Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
"James Bond had his first drink of the evening at Fouquet's. It was not a solid drink. One cannot drink seriously in French cafés. Out of doors on a pavement in the sun is no place for vodka or whisky or gin. A fine a l'eau is fairly serious, but it intoxicates without tasting very good. A quart de champagne or a champagne à l'orange is all right before luncheon, but in the evening one quart leads to another quart and a bottle of indifferent champagne is a bad foundation for the night. Pernod is possible, but it should be drunk in company, and anyway Bond had never liked the stuff because its liquorice taste reminded him of his childhood. No, in cafés you have to drink the least offensive of the musical comedy drinks that go with them, and Bond always had the same thing--an Americano--Bitter Campari, Cinzano, a large slice of lemon peel and soda. For the soda he always specified Perrier, for in his opinion expensive soda water was the cheapest way to improve a poor drink."
-A View to a Kill, by Ian Fleming
Friday, August 29, 2008
They're not for everyone, and certainly not for men too young for adult stimulants generally, but I enjoy a cigar a couple times each week. The other night was one of those times, a warm night for sitting on a balcony overlooking San Francisco with my wife, talking, drinking Russian vodka and, in my case, smoking.
Part of the pleasure a man gets from smoking comes from the ritual of lighting the things, which takes a couple of minutes if it's done correctly. That ritual begins with a cutter. A guillotine cutter makes a slice across the head of the cigar just above the cap line to disperse the smoke and minimize the potential for bite.
Once cut, the cigar is lit, preferably with an odorless butane lighter. It can be lit with matches but that's a more cumbersome process. Either way, the cigar is held in the hand at a 90 degree angle above the flame, and rotated until all parts of the foot are evenly charred.
Then the cigar is placed between the lips and puffed, with the flame still under the foot, until the flames jump up. At that point, the ritual is complete and the smoking begins.
And that's how a cigar is properly lit. Have a great holiday weekend.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Perhaps the dandiest of hats is the slightly textured coke (or bowler or derby) hard hat in a shade of brown. Originally intended to protect men on horseback and once considered "the hat that won the west" by no less of an authority than Lucius Beebe, we see few cokes today and those are usually the black ones. The textured version for less formal pursuits is the rarest of the rare, despite its utility as head protection. Of course, this may have something to do with the frequency with which men today ride horses.
Those of a technical bent will be interested to know that, according to Art Fawcett at VS Custom Hats, the structure of a coke is achieved with paper-mâché. Once the paper is dry, the hatmaker applies lacquer and blows felt onto the surface. The texture is achieved when the pre-colored felt is brushed out.
Model for today's hat is the flâneur Richard Merkin. Sometimes described as Rhode Island’s most famous New York artist, Merkin was a Professor (now emeritus) of Painting at the Rhode Island School of Design for nearly forty years beginning in the 1960's while somehow managing to be one of New York's most visible men about town during the same period. Merkin's work is in the permanent collections of this and that museum and he has been a contributor of both illustration and writing to several magazines but, perhaps most relevant to this essay, he's also distinguished for his appearance on the cover of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album (back row, right of center).
Mr. Merkin combines his undoubtedly bespoke hat with a white collared pink shirt, a gray and white checked necktie, and a tan Donegal tweed jacket with turnback cuffs. One expects that he knew that, according to the Victorian era's language of flowers, his yellow carnation states "You have disappointed me." A suitable attitude for a man wearing a coke, no?
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I met Tracy Mercer, General Manager of the Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley at East Palo Alto, when he wrote asking if I knew the whereabouts of Yann Debelle de Montby of Alfred Dunhill. We put our heads together and Tracy tracked de Montby down in Shanghai where he serves as director of that chain's expansion in the East.
One connection leads to another and a few days later over lunch Tracy was showing me the lavender shagreen cufflinks that he gets in Bangkok. Alfred Dunhill of course offered shagreen links for years, though they have apparently been discontinued. The stuff is a hard-wearing form of leather made from the dyed skin of the rayfish that's used in a variety of applications, from furniture to bespoke shoes to accessories like the pictured credit card wallet in green alligator and tan stingray from April in Paris. But back to the Four Seasons.
