Musella Dembech double-breasted cotton suit – Review

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Friday, October 20th 2017
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So how shall we review a suit? Let me count the ways.

One: style.

Still the most important thing, as much as we encourage men everywhere to care more about quality and fit.

[Read my first post, with the background on Musella Dembech and its style, here]

I adore the style of this, my completed Musella Dembech suit.

I’m not such a big fan of the Musella single-breasted cut, but the lapel of the double-breasted is just beautiful.

A lot of belly, but not to excess. A high peak, but not so it’s floating off the shoulder. A slightly flatter gorge (where collar and lapel meet) that gives it a slightly vintage feel. (Of course, the gorge also helps the peak from being too high).

The wrap is not too narrow, emphasising width in the body rather than height. The shoulder is soft, finished in a ‘shirt’ sleeve construction, but with the tiniest lift in the sleevehead at the end.

Other things are largely in moderation: a sleeve that is full and masculine, but not messy; a subtly suppressed waist; a skirt that is relatively close in the hips but does not visibly curve inwards.

The only things I would change are perhaps a touch more on the length (a centimetre at most) and a trouser that is slightly narrower in the thigh.

I think here Gianfrancesco was trying to make absolutely sure the trousers didn’t pull and open the pleats. He partly succeeded, but perhaps at the expense of that leg line.

Two: fit.

This is not perfect, but it is very important to bear in mind the limitations of lightweight cotton. It has no line and no drape. It does not have the body or weight to hang straight.

Cotton is not a material for tailoring puritans, and many tailors dislike it for that reason.

I like it because it is fiendishly comfortable, and subtly casual. Not a business suit, but not country clothing either.

The sleeves are about a centimetre too short.

This is partly my fault, as Gianfrancesco suggested keeping them a little longer to compensate for the wrinkles in the elbow that would come with wear, and inevitably shorten the sleeve.

I decided against that. But a centimetre is easy to add without making the button position look odd - and if done now before the end of the sleeve develops a line through wear.

The shoulders could be lifted slightly, just at the ends, but it’s marginal.

The pitch of the sleeve is fine, but ruined by the rumpling of the cotton.

Three, quality.

I’ve deliberately separated this from decorative sewing and handwork.

Quality is about all the basic things we know and love about bespoke - the hand padding of the collar and canvas, particularly. Which you can see from the image above.

It’s about accuracy in the finishing. So straight seams, even if done by hand. Rear trouser pockets being straight and closed (whether buttoned or not) and nothing falling off or falling apart.

This quality is what a few southern Italian houses sometimes fail to deliver - and indeed even smaller tailors elsewhere.

But it’s something bigger, established houses are nearly always better on - through practice, and good management.

Part of that is also service and reliability. Always delivering on promised timings; not getting anything wrong with the order; no silly mistakes.

On all these quality points, Musella Dembech is more like a big tailoring house than an at-home operation. And increasingly that’s something I’m happy to pay for.

My only caveat would be Gianfrancesco’s preference for not having side adjustors on the trousers.

He dislikes them as he says they never work well, and the two buttons for the waistband mean you tighten there if you need to.

Those buttons do work fairly well, but for me not as well as a side adjustor, and I will ask him to add them on.

Four, decoration.

Here Musella also excels. As you can from the images, there is fine and consistent pick stitching along almost every edge and seam, by hand.

The sleeves were unlined, and the finishing of these seams inside was also wonderfully neat.

The lining is not hand-sewn in and then top-stitched over the top by hand, as only the aesthetes at Cifonelli or Camps de Luca would do.

But the edges of the lining (it is only half lined) are turned and sewn by hand, which is nice - even on the pocket bag where it peeps out of the lining.

The buttonholes are finely wrought - although as noted on the first post, I don’t particularly like the relatively large hole at the end (sometimes known as a keyhole buttonhole).

It’s easier to sew if the hole is bigger, but of course that doesn’t mean it’s the reason it’s done.

Other largely decorative things (or perhaps they belong under style?) are the grey mother-of-pearl buttons on the waistband - and the thinness of that waistband. Both of which I like.

