Back to East 53rd Street for the second time in the same week to see Len and have the second fitting of the bespoke sport coat made from Dugdale’s cloth (article on the first fitting is here).
I had the pleasure of meeting Len’s long time friend, New York local and someone I greatly admire, Bruce Boyer, when he dropped in for a chat and to see how the coat was coming along.
For those who don’t know Bruce, he is the great menswear writer on classic style and what he doesn’t know about the history and progression of classic menswear and style isn’t worth knowing. Bruce has authored several books, which have become essential style references for men, including Eminently Suitable and Elegance – A Guide to Quality in Menswear. More importantly, he’s a lovely man and it was great to spend some time with both himself and Len’ while we had the fitting.
As with most second fittings, it was about refining the initial, larger changes, made at the first fitting. For a tailor working with a new client, it can be a tricky process, as no two bodies are the same. Once that customer becomes a repeat customer, however, the process becomes far more streamlined, with the original paper pattern being altered each time (if needed) to reflect the discoveries made with the first or first couple of suits commissioned. Soon enough the first fitting for future commissions more closely resembles a second fitting, with the jacket being cut more accurately to the customers true shape.
Over the course of the fitting we determined four main changes to be made.
First, Len’ would bring in the shoulders as there was still a fair bit of room there, with the cloth extending some way beyond my shoulder (very common on ready to wear jackets as it’s easier to take shoulders in than to let them out). Len’ would also increase the roping of the shoulders (slight raising of the sleeve head, which Len’ achieves through putting some extra ease into the join of the sleeve and shoulder seam, creating a small ridge on the top of the shoulder). It’s my favourite aesthetic element of Len’s house style. Unfortunately we didn’t take any photo’s before the sleeves were taken off.
The rear skirt (bottom of the jacket) would also be raised slightly to balance the back of the jacket with the front. In this instance, it’s achieved through taking the extra cloth from the upper back of the jacket, effectively moving the entire back section up a few millimetres, rather than simply lopping of the extra cloth in the skirt. Where cloth is given to and taken away from isn’t always where you’d think.
The final change would be to add some more shape to the lower back. As my lower back dips in quite a bit and I have a “strong” seat, this usually takes a couple of fittings with any tailor to get the fit right. The shape will be created through removing cloth at the side panels. With almost every other tailor, the cloth in the back meets up directly with the cloth from the front, but Len’ cuts a separate panel of cloth to fit between these two, so the changes are made where the side panel meets the back, leaving the front untouched. Clever.
Finally, we had to choose buttons. As always, made from horn which is stronger than plastic and a natural material. We chose a combination of browns and cremes to pick up on the colours found in the jacket (the button on the right was substituted for a button more similar to the other three).
Those changes would be made within the next 48 hours, allowing one final fitting before leaving New York.