Four Seasons as you know takes an approach that's the opposite of Dunhill's near-constant change. It's been the world's leading operator of luxury hotels for most of its existence and is known for its impeccable service. Tracy arrived at the Palo Alto property in 2007 from Tokyo, where he managed the Four Seasons Tokyo Marunouchi, and is responsible for what appears to be a smooth-running operation in which every staff member knows you by name.
I've written in the past that if a man is looking for the best dry cleaner in a city he should call the local Four Seasons and ask where they send their guests' clothing. That's even easier in Palo Alto, where the hotel runs its own plant that does indeed accept clothes from the general public. Just leave your work with the doorman and yes, it's probably the best cleaners in town.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
This week, as anyone who isn't in a submersible at the bottom of Mariana's Trench must already know, we replace the Summer Olympics with the convention of America's Democratic Party. So it's only fitting that we celebrate the best-dressed Democrat, California's Willie Brown, seen here with Sonia Molodetskaya at last year's "farewell to summer" party in Napa, California.
Tan and white spectators, white trousers and what color is that jacket anyway?
Photograph courtesy of Drew Altizer Photography. © Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Best dressed automobile at the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance was this Best of Show 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta owned by Jon and Mary Shirley of Medina, Washington. One of only six privately commissioned Berlinettas, it won the first race at Watkins Glen in 1948.
Best dressed man at the event was Master of Ceremonies Ed Hermann. The actor stood out in a mustard linen suit and Optimo panama hat. There's no question about the choice in my mind as as I have the same suit and hat but I would never have thought to pair them as he did with a purple and white striped shirt and a purple necktie. Well done.
Ed Hermann photograph is copyright 2008 by Donovan Unks. All rights reserved.
Alfa Romeo photograph is copyright 2008 by Ron Kimball Studios. Used by permission of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. All rights reserved.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
That's because things like reds, Weejuns, and light blue oxford cloth shirts are elements of what I think of as the best of American dress. Worn together, they border on parody. But, donned an item at a time, they are a relatively affordable (for all clothing is expensive and the best exorbitantly so) way to remain close to the mainstream while still demonstrating individuality amidst the sea of undifferentiated denim that otherwise surrounds us.
Wear them with a cream-colored Shetland sweater once the leaves have reached their peak of color.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Even though we've begun discussing fall these days, when it's time to head to the country the weather must be taken into account. The other day that meant a panama hat, short sleeved linen shirt, linen trousers, cotton socks and a pair of unlined slip-on shoes.
Add a cigar, as I did shortly after I left, and the look would not be out of place on a tobacco plantation. The driver's seat of a convertible makes for a comfortable but considerably less romantic image.
Friday, August 22, 2008
If I were going back to school in a few days, and I give thanks that I'm not, I'd pack two jackets first and foremost. One would be a safari of sturdy cotton drill, and the other a Norfolk, though not quite like the imitation version in the photo which lacks a proper set of pockets.
It's pockets you see that make both coats ideal for trudges to class. Particularly the Norfolk, whose built-in suspenders were intended to help support the weight of a morning's cartridges and work equally well for cell phone, iPod, and the day's assigned reading.
Like the safari jacket, the proper Norfolk has two buttoning pockets on the chest and two bellows pockets on the skirts that provide a considerable amount of storage. And the detail of bellows back and half belt adds a certain professorial air that might well be effective at attracting attention from young women who've been reading James Joyce.
Wear the Norfolk to class or the hardware store this fall with cordoroy or moleskin trousers and walking shoes. A turtleneck sweater is optional.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
It won't end officially until September 22 in the United States, and in California it will continue to be warm until the end of October, but the end of August has always been the end of summer in my mind. So here at A Suitable Wardrobe it's about time to stop looking at linen and think instead about worsteds in anticipation of the changing seasons.
Too much change of course can be disruptive, so while our topic will be different our model will once again be yesterday's Luca di Montezemolo, dressed for the coming season. He's wearing worsted here, in one of the classic combinations of blue necktie, white shirt and gray suit. Were it not that his jacket is double breasted and most likely buttoned to the bottom row of buttons, this would be about as conservative as the lounge suit gets.
