimate guide to tie bars. You’re most likely to run into this category at weddings, stylish events, formal dinners, and galas.
Will Arnett, Aaron Paul, Bryan Cranston and Kevin Spacey sporting Black Tie Optional at the 2013 Emmy Awards
This variation on the standard Black Tie category allows the party to get started with a little festivity. Black Tie Creative is an opportunity to showcase your personal style in terms of color, accessories, and collar and lapel style. You may opt for the uncommon shawl lapel or a slim cut tuxedo in a dark saturated color like midnight blue or maroon. A colored jacket, colored wingtips shoes, or a brightly colored bow tie are all fair game in this category. Even going with a black shirt instead of white can add subtle creative flair. Although this dress code offers flexibility, it is important to keep in mind that if the event is “Black Tie” at all, no matter how festive or creative it is, it is a formal event and your sartorial modifications should still honor a the formal atmosphere of the event. Keep in mind that wearing a standard tux or an ensemble with “black tie optional” qualities is also perfectly acceptable.
A variant of the Black Tie Creative dress code is Festive Black Tie. How you should dress to this occasion depends on the given situation or theme of the party. The most common example of a Festive Black Tie event is a company Christmas party, but there are infinite ways to twist it and that depends on the host. Fun themes like “Black Tie and Boots” call for wearing a bolo tie with a tuxedo or sporting a Western themed tie or cufflinks.
Ryan Gosling, Neil Patrick Harris and Chris Pine wearing Black Tie Creative
A Lounge dress code event maintains formality while allowing for integration of more color and options into your look. Tuxedos are totally out of the picture for this dress code. A suit in a dark, neutral color such as classic black, navy, or gray is recommended. Take a little liberty with your lapel and collar style as Lounge attire is less strict than the other formal dress codes. Polished shoes are not necessary and both black and brown shoes work. If you are feeling adventurous, mix in a pastel colored shirt or a subtly patterned tieto give your suit character. Pairing a skinny tie with a nice tie bar can give your Lounge outfit a modern edge. This category can be worn to daytime formal parties or business dinners.
Hugh Jackman, John Krasinski and Joseph Gordon-Levitt wearing Lounge attire on the red carpet
Gone is the dread of another invitation with a dress code! Now that you are seasoned in formal dress codes, take a little liberty when you can and remember when you shouldn’t. The age-old rule of thumb has not changed, it’s better to be overdressed than under-dressed.
So if youve got a big event coming up this will be a lot of use.
(Thomas Mahon & Apprentice Tom Ritson)
The leaves are turning gold and that’s the signal that we’ve our usual deadlines to meet and prepare for our regular autumn visit to the United States this November.
It’s a wonderful time of year to visit New York and San Francisco. I’m also delighted that young Tom Ritson will be travelling with me. He’s thoroughly enjoying honing his craft and is delighted to have the opportunity to meet our friends in the US. Also, it’s always nice to put faces to all the clients garments that we’ve worked on throughout the summer.
Young Tom is twenty years my junior and as keen as mustard – so he’ll relish experiencing how the process works first hand. Also, it’s nice to have a little extra manpower to carry those cases.
We will of course be in touch personally with our existing clients but should you wish to make an appointment to drop by and see our work please contact our office here and we’ll do our very best to get you in the diary.
(cloth for every taste and purpose)
(Picture above: a recently completed jacket made of 100% wool Fresco, for one of our our American clients)
A rising demand for ‘Fresco’ cloth this summer has warranted a short review of why it is unique, and why it’s proving such a big hit this year.
Provided exclusively by Hardy Minis, Fresco is extremely breathable and hard-wearing – making this cloth ideal for the travelling gentleman. Being able to keep cool in hotter climates as well the ability for coats and trousers to survive hours of ‘over-head locker class’, is a common priority when selecting the right cloth. The creases that often develop in the front of the trousers and elbow fold of the coat, are certainly reduced with a Fresco. Actually, being a fan himself, Mr Mahon made himself a mid-grey Fresco two piece for trips to Tokyo this year. He was more than delighted with how it has traveled and how well it dealt with the high humidity of Japan.
How is it milled? – good question. Made of multiple yarn, high twisted wool and has a plain weave. The high twist allows for an open weave which makes the fabric very airy, in fact if it is held to the light you will be able to see through it. This could leave the layman feeling it may not be hard wearing, but the truth is quite the opposite.
