At the end of last year I had my first bespoke shirt made in this country, by Turnbull & Asser. You can see the various stages of the process, including a factory visit, in one of the new categories created on the right-hand side of this site.
The trial shirt I first received from T&A was rather bigger than I expected, in both the collar and body. While this was corrected for the final shirt, I couldn’t help feeling that the adjustments were rather large – down from four inches of room in the waist, for example, to one.
The up-shot was that my final shirt, though wonderful in many respects (from the construction of the collar to the fit at the shoulder point) was a little too tight. It looks and feels perfect when I’m standing up, but is too tight when I sit down unless completely upright. Which I am for much of the day, at my computer; but not when I start to slouch as the clock ticks past .
I can’t help feeling that if the initial, trial shirt were not so large we would have been able to find a better fit when we made the (necessarily smaller) adjustments for the final pattern.
And ever since I started wearing that final shirt I have wondered what I would have changed on a follow-up. Of the three measurements – chest, waist and hips – would I add an inch to all of them, or just an inch to the waist (which feels tightest), half an inch to the chest and nothing to the hips?
As per usual, I thought about this an irrational amount. I would understand if someone called it obsessive. But then, it is like having bespoke suits made: you rarely feel you’ve nailed it until the third or fourth suit. Though obviously a shirt is less complicated in terms of balance and drape.
Finally, last week, I went into T&A to order a new shirt. I was convinced to go for the first of my options – one more inch on all three measurements. This will retain the shape of the shirt, down through the waist and into the tail. Just adding to the waist would reduce that effect.
I shall wait to be convinced. The change is very minor, just a half inch on either side effectively; but I do like my current shirt a lot and I love wearing it. I just can’t slouch on the sofa without undoing at least one button.
Expect a report back in four weeks.