Men who wish to dress conservatively and have trouble deciding on their color combinations can do much worse than to memorize and put into practice the mantra "Blue with gray and gray with blue." That is to say, with a gray suit wear a necktie with a blue ground, and with a blue suit wear a necktie with a gray or silver ground. The shades may change but the combination looks good -- and is appropriate -- year-round.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
It's been decades since an 11 ounce cloth was considered summer weight, but here is a thoroughly modern industrialist, Luca di Montezemolo of Ferrari, wearing a suit of 11 ounce Solaro herringbone from Smith and Co. (the cloth gives itself away by the hint of red that comes from its colored underside). Re-purposed for the milder temperatures of spring and fall, Solaro is ideal for a place like San Francisco where we have cool sunny days scattered randomly throughout most of the year.
Like gabardine, another summer cloth of years gone by that wears warm and so finds itself relegated to the shoulder seasons, the classic Solaro color is tan. Unlike gabardine, that tan is usually executed in a hard wearing herringbone weave that has me dreaming of a three button suit with patch pockets and swelled edges. Mr. Peter Harvey's fall assignment, for certain.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Dress for a casual lunch with friends in Northern California this past Saturday. There was a high fog, which kept it overcast and cool on the coast, and mild inland.
The day's clothes were chestnut leather and white suede spectators, linen trousers, a polo and a linen sweater. A cream linen cap waits down the stairs.
Linen was the predecessor to cotton as a cloth-for-all-jobs, from bedding to towels to clothing. Less expensive to produce, cotton has replaced it in all but luxury applications where the cost is not a primary consideration.
In men's clothing, linen fills a summertime role that's similar to flannel in winter -it's not quite formal enough for formal offices but its texture earns it a place the rest of the time. The key to wearing linen jackets and/or trousers is to use the heaviest possible cloth because it rumples rather than wrinkles. That may rule linen out on the warmest days for some men, but it still deserves a place in a well-dressed man's wardrobe.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Whenever I look at today's illustration I wonder whether the man in the double breasted suit might not be the seated man's attorney or some such. There certainly aren't many reasons to wear a cream-colored DB by the water otherwise.
But if a man must be dressed while others are wearing as little as possible, here is one way to do it well. Cream shirt, cream and sky blue necktie (the exact tie or its close relation is offered on Drake's web site where I got mine) and spectator shoes. The suit itself looks like gabardine. It's certainly not rumpled enough to be linen.
We should also note that the attorney's sky blue socks do not match his trousers. That's fairly radical behavior for a man of the law even though you and I might do it all the time.
I'm hoping to get my own cream colored DB back from England in the near future. Unfortunately, it looks as though I'm going to miss the season.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
For anyone who was wondering about the authenticity of the clothing in AMC's Mad Men set in the early 1960s, here is a young George Peppard in his role in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Peppard's not headed for an office in his black and white tweed jacket, tan sweater vest, white shirt with buttondown collar and brown grenadine necktie, but the tie and lapel width authenticate Don Draper's garb. And the tan, white and black tones combine with the fabric textures to give Peppard's clothes plenty of visual interest even though the colors are conservative.
Breakfast at Tiffany's also stars Audrey Hepburn, in my opinion one of the best dressed actresses of all time. Couturier Hubert de Givenchy designed most of her on-camera clothes for decades and she wore them beautifully.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Putting my summer necktie wardrobe where my post was yesterday, here is a brown tinted silver grenadine necktie worn with a tan fresco jacket, a blue and white striped shirt and an Hermes square. Below the waist, mid-gray trousers and fox suede Adelaide brogues.
We didn't take a full-length photo but this was the first time I'd worn the trousers, which are made from The London Lounge Brisa cloth, a high twist 11 ounce fabric with a soft hand and the characteristically mottled look of a fresco. They breathe well, and, if they resist wrinkling as well as I expect, they'll be great for travel.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The photograph reminds us why pockets were first added to shirts. Minus ten points to any reader who thought I meant the young woman but I will admit that I've been looking for an excuse to post a photo of a pretty girl or two.
Shirt pockets appeared on professional men in the early 1960's when Brooks Brothers added a pocket to its oxford cloth shirts, until that day the most famous off-the-rack shirt of them all. That single act was the beginning of the long decline of both the shirt and the institution.
Now I know a lot of men are used to having a pocket there but I challenge them to look at the photo and fail to observe how the pocket, and its visible contents, distract from Don Draper's Mad Men look.
Suit wearing men have plenty of other places to store things. Need I say more?
