I’ve waxed lyrical multiple times about how soft and comfortable tailoring can be. Here’s your proof. This jacket fits like a cardigan and will only get softer with time. The gentle shoulder has only a wafer thin shoulder pad and a neopolitan finish at the sleevehead so it follows the natural slope of the shoulder with ease. The coat is cut with a slight flare but doesn’t need too much ease as the soft cloth will drop over time and mould to the body.
The trousers are cut with double pleats and a wider than normal hem for extra comfort and are fitted with a strap and buckle waistband to make sure they always sit where they should.
For years tailoring got a bad rep as people were forced to wear, often cheap and ill-fitting, suits for work. Glued together by underpaid workers in factories in far-flung locations, these suits were stiff and scratchy and restrictive.
Removing the jacket at the end of the day was such a relief, you could practically hear the sigh from the body as it was freed from its captor and replaced with jeans and a t-shirt.
But for the longest time, what we think of as tailoring was all there was. For work, for rest, for best; men wore a jacket and trousers, almost always in wool or heavy duty cotton. These clothes were malleable enough to perform physical tasks in. Nowadays much of the cloth used in RTW is so flimsy the trousers will disintegrate as soon as you dare look at a bicycle. Yet for a century men built, farmed, mined, and laboured away in wool trousers and a jacket.
Granted this was out of necessity not choice but I see no reason why, with a few adjustments, beautiful tailored garments can’t become just as commonplace on a Saturday afternoon as on a Monday morning.
Step One - Proper Cloth
RTW companies really cut corners here. But it is SO worth investing in. It is such a false economy to buy something cheap which falls to pieces within a couple of months. Yes good cloth is expensive, but it will last 10 times longer than it’s flimsy counter parts. Particularly important when we are talking about casual clothing because you need to be able to ride a bike or climb a tree or hunt a bear without worrying about tearing a hole in your knee.
Step Two - Mending
One of the reasons why old fashioned cloth was so sturdy was because they just didn’t have the machinery to weave very fine delicate yarn like we can today. And in the days before central heating it was pretty helpful to have 20-30oz cloth. But the flip side is that it was scratchy and cumbersome.
Nowadays wool can be as little as 6oz and feel like silk. For the sort of clothing we are talking about 6oz would be foolish but 20oz would be equally inappropriate.
The middle ground is beautiful to wear but it is less indestructible than that of Edwardian farmers and it is possible that from time to time it will need a little love.
But if you do tear a hole or go through the fork, I implore you - do not throw them away. These are not dinner suits we are talking about.
Loved, casual clothing is improved by patches and darning and repairs. It is what gives clothing character and history.
Step Three - Cut
TLDR: STOP WEARING SUITS 3 SIZES TOO SMALL.
I don’t know what happened or who started this ridiculous trend but I can’t tell you how many people come into the shop hulking out of a suit. It doesn’t look good. And it definitely doesn’t feel good.
Men from the Victorian working classes couldn’t afford to have new clothes all the time (if ever) so many were handed down, bought from second-hand shops, salvaged from the scrapheap so they were often ill-fitting. Many bought trousers too big and donned suspenders to keep them up.
I’m not suggesting going this far (although I do love braces), but skinny jeans are not good adventure clothing. Keep the trousers roomy enough to do a couple of squats without the seat seam giving up on you.
Similar with jackets, adding a little drape across the chest combined with a generous shoulder and a high armhole will give you a much better range of motion - perhaps not a priority in a work suit but definitely necessary for French cricket.
In conclusion - wool is wonderful, buy a size up, wear jackets on weekends, ditch the skinny jeans.