Overall, a very good suit that succeeds in making something wonderful out of a cheap, unruly cloth.

I can understand readers who commented Musella is too small to be charging €5,000 for a suit, but the product is certainly beautiful.

I just need to find a way to afford the next one, in a harder, more sharper-edged material.

Background on Musella in my first post here.

Gianfrancesco is based in Milan and currently only travels to Hong Kong (with The Armoury).

I am also wearing:

  • Bespoke cotton shirt, Luca Avitabile
  • Matte silk tie, Paul Stuart
  • Indigo bandana (as handkerchief), 45rpm
  • Linen socks, Bresciani
  • Bespoke suede slip-ons, Gaziano & Girling

Photography: of me, Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man. Detail shots: Permanent Style

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Matthias Su'uch

Great looking suit. I’d go for a mohair over cotton for this sort of stuff, though.

Anonymous

Agree it is too short, as are the sleeves. The cuff buttons are badly spaced, some touching, others not. For this type of money I would honestly expect much better.

john

I love the cut of the suit, but personally I’m not a fan of cotton trousers either.

You you plan to wear the Jacket as separates as you did choose patchpockets?

Anonymous

I’ve never seen a seam on a collar before. Whose idea was it?

Omar Asif

I was also surprised to see a two piece collar. In terms of curve of the collar, i have a seersucker bespoke jacket which fits just as well as any wool jacket.

Bert

It’s because he’s a purist and has shrunk the whole length before cutting – hard to get much shape out of cotton after that (if collar cut as single piece).

Matt

I’ve noticed that your blog appears to be increasingly focusing on Italian tailors, or tailors who work in the Italian style, when it comes to suits and separates.

Any particular reason for this (other than personal taste) and do you have any plans to commission and review pieces from any English tailors in the near future?

Anonymous

Hi Simon,

Are you planning to cover any UK bespoke tailors outside of London? I often wonder whether there are any good bespoke tailors outside of London that are being missed? For some of us who live in the UK, it is not always easy to get into the capital.

Many thanks.

Rolf

Whose idea was the centre-seam in the upper collar? Does MD cut all their upper collars in two pieces? – To me that looks distinctly odd.

Les Bubb

The photo from the back makes you look like a friar, Simon

Les Bubb

Would you ever consider a bespoke ‘weave’, Simon? Wayne Rooney looks far better these days apparently

Les Bubb

Good call, Simon. I presuming something a la Paul Daniels? Now that would be magic!

Jay

Simon, would you seriously consider a toupe ( or “hair system”)? It would be very interesting to see if you could pull this off. Reviews of suppliers and details of your experiences would probably also be of interest to a sizeable proportion of your readership!

ANM

Is there any celebrity who wears a hair supplement or whatever type, that is indistinguishable from the real thing?

I have never seen one which is that good. Every man I have ever met who has one form or another, I have instantly picked up on it …

Just checking on the “state of the art”, if there any updates..

Peter K

As my father used to say, “Grass doesn’t grow on a busy street”.

Ondrej Rucka

Hello Simon, do you plan to broaden your bespoke discoveries to houses such as Knize or Zaremba in the near future?

Ondrej Rucka

May I ask you why?

Martin

I agree, their shirts start at 400 euro. But did you find anything interesting in Vienna besides Ludwig Reiter and Jungmann & Söhne?

Rabster

Brian Eno (music producer , technologist, genius) says that before you read a critic’s review the critic should state what albums they like and what they don’t so you can read that review in context.

Likewise , reading this , I’m looking at a fantastically well fitted suit but overly noting (improperly) the very small points you don’t like.
(Regarding the cotton cloth, why not re-commission with wool and get the same great pluses without the negatives.)

I appreciate 1cm can have a noticeable effect on sleeve length but all these factors lead to a OCD type fixation on tailoring.
Even Hugo Jacomet (Parisian Gentleman) states “it must not become an obsession .It must remain fun .”