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I've always worn pastel-colored neckties in summer, and this year I added a new twist. In addition to donning the springtime colors of nature, like magenta, teal, fuschia and mint, I put several ties with white, silver and cream-colored grounds on my tie rack.
Now neckties with light grounds had given me a lot of trouble in the past. I'm a firm believer that a man's tie should be darker than his shirt, and ties with a lot of white didn't seem to leave much room for originality in that regard. I wore them with white shirts or I didn't wear them.
But, as with most things, there are a couple of tricks to wearing neckties with light colored grounds. First off, it helps to limit the white in a white warp necktie to no more than half of the surface area, like the ties in the photos (both are from Ben Silver). That changes the visual dynamic so that pastel shirts with white in the weave become respectable mates, as do light-toned shirts with white collars and cuffs generally so long as they complement the other colors in the tie.
Silver and cream-based combinations are even easier. Ties with small alternating patterns in combination, such as sky blue and silver, look like a solid from a distance, and they are well matched with shirts in lighter colors that have patterns of a different scale. And bold bar stripes in cream and another color are at home atop a variety of patterned shirts with a white ground of their own.
So, if you don't wear them already, try adding a few neckties with white, cream and silver grounds to your rotation while there are still summer days to wear them.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Ralph Lauren had some good ideas for the U.S. Olympic team's clothes this year, with one notable exception that, to my mind at least, devalues the entire effort. And that's the over-sized polo pony that claims equal billing with the Olympic symbol on each ensemble.
I mean, there were so many ways that the company can profit from its sponsorship. Did it really need to put a logo on the clothes? I mean, why stop there? A big "Polo" across the back would have added some more visibility.
Totally tasteless behavior, in my opinion, from a company that has been usually been numbered among the more tasteful players of the branding game.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Land or lake, a man can never have too many dark blue shirts in summer. Particularly in linen, where lighter colors are often too sheer to wear without an undershirt that defeats the purpose.
I like my navy shirts with tails, as they are worn tucked into cream or tan colored trousers. The pullover cotton knit versions are without pockets, but the linens close down the front and have two buttoning chest pockets for my sun and reading glasses.
The illustration reminds me of my childhood, on glacier-carved lakes in Northern Wisconsin where we sailed snipes and cats. The cats didn't have a deck so they were challenging in a stiff breeze. If you put the rail in the water you'd swamp the boat, and that was an assured way to lose a race.
The illustration takes liberties, of course. Our tiller man would never be seated on the low side of a heeling boat, and it's not likely that the blonde would be keeping his pipe lit in that wind.
But they show the virtues of navy shirts on land or lake.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Beau Brummell: This Charming Man is a worthwhile video that slipped by me unnoticed until recently. The 2006 BBC television production is based on Ian Kelly's biography, and James Purefoy plays the Beau. The clothes are reasonably true to the times.
Watching it reminded me once again that one of Brummel's legacies (in addition to trousers, which he's arguably responsible for) is the day wear combination of a blue jacket, cream or tan waistcoat, white shirt, tan cavalry twill trousers and black half boots (the Italians didn't popularize brown shoes until later). Waistcoats and breeches were lighter in color than the jacket in those days, with the objective of giving a man a bit of the look of a marble statue.
A few parts of Brummell's look require a judgement call on a substitute that isn't outright costume. Jodhpur or chelsea boots would be the closest appropriate style, I think, to the original riding boots. And the contemporary equivalent to the Brummell's cravat would probably be a day ascot though I'm sure there are men who will feel they can't wear one (they should substitute a four in hand but they'll be the worse for it).
To this day, a blue blazer and tan cavalry twill trousers is common civilian garb in England, 200 years after the Beau wore the original clothes.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
That's because fashion is for women and style is for men. The fashionable woman buys clothes frequently and wears them just a few times so she can dress in the mode of the day. The role of the male of the species, on the other hand, has been for the last three hundred years to provide a good looking backdrop to that extravagance. A man ideally wears well cut clothing that remains perfectly appropriate for decades.
Men's clothing is not about replacing peak lapels with notch because notch appeared on a runway this season. Indeed, the best dressed men have wardrobes that encompass most of the mainstream style options, and wear them on appropriate occasions. Peak lapels are more formal than notch, and more suitable for an opening, for example, just as patch pockets are less formal than besom and better for walking the dog than sitting at the head table of a banquet.
