40 Colori made-to-measure knitwear and tie: Review

Monday, October 5th 2020
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I’m pleased to say that the jumper and tie I had made by 40 Colori turned just as consistently and professionally as everything else I had experienced from the shop. 

The cashmere crewneck fits well, with the measurements being exactly what we requested and only small questions over the decisions made in those requests. 

The tie is exactly as ordered too, and is the perfect length and width, as well as an interesting material. The only question there is the colour, which was entirely my choice. 

40 Colori is a shop on London’s Lamb Conduit Street, run by Gabriele and Cassandre (above). As described in my original article on the couple, their style isn’t quite in line with Permanent Style's, but they do offer a great made-to-order and made-to-measure service that I was interested to try. 

A key reason that service is so good is that they are plugged into a series of small menswear factories around Italy: Gabriele’s family runs one of them, which makes ties and scarves, and others make knitwear, tailoring, socks and so on. 

This makes small commissions easier, means technical questions can be answered quicker, and I’m sure helps with that consistency mentioned earlier.

There aren’t many options for made-to-measure knitwear around, simply because everything is made on machines (unlike shoes and suits) and it’s expensive to use those machines to make a single piece. 

It’s also not an easy thing to fit on a customer. Measurements of the body rarely work, as few guys have any idea how close they want knit wear to fit. Better is using a series of sample sizes, and picking elements from each. 

This is what we did with my crewneck. I tried on several sizes, and from those picked different options with some small tweaks here and there. 

So I went with the chest of the 48; the collar of the 46; the shoulders of a 48 plus 1cm on each side; the hips of a 46; the sleeves of the 48 plus 1cm on the upper arm; and the length of the 46.

Unfortunately they didn’t have a size 44 in the store, which is what I thought I would have on the waist. But we worked off the 46 and took it in a little to represent a 44. 

I should say, by the way, that I found all the 40 Colori sizes came up big. I'm more normally a size 50 chest. 

This combination of sizes sounds quite complicated, but actually it felt simple, given I was picking specific fits I could see and try - rather than having to imagine them. 

And the final knit was the exact combination of those sizes. 

The only question mark for me is the hips, which were one size bigger (46) than the waist (roughly 44). I feel that the ribbing of the sweater is a tiny bit loose on me as a result. It’s just about OK now, but if it stretches at all, it will be too big. 

Still, everything else was perfect, and I might be wrong on that count as well - it might be the right size as well as everything else. 

The cashmere (2-ply from Cariaggi) is lovely, and I’m pleased with the biscuity colour I picked - what Cariaggi calls ‘peppercorn’ (no. 20629).

The overall fit of the sweater is probably not much better than those I buy ready-made from brands I like such as Colhay’s or Luca Faloni

But there was a time when those brands didn’t exist and I couldn’t find slim knitwear. And the 40 Colori service will be most useful for those that still can’t find anything that fits - because they have much longer arms, or are way off average in some other respect. 

I suppose there could also be a time when I’m looking for a colour of knitwear and can’t find it anywhere. Or perhaps a style - say a V-neck with a much deeper V. (See previous post for my views on more adventurous design changes.) 40 Colori gives me the opportunity to explore either of those. 

My reason for having a tie made was mostly just because it was possible. 

But I do also have a few grumbles with knitted ties, which it was nice to address They’re often too narrow, perhaps 6cm, so we went with 6.5cm; and they’re always too short, so we added 9cm to the length (total 155cm). 

Interestingly, we added 6cm to the front blade and 3cm to the back, as this was required to keep the neckband in the correct place, ending centrally under my chin. 

Perhaps I tie my knots tighter than others, meaning the front blade needs extra length to be the same length as the back? I can't think of any other reason. Do shout if you can.

The other little experiment with the tie was to use a yarn that mixed linen and ‘shappe’ silk. 

Shappe silk comes from silkworm casings that are normally discarded, because the resulting product is not shiny enough. That can be a effect you want, of course, and it works well with the linen I think: the resulting material is similar to wool in its matte surface, but has the same crunch as a standard knitted silk. 

The only issue with the tie was that I didn’t pick a dark enough navy. 

It looked dark in the swatches, but looking at them again when I collected the tie, I think the black paper they were mounted on made the colours seem darker than they were. I should have taken them to the window - to natural light - to see properly. 

