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The Chai

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And here I thought getting ten shirts after a shirt wardrobe purge due to gains is too much...
 

dan'l

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Right, I forgot all about the Rule of Eleven!
 
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Thanks for sharing. Is there some reason you placed such a large order at once? 15 shirts in one go is a lot, especially if it is with a new shirtmaker. Same with getting 5 trousers on the first order.
There's some 'pent up demand' and personal idiosyncrasy at work.

My 'work dress' wardrobe is in pretty dire condition. It consists of three pairs of cotton pants, which I bought last year at Boyd's as a stop-gap, and five Charles Tyrwhitt cavalry twill shirts that are in pretty desperate shape. It took me a while to make my long-planned move to Philadelphia and for the resources necessary to be available. I've been planning this for years and perhaps got overeager when I was finally able to realize my designs. It's a little like I'm making my first round at a buffet after having not eaten for several days. Perhaps no human should eat that many snow crab legs, but I had a damned powerful urge to pile them onto my plate!

It also fits with my sense of order. There are five days in a work week, ergo I should have a pair of trousers to assign to each day. (The brownish taupe ones, for example, will generally be earmarked for Fridays) In the case of the shirts, I wanted even sets of five, so that I could wear the same kind of fabric each day of any given week and to mitigate any risk of finding myself with clean shirts for whatever reason. (I'll be honest, I need to figure out how to launder nice shirts that I actually want to take care of, so I probably have between three weeks and a month to figure that out)

I also just don't know what's appropriate. I come from a rather casual family. I never saw my father in a suit other than in the photographs from his wedding until he joined a men's chorus after he retired and he needs my mother's help to put a pre-tied bowtie on, so I wasn't going to get any guidance there. (My maternal grandfather might have known about this stuff, but he died when I was less than a year old) I've poked around here for some information, but there's a lot to sort through, so between the questions that I don't think to ask and those that I got to exasperated with sorting wheat from chaff to find the answers to, I opted for let's just do it and be legends.

I do worry that I'm making expensive mistakes. It wouldn't be unprecedent; many years ago after my first summer job, I used a large portion of the proceeds to buy a sword. (It cost less back then and there was a sale on) It's a well-made sword and kind of cool, but it's also a... sword, which has rather marginal utility for the contemporary American office worker.

i think you need 11 to be able to talk about a tailor?
Ray's website quote cites three as his minimum order, but it also cites $ 155 as his base price, which is not now the. Ray never mentioned a minimum. When I first inquired, I cited an order of ten or fifteen shirts and elected for the larger number after the trousers came in below estimate.
 

birdlives80

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This afternoon (June 8th, 2019) I took custody of my trousers from John DiPietro. They were almost ready on May 29th, but Mr. DiPietro realized after his initial message that he had fitted them with zippers instead of button flies; he directly noted this error, apologized profusely and promised to have them ready with the correct fly in a week and a half, which he did. He told me, both when I asked for a button fly and twice later, that he hadn't be asked to make trousers with a button fly in fifty years. I could hardly complain bout a minor, wholly correctable error and delay as I've only gotten as far as I have because of such forgiveness. In my dealing with him so far, he's demonstrated considerable pride in his work, so I appreciated that he took the error seriously, although I'm forgiving enough that I'd've probably just taken them happily with zippers.

View attachment 1189303

He had me try each of the five on individually for certainty. I'm quite satisfied with the fit, but I'll submit it to public scrutiny and scorn at a later date. I can at least provide a summary image of the trousers. I believe that the cloth is all by Gladson; he also had cloth from at least Zegna and Holland & Sherry. I neglected to ask about 'CMT', but will in the future. I didn't get a clear answer on the 'entry level' for his trousers, so all I can say is that they range from $ 350 to $ 500.

