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Yesterday I went to John DiPietro, "the last tailor on Broad Street," to arrange to have some trousers made. I bought the ones that I wear now shortly after I moved to Philadelphia and they were always meant as temporary. Temporary officially became 'a year' yesterday and knowing that was bearing down on me and having mustered the resources to correct it, I decided that I'd best act.
Mr. DiPietro was an engaging character and roughly as cantankerous, a word that I believe can be used as a compliment, as I had wagered. Among the first things that he told me was, "something you have to understand about me is I'm nuts, but it's a good kind of nuts." He tended to be rather frank and clearly proud of his work, but not high-handed, arrogant or imperious. He emphasized that he cuts a unique pattern for each customer, always leaves several inches of fabric reserve to facilitate alterations and excoriated the work of made-to-measure firms. He is a self-described, "dinosaur," who only recently got a telephone with called identification at his son's urging. He described a rack of files with swatches and patterns for his clients as, "my computer." I admit that everything else aside, I enjoyed getting to meet him.
I wanted five pairs, so he started laying rolls of fabric out. I think that his selection is a bit limited, although I gather that he had some other swatches on hand, but it turned out to be sufficient. I suppose that in my mind, I was going to have five identical pairs (I have a habit of leaning on repetition and consistency in my wardrobe, which I developed because I hated shopping for clothes as a child), but I got the impression that he thought that I wanted five different colors, which I decided that I'd prefer. I selected fabrics in black twill, navy, dark grey, charcoal grey and taupe, all super 140s or super 150s, then he took to measuring me and deciding the details of the trousers.
They'll have cuffs, single pleats, a waistband with an extension at the closure, no side adjusters, slanted double-besom side pockets, no back pockets (I never use those and they just get in the way), a little reinforcement inside the waistband above the left pocket where I hook my keychain and suspender buttons, but no belt loops. I asked about fishtail backs, but he had no recollection of having made trousers with that and wasn’t comfortable experimenting on mine. He also seemed rather surprised by my request for a button fly, but happy to make it. (As luck would have it, I was wearing one of my few pairs of trousers with a zipper that day) All in all, he seemed to quickly gather a sense of my tastes and had good intuitions in general.
They cost $ 400 per pair, although would have been $ 50 more if he had needed to order the fabric rather than already having it in stock, and he said that he’ll get back to me in two or three weeks. (He also quoted me a price of $ 500 to $ 600 for waistcoats) I hope that they turn out well, because I’d like to have reason to feel confident patronizing him some more.
I'm also planning to soon contact Ray Nepomuceno about some shirts. (The Charles Tyrwhitt cavalry twill ones that I have now are in increasingly desperate condition) He's just about the last shirtmaker around. (There was even an article about the profession's demise in a local news outlet a few months ago)