Walking in to see Leng and Gennaro for the first fitting of this commission (see first part in the series here) the image above depicts the first thing I saw after being greeted by Leng at the front door. Gennaro, attending to the final baste stitches, sewing the sleeves to the shoulder seam. It’s pleasing to see something being created solely for one person, by the hands of another, assisted only by simple tools, a needle and cotton thread. It’s the sartorial equivalent of walking into a bakery just as croissants are being pulled out of the oven.
Earlier I’d hinted that I was originally unsure if the specific blue I had chosen from English mill Dormeuil had been the right decision. The cloth has come up well, a vibrant blue flannel with a soft handle.
To try on the suit for the first time was quite good. The colour stands out for the right reasons with the blue being strong, certainly, but only from the point of view that it is eye-catching for its richness, without calling for attention. A quiet statement. If the same cloth had, say, a pinstripe or windowpane check, it would likely make the suit appear too brash and deliberately attention seeking. The fact that the cloth is flannel, helps the case as the muted, light absorbing surface of the cloth quietens things down even more.
To sum up the first fitting is to say that there will be lots of small adjustments made, rather than any significant changes. This is promising, although just because the changes are small doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to be properly addressed and it’s as much the tailors art to get the small things right as it is the big things. So far, though, it’s a good outcome, as Leng and Gennaro have never made for me before and it’s not easy to immediately get any first commission spot on for a new customer although good tailors find a way to get it right even if it takes an extra fitting or 2. However if the tailor can get the right read and feel for your shape from the start, then the chances of the cut being very accurate will increase significantly. This then makes the subsequent fittings much a much smoother and easy process, with small tweaks being correctly made to achieve a perfect fit. It should be said that even after a good first fitting, a suit can fail to come together properly if the wrong adjustments are made along the way. It’s an art.
The trousers have come up well, so in this regard Leng seems to have understood my shape and the look I was hoping to achieve, that being a tapered cut, with a high waist taking into account my large seat and thighs. The length at the hem was perfect with no change needing to be made at all. The fit through the hips and waist was ideal, but we all felt that having them sit higher on my waist would be preferable. Leng had left a additional inch of allowance in the crotch, allowing the waist to come up another inch, which we’ll take full advantage of. So whilst the length at the hem was accurate, it will now need to be lengthened accordingly to compensate for the extra inch of rise in the waist. The thighs will also be let out as they’re currently more snug than we’d like. At the first meeting I was sure we’d agreed on a single pleat, though, and they are cut with double pleats, which is a shame as it adds more fullness than I’d like.
I’d been interested to see how the design of the waistcoat would turn out, as it’s reasonably unique, being double breasted and with shawl style lapels. Overall I think it will work very well, having now seen its first iteration with the only major difference to come being the lapels (which will be added in the next fitting). Leng will narrow the width at the shoulders, as slimming this down helps to create a more slim silhouette. The “V” formed where the cloth crosses below the chest will be dropped by 1 centimetre (we identified this once the jacket was put on, allowing the top of the waistcoat to almost disappear under a buttoned jacket). The length will be left as is, ensuring no shirt is seen between the waistband of the trousers and the bottom of the waistcoat. Additionally the waistcoat will be centred slightly better on the neck (a common problem for me, due to a shorter right collarbone). Finally a jetted pocket will be added to each side of the waistcoat at the height of the second button, for a pocket watch.
Quite a few changes needed to be made here. The overall balance was very good and didn’t require any adjustment. This is likely to be a tailors main concern at a first fitting. The overall length will be raised by 1 centimetre and the shoulders narrowed only very slightly. The sleeve length was good and needed no changes, the same was true for the sleeve pitch (angle that the sleeve hangs from the shoulder, allowing it to follow the natural angle at which the clients arm hangs). The jacket was clean through the neck and through the collarbones, so it will remain unchanged here. The other points which will require some attention is through the mid and lower back. It will be let out here as it was too snug and created pull lines.
If the changes being made in each piece are made accurately, it should mean that by the end of the second fitting only a couple of minor changes will be required for a final fitting when finishing details are added, including button holes. All in all the overall feel of the suit, in terms of cut, colour and design is beautiful and at an early stage I feel that the finished product will make the suit a worthwhile investment. Time will tell.