From left, a lawyer carrying a briefcase and a diplomat carrying a portfolio. The year is 1932.
A briefcase should be brown, even though you wear black shoes. I subscribe to that tradition. Black leathers patinate poorly, and it would be a shame not to let a large piece leather patinate. It has to be right kind of brown leather though to achieve patina. You must avoid coated leathers. Opt for aniline dyed leathers.
Moreover, choose a briefcase that suits your daily life. A large attaché case might seem to make you cool or important but if you carry a red apple in it only, then the fine case becomes a comedy.
Here is an overview of classic briefcases, portfolios, bags and attaché cases for your day-to-day life.
Large document cases from Böle in Sweden, Swaine Adeney and J. P. Marcellino.
Document case from Frank Clegg and a Danish ad from 1932.
Classic leather school bag from Piet Breinholm and a Danish ad from 1951.
Enforced document case from Manufactum and a Danish ad for a similar bag in 1952.
Fold-up music briefcase from Manufactum and a Danish ad from 1922 for a similar bag.
The Duke of Windsor in a Kent doublebreasted summer suit and with a brown briefcase in his left hand.
Portfolios from Swaine Adeney and Böle.
Zipper portfolio from Swaine Adeney and Danish ad from 1953.
Covers for Laptops and Tablets
Tablet covers from Böle, Basader, and Hard Graft.
Attache cases from Swaine Adeney and Rimowa, and a Danish ad from 1923.
Messenger bags from Frank Clegg and Claus Broe.
Doctor’s Bag (Kit Bag)
Kit bag from Swaine Adeney and Danish ad from 1923.
Leisure and Travel Bags
Duffle bags from Manufactum, Dunhill i England and Ghurka.
Canvas weekend bag from Chapman and a Danish ad from 1947.
I consider ordering a knee long slip-on overcoat. You know, the roomy model with raglan sleeves sometimes called a balmacaan or a raglan. I have such an overcoat already, however a long model. It is not practical for driving the car or riding the bike.
These old illustrations from Das Herrenjournal and another German magazine start of 1960s give some inspiration. There was a slip-on overcoat craze back then.
A near perfect slip-on overcoat in tweed.
Herringbone slip-on with raglan sleeves and Prussian collar.
Camel hair cloth is not only for the worshiped polo coat. You may use for a slip-on as well.
Savile Row tailors travel to the States, and once in a while to Paris, Munich or another big city on the Continent. Copenhagen up north is a very rare destination. Therefore it became an event, when Savile Row tailor Steven Hitchcock and his fiancée Celia paid a visit to Copenhagen last week. Thanks to bespoke tailor Karina Mott in Copenhagen Steven took time to meet people, who are fond of the bespoke world, and he gave a 3-hour master class at The Danish Royal Theater for about 15 Danish and Swedish tailors.
A very interesting thing to hear in the theater was how lightweight cloth has changed cutting. To give an example, Steven explained that the simple traditional Savile Row fish cut in the side of coat doesn’t really work on modern 9, 8 or 7 oz. fabrics. A fish cut relies on molding the cloth in the skirt with the iron, yet you cannot do that with the new lightweight fabrics. Instead you must venture into more sophisticated fabric cutting to smooth out the jacket.
Another thing that I noticed is the amount of work and skills that go into making the canvas. It takes a lot of experience to create a canvas of haircloth and linen, which works well with the specific outer fabric.
Steven also explained his “soft tailoring” approach. Partly it is about the canvas, which he cuts on the bias, and the loose pad stitching. Thereby the jacket chest can drape a bit, and in combination with the rounded shoulders the drape effect creates an illusion of a strong upper body. Moreover, Steven inserts a relatively large upper sleeve into a relatively small armhole. That gives room for a lot of movement. I noticed that some of the Danish and Swedish tailors got surprised by the large difference in measurements between armhole and sleevehead.
Steven’s way of cutting differs from the common method at Savile Row too. For the back he manipulates a block pattern like many others. However, for the front parts and for the armscye he applies “Rock of Eye”, that is, he puts aside tools except for chalk and a tape measure, and then he freehand drafts lines and curves. He was taught that method at Anderson & Sheppard’s, he told us. Rock of Eye gives more freedom to create the pattern as you like, yet it also introduces more risks I guess, and you have to be really good at it to succeed.
All in all it was a pleasure to watch Steven unfolding his craft. The 3-hour class didn’t feel too long at all, even for a layman like yours truly.
The shoulder angle of an English crown prince, whom Steven has made garments for.
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