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