Hi Mr Crompton,

I’m a fan of yours (Permanent Style, The Rake) from Singapore. I’ve been agonising over my shirts for some time and would like to ask your advice.

I’ve been wearing bespoke T&A for about 10 years and I regard Steven Quinn as a friend. It took us about 18 months of trial and error but in 2004 we got a perfect fit.

About 2 years ago, things started to go wrong. I have darts in my shirts and started to get ballooning between the shoulder blades. T&A cannot figure out what the problem is. I stopped ordering new bespoke T&A shirts and just recollared my older shirts. I’m also a great fan of Kiton, and regard Riccardo Renzi as a friend as well. I’ve been considering moving to Kiton shirts.

I would like to ask your opinion. I’m a great believer in the durability, utility and elegance of the English shirt. And I believe T&A best shows these qualities. However, fit is important and somehow things have changed at T&A.

Kiton’s best product (for me) are the jackets. I’ve also taken to all their other products except the shirts. I’ve read your analysis about their artisanal aspects (especially compared to T&A). My question is, would you make the switch? Or if not, what do you think of other Neapolitan shirtmakers like Matuozzo? If change over, then I’m considering a wholesale migration – which means a hefty investment (over time of course).

I’m a standard size 48, slim built guy. But with shirts I do like a slim (but not extreme fit).

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and respect for your analysis and writings.

Best regards

Allen Tan

Hi Allen,

I can’t speak that much to the problems with fit at Turnbull & Asser, as that sounds like a personal issue with your pattern. However, I can hopefully provide some advice on potentially switching to Kiton or other Neapolitan makers.

First, I think it’s important to take fit out of the equation. The fit of a bespoke shirt will depend entirely on your relationship with the cutter – how you get your preferences across, how you develop the pattern together, as it sounds like you did at T&A. I’ve been using Satriano Cinque for the past eight months and we got the body perfect on the second shirt, the collar on the third. Thus is the way with bespoke.

If you’re unhappy with the fit of the T&A shirts, but want the style of an English shirt, you could try another bespoke maker like Sean O’Flynn. Moving to a Neapolitan maker is all about style and handwork.

As you will know from close examination of Kiton’s shirts, there is a huge amount of handwork in there. More than in any other shirt I have seen. Some of this is practical (inserting sleeves, collars attached on the round, in theory the long seams) and some is merely decorative (buttonholes, attaching buttons). This work, together with the quality of the materials Kiton uses, makes their shirts expensive.

If you want a similar style, but less decorative handwork, then someone like Satriano Cinque or the shirts of Elia Caliendo are a good choice. I don’t have any experience of Anna Matuozzo, but they certainly have more of a Kiton level of handwork.

So two decisions have to be made: do you want to shift to a Neapolitan-style shirt and if you do, how much do you care about decorative handwork?

The other option, if fit is of paramount importance and money less of a concern, is to try Anna, Satriano and one other and see which you find leans towards the best fit. One advantage of Neapolitan shirtmakers is they don’t usually ask for a minimum order.

I hope that’s helpful

Photo: Andy Barnham