I’m asked fairly regularly by female readers about starting a version of Permanent Style for women, but in my experience there just isn’t enough out there of interest – that’s well-made, classically styled and not too middle-aged. They also ask if I know of any good sites – so if you do, please let me know in the comments to this post.
Several of the bespoke tailors do make clothes for women, but they are mostly women’s versions of male styles, with the same proportions and priorities. Then there are tailors such as Edward Sexton, who make fabulous creations but generally to their own, refined aesthetic.
Kathryn Sargent, who made me my fantastic travel blazer while she was at Gieves & Hawkes, has quietly been making suits for high-powered female clients for quite a while. Perhaps they were attracted by Kathryn being the first-ever female head cutter on the Row, but they seem also to have become regulars.
I was interested in exploring the differences in women’s tailoring, therefore, when my wife decided to have a bespoke jacket made by Kathryn. The images here are from the first fitting.
As my wife rarely needs to or opts to dress smartly, we needed to make something that would be fairly casual, yet perhaps could be dressed up with grey flannels if so desired. We went therefore for a green herringbone tweed from the Sherrytweed bunch – the same from which Steven Hitchcock made me a jacket last year.
Kathryn’s tailoring for women is very flexible and adapted to the individual. There are far less presumptions than with male tailoring. A business suit for a female director might therefore more closely mirror the proportions of male colleagues, but a casual jacket like this one, for a relatively young client, is often more contemporary. She has her own book of sketched designs to illustrate the various options.
Most noticeable is that the length is much shorter than a classic male suit. It tends to be with women anyway, partially because the waist is that much higher, but it is also necessary to make slightly greater concessions to fashion. The back of the jacket at this fitting was also slightly shorter than the front, so the effect is exaggerated; it will be lengthened.
Another interesting thing about small, short jackets is that the space for pockets is much reduced. If regular pockets were included the front would be very cramped. Kathryn normally goes without an outbreast pocket, therefore, and with something this small rarely uses patch pockets. (The chalk marking above is to illustrate the room it would take up.)
Kathryn’s branding is in burgundy, and she uses this for the melton under the collars as standard. We picked a Liberty shirting for the lining of the body that echoes the green of the cloth and that deep red. The sleeve lining is a red butcher’s stripe.
Kathryn’s US dates:
18th, 19th, and 20th February – The London Hotel, 151 W.54th Street
22nd and 23rd February – The Waldorf Astoria, 11 East Walton
25th February – Clift Hotel, 495 Geary Street
Pictures: Luke Carby