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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

(continued from page 2)

Those are the basics. Some firms might have a superior selection of cloth, while others may favor a particularly fashionable silhouette or be willing to go that extra step in the realm of service. "As one of the few women in the business," says Nancy Hilton, "I feel we take a more nurturing attitude toward our clients. I've met clients at the airport to deliver a suit." Manuel Martinez, a custom clothier in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who has made clothes for several Southern governors, recalls meeting a man in a restaurant one day. "When he found out I was a tailor, he asked me to measure him right there, and placed an order for several suits on the spot." Martinez takes that sort of thing in stride.

And then, of course, there are those clothing requests that cannot be adequately accommodated by your local mall menswear retailer. "About a year ago," recalls Allen-Petrie's James Egan, "one of our customers stopped by with a handsome pair of blue velvet Prince Albert slippers he'd had made by John Lobb in London. He wanted to know if we could make him a dinner suit--a tuxedo without the ornate facings--in velvet the same shade as the shoes.

"It took us almost half a year to track down the right cloth--a beautiful royal blue velvet from Germany--and we made him a wonderful dinner suit, even down to finding the perfect buttons and silk lining. There's a great deal of satisfaction in being able to do something like that."

There was a time--in those innocent days before malls and fast-food shops overgrew us--when every decent-sized town had a reliable tailor, haberdashery, or campus shop. Most of them are now video stores and pizzerias, the consequence of which is that men think they're either thrown to the cold comfort of the mall department stores--where the fellow behind the shirt counter today will be selling portable CD players on the third floor tomorrow--or that they must travel to one of the better clothing stores in a major city.

"But that's not true," emphatically states Bo Hussung, a custom clothier in Nashville. "There's really a revolution going on in men's clothing today. There are a number of 'direct sellers' around the country who offer incredible selection, top quality fabrics and expert tailoring. This approach to providing men with quality clothing has stepped into the vacuum left by the disappearance of the local men's quality clothing store."

A Brief Guide To In-Office Clothiers

Allen-Petrie Clothiers
687 West Lancaster Avenue
Strafford, Pennsylvania 19087
(610) 687-2330

The Philadelphia Main Line has always been a bastion of conservative good taste, and at least 75 percent of Allen-Petrie's suits are ordered in an updated traditional silhouette. ("But we do get an order now and again for a more Milanese approach," notes manager James Egan.) The firm prides itself on exceptional service--even to the point of refurbishing umbrellas for clients--and on helping a man to develop his own sense of style. Suits and topcoats from $900; sport coats, $600; shirts from $100.

Bespoke Enterprises, Inc.
150 West 56th Street, Suite 4207
New York, New York 10019
(212) 581-9003

While the majority of Jack Simpson's clients are executives, a good number are celebrities in the entertainment business, which is why he makes regular trips to Los Angeles. It is understandable, then, that he should favor a highly sophisticated silhouette: single-breasted suits with peak lapels and postboy waistcoats (with either a natural, international, or 1940s English-styled shoulder). "Even the question of buttons is an important issue," he says. Bespoke boasts many exclusive fabrics. Suits are priced from $1,150 to $2,500; shirts from $185 to $250; shoes at $1,500; Super 100s midnight blue tuxedos with grosgrain lapels, $1,680.

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