Quite a lot of tailors and cutters don’t wear jackets, even waistcoats during the day. Certainly if they are hidden away from the eyes of customers, they quickly dress down. Partly this is because such work is difficult to perform all day in anything but a shirt, no matter how well (or drapey) the jacket. But also the attitude of most tailors to their clothes has always been different to that of their customers. They are craftsmen, not artists; builders, not architects (please suggest additional metaphors).

“For me, the greatest pleasure in tailoring is when you put a jacket on a customer and see his reaction. When you’ve absolutely nail it, and you see in his face that he knows it,” says Russell Howarth of Graham Browne. “You’re not cutting for yourself.”


This was Russell’s opinion in a recent conversation, and several others echo it. The follow-up, though, is perhaps more interesting. “If a tailor wears his own tailoring, he will constantly be finding fault with it. No matter how small, even if it’s just the placement or the length of a single stitch.


“If he’s honest, no cutter is ever 100% satisfied with something he’s wearing. There’s always a tiny thing about he would change,” Russell concludes.


Many tailors, particularly cutters, dress very well, and there have been some real dandies on Savile Row over the years. But the point seems to hold true. Perhaps one of the reasons it’s such a pleasure to dress a client and then get him out the door is that you’re never close enough to the suit again to find the things you would change. The creation remains at arm’s length, like a painting removed from the easel and hung above the mantelpiece. 



Image: Craig Featherstone at work at Henry Poole
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Christopher Ashley

If you want to learn to appreciate silence, work as a professional musician.

Bespoke Lawyer

With all respect, tailors are not gentlemen and proper dress, therefore, is not expected.

Anonymous

Since when are lawyers gentlemen?

Anonymous

That was the smuggest, most condescending and most off-the-mark comment I’ve ever read.

Anonymous

Does your definition of gentleman have everything to do with the circumstances of one’s birth, I wonder?

Nick H

Simon, perhaps it’s the same scenario as the builder’s wife who is still waiting for her new kitchen to be finished, or the plumber’s wife who puts up with leaking pipes – the tailors don’t have the time to make their own clothes!

Having said that, my tailor is one of the best dressed men I know, and is constantly experimenting with different cuts and techniques on himself before attempting it on a customer’s garment.

(BTW, your blog just keeps getting better and better).

Regards,

Nick.

mack11211

This explains why my trousermaker is always going pantsless. I thought it had something to do with drinking, but now I understand!

Laurence

I’m a film cameraman and hate looking back at things I’ve shot. There’s always something you would have done differently give more time.

Anonymous

This makes me wonder if the same can be said about the customer. If you start getting to know more and more about tailoring, does your enjoyment of the end product increase or decrease as you perhaps begin to spot “flaws” or “problems” in the suit or do you just enjoy the craftmanship more as your understanding is deeper? I’d like to think that there is a happy medium. I have to ask Simon, over the years you’ve been blogging is your appreciation the same as when you started?

Elizabeth

Anonymous makes a good point. I think as you get to know more about tailoring my enjoyment of the end product generally decreases as I learn more. I used to be able to happily buy clothes from any clothing store. As soon as I learned how to tailor and sew well I began to seek out functional, quality items to wear on a daily basis (not withstanding the random trendy piece to kick around in and lose a year later – I am in my twenties, after all!).

I have a huge collection of clothing from the 1850’s to the present and part of the pleasure of owning this collection is inspecting the workmanship and construction techniques and details in the items,