Better clothing worn longer also has a favorable cost per wear. At the extreme end of the equation, a bespoke suit cut from good cloth will easily last a hundred wearings and defeat its glued $300 stepchild that's disposable after half a dozen.
Leave fashion to the ladies and stick with style.
Friday, August 8, 2008
A long-time reader asked how I developed my knowledge of sartorial things and to tell the truth I'm not completely certain because I never worked in the business. But I do know that my learning began while I was in my early teens, at a place called the Squire Shop.
The Squire Shop of Hinsdale, the Illinois area where I lived with my family, was an independent clothier that operated in a Chicago commuter town surrounded by horse country for more than forty years. And it was the Squire Shop, with downtown's Brooks Brothers (less accessible until I could drive there on my own), that began to teach me me how to dress.
My teens were my duffel coat, Shetland sweater, oxford cloth shirt, corduroy trouser, argyle sock and Weejuns years. And, though I didn't need to wear much of the other merchandise very often, inside the store I was surrounded by regimental neckties, foulard scarves, and tweed jackets - clothes with textures and colorings of a quality that was very different from the relatively homogenous offerings of the chain stores that have replaced the independent retailer in so many modern American locales.
It's probably always been true that we get used to something and that makes it OK. And it's not completely unreasonable to argue that the community standards in many places are roughly what's sold in the local Target, or perhaps the Gap. But men who want to enjoy clothes at a level beyond that have to do more than read about clothing.
The committed student will pay particular attention to what people wore or are wearing that is worthy of his emulation. One man might like the clothes in Virginia's hunt country, another prefer the clubs of St. James, and a third, heaven help us, enjoy what passes for fashion on the runways of Los Angeles*. And then the student needs to talk about that style with the sellers who provide it. That means that if the student is not fortunate enough to live nearby one of the few quality resellers still extant, he needs to make time to shop for clothes when he travels.
In my opinion, it's that combination of seeing and discussing that's the best way to learn about clothes.
*The pages of People magazine are recommended only to those who hope to one day grace them.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Some readers will remember that I began working with a weaver in Scotland on a lightweight tweed project this past spring. That's because standard widths of traditional Shetland and Cheviot tweeds rarely weight less than 14 ounces (400 grams) and make up into jackets that are a bit warm for the shoulder seasons, and for California generally.
The lighter cloth that is sometimes promoted in tweed's place, like Porter & Harding's Glorious Twelfth and Hardy's Worsted Alsport, is worsted posing as tweed and, though the quality of Glorious Twelfth in particular is excellent, it's not the real thing.
The real thing differs from worsted in that the cloth is woven by one man in his home using natural yarn that's spun and dyed in Scotland, in lengths that will make five jackets and no more. It's got more texture and the weave is more open, so it wears significantly cooler than its weight would indicate. That weight is light to begin with, at 10.5 ounces (300 grams), so the result is a cloth for spring and fall jacketings (it's not meant for trousers).
All that said, the brown and green Shetland herringbone in the photo (the colors are more vibrant in reality) is on its way to becoming odd jackets for another reader and me. The swatch looks great against gabardine odd trousers in shades of olive and tan and that's how I plan to wear the jacket.
There are a couple jacket-sized five metre (single width) lengths left - if you'd like one please send me an email.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
A reader wrote a week or two ago asking about the propriety of seersucker neckties. I replied that I hoped they are OK because I wear them in summer. Here's an example.
The necktie in the photo is a nicely puckered 65% silk and 35% cotton seersucker from Nicky of Milan, and I wish it was easier to find more of that blend as I like my ties a bit narrower these days. The silk adds a lustre that isn't present in pure cotton neckties. It's paired with a blue end on end shirt, a pocket square of gold silk and a black and white tropical weight suit. On the feet, distinctly American saddle shoes.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
It's not Labor Day yet but rainy season is not too terribly far in the future. And that makes it timely to write about umbrellas, so that there's ample opportunity to break oneself of bad habits before the season begins.
We can assume that there are bad habits aplenty out there, because some men imagine that carrying an umbrella is intuitive. After all, they put crooked handles on the end, right? But that's not how an umbrella is to be carried.
The correct way, illustrated by our man with the lord's hat, is to grasp it by the middle with the handle pointing to the rear. And there you have it.
