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W. W. Chan dinner suit commission

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Beardman, Jun 11, 2012.

  1. Beardman

    Beardman Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I'm a new member of this forum but have silently listened for some time to the sage advice offered here. Here's the advice I now need myself:

    I'm about to commission W. W. Chan to make up a dinner suit for me during Patrick's next trip to the States. I've had six suits, four odd jackets and a handful of spare trousers from Chan and am very happy with the results.

    I've settled on single-breasted, single-button, midnight blue barathea, black grosgrain facings, peaked lapels, side vents (I'm verging on portly -- flattish stomach but very chesty). When I spoke to Patrick about this on his last trip, he mentioned the option of making a cummerbund and bow tie in the same grosgrain. Here are my questions:

    1. What is folks' favorite midnight blue barathea? I've seen the Scabal Festival 852054 online (it's 280 g), and read about the H. Lesser 12 oz. The Scabal seems more practical because of its weight. On the other hand, the H. Lesser will probably drape better. On the third hand, I will wear this indoors in places with central heating (and air conditioning). On the fourth hand, I will do a bit of dancing, I'm sure. On the fifth hand, only a bit, not too much..... Help!

    2. What about a waistcoat? Can Chan make one, in people's experience? If so, I assume I should have it made of the same cloth as the suit, and with the same facings. I'm not clear on the shape of the lapels, though -- waistcoat images I've seen online seem to have a U-shaped shawl lapel. Is this proper to wear with a peaked-lapel jacket? I assume I should get it made up backless for comfort, right?

    3. What about the grosgrain itself? I've read here and elsewhere the merits of Weldon grosgrain. Can Chan get it, do you think? Any advice as to what particular gauge of grosgrain?

    4. Buttons -- plain black or covered? Pockets -- besom in self-fabric or trimmed with facing? Trousers -- plain grosgrain stripe or full braid?

    Thanks to everyone who replies for the help, and thanks to everyone for the education thus far....

    Michael
     


  2. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    It's a pleasure to read your post.

    I would do the besom in self fabric and a plain grosgrain stripe on the trousers. I wouldn't put any grosgrain on the semi-formal vest, if you decide to get that.
     


  3. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Jewfro Dubiously Honored

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    +1 to FC's suggestions and commendation on a well formed first post. I have a waistcoat from Chan - it's for a 3-pc suit, not a dinner suit, so it's cut differently obviously. But I'm pretty happy with it. I think I can dig up some pictures later tonight or tomorrow if you're interested.
     


  4. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    The U shaped opening on the vest is harder to fit and lay properly when someone is "chesty" as you describe.

    Dinner suits are long term, get both a vest and cummerbund and you are covered if your preference changes in time. Order both now so everything is in the same cloth.

    Consider a cloth with mohair. Would add body to the cloth.

    Covered buttons are more unique to a dinner suit as you wouldn't have these on any other garment. The only other button I have used are flat, two hole buttons. They're ok.
    I think the covered buttons sort of disappear into the garment which I like.

    I don't mind besom pockets made from facing silk but don't care for it in grosgrain.
    There is a wider/bulkier grosgrain pattern and I can't think of the name. One thick ridge and one thin.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2012


  5. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    Chris, have you ever used thread-shanked covered buttons, like the ones in the right (grimslade's left)?


    [​IMG]
     


  6. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Yes, like them better and I insist on the back part to be black, not shiny silver.
     


  7. lee_44106

    lee_44106 Senior member

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    From what I hear and read, WW Chan is very good, knowledgeable, and accomodating.

    Ask them these minute details when you get there.


    My tuxedo is in the Scabal Festival, but Black, instead of Midnight Blue. Stick with what works, the basics. This myth about midnight blue being darker than black is pure bullsh*t, perpetrated by clothing geeks and have ZERO applicability in real life.
     


  8. Beardman

    Beardman Member

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    Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate the warm welcome and the quick replies. I will work with Chan on the details, as you suggest. Getting both a cummerbund and a vest makes sense to me, since I *will* probably change my mind.

    At the risk of overstaying my welcome, though, may I ask a few small followups?

    Does everyone agree with Lee that midnight blue is an affectation? (This is my first-ever bespoke dinner suit. I have been using a black one bought off the rack at Nordstrom's years ago. That suit doesn't fit all that well any more and even has notched lapels...alas, what did I know back then.... So this new one will be my standard issue for black tie, not some occasional novelty to wear. Does that mean I should stick to black?)

    Also, barathea seems to be the standard English cloth for this. Am I right in thinking that wool + mohair would be a mainly American choice? I'm something of an Anglophile, travel frequently to the UK, and would be using the suit on both sides of the Atlantic, which is why I assumed just wool.

    Finally, is it wrong to go for a vivid, contrasting lining? Or is that reserved for show biz? If it's okay, what colors have you used?
     


  9. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Jewfro Dubiously Honored

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    I wouldn't call midnight blue an affectation. I would get midnight blue myself. But I'm talking midnight blue, such that without seeing it side by side with black it might be hard to distinguish it from true black. I'd definitely avoid the contrasting lining.
     


  10. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    You can find Barathea in a wool/mohair blend. They are not exclusive of each other

    Have used Scabal 852054 many times for Dinner Suits. Don't go any lighter for midnight than this. In the same Festival book 852061 and 62 are mohair blends.

    If you look thru the Festival book and layout the blacks next to each other you will see how different and how much variation there is to each cloth type in black. They reflect and absorb light so differently it effects the shading/pigment of the color. You will find more depth and consistency of tone with midnight. Midnight will compliment your skin tone , with most men, better than black.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2012


  11. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    The most interminable fabric choice that I ever had to make was picking a black for a DB dinner suit. I chose something from the Fisher formal book that seemed reliably black as my heart in nearly all lighting conditions.
     


  12. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    It was difficult to find, No? It's a good idea to put the facing next to the sample to compare the blackness of the facing and how it renders the blackness of the cloth. Good to know ahead how they work together.

    We make maybe one piece in black maybe every 2 to 3 years. Usually a DJ or cashmere jacket or topcoat. Maybe a few black trousers each year. Not much demand here.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2012


  13. TheTukker

    TheTukker Senior member

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    I enjoyed this thread. And to the OP: welcome to SF; this place needs more members like you.
     


  14. david3558

    david3558 Senior member

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    Welcome and I agree!

    I really love midnight blue - you should also post your current WW Chan suits!
     


  15. RogerC

    RogerC Senior member

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    I don't know if Chan carries it, but my dinner suit is midnight blue barathea, 11 oz, from Dugdale Brothers. It is true midnight in the sense that there's only the slightest contrast with the black facing and wears very comfortably at indoor functions, although I'd consider ordering a cream summer DB if ever I'd move to a warmer climate. I couldn't comment on the standard US practice, but it seems to me that barathea is the classic British choice for DBs, and I personally like the more matte appearance. Nothing against mohair, but I like the sheen to come from the facings, tie and shoes.

    As for the vest: I have a backless one in the same fabric as the suit, with a deep U in the front, which is very comfortable. I went without lapels because they add bulk (and while not obese, I'm not skinny either). It looks a bit like Bertie Wooster's DJ:

    [​IMG]
     


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