Cifonelli bespoke overcoat

  
As readers never fail to point out, I have had a lot of bespoke items made over the past 10 years. But while I love pretty much all of them, some get a lot more use than others.

These pieces become staples – the things I turn to time and again. And I think many of them offer lessons for people beginning to invest in quality clothing.

Particularly with bespoke and made to measure, it is tempting to order unusual items that will stand out both for their fit and their material: Prince of Wales checks; royal-blue flannels; double-breasteds with unusual button arrangements.

But I would argue that, at least at the start, investment clothing should be basic pieces you will get a lot of wear out of. (A tuxedo or wedding suit perhaps being the obvious exceptions.)

These have proven to be my go-to items.

navy cashmere blazer bespoke solito1. Navy cashmere blazer
Solito, Naples
Full image here

It’s too warm at the moment for this lovely blazer from Neapolitan tailors Solito, but in the UK there are only 2 or 3 months like that. The rest of the time it stays at the office, thrown on with everything from a blue spread-collar shirt and tie, to one of our Permanent Style polo shirts

The colour and material work with almost every colour of trouser and shirt, and occasion. The only thing they are too smart for is weekend wear – jeans and chinos. It’s is the kind of jacket that will eventually need elbow patches.

navy cashmere overcoat bespoke cifonelli2. Navy cashmere overcoat
Cifonelli, Paris
Full post here

This overcoat will, obviously, only be used for 4 or 5 months of the year. Yet it will still be worn more than almost anything else. That’s because during that period it will be worn almost every day, put over the top of every suit, jacket and knitwear. Although the navy cashmere is smart, the design makes it a little more casual – more a polo coat, with patch pockets and horizontal gorge.

It’s worth saying, as well, that I think everyone should have an overcoat made as one of their first three bespoke orders. A bespoke overcoat is a thing of unique beauty, given its heavy weight and long length. Double-breasted garments in general also benefit more from a bespoke fit, and more people are likely to wear a DB overcoat than a DB suit. 

gaziano and girling bespoke oxford shoes3. Dark-brown Oxfords
Gaziano & Girling, Kettering
Full post here (before patination)

I wear dark-brown shoes perhaps 80% of the time – with suits, with odd trousers, with jeans. There is some variation, between calf/suede/croc, oxford/derby/boot, and degrees of darkness. A dark-brown suede from Corthay has a very different style one from Edward Green (the former far more sharp, formal, feminine).

But they are all, still, dark-brown shoes. And the ones that get the most use are my bespoke Gaziano & Girling Oxfords, in the Adelaide style, patinated by Thomas in the Savile Row shop. They go with virtually everything, and are the best fitting shoes I have. 

grey flannel suit bespoke anderson and sheppard4. Grey flannel suit
Anderson & Sheppard, London
Full image here

You know the piece that you feel bad about putting on, because you’re afraid you’re shortening its life? This is mine. Every time I look at it hanging in the wardrobe, I think ‘Should I wear it today? Isn’t there anything else that would be just as nice?’

A suit cannot be repaired quite as easily as a jacket (patches etc) given its relative formality. And it’s always tempting to wear the trousers on their own. So I fear for the life of my grey-flannel suit, even if it’s doing well so far.

The colour and material are also among the most versatile in suiting, sitting happily with both a chambray shirt and woollen tie, and a fine poplin and printed silk. 

Caliendo naples bespoke jacket tweed5. Grey tweed jacket
Elia Caliendo, Naples
Full post here

The only piece on this list that is consistently worn at the weekend, as well as the working week. That’s down to the Neapolitan cut and make, of course, but also the colour of Permanent Style tweed it is made from.

The grey is just about smart enough around the office (perhaps on a Friday) but its texture and touch of brown make it casual enough for the weekend. Perhaps with taupe Incotex chinos and suede shoes. 