View attachment 1189300

Mr. DiPietro has something of a salesman's aspect to him and eagerly encouraged the idea of accompanying waistcoats and sport coat, which I had been interested in myself. I've ordered three waistcoats and a sport coat, with an eye toward further waistcoats later. All of this will be made with cloth already in stock. The waistcoats were $ 550 each and the sport coat came to $ 2,250. He expects to have me in for a first fitting of the sport coat next Saturday. He took several measurements and correctly diagnosed my square shoulders, which have been the bane of the fit of my clothes for my whole life. (I'm thick, squat and short limbed; more or less a Hill Dwarf) I was a little concerned, that he didn't take an armscye. I gathered that he was more than keen on the idea of two sports coats, and so I was I to tell the truth, but I've already spent more on clothes in the last two months than in nearly my entire life to this point, so I demurred at that hint. All of this been costly, but the moment has been prepared for.

*Regenerates into Peter Davison*

Damn it, now I'll need to have everything taken in!

Why, no, I never have been on a date. Why do yo ask?


View attachment 1189306

Anyway, I'm a little unsure of my own judgement about this sort of thing; I'm the son of a man whose pick-up line for his wife of nearly thirty-seven years was, "I don't wear ties," so I'm flying a little blind. That said, what I've seen so far looks pretty well to my unseeing eyes. I also enjoy John DiPietro. I asked him about how he entered the business and he told me about how when Philadelphia had thousands of tailors working in shops, he was a bundle boy who moved finished bundles of clothes from one set of workers to another in the assembly process, once had his piece rate docked because he was finishing work too fast and, to quote the man, got a, "kick in the ass," from an uncle to become an independent tailor. He also told me about getting the Eagles and Flyers as clients. If he's not telling tall tales, and he does have signed team pictures to go along, he's made, with help as it was a large order with a deadline, the jerseys (or something else; I don't know sports) for the Flyers twice in their history and the team has been very good to him. He also told me that an Eagles player (I don't remember which) wanted him to make a suit for free 'for exposure', which Mr. DiPietro would not do.

View attachment 1189307

In crudest terms, he's 'quite a character' as well as 'old fashioned' and I enjoy that. The one thing that makes me a little uneasy is that he's 85 years old. He seems in good health, even having survived prostate cancer sixteen years, ago, but his age is such I feel a certain 'dissonance' when he talks about things lasting for thirty years and how I should come to him for any alterations or corrections. I don't doubt that he's sincere and competent, he even offered to deliver the trousers to me instead of having me carry them on the Broad Street Subway, but I'll need to find an alterations tailor whom I can trust to handle his work sooner rather than later. I hate thinking about this; not the least because my father is 73, which is less than 85, but well... you know...

*achem*

Anyway, that question of mortality is why I intend to keep a relationship up with Joseph Genuardi, even though John DiPietro is much closer and costs less. Mr. Genuardi has the uncomfortable comfort of being only a few years older than I am rather than a multiple of my age.

As it happens, my first fitting with Mr. Genuardi will be on the morning of June 22nd.

*achem achem*

Besides Mr. DiPietro, I've been working with Ray Nepomuceno of Ray Custom Shirtmaker and expect to take delivery of fifteen shirts next week.

I've been very well pleased with Ray; he's very amiable, seems to have a keen eye, appears to take great care with fit and emphasizes long-term relationships with customers. (He's also young enough that it's plausible that I could be dealing with him for another few decades -- man, the considerations that one must account for in bespoke clothing can be such a bummer)

Ray explained to me that he's closed his storefront and exclusively does visits to homes or offices because he provided that service to a few clients years ago and it was so well received that he reorganized his business around it. As such, all of the times I met with him were in my apartment. He told me that he tries to arrange his schedule to see his Center City clients, who constitute the largest share of his business, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. he is quite responsive via telephone and text message.

Our first meeting was in the morning of May 10th. He showed me samples of cloth and asked for my preference on each detail of the shirts. He worked by asking about whether I preferred various details of the shirt that I was wearing, which I didn't for those purposes as it was a kind of shirt that tended to wear 'off hours'. (It was a Charles Tyrwhitt shirt with a button-down collar) He had samples of the collar and cuff templates in addition to cloths. I'm very dull, so I only asked for white or slightly off-white twills, ultimately selecting two fairly visible twills and a herringbone. He, of course, took my measurements and worked out details of the fit.

