The 75 in the post title is not a suggestion that one should be over 75 years old to have a tailor. Rather it is a reference to the fact that this is my 75th post on this blog. A great time methinks to talk about finding a tailor.
I reckon that every stylish gentleman ought to have a tailor. There was a time when this was pretty common. Well-dressed men had a tailor to make adjustments to their clothes as necessary and to tailor garments to their specified requirements.
However with the increased shift to ready to wear garments and the corresponding decline in formality of dress this practice has withered away. Now very few men, even stylish ones, have a tailor.
Regrettably, I am mong those who do not have a tailor. But there was a time when I did. He was an impossibly ancient man who spoke very quietly, when he did speak at all. Most of his talking was done through his craft, with impossibly neat stitching, whether by hand or machine, and exquisite attention to detail.
He was as happy working from measurements or from an existing garment that fit well. At one stage, I had a pair of trousers that fit me exactly the way I wanted. So every subsequent pair of trousers I bought I took them to him to be adjusted and took along that pair of trousers with the simple request: ‘I want the new ones to fit me just like the old one.’
Somehow he made it happen. Only now do I realise how tricky that was in some cases. He also made a number of pairs of trousers for me from scratch as well as a suit. Nonetheless, in each case it was those trousers that fit me so well which provided the template.
Unfortunately, I moved away. We remained in contact for a while, but eventually lost touch. I very much doubt that he is still in the land of the living. If he is, I imagine that he is unlikely still to be in practice.
Regrettably, I’ve never got round to appointing a replacement tailor. However, I think the time may have come to do so.
So how do you go about finding a tailor? It’s a tricky one that. Tailors are becoming increasingly difficult to find. You don’t exactly pick up the yellow pages and select one from the number operating in your neighbourhood. Well, I suppose you could try this but there would be slim pickings.
In my local yellow pages, for example, there are precisely 3 tailors listed. There are a few other listings for ladies offering alteration services, but that is hardly the same thing. In sharp contrast, on the following pages there are 30 tattooists listed. What kind of world do we live in where it’s easier to arrange a tattoo than find a tailor? So while you could go to your yellow pages, it’s probably not the way to go.
Alternatively, you could try online and there are a number of online options. There are online tailors available such as iTailor.com or you might consult an online directory such as thetailoringdirectory.co.uk or a travelling tailor such as Karl Matthews if your budget is sufficient to support bespoke tailoring.
However, by far the best way to find a tailor is by recommendation. That’s how I found mine. Someone I trusted suggested that he was the best tailor they knew. I tried him for something simple and relatively inexpensive to begin with and was very pleased with both the speed and craftsmanship of his work and moved up from there.
But that could make finding a tailor even trickier. How many people do you know who have a tailor? And do they live anywhere near you? There is little point finding a great tailor who is located at the opposite end of the country, or indeed in another country altogether.
One possibility is to ask your dry cleaners or clothing outfitters whether there is a local tailor they would recommend. If the same name keeps cropping up then it might be worth taking a punt.
What is the point of having a tailor you ask? Well, bearing in mind that the most important element of a gentleman’s wardrobe is the fit, a skilled tailor can ensure that your clothes fit you properly. If you have a tailor your trousers sit in the right place, your jackets complement your natural body shape, your shirts sleeves are not too long, etc.
To be fair some simple tasks of adjustment can easily be done by virtually anyone. If you simply need your trousers hemmed or the waist taken in by an inch you don’t really need a skilled tailor. The alteration service at your local dry cleaners’ will suffice.
If, however, you want to make adjustments to a jacket or are looking to alter the way a pair of trousers fit beyond minor adjustments to the waist, then you really need a skilled tailor.
Best of all, of course, a skilled tailor allows you to avoid adjusting clothing entirely by the simple expedient of designing garments to fit you specifically.
Perhaps you can begin to see why I want one…