I also considered two other structures for this post: 5 items I get most excited about putting on, and 5 types of clothing that give the most value being made bespoke. Let me know if either would also be of interest

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Thomas

Great post. I’d like to read about both of the suggested posts, especially the later.

facebook_Calle Melin.609383855

I like both your ideas. Especially an article about which items are given most value being made bespoke, instead of OTR or MTM. I loved this article and think that the choices are great. The thing I would want to add is a spring/summer weight jacket in hopsack or wool/linen/silk (I will probably commission one next spring).

McMurray

Think they would be good to hear about Simon.

Ola

Hi Simon, why not both (starting with the latter)?

Adam Jones

Definitely the “best value” article first. I am just dipping my toe into bespoke and whilst I would love to commission a lightweight summer jacket and a flannel suit there not really justifiable purchases at the moment. picking what to save and wait to do bespoke and what to carry on with RTW ( with alterations) takes a lot of deliberation some times. For those on Salary’s which have 5 figures not 6 or more it is wise to purchase quality bespoke items. Just the right ones. I can “afford” a £3,000 navy suit but I cannot “afford” an £1800 light blue linen jacket.

Everyone will put a slightly different spin on value though. For instance I am starting a trial of having some bespoke shirts made. This is because for me and my shape and size buying RTW involves many alterations (short skinny arms, wide shoulders, big hips, small neck) whereas others will not find the value in that.

JH

Simon – I love this kind of post! Really helpful to have the benefit of your hindsight on items that turn out to be high value. Helpful also to limit the number to a top 5. I’d guess a number of us are building up slowly so help in prioritising intelligently is gold dust. For this reason, I’d love to see both the other posts you mention. I’m also still holding out for a post on a capsule collection of shoes, perhaps a top 5 again. A specific question on the navy cashmere jacket from Solito … what about it means you don’t think it would go with jeans and chinos? Presumably the cut isn’t an issue as it’s Neapolitan like the Elia Cliendo which you wear at the weekend. What changes would you recommend for a navy jacket to work across jeans, chinos and flannels?

JH

Another thought … in your other post on wardrobe staples (http://www.permanentstyle.com/2014/08/the-staples-of-a-good-wardrobe.html) you mentioned that you’d been “making do” with your Caliendo tweed but were looking forward to the mid-grey herringbone cashmere from Caraceni. I know that the Caraceni jacket ended up being more formal than you’d initially thought, but in what sense have you been “making do” with your Caliendo tweed? And what were the advantages that you were hoping to get from the mid grey (at the point that you were anticipating a less formal cut)? I guess you might spot that the question behind these questions is whether there’s an even better or even more useful go-to version of the last item on your list here?

Richard

Great post. I worry about my mid gray flannel, fox flannel, made up by Russell at Grahame Browne. I tend to wear it two or three times a month. And the jacket survived being totally doused in red wine last Christmas. Someone else’s bad, not mine. Phew.

John

Hi Simon,
I do agree with the above comments to go ahead with both your suggested posts.
Perhaps this one also offers an occasion to remind you the need for many readers out there who would enjoy seeing launched the kind of initiatives aimed at helping to building up decent wardrobes first, while keeping their eyes open on the next jump into bespoke.
The move to bespoke is obviously a journey on its own. But such a journey should start somewhere that requires not a mere theoretical knowledge but a sound experience – and at best a collective one – about basics. It should look like a kind of workshop, as it were.
Such a move would be of tremendous help to many of us, but also – not to forget – to the menswear industry too. Yes, this industry should definitely feel challenged to improve its products!
Presumably, among PS’readers there are those, like myself, who are at the entry level – still enjoying reading Drake’s philosophy among other posts – and musing over what it really takes in terms of knowledge and taste in order to acquire a decent wardrobe to begin with; those who instead are already interested in injecting their own quirks into theirs when possible, and finally those admittedly who can start letting their fantasies fly while having to keep in mind contraints of proprieties, occasions and the kind of experience that is the topic of your today post.
John

Neil

Great post Simon. Would certainly like to hear more on the ‘value’ subject.