It has to be said though, as with life in general, there is usually some sort of trade off, and in this case it’s feel in the hands… for durability and coolness. Due to it’s high twist, it does have somewhat of a dry feel to it, and will not be something a regular worsted wool wearer will be used to. Weights range from 8oz–15oz.
So…. what are your initial thoughts? – Will you be dining Al Fresco??
Wishing you the very best from all of us here,
Apprentice to Mr Mahon.
(Picture above: a recently completed jacket made of 100% wool Fresco, for one of our our American clients)
(Fred Eltham….they don’t come any better….and another morning coat on the board)
As you know English Cut was the first blog ever written about the craft of Savile Row tailoring. This was done to reflect the actual people in the trade and not solely as a commercial venture.
As it’s the people who have dedicated their lives to this trade who have been the inspiration for me writing in the first place it’s obvious that I’d be telling you about the wonderful people I’ve met that have made this such a rewarding career. Of course because of the personal nature of our craft sadly, I write about dear friends that we’ve lost.
Fred Eltham sadly passed away this week after a very brave fight against failing health. Still incredibly working at the trade he loved and literally worrying from his hospital bed that he’d got everything completed for me. As no matter how frail he was feeling he had no intention of letting English Cut or any of our clients down.
Working for nearly 65 incredible years in the trade he was as familiar to everyone as the cornerstone of number One Savile Row. He amassed amazing skill in tailoring specialising in dress wear and body coats and also the hugely complicated world of bespoke military uniforms.
Fred said I was only a “baby” or “just a kid” as he’d say as I’d only worked with him for 25 years going back to my days at Anderson & Sheppard where we first met. I say baby as quite simply Fred looked after me over all those years never letting me down always helping me with a complicated job and correcting me when needed. Basically, he was like a dear uncle with a font of knowledge that I will miss immensely.
I’d never be foolish enough to think that this was special treatment for me. This was Fred’s attitude to life and included everyone he met. Always the first port of call for help as you knew you’d never be turned away.
(my future wife Claire with Fred helping her with her collection several years ago)
Thankfully our time was not all work and Fred would often come up to Cumbria to stay with me and my family after his wife died and also he never needed to be asked twice to attend one of our parties. Of which you can imagine he was always the life and soul.
I know that everyone in the trade send their love and prayers to Freds’ family who will miss this lovely man so very much.
A very quick post today as we would like to share with you a short video.
Keeping up with the boss when cutting can be a challenge, so I think he was impressed with my speed and accuracy having filmed my latest cut…. not to worry though, this is not in real time!
Credit must be mentioned for this fantastic sound track by JD McPherson – ‘North Side Gal’.
My very best,
Apprentice to Mr Mahon.
(ripped down and ready for the masters re-cut)
Hi all, Tom Ritson here – apprentice to Mr Mahon.
Well, my first blog post has arrived. Hopefully you have seen the introductory video two posts back and are ready to receive my take on the Savile Row tailoring trade as an apprentice behind the scenes of English Cut.
Mr Mahon has now returned from the USA after a very successful trip to San Francisco & New-York. He has informed me of the lovely clients he has met again this time round…. I just wish I was there to meet them too!
Whilst in the USA I have been holding the fort in our workshop, preparing for the work that proceeds the boss’s return to England. With a fresh order book and many fittings to re-cut and continue on their journey through our workshop, we are now getting stuck in to the work ahead.
One of my first jobs is to ‘rip-down’ basted garments, ready for Mr Mahon to re-cut. I use a surgical blade to carefully take apart the garments (one slip of the knife and I’m out of a job) so there is a set method and great deal of care taken. After marking the alterations to be made whilst on the client at the fitting, each garment is again inspected on return to our workshop and paper patterns adjusted accordingly. Mr Mahon then re-cut’s every one to ensure the best posible cut prior to being made up fully by the coat maker and finisher. When the garment bastes are ripped-down and married up with each client’s paper pattern, it’s under the cutting board they go – ready and waiting to see the shears again.
As for new orders taken on the trip, I’m sending samples, ordering cloth and finalising paperwork. This can take a while due to the bulk numbers gained from these trips, however, I’m working my way through them methodically. Also, this gives me time to get familiar with the new bespoke client names I’ll be seeing over the coming months.
For the weeks ahead, I’ll be working closely with Mr Mahon, whilst he and I begin cutting the new orders and seeing this round of fittings off to our coat makers and finishers. I can’t wait to see these finished and ready for dispatch….
I very much look forward to the many subjects I shall be covering this year…. a very exciting time to be writing about the business, as there’s certainly lot’s more to come.
Apprentice to Mr Mahon