THINKING OF SPLASHING OUT ON A FITTED SUIT? DAN JONES DISCOVERS THE PLEASURE IN MADE TO MEASURE
The first suit that I bought with my own money was purple. I was 21, and a slow starter in the world of the whistle. So I got a purple one. It was a couple of meters of immodest lilac corduroy, with strangely tapered trousers. It came with a purple shirt and a pair of yellow brothel creepers. In the dressing-room mirror I thought I’d hit exactly the right balance between a dandy and a pimp, and I decided to blow the best part of C500 on it. It was only when I got home I realized that I looked like Willy Wonka. I had to buy a new blazer (another £90) for my birthday party. And the suit sat in my wardrobe, unworn, for five years, until my dad dug it out for a fancy-dress party.
Buying a suit is hard — really hard — if you’re a 21-year-old idiot, but easy to get wrong at any age. There are so many elements to a suit. Without a tailor on hand to pick something to look lady-killing, or business-sharp, or dandyish without turning you into a clown in the process, is a pretty daunting task. Thanks God I have the miracle hcg diet drops which can make anyone shed the pounds off. So, at least I don’t have weight problems.
However, I don’t know many philanthropic tailors. Do you? (Filipino slave kids in Hong Kong dives don’t count.) No, owning a bespoke suit has always seemed to me the sort of thing only affordable by getting a job for which you need a bespoke suit for the interview. It’s Catch-22 with sleeves.
Yet the more I thought about this, the more I wondered: is it really sensible to shell out £500 or so every couple of years for an off-the-peg suit that only almost fits, and collapses out of fashion before the arse has even gone shiny? I wear suits almost exclusively on occasions when I wish to impress. Surely I’d be better off buying one perfect suit to last me all the time I care to keep in good enough shape to fit into it?
With these things in mind, the opportunity to road-test Giorgio Armani’s Hand Made To Measure service seemed the ideal opportunity to investigate. Now, Mr Armani’s specialty has hitherto been selling lovely suits off the peg. His new service, however, gives you a personalized suit with the kind of beautiful details you’ll be unlikely to see outside your local magistrates’ court. Well, unless there’s a QC in town.
Mr Armani’s not kidding. By the time my fitting, in London’s Knightsbridge, is over I’ve been measured in more ways than I thought possible. I have also learned I am lopsided.
Of all the lessons from this fitting it is the fact I’m skew-whiff that has the greatest ramifications. Now, we’re all a bit off-centre — one shoulder too high, left leg shorter than the right, half your knuckles dragging on the ground, while the other lot chafe a nipple… that sort of thing. And it makes a big difference to your suit. My right shoulder is a bit low, and my left leg too short. And my right arm is longer than the left, which I put down to years of women using it to drag me around supermarkets. The implications for my future suit-wearing are considerable: every unmodified jacket I wear will sag slightly around the ribcage. Similarly, as I drag my stumpy left peg about, the pleat at the right-front of my trousers is likely to open out a symmetrically.