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Tailors in the Office

How to Buy a Wardrobe without Leaving the Workplace
G. Bruce Boyer
From the Print Edition:
Tom Selleck, Winter 95/96

"When it comes to the fittings, I usually end up standing on the coffee table," he said.

Perhaps I should explain.

When you are a busy executive, and don't have the time to go shopping for your wardrobe, you have the wardrobe come to you.

Which is what Jack Simpson, the very cosmopolitan president of Bespoke Enterprises Inc., does for Stone Phillips, the very cultivated NBC News journalist.

"I just don't have the time anymore to make the rounds of the men's stores," Phillips says. "Being in the public eye, I need a large wardrobe, and my schedule is such that it all must be done efficiently and in good taste. Jack brings the cloth swatches for the suits, shirts and ties, and we discuss what I like--basically conservative with a touch of fashion--and then he comes back with the clothes for a fitting. Usually I end up standing on the coffee table, so he can mark the proper trouser length."

Phillips couldn't be happier that all the fuss and bother is taken out of his hands. "Actually, my wife often sits in on these meetings because she and Jack speak the same language. She used to be in the fashion business and knows the correct fabric terms and how clothes should fit. I find myself just nodding and going along. And it all gets done quickly, I end up looking well-attired, and I can get on with my job."

Simpson is based in New York City, but flies to Los Angeles every other month for his West Coast clients. "I usually send along a photo package explaining our service to a prospective client, and then meet with him in his home or office." Ready access is what this business is about. Simpson can offer a client custom-made tailored garments, shirts, shoes, ties and a whole array of the most tasteful furnishings.

This business of one-on-one personal tailoring is, of course, one of the older ways of outfitting the customer. In the nineteenth-century heyday of Savile Row tailoring, a gentleman would pop by his tailor one morning, sit in the back room with a glass of sherry and a digestive biscuit, and gossip and discuss the latest stripings in worsted or width of a lapel before ordering a half dozen new suits for the season. It was all very civilized, particularly in those days when gentlemen had more time for leisurely discourse. But the principle was the same: a confident and confidential personal selection of one's wardrobe with an expert in private. It wasn't so much shopping as it was a graceful interchange of ideas.

Today, lest you think the world has gone all to hell and there is no such thing as progress, a number of made-to-measure firms have taken that idea one step further by bringing the tailor to the customer.

Most men have no great charisma as shoppers anyway, never mind the ever-increasing demands on our time these days. "What, in fact, could be a better respite from a hectic business day for an embattled executive than one's tailor coming round to the office with a fitting?" asks Nancy Hilton, director of the Dormeuil Personal Tailor Service in New York City. "The fact is that discriminating CEOs consider a private tailoring service something of an exclusive perk in a highly competitive world."

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