A couple of weeks ago we had one of those charity ‘dress-down’ days at work which created a slight ripple of excitement in the office. I must confess that I don’t entirely understand why my colleagues consider it worth paying £2 for the privilege of turning up to the office in jeans. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for making charitable donations and always drop the customary £2 into the collection box but the pleasure I derive from my work wardrobe is such that wearing casual stuff feels more like a sacrifice than a privilege.
I’d be a whole lot more excited at the prospect of being able to ‘dress-up to the nines’ on a work day. After all, jeans can be worn any evening or weekend, but how many chances are there to give an outing to clothes which were bought for that special occasion but now languish, neglected, at the back of the wardrobe?
I acknowledge, however, that any campaign to initiate a ‘dress-up for work’ charity day probably wouldn’t attract much of a following for I am, it seems, alone in longing for the formality of a bygone era when even the most cash-strapped women donned a hat and pair of gloves to go out shopping and men mowed the lawn in a full three-piece suit.
In view of my love of formal attire, I expect that our friends braced themselves for a full top and tails affair when we announced the date of our wedding. Even my Dad, in a somewhat alarmed tone, asked whether he’d got to wear ‘a penguin suit’. There was, however, no cause for concern because we decided against having a prescribed dress code for any of our guests, or even the wedding party, and Mr Moore himself wore a lounge suit.
That’s not to say that H2B didn’t explore the possibility of hiring a morning suit. Indeed, one Saturday he spent the best part of an afternoon trying on various sartorial combinations in a local menswear shop. But apart from the fact that the none of the suits on offer were particularly flattering, we soon discovered a fundamental stumbling block: a distinct dearth of brown suits* available for hire. To be honest, we weren’t particularly disappointed because neither of us relished the prospect of having to hand a hired suit back the day after it had played such a starring role in the most important event in our life together. What we really wanted was a suit to keep for posterity.
So, sentimental pair that we are, we set off to Birmingham City Centre to find a brown suit for sale. It was not, I have to say, one of our more fruitful shopping expeditions. Admittedly we did find a brown Hugo Boss suit but it was a modern style two-piece in a very light-weight fabric which didn’t quite fit the bill for an autumn wedding. We had something quite different in mind; something reminiscent of the Edwardian country gentleman involving a tweedy fabric and a waistcoat. Something that wouldn’t look too out-of-place on the set of Jeeves and Wooster or Downton Abbey.
So, having exhausted every brand we could think of, we turned our thoughts to the possibility of personal tailoring. Now at this point I guess that you might be recoiling in horror at our perceived profligacy. And it cannot be denied that the cost of having a suit tailor-made is far from insignificant. But hear me out on this one because I think there is a case to be made in favour of the groom having a bespoke wedding suit.
For if you think about it, no one really bats an eyelid at the bride spending hundreds, if not thousands of pounds, on a dress that is worn for a matter of hours and then boxed up never to see the light of day again. Surely then, spending a similar amount of money on a suit which can be worn repeatedly on numerous future occasions represents a sartorial investment that is far better value for money than its female counterpart. It also provides an opportunity for a degree of personal expression: indeed I know of one groom who asked a tailor to make him a Dumb and Dumber style tuxedo. That might not be your thing, but you have to admit that it scores high marks for originality.
Convinced that a custom-made suit was the way forward, our first stop was to a local menswear shop to discuss the made-to-measure option. We were told that not only would this mean that the suit would be made to H2B’s exact measurements using the fabric of our choice, but that we would also be able to choose whether the jacket was single or double-breasted, the number of pockets and whether the back of the jacket had one vent or two. This information would then be sent off to a workshop and, hey presto, several weeks later the suit would arrive at the shop ready for collection. This might all sound very slick and straightforward, but we questioned whether the complete absence of any fittings with the person actually making the suit might prove to be problematic. It seemed a bit too optimistic to assume that it would be a perfect fit without having had any opportunity for adjustments to be made.
It soon became clear that we were looking for something more akin to the Saville Row tailoring experience but without the Saville Row price tag. Fortunately, Rosen & Nathan, one of the last, if not the last, firm of professional tailors in Birmingham were able to offer just that.
From the moment Mr Moore met Rosen and Nathan’s partners Phil Eftichiou and Alan Boardman, he had complete confidence in their skill and commitment to the very highest standards of tailoring. They understood the mechanics of suit making and the way in which individual posture, and not just a set of standard measurements, need to be taken into account in order to ensure a perfect fit. Although the material was cut and the basic shape of the suit stitched at an off-site work shop, a series of fittings took place at Rosen and Nathan’s central Birmingham shop which resulted in a number of revisions and adjustments being made. It did take time and, although not as expensive as a Saville Row suit, it still wasn’t a cheap option but Phil and Alan’s attention to detail and level of professionalism, not to mention their unfailing good humour and warm welcome made it worth every single penny. So when I walked down the aisle and saw H2B in his fine new suit it really was a case of ‘Suits you Sir!’
* To understand why we were searching for a brown suit, see A Warwickshire Wedding’s recent post, The ‘Pamtone’ Colour Chart.