Today’s post could be subtitled “The Secret Language of Menswear.”
My classmates’ and my mission today was to crack the code of lapels, pockets, buttons, fit, and shoulder shaping to determine the “house style” of various tailoring establishments. Our instructor, tailor Victoria Townsend, gave us a map of London’s West End with a list of places to visit and turned us loose.
Roaming the streets in twos or threes, we would pause in jaw-dropped admiration of the jackets in the windows. We would take note of one-, two, or three-button closures, the height and angle of the gorge line (where the collar is seamed to the lapel), the width of lapels, the closeness of fit in the waist, the number, size and kind of pockets, whether double-welted or single-welted with flap.
With this warmup exercise behind us we felt ready to go in and explain ourselves to the salesperson.
“Hello, we’re taking a course at the Fashion and Textile Museum, “Tailoring with Savile Row Tailors,” and our instructor, Victoria Townsend, has given us a list of places to look at menswear and determine the ‘house style.'”
Then we’d wait and see how the salesperson handled this news.
“House style” apparently can’t be easily put into words, because we didn’t get a clear answer all day, although Stefan and James, the salespersons who helped us at Hayward, were willing to venture that a one-button jacket closure is modern, two is standard, and three is…I forget. But I’m sure it signifies something to somebody.
As I scrutinized the conservative cuts at Dunhill, the more modern looks at Spencer Hart, and the avant-garde styles on display at Sir Tom Baker, perhaps I did absorb some vague sense of house styles along the way.
But I’ve got an idea of how to get a really good grasp. All of us in this class are women, and I have this hunch that the salesmen have sworn to uphold the secret language of menswear. The way to crack the code is this:
Have each of these places make a bespoke suit for my husband. Then we’ll compare.