Monday, August 4, 2008
I don't believe I've seen a pair of brogues like this pair from W. S. Foster where the leather has been left essentially uncolored, except in photographs, and then only twice. It may be the ultimate specialty shoe, too light in color for wear except in summer and, because of the limits that seasonality places on their usefulness, available only bespoke.
It would befit the man who owns these shoes to live in Positano, where his summer wardrobe consists of linen suits that he changes twice a day.
A mid-day change is good practice for linen trousers as well as suits, and that's a reason an elegant man might own more of each than may seem necessary to the casual, non-linen wearing, observer. My advice is that if there are any linen suits in a wardrobe they should be in multiples of two. Or, if it's not practical to change mid-afternoon, it's equally good form to disappear with a clothes steamer for fifteen minutes. Which is yet another reason why linen suits are less than ideal garb for office wear.
Of course, the man who owns these shoes is unlikely to spend much time in offices anyway.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
What is the appropriate shirt collar to wear with a bow tie - spread, point, or button down? Also, would the bow tie benefit from a three piece suit in fall and winter or should I opt for buttoning the third button on my suits and odd jackets?
The look of a bow tie works best with less visible shirt, so choose double breasted jackets, vested suits, or three button jackets that roll to the top button, buttoned or not.
You can be more flexible with your choice of collars as only the cutaway and the tab collar are inappropriate. Wear a collar that complements the shape of your face. Personally, I like a spread collar like the man in the illustration.
"Until not so long ago, certainly well into this century, the spirit drinkers in these islands were in practice quite sharply divided by national and social boundaries. The Irish drank their whisky, the Scots drank theirs, the lower classes in England drank gin and the upper classes drank brandy. How the Welsh managed without a national drink I don't know. The nearest vodka, of course, was a thousand miles away.
That class division in England lingers on to this day. Gin retains an aura of unrespectability from the years of the Victorian gin palace and music hall-it's a toper's drink, not for a non-drinker to fiddle with or a connoisseur to go on about. Brandy seems the opposite of all that, with a mystique around it like vintage port and the upper reaches of table wine. You sip it reverently after a serious meal and wouldn't dream of diluting it with anything.
Times have changed there. To the Victorian Englishman, brandy was a before-dinner or any-time drink with water or mineral water in it. (The Victorian Englishwoman could only get brandy at all either by being no lady or by saying she'd come over faint-still true until quite recently.) You could drink it with the meal and even pour some into your wine if you felt like it. A very relaxed policy.
An awful lot, perhaps nearly all, of the brandy that was treated like that must have been cognac, the best in the world."
Friday, August 1, 2008
I have a number of lightweight jackets that I had made to measure while I was a customer of a Savile Row tailor for most of my clothes (the tailor in question was not Henry Poole, whose photo adds some visual interest to this post). You see, that was before globalization really took hold and these guys still believed they would never need to learn how to make jackets from anything lighter than ten ounce cloth (of course, they could have volunteered that there were ten ounce cloths that wore cooler than the worsteds they kept pushing at me, but that's another story).
What I consider the principal difference between those jackets and bespoke coats was brought home to me once again when someone at dandyism.com elected to run one of my photos in some kind of a contest on their web page (without photo credit, I might add,which irks a little because we internet publishers should be trying to support each other lest we hang separately). The armhole, or scye, of my MTM seersucker jacket is not cut very high under the arm, as more than one dandy reader pointed out.
Now big armholes like the ones on my jacket are good for the tailor and bad for the customer. It means the tailor can be sloppier - there's a story about how my first Row tailor increased the size of their armhole half an inch so they could use less expensive outworkers without creating tolerance problems when it came time to put the pieces together. The joke is that because they didn't change the rest of their cutting formula their jackets now button half an inch below the natural waist, and that's considered a feature instead of a bug. But I digress.
A high armhole helps keep the jacket collar firmly affixed to the back of a man's neck throughout a range of movement. A big sloppy one let's the coat move around, which is less desireable, but it's less expensive to make a bigger one and that's how ready to wear and made to measure makers have been doing it for decades.
Is this a ringing indictment of made to measure? Certainly not. I've seen too many bespoke Hong Kong jackets with high armholes that their wearers would have cheerfully have traded for a fix on the other fit problems. The only way to approach perfection is to pay for it and when that's not an option compromises must be made. And for made to measure, the scye's the limit.