It’s not that long till my 40th birthday.
And I’ve worked on men’s magazines long enough to know the things you’re meant to have done by the time you’re 40 blah blah i.e. get a bespoke suit made. On Savile Row.
I’ve been thinking of doing it for a while, and I figured it’d be a jolly process to undertake in these months before my birthday.
But it’s only in recent weeks that I’ve been thinking of the reality of this.
I never, ever wear a suit.
And just because I’ve had one made to my form doesn’t mean I’m going to sit here off the Hackney Road on my laptop in what’s normally understood as a tailored suit.
But I do wear tailored garments.
Or at least garments that are constructed and shaped.
One of my favourite ever pieces of clothing is this prisoners jacket, which I bought from Portobello Market at some point during my second year at university, 1993-94.
Its collar might look a bit wide and gaudy now, but back then this little nothing was everything to me.
I’ve not been able to get into it for over a decade.
I am very fond of wearing potters or workmen jackets that I usually get from Labour & Wait.
Like this one.
It’s so lovely.
But it’s very much has a crumpled look.
I’d like something with more of the strictness of tailoring, without being a suit.
I don’t want lapels.
I don’t want eugh that gap between the lapels where you’re meant to wear a shirt and tie.
I’ve got no subliminal messages I want to send through a strip of cloth hanging from my neck.
I went to see the broadcast of Parsifal from the Met in New York the other day, and was obsessed with the jacket worn by conductor Daniele Gatti.
(photo nicked from danielegatti.eu)
It was amazing to see a conductor not in dumb tails, but in something that made sense for the task facing him.
He conducted the whole six hour opera from memory.
I took these clothes, and a couple of others too, in to see Patrick Grant at Norton & Sons.
I remember him telling me years ago how Nortons had made safari jackets for royalty.
We got talking, I showed him the clothes that I love, and a few photos too – like Saint Laurent himself in a some sort of safari get-up we couldn’t decide if it was a tailored jacket or a structured shirt.
I said I wanted something tailored, and relatively cropped, with a collar but no lapels.
Patrick called over Stephen Allen, his head cutter.
After we talked for a bit, Stephen went out back and returned with a book from 1947.
Cutters Practical Guide: Gentlemen’s Garments Part One.
He turned to the pattern for a Patrol Jacket.
And this, he suggested, was the perfect pattern to follow.
And so I’m getting made a patrol jacket.
With trousers that’ll be cut low and slim, with a plus-four velcro fastening at the bottom, because I like things tight at the ankle.
I’m having it made in a wool mohair that feels crisp to the touch, and which keeps some sense of structure.
It’s going to be in a dirty navy that’s got a bit of grey in it.
Do you want to see my measurements?
Here are my measurements.
Please note my correct name.
That drawing is what the seams at the back will look like.
And there are many decisions to be made.
What sort of pockets – patch, or stroller?
I think I like a stroller pocket…
As in, the slit is vertical, so you can shove your hands in it easily.
And more to the point, it’s a shape and style I think I’ll wear.
Again and again.
When I got home, I took out my favourite old Prada jumpsuit in wool crepe.
There’s something about it that reminds me of what I’m getting made.
I’ll update with full updates, obviously.
Hopefully get to see how some of it’s made.
Happy um early birthday to um me! Seven um months um early!