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Monday, February 27, 2012

Something shorter, and less serious

Somehow putting down what I did the other day, has really effected me.  I think for the better as the channels for feeling seem to be larger and Ill leave that where it is and move on to the next subject:

Hand tailored clothing.

This has nothing to do with running or deep emotions.  In fact, its actually kind of silly.

A bit on the subject-purely my opinion and experience here.  I discovered my passion for tailored clothes when I worked for an Italian based company, after being outside of Milan for a week or so, I knew I needed a change. About the same time, I began to lose significant weight (255 down to 175).  As my body changed I noticed that there were certain looks that I could now pull off.
Not the man in a bag look that is typical here in the US, but rather a suit that would play to the shape of a mans shoulders and waist.  Pants that would fit like they were made for a leg that had contours, or just pants that fit.
I picked up a suit over there along with a pair of ankle boots that were made by an old man in his shop, by his own hands there in Bergamo (Bergamo was the town we were in). Prior to this, I like most men, thought that Armani, or Boss was "high end" and the epitome of quality.  So not the case as the next few years showed me.
I am a details freak, not as in planning details, but subtle details, like how something was made, or the variations in wood, lets call it artistic detail, not analytical detail.  I noticed this suit had stitching along the lapels, the pockets, the pants zipper, not stitching that would have been made by a machine. (See pic, these are various examples of pick stitching done by hand.  It takes a very long time to hand finish a suit or jacket this way).  I also noticed how the suit was constructed, how a suit that was put together by hand and made in the "full canvass" method, seemd to feel like wearing next to nothing.  In other words, very comfortable
I then associated pick stitching with quality and fit.  For the most part, 10 years ago, that was actually true.  Now days everything emulates a fine tailored garment, so one must know the hallmarks (and makers) of the real good stuff.
Let me take a step back and explain a few things:
1.  This kind of clothing is rare in the U.S.
2.  It is terribly expensive at retail (Bergdorff Goodman, Stanely Korshack, George Greene, Neiman Marcus are "retailers" that one can access these clothes)-I learned how to find it on close out.  You'd be impressed at how little I have paid for my wardrobe.
3.  Most men in the US are afraid to wear this kind of clothing-either because of fit or "flair"
4.  This is addicting!  I have always had positions where I wear a suit or at least a jacket and tie every day.  I needed it!

So, with the history out of the way, lets look at what really makes me purr....hand stitched garments.
Most of what I really love is indeed made in Italy.  However, there are a few exceptions when it comes to a suit or jacket.  Not so much when it comes to shoes, ties, shirts, or accessories.  The sartorial epicenter of my  universe is the town of Napoli, a dirty nasty town full of dark short people (amazing food though) at the base of a very famous volcano.  The neopolitans crank out every kind of clothing known to man in a hand sewn fashion.  When I say "hand sewn" I do not mean with a machine, but with a needle and thread.
The shirt industry in Naples alone is powered by little old ladies in their living rooms.  They recieve a bag every other day of parts of shirts that have been cut out of the specified fabric, they then have the thread and buttons (oh man, I love a nice thick Mother Of Pearl button-MOP for short). Below are some fine examples of hand sewn shirts by:

You can see the tiny hand stitches in the seams!!!  YUMMY.  The buttons and button holes are crows feet stitched and sooo beautiful

This amazing town also has the best tailors in the world at work.  I have a few examples to share, both suits and jackets.  What defines each stylistically is:
Wider lapes, with a high notch placement.
Open quarters (the bottom is splayed open, closed would be a straight closure after the last button)
Very shaped sides (V shaped to follow a mans body shape)
Little to no padding in the shoulders (aka soft tailoring)
Full canvass construction (I wont get into this, but its a must)
visible hand stitching.
Cesare Attolini

Luigi Borrelli

Enrico Isaia

There are many others, but this is what I have!

There is one huge exception to the rules above.  That is a maker near and dear to anyone in Chicago.  It is Oxxford.  Oxxford is perhaps one of the finest RTW hand tailoring shops in the world.  I have a few examples.  They are located just west of the loop in Chicago.  There are tons of details that I get so excited about, namely, the button holes, they have a very distinct buttonhole that I can pick out of a crowd.  Oxxford is also the only world class label left in America.  I do not believe the export to Europe either.  Up until a few years ago, most of their models were sacks when it came to fit.  The thing I do like, is the shoulders were mostly soft and lightly padded, which meant I could have a tailor re-shape the body to get a proper fit.
Oxxford Suit:

Here is a quick snap shot of my mess a call my dress closet.  I rotate the suits and jackets out twice a year, so this is half.  The shirts get color organized when I feel obsessive.  Obviously Im not feeling that at the moment.

Ok, so now you know.  I have spent way too much time with my head in the sartorial arts....but I sure do love it!
I have ceased to obsess with most of this stuff, namely, I stopped frequenting the forum that is kind of the epicenter of it all.  I did that for 2 reasons:
1.  Wasting to much time
2.  Far too much temptation and saying "I need that".  Clearly, I have enough!
So, I still see a well made pocket square as a work of art.  I will always seek shoes made a certain way.
Ill stick to running as an obsession-it costs less and nets more!

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