There’s a chance that, after you’ve had your first bespoke jacket made, you will still buy one off the rack. It’s so convenient, so quick, and you’re still used to a brand designing clothes for you, rather than doing it yourself.
But once you’re bought that jacket, and worn both it and the bespoke number, regret will start to harass your waking mind. ‘Why did I do that? It just doesn’t fit as well. And I saw some guy on the street wearing the same thing…’
You’ll never buy off the rack again. OK, perhaps there will be a super-reduced Ralph Lauren Purple Label suit (so cut by hand and 50% made by hand, including the all-important buttonholes) that slips in; and you will have it heavily altered. But that will be it. No more. High street suits are dead to you now.
This is growing up, a maturing of your taste. But it is also a little depressing. If you liked clothes enough to invest in bespoke, chances are you didn’t mind shopping that much. You probably got a decent thrill out of discovering a new design that leapt off the rail and seemed to define your taste, so perfect was it. It’s likely you also enjoyed finding incredible bargains in the sales and discount arcades. Now all that has gone.
Rather than trawling the high street, you spend your days sitting in the tailor’s, thumbing through swatches and discussing design elements. You probably read sites such as this one, the blogs and the forums, all to give yourself that consistent stimulation that used to come from wandering the high street and browsing your favourite shops.
When I first switched to bespoke, I began buying a lot more style magazines. They were still magazines that featured ready-to-wear clothing, but that was ok somehow – it was just a search for inspiration for the next bespoke order. Unlike going round a shop, where it feels a little fake; and there’s always the chance you will give into temptation and buy something.
So there you go, shopping is ruined. Oh, you wanted advice? Well, I haven’t much, other than to go read the blogs and the forums (obviously I think Permanent Style is the best, but then I would say that), and start getting interested in the craft of knitwear and accessories.
There’s casual clothing too, of course, an investigation of which led me to my all-time favourite brand, Albam. But as I wear casual clothes less I am even more loyal to a small number of those brands than I am to formal ones or tailors. So there aren’t many shops to browse. And Albam has a blog anyhow.
The consolation I would have for you is this: you have done the right thing. It may be frustrating, but rest assured that bespoke is superior – at least for suits and formal jackets, arguably for overcoats and sports jackets too.
Many people agree with me and with you. Go find them and have a drink. Your tailor’s other clientele might be a good place to start.