Where you mention ‘shortening’ the life of your grey A&S flannel suit, do you notice flannel wearing quite quickly? I have my first pair of mid-grey trousers being made and, upon advice of the tailor, went for worsted flannel to help with longevity. I cannot wait to get them and start wearing in the cooler months but am interested to hear your thoughts on the value of commissioning items in flannel.

Thanks,

Neil

Incognito

I was sure Simon had at least two grey flannel suits – one DB and one SB.

Flannel is not a hard-wearing fabric; it usually bags, struggles to hold a crease and the nap is likely to wear thin at stress points in particular ( so it helps two have two trousers per suit). But it is arguably the most enjoyable suit of them all.

I am with Simon that worsted flannel loses some its character but Victory flannel is a worsted but it has a luxe hand and it is quite sturdy.

Matt S

Interesting you recommend getting an overcoat as one of everyone’s first three bespoke orders. I have three ready-to-wear overcoats that I don’t think could be improved by bespoke (one is double-breasted). I’ve had a conisderably harder time with suit fit ready-to-wear, especially the trousers. But these days, overcoats tend to be too light and too short.

Matt S

Yes, the structure will definitely be improved. But do you notice as much of a difference between bespoke and high-quality ready-to-wear overcoats as you do with suits? I’ve never had a coat made for me.

Matt S

If I did get a bespoke coat, I’d probably go with a pea coat. Seeing yours was very inspiring.

Reader

That was a very, very interesting article because it’s about your daily life choosing what to wear. Don’t you think that A&S grey flannel suit has become your master, you its serf?

KN

Great post Simon. As someone who has had about a dozen or so bespoke items made over the years, I echo your sentiment that there is always the temptation to order something that is unusual and eye-catching rather than basic and versatile. One must be disciplined and honest with oneself about what clothing works with one’s body, one’s lifestyle, one’s wardrobe, in order to avoid disappointment. For me, this means blues and grays almost exclusively in my suiting, odd jackets, and outerwear. For variation, I play with texture but little else – changing lapel width by even a quarter inch is a major decision for me. But that is the nature and challenge and ultimately the fun of classic menswear – variations on a very circumscribed theme.
I would welcome reading your two proposed posts, and believe they would be very valuable to your readership, including me.

Albannach

Thank you for the great post. Do you think that the navy herringbone in Harrison’s Moonbeam bunch (#36666) would be suitable for weekend wear if made into a soft, unlined jacket or do you think the colour would still render it more of a formal piece?

twitter_rebron

These last two articles are great. Will comment on the other one, would be great for the city guide one to include food choices :-). I don’t know, a good fish and chips place at least or is that too much of a stereotype.

John

Your foundness for brown shoes is more telling than anything else for your taste and style as well, Simon! Now wedding and other very formal occasions aside, when do you happen to wear black oxfords? I also wonder whether you happen to wear them with a navy blazer and grey trousers? If yes, on which kinds of occasion then?

John

Wait a minute, Simon! If I fully understand, that means you never wear, say black oxfords with navy blazers even at night. Please, that would require a bit explanation. For that sounds to fly sqiarely in the face of what I have read so far and also what I have seen from time to time at night events. I would be really happy to read your rationale. Thanks.

John

Thank you, Simon.

Hazwan

Great post Simon! Good to know that our mentality are not so dissimilar. Also, I’d be interested in both of the posts, more on the first one. I’ve been looking forward to more emotional posts.

John

I’ve just read this very interesting post again: http://www.permanentstyle.com/2009/07/how-to-wear-brown-shoes.html

Nap

Hello Simon. Can I ask if you have any thoughts on Drake’s RTW jackets, especially in terms of quality and value? Many thanks.