We next met on May 23rd when he had a test shirt ready. I wore and he made observations about it fit, suggesting alterations on that basis. For the most part, the direction of the changes was to tighten the fit slightly. As multiple revisions were made, he prescribed a second fitting before making the full run of shirts. Another change was to one of the fabrics, which he thought might be unsuitable rough; I agreed and chose a substitute. He also took a deposit of $ 1,000 at this time.

Said second fitting was on June 4th. There was one more slight change, but completion of the order is to proceed. I also needed to choose another substitute fabric as one of my original selections had become unavailable. The chosen substitute was costlier, but Ray kept the price at that for the original fabric. The balance will be paid upon delivery, which should come soon.

Worth noting is that Ray's default buttons are plastic, but he will provide mother-of-pearl gladly upon request. This normally adds $ 10 the cost of each shirt, but because of the size of my order, fifteen shirts, he lowered that to $ 6 per shirt. He also took care to note that he offered replacement service for the cuffs and collars, which are what usually wears out. I don't recall the exactly cost, but I believe that it was approximately $ 35. (I'm not sure if it was for each collar or both) This makes these shirts potentially quite economical over the long term, which is what I like.

In summary, I'm getting fifteen shirts for $ 191 each; per the shirtmaker, some of the materials are expensive enough to merit higher prices, but he found it feasible to keep the prices uniform.

Out of mere curiosity, I asked him if he could make shirts for detachable collars. His answer was equivocal as he was not confident that he could obtain the necessary bases, which are evidently made of very thick fabric treated in such a way as to be almost like plastic. He said that he would investigate the possibility. He seemed very enthusiastic about discussing what I thought was, as practical fact, a frivolous question.

I will subject the fit of both the trousers and shirts to visual scrutiny after I take delivery of the shirts, so that I can display them together, probably with some Sam Hober neckties.

While I'm at it, it's not the sort of thing that usually gets mentioned here, but on Monday I received a refurbished hat from Art Fawcett of VS Custom Hats. The hat in question was the first bespoke hat that I ever ordered. It is eleven years old by now and showed some age, especially in the tapered crown and loose lining, but Art did excellent work refurbishing it. The dear thing might pass for new to the unwary eye. (Convenient for me, almost no eyes are wary about hats these days)
Glad you’re pleased, but really can’t tell if they’re any good based on that one photo and no fit pic. Please update when you can!
 

dieworkwear

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I do worry that I'm making expensive mistakes. It wouldn't be unprecedent; many years ago after my first summer job, I used a large portion of the proceeds to buy a sword. (It cost less back then and there was a sale on) It's a well-made sword and kind of cool, but it's also a... sword, which has rather marginal utility for the contemporary American office worker.
Bespoke clothing is free if you go into a tailoring workshop with a sword
 

sftiger

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Doesn't Pitti start next week? I could see swords as the newest street style trend blowing up on the blogosphere.
 

classicalthunde

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@Encathol Epistemia what a great write up, I lived down the street from Mr. DiPietro years ago and never new a place like this existed in the neighborhood (not that I would have been able to afford it at the time), I like that you have a preference for local makers and am excited to see how your shirts come out.

Also, next time your down on S. Broad street, grab a slice at La Rosa Pizzeria on Broad just shy of Snyder, its probably the most criminally underrated pizza joint in Philly
 
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I took delivery of the shirts from Mr. Nepomuceno on Wednesday, but while he was performing a last inspection, he noticed that one of the shirts had plastic, not mother-of-pearl buttons, which he apologized for and made arrangements to return with the correct buttons in the near future.

I shall not present more detailed images of the shirts and trousers, including some of me wearing them, with the tedious excess of a very strange, but otherwise dull and mediocre person. I've been very content with them, but I concede that my sensibilities are more sentimental than sophisticated and my sense of fit has been distorted by many years of very significant changes in weight stranding me with terribly tight or laughably loose clothes for significant spans of time.



Examples of the shirts made for my by Ray, Custom Shirtmaker in each fabric. The first is an off-white twill, the second a white herringbone and the third a white twill with a pretty pronounced weave. All three fabrics are cotton.