The tie is still lovely, as you can see, but it will be less smart and less versatile than a darker navy. Gabriele and Cassandre don’t currently offer a darker navy in that fibre mix, but they’re looking into whether it’s possible. If the worst comes to the worst, they could even dye some silk specially. 

Overall, a great service with a few understandable learnings for someone using a process, and commissioning a type of product, for the first time. 

The made-to-measure knitwear was £325; ready-made is £225. Full details on the options in my original article

The tie cost £75. 

The other clothes shown here are my P Johnson MTM trousers in Loro Piana Denim and my very old and very frayed denim shirt from Al Bazar. 

Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt

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Jan

Hi Simon, I get the point around a lighter blue tie being less versatile, but the color looks gorgeous in my view. And it‘s probably not the case that you really „need“ a dark navy tie urgently 😉 Best, Jan

Peter Hall

Knitwear is an odd beast, isn’t it? It’s probably my most worn item(especially now I’m working from home), but the one I’ve never had a made to measure. I can usually find decent quality crew necks, but Vs are a different matter. I prefer one with just enough gap to see my tie , so a small V, but it’s a difficult find.
Love the tie, colour,width and length.

Matthew V

Lovely knitwear and lovely tie (I am biased as I have always really liked knitted ties, but the chance to have one made a little longer appeals) and great, characterful shirt. I have some similarly (timeworn not fake) battered chambray and denim shirts I love to wear.

Edric

Hi Simon,

I noticed in your photos that the cuff of your shirt shows through the cuff of your jumper the way it would in a suit or jacket. Is this how knitwear is suppost to fit? Whenever i’ve been wearing shirts with knitwear i’ve never conciously shown my shirtcuff. This makes me wonder if i’ve been doing it wrong all these years.

I say consciously because if one wears a good fitting jacket with a good fitting shirt then the cuff of the shirt should “peek” through the jacket sleeve naturally. In contrast, jumpers have tighter ribbing on the cuff, which means that the jumper cuff would have to be deliberately adjusted over the shirt cuff to allow the proper length of the latter to be exposed. I imagine that’s only really feasible if the jumper’s sleeve length is perfect (which I assume is the case in your jumper, it being made to order). Too short would expose too much cuff, and too long would result in the material bunching at the sleeve (seeing as one has to pull ot back to adjust the cuff properly).

Edric

Thanks for your reply Simon! Perhaps i’ll show the cuff of my shirt the next time im in knitwear to give it a try!

PM

How would you compare it to Saman Amel MTM knitwear Simon?

Neil Tang

Hi Simon,

Lovely biscuit colour on the knitwear. They naturally look lovely with a white/cream trousers.

Light to medium grey trousers is possible but probably not on a navy right?

Anon

I notice that the sleeves of the pullover are not turned back at the cuff. Do you always prefer them like this? I ask because I have short arms and invariably have to turn the cuffs back, but I sometimes wonder whether this is an unfortunate compromise.

Ian

The colour of the jumper is really nice, it looks like luca faloni nocciolo brown, I’ve been looking for ages for a lighter “putty” colour cashmere jumper without success

John

Hi Simon
This is an interesting shop worth knowing indeed.
As to knitted ties, frankly I don’t like the skinny ones that seem to be the most widespread. At its beginnings, the Parisian Howard’s was offering wider ones. Unfortunatly, they have stopped selling them.
What do you think about combining tweed jackets and shiny knitted ties? To me the one you have in mind with the tie reviewed in this post seems to be better with this kind of jackets, sort of alternative to wool ties.
John

Dr Peter

Nice sweater and tie. My own personal concern with knitted ties is that when one pulls the
knot tight around the base of the collar, the sides of the knot begin to wave or wrinkle, mainly because the knit material is elastic. So one sees these bumps on the sides of the knot. I try to use the simplest four-in-hand knot because of the bulk of the material, but even so, it takes some work on the knot to make it look straight and even on the sides.

Tony de Lisle

Dear Simon

I have always understood Scottish cashmere to be a benchmark for quality, and Italian to be made to suit the market for fashion.

Would you agree with this?

Ben R

Do you happen to know if their polo knit has the collar band you recommend to make such knits perform better under tailoring?