It would be good if you could show and write what you consider the closest you have to perfection in a suit/ jacket / trouser/ shirt.

Anyway , having read a number of your suit reviews this looks beautiful and you sound more impressed with this than others reviewed for a while.

Burt

I certainly would consider this a well balanced review in line with others on this blog. The reviewer tells us what he likes/dislikes and what could be better (partly due to his own communication or his own taste).
Too many blogs on menswear (if not all) have become like coffee table books: they’re not critical at all, just echoing information.

Mac

Hi Simon

Is the cloth from a current bunch?

Gonzague

MD is my favorite italian tailor and this suit looks very nice. Can you let us know the specs of the cloth?

Gonzague

Thanks. The H&S website very poorly reflects its color and beauty, looking boringly dark & matt instead.

John

Considering a suit from the same “So Cotton” bunch from H&S, a Sand Colour for a Summer Suit.

Simon – with regards to Drape, retaining shape, noting this is at least your 2nd Suit from this bunch – what do you find most annoying about cotton? For me the attraction is the texture of cotton is refreshingly different whilst also the colours tend to be muted and that to me gives it life.

BespokeNYC

I really want to like cotton, for all the reasons you’ve mentioned, but have had very limited success so far. Despite being a casual, rumply material, it doesn’t seems to work for separates as well as rougher materials like linen, hopsack, tweed or flannel. Maybe it’s just a bit too shiny? Garment washes definitely help for trousers, but the washed RTW jackets from places like Boglioli are cut rather short (plus I have a relatively long torso for my height – one of the reasons I was drawn to bespoke in the first place) so the fit is never good. Do any bespoke tailors offer garment washing services?

Anonymous

just picking up on some of the less flattering comments, the photo from the back is simply shocking, and the seam on the collar doesn’t line up with the long seam on the back.
5K euros for this. really?

Anonymous

Hi Simon, you have mentioned several times that we should not judge for points like those based on photos.

My question is, how then, should we judge those points if we cannot be there to look at the suit/jacket in person?

Timofey

I think this post is only confirms that this is a good tailorshop but overpriced.
And I guess why )): this is the price for armoury HK, they agreed that MD will not offer lower price to other customers. But he sell to armoury not more than €2,500. Simpl business logic.

Timofey

But he sell in armoury at the same price. That is the profit of armoury??) it was the same with liverano who doubles he’s price upon entering to Japanese market.

Fred

Hi Simon. I’m sure that suit will grow to be quite comfortable.
QUESTION: what is your view on 2 x 4 double breasted (blue) suit? I am thinking the blue jacket can be worn separately, where as a 2 x 6 button will not work alone as it’s too formal. Thoughts? thank you.

Robin

Being cotton how will it be maintained ?
I’m thinking odour from under arms and not having the ‘less maintenance’ qualities of wool.
How will dry cleaning affect it compared to dry cleaning wool?

P.S. on the subject of underarm odour I read somewhere theatre wardrobe folk spray vodka to kill odour and bacteria .

Justin

I thing it’s a gorgeous suit– in the way great bespoke gives that overall intangible style, this suit has it. Might be more than some are willing to pay, which is fine, but doesn’t take away from the suit.
And calling out cotton for being rumpled and not fitting like wool is like calling out a sweater for being warm.

Fred

Dear Simon,
As ever I appreciate your exploration of subtleties.
What holds me back from cotton suits is that they seem harder to look after than wool. Cotton requires so much more cleaning and pressing. So although casual in appearance it is actually more fuss than wool.
Your thoughts?

Anonymous

I see no point in spending 5000 euros on a suit like this. There are plenty of real bespoke tailors in the uk who would make you a better garment for far less.

Anonymous

Not intended to be a generally, but perhaps not the best use of English. Let me try again.
Why spend 5000 euros on a bespoke suit in Italy which fits poorly when you could get a bespoke garment made by an English tailor which would fit better and cost a lot less?

Anonymous

Sorry, but we are swapping postings.

It does fit poorly, because you yourself said it is too short in the length, the sleeves are too short, and the shoulders need passing up a bit.

