Dege & Skinner finished tobacco-linen suit

Wednesday, July 6th 2016
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I wore this linen suit from Dege & Skinner for the first time while in Florence. The weather was hot, and airless, and for the past two days I had been wearing unstructured Neapolitan tailoring. 

The contrast was immediately noticeable. As soon as I put on the Dege suit I felt held - around the shoulders, through the chest, in the waist. I felt the shoulder pad and the curve of the canvas.

But, after half an hour or so, I got used to it. And then barely noticed it the rest of the day.

After all, even a Neapolitan suit is more structured than a set of pyjamas, and would feel constrictive by comparison. It's all relative.

I completely understand anyone that wouldn't wear a structured English suit in that weather (and there is certainly an argument that Savile Row suiting is best suited to other times of the year).

But I equally understand men that have always worn such suits (even braces, and waistcoats in the summer) and for whom it is second nature.

dege and skinner bespoke savile row

Structured tailoring also has the advantage, of course, of stronger lines and a sharper silhouette. It's all corners and fine curves - even in linen.

I've chosen to use photos here from that day in Milan during various appointments, in order to illustrate these flattering lines and angles. (I can do a follow-up post on the quality and make of the Dege suit later if readers would like.)

I've also deliberately not done straight up and down, static shots.

People over-analyse these, which is a waste of time given the distortions of any view or lens, and (more importantly) because this is not the beauty of bespoke. 

Straight up-and-down tailoring is the realm of basic made-to-measure. Or even ready-to-wear. It's akin to the 'hanger appeal' of designer clothing that is designed to look good primarily in that setting, rather than actually being worn.

bespoke linen suit dege savile row

The structure of bespoke allows a jacket to hug the wearer's neck all the way around. It creates a universal smoothness across the top of the back.

In the photo below, it creates that lovely curving lapel, and the smooth three-dimensional shape through the body. 

Despite being made from wrinkly linen. Despite the fact my body's twisting up and away, and my arm is raised.

In the image below, talking to Satoki Kawai of Satoria Cresent, the bespoke make keeps that curve to the lapel, the soft transition from shoulder to sleeve, and the smooth sweep of the skirt. 

It is these three-quarter angle shots that often show the loveliest aspects of bespoke, rather than 2D mug shots.

dege and skinner linen suit on simon crompton

There will always be a place in my wardrobe for this type of sharp English tailoring. And Dege & Skinner is perhaps my favourite of such English tailors I have tried (comparing to Huntsman, Poole, Kent Haste etc, not drape of Steven Hitchcock or super structured of Sexton/Chittleborough). 

Nicholas De'Ath, the Dege cutter, did a great job with the fit. The only thing that didn't quite work was the height of the trousers, which we attempted to keep high despite the lack of braces. 

Those will have to be lowered in the waist, which isn't the end of the world. I was happy to let Nick try his normal fit. It's both part of my education and part of the body of knowledge built up on this site.

dege and skinner linen suit

Dege & Skinner, by the way, are doing an extra trip to the United States this month - targeted at giving US customers the advantage of a historically low exchange rate. (They normally come three times a year, in February, June and September.)

Nicholas De'Ath, who cut my suit, will be in New York and Washington as follows:

New York: The Kimberly Hotel
Friday 22 July: 9am-6pm
Saturday 23 July: 9am-last appointment at 12pm
 
Washington: The Willard Intercontinental
Monday 25 July: 9am-4pm
 
Dege two-piece suits start at £4254 inclusive of VAT. 
Photos: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man
 
Tie: Olive printed silk from Drake's
Shoes: My bespoke adelaides from Gaziano & Girling
Shirt: Linen from Luca Avitabile
Bag: Michael Bastian tote bag, made by Frank Clegg
 
Gaziano and Girling bespoke adelaide
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Bob

I was interested in your choice of a linen shirt.

On a prior post of how to match a linen sports jacket with trousers you counselled against linen trousers as you said non matching linen+linen wouldnt look good but clearly here are wearing linen jacket and shirt. Have your views changed? Is it ok for a shirt but not trousers due to the proportion on show?

Hugh

For a lightweight shirt like this that you are wearing under a suit jacket, do you go with fused collar, placket, or cuffs?

Hugh

So fused collar and cuffs, soft placket? İ appreciate your responses, since I have never seen a linen shirt like this in the flesh.

Omar Asif

Is this jacket fully lined or half lined, specially at the back? I am about to get a seersucker jacket made in a rather light cloth, about 220 gms……was thinking whether to get the back fully lined or half lined?

Ian

Simon,

This is a beautiful suit. In terms of weight was this a light, mid or heavy linen. The tobacco is spot on so much so I may commission one myself. Did you tweak the shoulder as it look quite soft – I assume there is minimal padding in the shoulder? We will need to be careful as I recently received my green safari jacket from Budd (another wonderful commission). One final question; when are you thinking of producing a new batch of the polos?

Pwooster

Hi Simon,
Is 11oz the maximum weight of linen you would choose for a summer suit or would you go higher,say to 13oz if you found an attractive colour ?

