The pinnacle of style is often equated with London bespoke clothing: garments cut and made specifically for the wearer. But there are downsides. In a suit, that kind of service can easily run past $5,000. And that’s without travel to England. The good news is that many London tailors periodically visit major U.S. cities to tender their services in what are called trunk shows. Even better, you can get a taste of that custom tradition for a fraction of the price with bespoke shirts.
Recently, James MacAuslan, bespoke cutter from Budd Shirts, located just off Jermyn Street, London’s renowned shirt mecca, visited Los Angeles as part of a swing through the States. With him came a century of shirt-making tradition, as well as 6,000 fabric choices (including the iconic Budd stripes) and dozens of options in shape and form.
Budd has a particular house style that includes a full chest and the Budd collar, designed to sit up nicely even without buttoning, and if you were to buy ready-to-wear from the shop, that’s what you would likely get. But MacAuslan is delighted to take your dictations on form and fit, making the shirt as loose or tight as you like (based on 20 to 30 measurements). You then choose from eight collar styles as diverse as the Penny Round (a sort of F. Scott Fitzgerald look) and the Washington (closer to a GoodFellas style). You also have six cuff options and a host of details like pockets and monograms. This sort of treatment starts at $340 and varies according to fabric price.
A thriftier option is made-to-measure (commencing at around $260), which includes fabric, collar and cuff options on a standard pattern. It is not as exacting, however. “It’s the nature of bespoke that every element can be adjusted up to an eighth of an inch,” says MacAuslan. “We get a lot of dandies—especially here [in Los Angeles]. That’s why they’re going bespoke, and we can certainly entertain that for them.”
Naturally, other Jermyn Street shirt makers, such as Harvie & Hudson and Hilditch & Key will make the trip stateside for your convenience. London’s Turnbull & Asser and Thomas Pink maintain a retail presence in America. Which is not to say you can’t be patriotic. Some fine American custom shirt makers include Mel Gambert, Sartoria Ambrosiana and Hamilton.