(Original size here)



A portion of the left sleeve of each, to slightly better show the patterns and colors of the cloth. The cuff is mitred.

(Original size here)



The collar and Ray Custom Shirtmaker tag.

(Original size here)



A closer view of the placket, two buttons and the pocket. I elected for a French front.

(Original size here)



The right cuff, which is a mitred Frenched cuff.

(Original size here)



The back; note the darts, which were originally a result of the fittings. Mr. Nepomuceno said that he could include them on all shirts or cut them closer; I chose the darts as my understanding is that they could make future alterations easier, I sort of like the look and I usually wear a vest, so it hardly matters one way or another.

(Original size here)



The five pairs of trousers made for me by John DiPietro. All are wool super 140s and 150s; the black pair is a heavyweight twill with a pronounced, weave.

(Original size here)



One of the side pockets (the trousers lack, by request, back pockets). I forget what Mr. DiPietro calls these, but they’re effectively welted pockets. Mr. DiPietro favors a clean look without anything superfluous. His own trousers are similar, but have only internal money pockets. He also makes vests without adjusters on the back and jackets without buttonholes unless the client requests one.

(Original size here)



The fly, which has five buttons, and pleats; Mr. DiPietro calls this a, “continental closure.” It has two hook-and-eye closures on the waistband and a button fastener just below it. (I might as well note here that there are no tags identifying the maker; so I'm likely the only person who'll remember that Mr. DiPietro made these.

(Original size here)



The cuff.

(Original size here)

And now, a representative ensemble…

These pictures make me anxious; I feel pretty comfortable, although as noted my sense of fit is questionable, but they don’t quite look well, although nothing really can on such a sack of mashed potatoes.

Anyway, shirt by Ray Custom Shirtmaker, trousers by John DiPietro, necktie by Sam Hober, suspenders by Albert Thurston, shoes by Allen Edmonds (in need of a polishing) and body by too much cheese. (Seriously, a lot of cheese)



Seen from the front. (That is a fountain pen clipped to the pocket, because of course it is.

(Original size here)



Seen from the side.

(Original size here)



Seen from the rear. Despite everything else, in keeping with my heritage, I am minus an ass.

(Original size here)

I hope that this was worth all of the foregoing magniloquence.

Please stop me before I buy spatterdashes and a cane.


Meanwhile, to recall my other costly gamble, Joseph Genuardi has posted something interesting to his Instagram account. (*achem* I'm not going to be pointlessly coy, that's the cloth that I chose for the odd jacket that he's making for me; my first fitting is scheduled for June 22nd. In other news, I asked him to order cloth to make the blue Fresco suit a three-piece, because vests are my jam and I don't know what I was thinking)
 
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Addendum:

I visited Mr. DiPietro again yesterday for a basted fitting of the sport coat that I'd commissioned after accepting the trousers.

While there, I asked about whether he'd make something of a cloth that I brought him, which he was very receptive to. I believe that means, 'yes to CMT'.

He made numerous small adjustments to the suit, notably narrowing the shoulders slightly; my recent experience with tailors has taught me that I have square shoulders and this roughly fits with how nothing bought off the rack has ever fit them well. (Mr. DiPietro had previously said that many of the athletes that he's made suits for have square shoulders, which might have been a touch of flattery, although I can believe that it's sort of true and hope that it means that he'll know how to accommodate them well) I also had him lower the intended location of the pockets slightly and we adjusted the jacket length a little as well. Besides that, we settled on some smaller details, namely a lapel buttonhole, which he omits unless it expressly requested, with stem holder and an interior pen pocket.

I clumsily snapped a picture from early in the fitting. (Mr. DiPietro later pinned the sleeves on to adjust the length) The fabric is a sort of taupe; it looks closer to grey in the lighting of this picture, which closely matches what I saw in person, but on the table when I was choosing cloth it looked near to brown. (I like it either way) When finished, it will be a center-vented, three-pocket sport coat with a 4" clover-leaf lapel (Refer to the tan suit in the third picture in this post for what that looks like, although mine will be roughly 1/2" narrower)

1192958


(N.b. I'm wearing the black wool twill trousers that Mr. DiPietro made in this picture and one of the shirts that Ray Nepomuceno delivered to me on Wednesday. I feel that it's worth noting that I'm very satisfied with the strength of the sewing of the suspender button, they feel very firmly attached, which is important as they can be subject to considerable stress)

I very much hope that this turns out well. It'd be nice if I could feel confident in commissioning things from a tailor who is fifteen or twenty minutes away, from my door to his, on the Broad Street Line.

