ut some of these trendy imitations don't honor the practical nature of functional hunting wear. It's worth looking for the purists committed to defending traditional designs.
Third-generation American tailor Bob Ermilio, whose tiny Haverford, Pa., shop has outfitted an impressive list of luminaries including President Dwight Eisenhower, Henry Kissinger, Grace Kelly and descendants of the Bouvier family, insists that functionality is paramount in sportswear. Mr. Ermilio's custom business caters to athletic members of the country set, and he's full of authoritative bits of knowledge, like the insight that rounded corners on the bottom edge of a fox hunting coat are reserved for patrons of the hunt, while pointed corners identify the huntsman or professional rider on the hunting staff. Mr. Ermilio shapes garments not only for elegance, but also to provide bird hunters and riders with maximum maneuverability in the field. "It's important to cut the shoulders big and the back long," he said. "A tight fit is OK on Park Avenue, but it's not so good if you're raising a gun or jumping over a coop."
The venerable English clothier Hunstman is considered the gold standard in formal shooting attire. Head cutter Patrick Murphey at Huntsman's Savile Row location says that the bigger retail fashion houses tend to miss essential details on their hunt-themed apparel. He cites patch pockets and game pouches on the backs of jackets as the two areas where commercial manufacturers tend to fall short. The pockets in the front are meant to be oversized, supported by an expanding pleat, so someone can reach in easily to grab cartridges for reloading a gun. The game pouch should be lined with a waterproof material to prevent moisture and blood from leaking out and staining the rest of the gunman's outfit. For exacting hunters looking for next-level details, Mr. Murphey recommends lining the lower half of the coat in melton or tattersall, which, he said, "helps keep the kidneys warm when you're out stalking in the Highlands for 12 hours."
The gun maker Beretta, a family business dating back to the 16th century, produces shooting attire that serves even the demands of competition marksmen. Their coats and vests fitted with shoulder recoil pads have become the envy of the market because the pads are constructed with a smooth leather surface, a manufacturing technique developed to allow the stock of the gun to find its natural place on the shoulder.
Less engineered designs employ modern materials: For example, synthetic quilted fabrics are a common choice for conventional fashion brands. But Beretta prides itself on emphasizing the high performance of its gear, which is perhaps why President George H. W. Bush has worn the brand's hunting suits, and Ernest Hemingway used its shotguns.