If you don’t know of any tailors in the UK who could make like this, then you don’t know where to look Simon. I could name four who could make this better tomorrow. Perhaps you need to do a bit more research.

Just my four penny worth………

KD

That’s a beautiful suit, Simon. I have a similar blue jacket I got from DuchampLondon a few years ago, lovely piece. The fading does make it better, very cormfortable too. Would you wear it with a silk tie though, or it’s just for the shoot? Is it ok to wear it with silk tie or pocket square?

Johnnydevore

In my humble opinion this suit is great. Both in style as in execution.
Ok, it’s quite expensive but the finishing is superb and the cut quite unique as well.
It seems like you have to pay a premium for shops that have a future ahead of them. Which may be right. Sooner or later all the great ones will be gone and there are fewer young Tailors that make exquisit products with it’s own character.
I share the opinion of most readers though in regards that I would not want a cotton suit. I’m not a fan ot this used look and tend to step away from cotton trousers as well. I think they are just to hard to look, after especially if you’re not a fan of rumpled trousers.
Would you mind sharing pictures of this suit (maybe together with the suit from Caliendo) in future when it will be used more? I’m interested to see how it ages. Maybe I’ll change my opinion 😉

Anonymous

Lovely suit but very pricey.

Tim Fleming

Nice post. As always, Simon, you offer thoughtful and enjoyable reading. Thank you.

When seeing this suit, noticing it’s traits that are intended to contrast or stand out – peak lapels/patch pockets, DB/cotton, navy color/casual suit, etc. – it makes me wonder if you’re beginning to accept more “dandy points” in your look these days?

(I can’t recall the post where you referenced the phrase “dandy points,” … maybe something like “there’s only so many dandy points I can accept…” Whatever it was, made me laugh out loud and it has stayed in my mind ever since.)

John

Hi Simon,
Thank you for the review of this lovely suit! I do have two questions:
1. Do you think the jacket could be worn on its own?
2. As to the side adjusters you seem to prefer, do you really think they are better than the buttons in general or is it just about your own quirk?
For tailors, cotton is indeed very hard to deal with. And yet very suitable to Summer!
By the way, this kind of review is what we, PS readers, should expect from bloggers!
John

Anonymous

I think I have to say the Caliendo one seems a better fit by miles, although it might be the photos. This is the first time you commission anything from Musella right? I guess that may be part of the reason.
The hip area of the trousers looks good though. I’d rather keep the line than opting for a narrower cut.

David

I like the fact that you are reviewing more casual suits but I remain unconvinced about cotton as a suit fabric. I just don’t like the way it creases.
A good linen creases in a nice louche way whereas straight cotton just looks like it’s been badly ironed.
Also, I think the shirt & tie are too formal.
Beyond that, it is well cut and as always, the DB style suits you.

Ben

After seeing the previous Dembech post, I was anticipating a very questionable commission (that high-contrast, medium-density check seems so busy), but I absolutely love the way this turned out. There’s something youthful about the crispness of cotton (at least in the first couple hours of wear) that goes well with this shade of blue. I would have gone for a more on-trend slim cut in the body and sleeve to further extend the impression—a personal taste issue for sure.

Also glad you didn’t go with the fasten the last row route here.

C E Neville

I have to say that I have always shied away from having a double breasted suit made but this could change my mind. Very, very nice and it also has a wonderfully relaxed feel about it. Now if I could just find a few thousand euros down the back of the sofa…

Anonymous

Do you have a picture of the trousers on without the jacket? Im interested is seeing pleated cotton trousers that don’t look dorky. In the past it seems that you were more opposed to pleated trousers. Any reason for the change of heart?

