The brown suit has always been the third less respected brother in relation to the blue suit and the grey suit. Yet, it is regarded as a brother afterall.
Source: Esquire Classic (September, 1939)
The world wide web is a good invention. Things become accessible, or “democratized”. One of the latest gains in the menswear field is Esquire Classic. The whole archive of Esquire magazines from 1933 and onwards is now accessible online at the site Esquire Classic, if you register with the site. The old scattered collection of drawings by Laurence Fellows and other Esquire illustrators, which has meant so much to the current bespoke world starting with Alan Flusser’s Dressing the Man (1999), is now complete, and you can browse the collection easily.
I’ve done a run-through myself the other night. What made the largest impression perhaps were the menswear plates of fabric collages. I had almost forgotten them. Inspite of the coarse collage technique the plates appear so accurate, vibrant and even poetic. The present plates come from the months of September, October, and November in 1934.
Source: Esquire Classic
Annals attribute the costume splendor of the Luchino Visconti movie The Leopard to the Italian designers and tailors Piero Tosi and Umberto Tirelli. In that perspective the photos of Burt Lancaster being fitted for an evening dress at the tailor in connection with the The Leopard become a little intriguing, since the tailor in the photo is neither Piero Tosi nor Umberto Tirelli. Best guess, I suppose, is that the tailor is a tailor employed by Tosi or Tirelli.
However, the tailor might be a local Sicilian tailor. Visconti recorded large parts of the movie in Palermo, and perhaps he and his costume designers found it convenient to use a good local tailor for Burt Lancaster’s wardrobe. The answer to this little mystery could lie in discovering the names of the two gentlemen supervising the fitting .
Umberto Tirelli dressing Claudia Cardinale for her role in The Leopard.
Different tradition, different tailoring. It is thrilling how different bespoke tailoring can be, even between masters of the craft. The English tailor will tell you that your jacket really should be half an inch longer. The Italian tailor will insist that it should be half an inch shorter. The German tailor is puzzled by the overall small Italian jacket that you just showed to him.
I have come to the conclusion that there is no best cut in general. I find it ridiculous, when someone says that a drape coat is better than a more structured coat, or that large lapels are better than small lapels. The man who says that is nothing but a victim of a bespoke fashion.
It is true though that some cuts works better on a specific built than others. Being 6′ 5″ with a thick boned skeleton I simply need a cut with more room for movement. It is geometry. When the tailor adds two cms of space to the cut of the small man, he has to add three cms in my case. It appears to me that some tailors don’t always intend to do that, and then I fight them. I also don’t like a high buttoning point, a high sitting gorge and a high breast pocket. I have zero need to stress tallness, which will will be the typical effect of raising those components.
In that perspective I feel very much at home with Volkmar Arnulf. He has the experience and the feel for cutting for big and tall men. Afterall he has made numerous suits for former German chancellor Helmut Kohl. Volkmar Arnulf understands that big guys are more brutal with their clothing. Don’t try to restrict them anyway, he seems to have concluded. Interestingly, I had a similar experience at shoemaker Klemann in Hamburg. He was very aware that my kilograms put a heavy pressure on the shoes, and it influenced the type of leather we chose for the shoes, and the way he builds the sole of the shoes.
In the photo above a recent second fitting at Arnulf’s of a striped blue suit made-up from vintage fresco.
Photo: The Journal of Style
Cold rainy weather has arrived. It doesn’t make life easy for the man, who loves a pair of trousers with a sharp crease. A few drops of rain, and the crease starts to lose grip.
Jeppe, who rides the bike most days, found a wonderful old Ralph Lauren rain mac with a long skirt at eBay. It gives more crease protection than the popular short rain macs today.
Jeppe’s brown nubuck shoes are bespoke from Jan Kielman in Warsaw. The flannel trousers and the hidden tweed coat are bespoke from Musella Dembech in Milan. The bespoke shirt is from Maria Frittolini in Paris. A now deceased Parisian hatmaker made Jeppe’s tweedcap to measure.
Photo: The Journal of Style