Anonymous

Simon,do you find that Crispaire suiting or other cloths with a panama weave wear as cool as linen?

TRC

Beautiful suit and fit.

Do you by any chance have the number of this tobacco linen number?

Gus

Looks fantastic. My only gripe is your unnecessary tie quirk.

Dan Ippolito

I agree with Gus on the tie quirk – whether or not it is intentional, it positively screams “look at me, I’m different!” – which, in some circles at least, is the antithesis of elegance.

Lawrence Sanbourne

Beautiful stuff! Quick question, is a Neapolitan tailor like Despos too informal to be used by performers in an audition or performance? Seems the breathability would be ideal for comfort.

Lawrence Sanbourne

One more thing! Can Neapolitan tailors do tuxedos and tailcoats or are the styles incompatible?

Lawrence Sanbourne

Unfortunately Chris is $5500, which I just can’t do. Thoughts in the $1200-1800 range? Like Richard Bennett MTM here in Chicago?

Lawrence Sanbourne

I really appreciate my reply! Disregard my other comment to this effect. In general, how does one evaluate a MTM place? Is it about asking how many measurements they do? Or looking for specific fabric brands? The guy at RB Tailors made me feel calm and comfortable, which I loved. Clothes are made in the US, which I favor. Beyond that it’s really hard to evaluate quality. Even once I’m there, choosing the fabric is so tough.

Graeme

Absolutely beautiful colour and the stark contrast with the shirt and tie looks superb! I was just wondering about the choice of details – the style and pocketing of the jacket is quite typical of a lightweight garment but I was surprised to see turn-ups on the trouser cuff, especially such large ones – 1.75″ if I’m not mistaken? You also made mention of a relatively high rise which would be in contrast to the typical Mediterranean look of a low-rise trouser featuring on a lightweight suit. May I ask what the inspiration was behind these details?

Wonderful article as always!

JC

I recently had a sportscoat/trousers made by Nicholas De’Ath of Dege. It is by far the best fitting coat I have ever had (I have used a number of SR tailors). I have been wearing it often He did an excellent job. The high armholes make the jacket – I mean really high armholes. It is a combination of style and comfort.

Cass Stainton

Thanks for your kind words about Nicholas De’Ath’s tailoring for you. I’ll let him know!

Richard

Hi Simon, now the suit is finished can I ask how the price and quality of construction/make/finish compares to other SR tailors?

On a separate note, with regards to the comment above about neapolitan tailors making dinner suits and tuxedos. Would this not be a bit to unstructured for formal wear?

Alexander

Now, that’s one great suit. Again, an afficiando on a budget sighing before that, but it’s just so inspiring.
And I can see why you put that olive tie with black pattern on the list of your capsule tie collection. I couldn’t imagine a better one with that.

Alexander

You’re welcome, Simon.
And don’t worry about my sighing. Take it not as a sigh of envy, but of admiration, the only feeling that is able to heal the former. And from there, it’s just one next step to wonder how to do the same on my budget. And most of the time, it works: most people wouldn’t tell I actually am.

Graeme

There are plenty of decent made-to-measure and semi-bespoke tailors that could replicate something similar on a budget, the difficulty is finding one that knows what they’re doing, especially in linen, with the capacity to perform trickier alterations if needed at the fitting stage/s. There is no substitute for fully bespoke, but replicating a look shouldn’t be difficult to do on a budget with the right contacts.

Michael H

I agree it is more useful to see the suits etc. being worn, the wearer moving around etc. rather than just static shots; as someone who likes my trousers higher-waisted just wondering why you decided to lower the waist for this suit?

reuven lax

I’ve had snugtex tape sewn onto the inside of waistbands. For me this tends to keep high-waisted trousers in place even without braces.

Richard

Thanks Simon. Interesting concept about neapolitan tuxedo. Maybe an idea for a project? If you were going to go for a lighter weight tuxedo for hotter climates, what weight of cloth would you use?

Mathias

Hi Simon, gorgeous suit!
Now a practical question: Having lost about 4-5 inches in the waist I am wondering if alterations for my more casual pants (cords, flanels, jeans, chinos) should be done, or if I simply should donate them and buy new ones? My fear is that such an alterations would lead to a less good result — especially for jeans which are supposed to be fitted — than buying fresh while being quite expensive for 15 or so pants. What would you suggest?

Mathias

Thank you! Just curious but generally what do you consider the maximum in inches that could be taken out of a waist?

Hazwan

So what makes this your favourite english tailor? Is it the fit? I find the style very appealing btw

carmelo pugliatti

Despite i’m Italian,i prefer much more structured tailoring over “Neapolitan” tailoring (but is the Rubinacci-Attolini’s soft school).

rups

simon, why do you not go for braces with your trousers? you have mentioned this incidentally a few times and just wondered as it seems the most ‘classic’ way to wear trousers?

reuven lax

Have you ever considered seersucker? Less of a British feel I guess, but it can come in more subtle patterns and colorways.

