All this is relevant to the conversation I had with Thomas Mahon of English Cut yesterday, one that was almost identical to a discussion with Simon Cundey of Henry Poole earlier this year. And that was about the problem with the tailcoat, or at least the tailoring of it. Few men own one you see, so when they suddenly find themselves about to be knighted or the proud father at a daughter's formal coming out party they have to have one made. And here is the rub. A tailcoat is one of the most complex garments known to tailoring, with just the upper back comprised of no fewer than six separate pieces of cloth that work together to make the coat closely follow the lines of the body. Coordinating all those pieces is a far more difficult task for the few tailors who still know how to do it than the making of today's lounge suit, and requires two or three fittings instead of the usual one and done of Savile Row today.
Want to drive your tailor mad? Order a tailcoat thinking it just like a suit, with only enough time for a single fitting. If they even take the job on, there will be anxiety aplenty about how or whether the thing will fit. And the best case is that it won't, quite.
So, a word to the wise. If you find yourself in need of a tailcoat order well in advance, or plan to spend some time in your tailor's neighborhood where, if they like you enough, they may be able to squeeze a couple fittings into a week. Only please do not tell them I suggested that latter course.
-Photo: Nicole Gagliano