New Yorker, June 14, 1930
As to Men: Made in England
The first thing to decide is whether you really want an English suit or would prefer an American suit with a London label. If the latter is the case, it will be wiser to do your shopping here in New York, because you can’t get a good American suit in England.
Each of the important London tailors has developed a particular kind of cut that he thinks is a little better than anyone else’s. The best of them refuse to alter their style materially, and if you are foolhardy enough to ask them to copy another tailor, they are apt to suggest that you go to your old favorite in future. They are quite right, and you’ll find that a tailor who allows you to bully him will usually turn out a suit that is neither American nor English, but an amorphous combination of both.
Go to the best firm you can find which makes the kind of suit you want. It is false economy to patronize one of those inexpensive tailors you are always hearing about. Some Englishmen do and manage to be very well dressed; but they know exactly what they want, and don’t care how long it takes to describe it to the cutter. The best tailors charge about 17 guineas for a lounge suit; the others are two or three guineas cheaper, but the time you waste makes the savings hardly worth your while, and generally the suit you get is obviously second-rate.
Choose your fabrics carefully. You will find plenty of unattractive patterns even in the best shops. Remember that materials suitable for England, where steam heat is still a novelty, are often too heavy for New York. A medium-weight worsted is the best choice for a lounge suit; it holds its shape indefinitely and the firm texture permits fine tailoring. Plain fabrics, or those with inconspicuous patterns, are the smartest.
Allow your tailor all the time he needs to do his work properly, and let him give you as many fittings as he wishes. For your first suit, from ten days to two weeks, with three or four fittings, Then you are supposed to wear it for a week or so, and bring it back for refitting, to allow the tailor to remedy the small defects that usually appear.
Here is a list of some of the best tailors. It may help you find the one you want:
Davies & Sons, 19 Hanover Street; Poole, 37 Savile Row; and Hogg & Sons, 8 Hanover Square, are all conservative firms that know how to transform stoutness into dignity. These have many American businessmen on their books.
Anderson & Sheppard, 30 Savile Row, and Lesley & Roberts, 16 George Street, Hanover Square, are also conservative, but they are particularly good for the tall, spare military type of man. Their fabrics are unusual because each shop has specially woven patterns. Both manage to achieve squared shoulders with the minimum of padding.
Pleydell & Smith, 12 Cork Street, and Kilgour & French, 33A Dover Street, are a little more extreme. The former has a great many young American customers who want suits that are unquestionably British. Both firms make jackets with noticeably broad shoulders and narrow hips; and both advocate short double-breasted waistcoats with very wide curved lapels; these, of course, are to be worn with single-breasted jackets.
F.P. Sholte, 7 Savile Row, dresses many English actors. Hawes & Curtis, 53 Jermyn Street, well known shirtmakers, also make suits and overcoats; Jack Buchanan’s evening clothes, which are made here, will give you an idea of what to expect.
H. Huntsmen & Son, 11 Savile Row, turn out excellent riding clothes, and Tautz & Co., 12 Grafton Street, are famous makers of breeches.
Among the shirtmakers, Hawes & Curtis are known for having introduced the backless evening waistcoat. This firm also was one of the first to devise a starched bosom that does not bulge. T.M. Lewin, 39 Panton Street, makes evening shirts with starched bosoms and cuffs and bodies of handkerchief linen. Budd, 4 Piccadilly Arcade, is the place to go for evening ties in unusual shapes and materials. H. Ludlam & Co., 37 Albermarle Street, and Hodgkinson, 63 Jermyn Street, are good conservative shops where the salesmen have time to help you design the kind of shirt and collar that will suit you best. Beale & Inman, 131 Bond Street, and Washington Tremlett, 41 Conduit Street, are rather expensive but very good.
Collett & Levy, 84 Jermyn Street, is a place to know about if you are in a hurry. The ready-to–wear dress shirts and collars here are excellent, and minor alterations can be made quickly if you ask for them.
It takes about three weeks to have a pair of shoes made. If you want two pairs, you’ll have to have an extra pair of lasts, unless you want to wait another three weeks. Faulkner & Son, 51 South Molton Street, have a branch at 51 East Forty-second Street, which is convenient for customers in this city, in case anything goes wrong or they want to have their shoes repaired. Other good bootmakers are Peal, 487 Oxford Street; Allan McAfee, 38 Dover Street; R. Thomas & Sons, 5 St. James’ Street; and Hoby & Gullick,1 Ryder Street.
The bowlers of Lock & Co., 6 St. James’ Street, are unique. The bulging crown and hairy finish are seldom imitated. These hats are the favorite of English hunting men; the lives of many of them have been saved by the extremely hard crowns. In fact the crowns are so hard that the only way to get a perfect fit is to have one made for you. Lock hats seem to suit men with long narrow heads best. The hats made by Scotts, 1 Old Bond Street, and Herbert Johnson, 38 New Bond Street, have sloping crowns that are often more becoming to men with broad heads.
No doubt you know that several of the shops I’ve listed have representatives or branches in New York. Other firms, such as Bernard Weatherill, are so well known here that they can be considered as belonging to New York as much as to London now. – G. McC.