Anonymous

Firstly I like the suit and, as always, the review is excellent. However, as a long term reader I am slightly concerned at the growing sense of narrow (by design), slightly scatter-gun approach (what aim is the commission?). You now have many double breasted suits and well tailored SBs. If commissioning in cotton why not go with something a little more louche? Additionally, whilst I understand the logic of research, there seems little planning in the overall componentry of your wardrobe. Beyond people such as Bunny Roger we, in the main, commission for purpose, with the odd fancy or whim to add interest. I seek not to criticise but to question the shape, logic and purpose of the commissions (another DB, another grey flannel coming up) – what gap are you seeking to fill, what purpose are you seeking to address in the commissions. Repitition of well made, similar style DB and SB may serve to explore Italian tailoring but does little to expand our ideas on variation of style. Returning recenly from Italy I was struck by the use of differing textures and fabrics in suiting – many of which had an ‘English look’ (tweed, gun club check, cord). Not an unfair question given how many people look to PS for inspiration and wish to know how to build a wardrobe beyond blue and grey business suits.

Fergus Meiklejohn

Lovely suit! Did I read correctly that the sleeves are unlined? can I ask how you find that in day to day use? I’ve always thought with lighter summer jackets, in cotton, linen or hopsack, having the sleeves unlined would be more comfortable in the often intense summer heat of southern Europe or Asia.

Anonymous

Thanks for the response. Whilst informative I think that I am asking for more commentary as to why you commissioned, where it will fit in your wardrobe and what purpose it will serve (you covered this in your response…for work, something to differentiate from worsted, a replacement for the Choppin suit – this all adds up to a logical choice but unknowable before your statement). As for the ‘English look’ being old fashioned the Autumn retail offering of 2017 reflects this very look (though it may not be to your taste). It might be that a new generation of buyers is discovering these cloths and patterns for the first time…(30s/40s tweed gave way to 50s club checks to 60s mod sharkskin then to 70s velvet and man mades etc…)…I think we have passed peak tweed and are now on to club again.

Anonymous

Thank you Simon – that would be great. The science of building a wardrobe is an interesting one – your insights will help. I also appreciate your comments re. cloth – could this be expanded into a piece addressing the fashion and style of cloth at point of sale; where do mills and tailors see the current direction of pattern and colour development going.

Gohar Raja

Dear Simon

Two more questions for you, when are you going to try Brioni and Kiton bespoke?

Secondly, what do you think about the big price difference between bespoke shoe makers, particularly English ones?

Regards

Gohar

Gohar Raja

Dear Simon

Thanks for your reply.

Kiton was made to measure or actual bespoke? What about trying Brioni bespoke?

I was referring for example the price difference between George Cleverley and Gaziano and Girling bespoke. I remember reading your article on your Bemer bespoke shoes, when you wrote they were the best fitting shoes you have ever had and they are in comparison cheaper than English bespoke shoe makers.

Regards

Gohar

Gohar Raja

Dear Simon

Once again thanks for your reply.

I think you will find that Brioni are a real traditional bespoke tailor as their worldwide bespoke customer base of 20000+ will testify. Just because they have become a worldwide brand does not mean they have forsaken their traditional bespoke roots. They offer bespoke both in Milan and Rome and their master tailors fly all over the world taking bespoke measurements.

On the point of Kiton their K-50 is the highest suit they offer approximately $50000, if memory serves me correctly the Kiton you had made was done via Harrods and the person who took your measurements (manager of the Kiton store on Clifford Street), is neither a cutter or a tailor?

Regards

Gohar

Gohar Raja

Dear Simon

Far from it, you are the expert , I am just a mere novice in comparison, but thank you all the same.

One more question for you. In your expert opinion does the Gaziano and Girling “Deco” line qualify as bespoke given the level of handwork involved or is it very high RTW?

Regards

Gohar

Mansy

Hi Simon

Would you wear these trousers as separates and could you wear them with your common projects? Or would you only do that with your Incotex?

Thanks so much!

Mansy

Thanks so much Simon.

I’ve been thinking of cotton trousers for summer and love these and the Caliendo suit (which I think you said is from the same bunch). Sounds like something flat fronted might work out.

Thanks again!

