Craft / July 2016

Post Haste: Reflecting on Tailored Wedding Tails

After eight fittings and many months of anticipation, Editor Tom Chamberlin’s marvelous bespoke morning suit finally gets its big day…
Photograph by Joshua Lawrence.

So I got married a few weeks ago. Contrary to a popular cultural trope that the bride is somehow the diva, as it was my big day too I decided that I wasn’t going to let a day full of sartorial opportunity pass. So I opted to make a change midway through the day. This was in part because in the south of France, where the wedding was, a lightweight suit is only sensible, but also because if there is one garment that has fascinated me for a long time, it would be the morning suit.

A morning suit is a tremendously hard garment to make. It is even harder to make a good ready-to-wear version. Much like Her Majesty’s ability to spot an insta-bowtie from a mile off, I have a keen eye for ready-to-wear suits and an off-the-peg morning suit is full of tells. The best tell of a ready-to-wear suit is the way in which the back of the collar sits way off the neck and shirt collar. The morning suit is no different here, but the extra tell is the way in which the tails stick out 12 inches away from the back of your legs. The tails should graze your legs and the collar should sit flush against your neck. Sadly this garment has become extremely expensive to make so the numbers at your average British wedding – or at the races – has dwindled to levels that would that it had legs as well as arms, would be on some kind of wildlife watchlist.

If you feel the itch for bespoke, my best advice is to get this made by someone who has a good reputation for this specific piece of kit. In my case, when one of the most reputable house’s on Savile Row rang me to munificently offer their house to make the coat for me, on hearing who it was that I had already commissioned, such was their reverence and respect for him that they didn’t bother. The tailor is John Kent of Kent, Haste and Lachter.

It is no secret that these three men are my tailors in any case. Usually I am seen to by Kent’s protege, the great Terry Haste. Terry can make anything, and was absolutely the man for the job. However out of deference, modesty and humility, he suggested that John should make the coat. So I decided to employ the whole triumvirate on Sackville Street, and ask John Kent to make the coat, Terry to make the waistcoat and trousers and Stephen Lachter to make the shirts.

The jacket is made from a black 10/11-ounce super 100 merino wool herringbone from Smith Woolens. Not the heaviest option but still strong and structured. The lapels sit at about 4 and a half inches and while there was the option to include a satin piping or turn back cuffs, during the process I backed off from those options as John’s lapels and fit were so striking that I decided that it is best to keep it clean and let his cutting do the talking (which translates as ‘I’m too chicken to do anything flash like this magazine’s Online Editor'). The shoulders were the classic KHL level of roping, that is to say ever so slightly with a high shoulder arm. The sides were shaped but I did say that the Fred Astaire shape that is vey much a large ecclesiastical goblet shape was not what I wanted, so there is some drape but at first glance you would be forgiven for noticing its firm hold on the body. The best part is the quilt stitching on the inside. Not only is that painstaking to do, but also it is completely hidden from sight. A luxurious touch only the wearer truly knows about.

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Tom Chamberlin

Editor of The Rake Magazine