Josh

Hi Simon, I recently picked up enough linen to have a three-piece made. I want patch pockets (including breast pocket) for the jacket, but am unsure about having the waistcoat pockets match. Any thoughts on a waistcoat style to match a patch pocket jacket? Or is a patch pocket jacket too casual for a three-piece? Thanks, Josh.

Josh

OK thanks

Hugh

Simon,

As the weather warms up, have you thought about posting a “reflections” piece on your summer suits you’ve commissioned in a combination of fabrics and styles? I wont speak for others, but it’s something that I would enjoy reading.

-hugh

BW

Simon…I am looking for linen that might be more than 350g…any idea which cloth bunch does this…I did not find it in W Bill. Thanks

Arthur

Hi Simon, it’s been a while since this article was written, and my question has nothing to do with the suit, I’m afraid. What is that tote bag that you have in the photo? It’s the same photograph as in the Style Guide, which I have, a,ong your other books. I’ve been looking for one with just that balance of proportion. Thanks. And thank you for all the advice that you’ve dispensed over the years that I’ve followed.

DKP

A question on the maintenance of a linen suit – namely, as linen is so prone to wrinkling, at what point does one give in to the urge to press?

Anonymous

‘designer clothing that is designed to look good primarily in that setting, rather than actually being worn’…perhaps the best and clearest description of the difference between fashion and style that I have read. Worth doing an expansion of this Simon – it sounds simple but speaks volumes about our expectations when we seek to buy.

Anonymous

Hi Simon,
Love the suit, and it inspired me to commission a navy linen suit from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury. I wanted something I could wear as a suit in hotter weather and also break apart and wear as just trousers with a shirt or jacket with odd trousers in other situations.

I went with patch pockets and the cutter suggested a 1-button configuration. Does that work in your view? Or is patch + 2 buttons better? Or 1-button with flaps?

As for trousers, any suggestions on whether or not to have back pockets? What are your views on pleats with linen suit pants that may be worn on their own? I currently have it as single-pleat, but wondering if flat front is better. If it makes any difference, I’m a larger guy. I have asked for cuffs.

Rhys

Hi Simon,

What merchant do you reccomend for linen trousers? Of course they have to be breathable but i also believe the weight of the cloth is as important also therefore what weight do you think is suitable.

Anonymous

Thank you Simon!

João

Dear Simon,

As you mencioned the jacket is half lined, could also give an idea on the material of the canvas?

Thanks

Sam Tucker

How does Dege & Skinner compare in price to the other structured Savile Row tailors like Huntsman or Henry Poole?

Joel

Hi Simon,
this and other display of tobacco suit made me think of getting one myself. Since you have this one for some time now, would you mind answer a few questions?
How much use do you get out of this?
Do you think it’s appropriate for a casual office?
Can you wear the jacket or pants as separates, and is it easy to pair with other pieces?
Would you advise one a second pair of trousers, just a tad shorter for warm weather?
And finally you went half-lined here. Would you still go that road, or rather completely unlined?
Thanks

Anonymous

Simon,

What beautiful suit! When can we expect the detailed style breakdown post on Dege & Skinner?

Rups

Simon, Im surprised how long and lean the suit is, what Id call an equestrian cut, compared to what I thought Dege did which was more military cut? Is this something you asked for or is it your body shape perhaps which creates such a lean silhouette? I like it but its not what I expected from them as I thought Dege was one of the main houses which made the typical English military cut.

I was curious why you prefer Dege to other Structured English tailors, specifically Kent and Haste which I think cuts a similar type of suit?

Rups

Yes, I see what you mean, I see the military cut as more ‘squat’, with a swelled chest and more flared skirt. In comparison I see equestrian as long and lean through the chest and skirt just like your suit here. I have had things made in the latter style too and is very difficult to wear as it is the diametric opposite to the prevailing trend and I felt very formal and overdressed even in business meetings and the like. Going to local coffee shop I felt completely out of sync with the environment.

I wonder have you changed your views on this type of suit since the article was written? I know you have had a general move toward softer Italian makers over the last few years. That sort of mirrors my changing tastes too.

On Huntsman I followed the trials and tribulations of the shooting suit. On Kent and Haste, they seem to have put their prices up quite quickly so not so affordable as they once were. What do you make of the firm, would you recommend them as you once did as good value in West End or would you direct to a Whitcomb and Shaftesbury instead?

Rups

Yes I can understand having a mix within a wardrobe, although that means having a certain size of wardrobe to be able to contain a variety of options. Personally budget and lifestyle means I cannot have such a large wardrobe and look for pieces which can perform in many roles. I think you’ve said in the past that this approach is usually a compromise.

Is structured tailoring really becoming trendy? What makes you say this? I don’t really follow fashion magazines and so on so I am surprised. Wearing structured tailoring I cant imagine it will really catch on as it doesn’t blend well with casual wear which is the prevailing way men dress now. By casual I mean a pair of jeans or chinos. Nor does it travel well, you can throw a soft Italian jacket in a bag if you wanted and jump on a plane but you cant do this with structured. With gym culture and fluctuations in body shape structured is also less forgiving. These are all things I found out by wearing it in the wild) Hence a movement toward softer more easy to wear tailoring.