David

Hi Simon:

I have a question regarding the role of lapels in lengthening one’s face/head. I know that pointed shirt collars are best suited to someone with round features, so I was wondering what kind of lapels (wide/narrow, peak/notched) would best compliment someone with a large head/round face?

Rob

Simon, this might be an idea for a book rather than a post, but how about a summary of your overall wardrobe. Maybe a description of each item and a few words, how often it is worn and how your feel when wearing it. While it would be a lot of work and maybe lean towards the informative rather than the artistic side of the subject, it would certainly help those of us building our wardrobes. Best Rob

facebook_Calle Melin.609383855

Simon,

I will probably order a flannel suit like the one you have here and wonder what weight you will recommend, is 10 oz too light (I work in a heated office). I am thinking about making two trousers, one traditional mid-rise with belt loops and one high-rise with side adjusters (I will also order a waist coat). I am also thinking about having the jacket made so that it can be made separately. I dont think patch pockets work so well with a waist coat but are thinking about adding a ticket pocket and having it half-lined (I can use the waist coat when its colder). Do you think I´m totally wrong here? My tailor works in a neapolitan style.

facebook_Calle Melin.609383855

Thanks Simon, do you have a general opinion about ticket pockets? I see that you rarely have them on your jackets.

S

If I can intervene, I’d say about 13oz is a minimum for flannel. The heavier it is, the better it will both wear and drape. 16oz is even better, though it should be noted that “back in the day” up to 18-20z was quite common.

S

Mr Portiega

It’s such a shame that you haven’t done a real separate piece of the cashmere sports coat, especially when it seems clear that you like it so much. Anyway: I am thinking about getting such a jacket made up. I want to be able to use it in as many seasons as possible (I live in Norway). What would be the best weight of the fabric for such a goal? I am also concerned about longevity, so I guess it’s about finding a balance point between the two.

The north

Great! Thank you so much. And I am looking forward to hearing more about the jacket. Keep ut the good work

Mr Portiega

Sorry to bother you again, but would a jacket in a light construction and 340 g cashmere be as usuefull/versatile as yours? Or will it simply only be suitable for winter? It is a pretty standard cashmere from Holland and Sherry.

Thanks!

Thomas

Simon,
Sorry for posting on an old topic. But, would you ever wear the jacket of the grey flannel as a separate? I have a similar piece and am wondering about versatility.
Thomas

Steven

Hi Simon,
We met at the recent Solito trunk show. Lovely suit by the way. While I was buried in bunches, you suggested a navy cashmere was the right choice….Luca and Luigi agreed. I buckled under the peer pressure, but now wonder can’t decide between three patch, or two patch and flap? Any insights greatly appreciated…!

Steven

Do indeed! Thanks for your advice.

Daniel

Simon, you’ve frequently mentioned that something like the grey tweed jacket makes for a great second odd jacket for most. However, most of my smarter trousers are grey (grey flannels, frescos, etc.), and I would find it very difficult to pair a grey tweed (or any grey odd jacket) with most of them. I infrequently wear odd jackets in casual settings, so I would prefer if all of my jackets could pair well with my smarter trousers. Do you have a recommendation for a second jacket after the navy cashmere that is smart enough to wear with and can match my grey flannels, but also work over a nice pair of dark selvedge denim?
Thanks.

Jakob

Hi Simon,

I’m so sorry for going slightly off topic, but one can’t help wonder if it’s possible to see a photo of your whole wardrobe, just for the fun of it. It would be very appreciated.

Also, thank you for a great website. Your bespoke pieces aren’t exactly in my price range yet, but it’s nice to use as inspiration.

Sam

Hi Simon, noticed your comment in here about elbow patches and wondered who you might go to in London to get such things applied? I have a much loved navy fresco-like blazer frayed at the elbows and wondered if you might have a neat solution in mind?
I have the same problem on a navy worsted suit but feel it might be a stretch to pull off an elbow patched suit at work!
Any advice appreciated.
Best, Sam