LR

Hi Simon,
Thanks for your great work on Permanent Style. What an excellent resource it is.
I have two questions for you. 1. Have you ever had a two button double breasted jacket made? Or seen one done well? I’ll be getting married next May and am very interested in having a suit made in this style. Why? The wedding will be in Jamaica, and my thought was that a two button double breasted would give me the wrap and silhouette of double breasted (which I love) while retaining a lightness and casualness because of its having two buttons instead of four or six. (The wedding will be a fun and understated and casual kind of event.) I’m imagining something like a navy fresco. I’d also consider one button sleeve cuffs, which somehow feels of a piece with the two button stance. 2. I’m keen on having a Neapolitan tailor make this suit for me. I have somewhat broad shoulders and have always liked the way an unstructured jacket hangs on them. I’m also keen on the way the neapolitans do trousers. I’ll go for a single outward facing pleat with a relatively thick waistband. Do you have a sense of which tailor might be best for this job? Cost is a factor. I’ll be pushing the limit to pay more than 3000 euros, and would prefer to pay less. Ive considered Solito, who will be in NY (where I live) next week… but I would consider getting myself to Naples if necessary.

Thanks in advance for your counsel.

Alex N.

Dear Simon,
It is a lovely suit and has great style. I would like to ask you to elaborate on why you do not like the M. Dembech single-breasted style? I have been trying to figure out what I find a bit off in the style, but the pictures on Instagram are probably not the best source. For me, it is related to how the lapel rolls but again, I cannot judge it fairly. The double breasted are simply stunning.
Best Regards,
Alex

KD

Hi, have a beautiful sky blue cotton jacket from Duchamp, question is, what material and colour trousers to wear with it, you’ve certainly made me aware. Please.

Frank Shattuck

I just watched the Jacket Required video on Gianfrancesco. I love it. Such charm in his shop with his magnificent old father. I wish I was part of it. There is softness in his work. And I very much appreciate the suit he made for Simon.

Alex N.

Dear Simon,
1. How do you find the pleats on these trousers?
I understand that cotton doesn’t keep a crease but does this mean that the pleats don’t work or that they open up?
2. I know that you often mention you dislike pleats. What makes you order pleats from some makers/commissions?
The finishing and style of the suit is great.
Thank you
Alex N.

Paul S

You stated that the sleeves are 1cm too short but it would be easy for Gianfrancesco to lengthen them. Is it easy because he will have left an excess of cloth tucked inside the cuff or is there a straightforward way to add material without it showing? And did you have them lengthened in the end?

Matthew

Hello Simon,

Is this suit also in a 9 oz. cotton from Holland and Sherry like your Elia Caliendo? Attempted to find the details but was unable to. Thanks.

S

Hi Simon,

Do you regret going for a patch pocket on this suit ? Looks quite good for an informal db suit I think.

Thanks !

S

Certainly makes it easier to wear as a separate no ?

S

Yes! Thanks a lot !

Maheshdeep Sohal

Hello,
I would like to know the colour of tie you are wearing in Musella Dembech suit.
Thanks

Nathan

Hi Simon,

Sorry to dig into this old piece. You’ve written several rewiews of cotton suits, from 9oz to 13oz. Could you tell what is your take enventually ? I am interested in thé W bill 13oz, but it might be a mistake. Sûre you can help. Best regards.

Chris

Hi Simon,
I have probably commented on this suit before, I go back it often- a masterpiece I think, and for me, next to the green linen from Gieves, the absolute pinnacle of modern tailored style in my eyes.

I have a different question though- in some of the shots (particularly the final one), your shirt is pulling around and under the tie area into a kind of triangle. Seemingly starting at the collar points.
I have several shirts from luca that do this too. It is not something I have on my other shirts however. That may be to do with fabric, as my shirts from luca are all finer and less casual than my others, but I am curious if you have noticed and categorised this, or perhaps found a way to avoid this in your shirts? It’s something I find quite unattractive on my own shirts and have often thought to ask about.

Chris

Thankyou Simon.
That makes total sense, and i will take the point on board not to focus on it! Sometimes it is hard to know what is worthy of an alteration and what isn’t. Fabric and tailoring are mysterious things.