We also tidied up a little business with the vests that I had commissioned. Mr. DiPietro lacked enough cloth to make one self-backed, but offered to order some more, which I agreed to and when I asked how much extra it would cost, he said nothing, but thanked me for offering.

Something curious that I've gathered about John DiPietro is that he is, and I write this with a certain uneasiness, 'semi-literate'. By his own confession, he has never written a sentence in his life and cannot write much beyond the notes that he needs on his forms for garments, which he said he has used to be very embarrassed about. He showed me some old newspapers that he had collected about other tailors, such was Joseph Centofanti, whom he esteems highly, and seemed unable to read unfamiliar names. I find this very interesting as somebody who cannot even sew a button onto a shirt, but writes, albeit for sheer bureaucracy's sake, for a living (I'm as appalled as you are) and casually uses the most brutal sesquipedalian lexemes in cold blood. (This is no trouble, mind, you, I'm looking to him for sewing and cutting, not preposterous magniloquence, which I can supply a hideous surplus of to myself)

Mr. DiPietro seems, by his own telling, to have considerable a range of clients. He told me of one who has ordered fifty suits over thirty years and still regularly wears forty of them. There's another jacket, by comparison, that is a young man who was recently transferred to New York City and works as a data scientist in a machine learning department, phrases which Mr. DiPietro was quite frank in having no idea of the meaning of. (Not that I know much better, even I'm more accustomed to hearing them; a grant writer, a job which he had never even conceived of before) He also showed me a jacket that he'd been given for alteration with sleeve buttons that were an absolute hack job, being so crooked and clumsily attached that even my untrained eye could see that they were completely wrong.
 
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reidd

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Thanks for the write up. I’m looking forward to seeing how your jacket comes out. Not many of these old school tailors left in the US. I like your idea of the “clover leaf lapel” I assume this is the one with the rounded shape? Is this something DiPietro tends to make or did you suggest it specifically?
 
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Ray Nepomuceno just delivered my last shirt with the corrected buttons to me a few minutes ago. So that ends that sartorial adventure. Now I have to figure out how to care properly for the dear things. (My old devil-may-care throw 'em on in the morning, in the laundry bag at night and in the wash on Sunday routine without much other care is probably inappropriate for these)

Thanks for the write up. I’m looking forward to seeing how your jacket comes out. Not many of these old school tailors left in the US. I like your idea of the “clover leaf lapel” I assume this is the one with the rounded shape? Is this something DiPietro tends to make or did you suggest it specifically?
Your are correct that the jacket with the rounded shape is the cloverleaf lapel. (This is not quite easy to tell from the picture, but that jacket has no lapel buttonhole; Mr. DiPietro omits them unless requested, which I have for mine)

My choice of cloverleaf lapel for this jacket ultimately comes from that tan one. I hadn't noticed it at first, but while Mr. DiPietro was talking about his work, he pointed that out specifically as something unique that only he does. I don't think that this is true, because I've found a few passing references to cloverleaf lapels elsewhere and I believe that I saw somebody wearing on in The Asphalt Jungle, but even so, I would wager that it's a rare style. I'd certainly never heard of it before.

I'd mentioned a few times on my other visits that I thought that it was an interesting style and when I at last resolved to commission a jacket, I decided I would have it. Before I even got to specifying the lapel, Mr. DiPietro asked if, since I'd spoken well of the cloverleaf lapel on the jacket in his shop, I'd like it for my jacket.

I'm not sure how long it will be until I delivery. I believe that there will be another fitting for final adjustments before completion. Mr. DiPietro didn't give a timeline, but I would guess that I'll have it by late July.
 

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