My fascination with tailoring is practically as old as this blog, which has pretty much stood witness to the whole process I take conceptualizing "projects", taking them to the tailor to have made, and finally wearing them out. For great-fitting basics such as simple suits and slim trousers, and for hit-or-miss, set-yourself-apart-from-the-crowd pieces such as my contrast-trim blazer or jumpsuit, having a trusted tailor is invaluable.
the widely-coveted, overexposed, tailor-made jumpsuit
The practice of having clothes created by a tailor is one lost amongst gentlemen of our generation; our grandfathers used to go to their tailors to have even their underpants made. In an act of recovering knowledge lost, allow me to share what I've learned from experience with my guide to getting things tailor-made:
1. Find a tailor who is impeccable at making clothes fit.
The fabrics you can choose and buy yourself, styling and details you can specify, but you can't teach a tailor how to fit clothes on you. You might go through a couple or three tailors before you find the one that's right for you, and when you do, don't ever let him go!
2. Visual pegs of any kind always help.
This photograph (from Jak and Jil)
led to these.
A pair of pants that you'd like to have re-done in a different fabric, photos of a jacket from an e-shop (plus points for views on all sides), or even street style photos. Chances are, your tailor wouldn't know exactly what style you want and you won't be able to accurately communicate to him in words how you want it.
3. Know your Tailoring Terms 101.
The lapel is the part on each side of a jacket that is folded back on either side of the front opening (it's not a collar).
The vent is the opening on the lower edge of the back of the coat along the seam (it's not a slit).
Cuffs are the end part of a pair of pants, where the material is turned back.
4. Details, details, details.
If you aren't having your jacket made by Gieves and Hawkes on Savile Row, you probably won't want it to look like all the other jackets your budget tailor makes. Know the details that go into higher-end clothing and when unsure, go for simplicity. In general, slit back pockets look more refined than those with button-flaps, and vented jackets drape better than vent-less ones.
with vent vs. without vent: makes a whole lot of difference
And don't hesitate to go down and dirty with your tailor and work with him with the exact measurements for optimal fit. On that note,
5. When it comes to matters of styling, trust your instinct.
From experience, whenever I listen to the tailor's advice instead of my own judgment, it usually doesn't turn out the way I want it to be. But no matter who's fault it is and your "project" doesn't come out the way you please,
6. Never stop until you're happy with it.
A good tailor would never charge you for repairs to be made on pieces of clothing he makes: alterations on fit, or minor tweaks in style. Ask nicely, and be specific. Once you're chummy with your tailor, he might even do alterations on your retail pieces for free!
In Manila, I come to Toppers for all my tailoring needs:
(photo from Philosophical Style)
2277-D Katipunan Rd., Loyola Heights, Quezon City
tel. no. +6324367938
Look for Mang Jun, and I'd appreciate it if you tell him it was Izzy who referred you. :)
*Credits to Brook and Lyn for giving me the idea for this post.