foundations: the importance of being tailored


there's this brilliant documentary series on bespoke designer Ozwald Boateng titled Why Style Matters that i've recently discovered on Youtube. in the series, Boateng discusses his own style and design philosophy, and also interviews fellow Savile Row tailors, fashion journalists, and design legends such as Giorgio Armani. in one clip, Boateng interviews Suzy Menkes on Armani's revolutionary impact on the fashion world, and she says something really insightful:

"[Armani] understood something about the modern world, and I think that's with all designers...it's understanding the psyche of what's going on. It's not just making the frocks."

and at another point in the clip, Boateng notes that: 

"Fashion seems so temporary. And yet, tailoring seems permanent. So that's one of the things I've balanced over the years, being very aware of fashion, without being totally entrenched in it."

see the complete clip here:

i have to admit, i've always been really drawn to exquisite tailoring and all the quiet luxuries that it offers. on a technical level, i also really admire the craftsmanship that goes into a traditionally tailored suit. in the past few seasons, the whole 'borrowed from the boys/tomboy' vibe in womenswear seems to me more than just a seasonal riff on Annie Hall. designers like Phoebe Philo, Stella McCartney, and Isabel Marant have all made their own signature mark by fusing a 'tailored psyche' (or, in the case of Marant, a twist on the conventional idea of fit and structure) with ready-to-wear designs.

there's something stable, permanent, reassuring about an elegantly cut Celine blazer in our crazy, uncertain times. maybe it's the structure inherent in a tailored jacket, which vaguely references the military uniform origins of most menswear classics. i know that this is an ideal, that a Celine blazer is really quite far from many of our realities when we're watching the news and trying to stay on top of our finances and plan for other, non-sartorial goals in our lives. lin blogged about this as well last week. but at the end of a long day out in the world, i'd like to think that the clothes we choose to put on our backs can offer some protection, perhaps some consolation, and lift us a little bit above the din and chaos of everyday life. that, with the added bonus of an expertly fitted shoulder seam, is my idea of enduring style.

what do you think?


  1. I totally agree with you! I've recently been lucky enough to invest in some amazing pieces, and there's such a difference in the way I feel wearing them, the confidence and assurance they bring, vs. many bargain pieces I've cycled through over the years. There's a re-assurance in knowing you'll wear something for years, and it will be beautiful for years. Great tailoring returns the love you give it!


  2. I absolutely agree! Although comfort often leads me down the boho/hippy path of styling there is something infinately more classy and satisfying in wearing a well made, tailored piece. You can have a bad hair/bum/thighs/stomach day that is magincally repaired if you put on a coat of skirt that has been made properly with all the lines and seams in the right places!
    Tikkitiboo + Ahka Vintage
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  3. Thanks for sharing! I guess I ought to stroll into Celine one day and try a blazer on like I can afford it (first I need the confidence to look like I am their customer).

    Yes I love it when you toss on a tried and true outfit and feel like you're wearing pajamas for daytime activities.

    Ps. what are your thoughts on the Dicker boots? I'm still pondering about getting them next month.... the suede has a nice fit but I really like the plain leather ones except they do feel a little tight...


  4. P's comment about the Edwardian era reminded me of the "Teddy Girls": post-WWII England had a phenomenal proto-punk movement of Teddy boys, lower-class dandies who would wear their grandfathers' Edwardian (Edward = Ted) finery.

    Much of my fashion sense is drawn from the (less well-known) Teddy girls in their wool blazers, crisp collars and capris, mens' boots and kitten heels. They made cameo broaches and elaborate updos and long skirts subversive decades before psychobilly co-opted traditionally "feminine" signifiers. They smoked cigarettes and swilled liquor, never wore hats and always carried canes or umbrellas.

    In short: AMAZING!

  5. Its a wise choice to invest in tailored, high quality pieces. I believe it makes life much less stressful when you can rely on your wardrobe to perform when you need it. Almost like a security blanket! A well tailored one at that ;)

  6. daily/weakly: so true! clothes that fit well changes your entire posture and carriage. which pieces did you get?

    PPP: it really is overwhelming, the differences between mens and women's clothing....yeah i think OB is really best on his own with his own label and design house. i love the way he wears color and texture, and integrates it into his collections.

    Tikkitiboo + Ahka Vintage: for many men wearing a sharp bespoke suit gives them a feeling of power nad confidence. i'm always tempted by jackets and blazers.

    Sam: i've never tried on the leather boots, but i guess it would depend on the weather in HK. if rainy damp weather would limit how much wear you'd get out of your suede Dickers, then you should go for the leather ones as they'd be more durable. i sprayed mine with a suede water repellent, but still wouldn't wear it in heavy rain.

    chrisbean: oooh thanks for reminding me about the Teddy boys/girls! i always find it so fascinating how the layers of social worlds reference each other and come up with something really unique...the US is just too young and lacking in history to rival the cultural references of England and elsewhere!

    chic_e: i agree - i hate taking long to get ready in the morning!

  7. very lovely post, and I will be checking out the related video. While I can totally appreciate the look of finely tailored clothes, I'm not much into tailored clothes myself. I know you're really referring to more than just menswear, but the whole menswear thing ... I always love the look and try it and find myself not feeling so great in those clothes. I mainly just wish that womenswear could be held up to the same standards of quality and craftsmanship as menswear while still offering us the styles and silhouettes that are uniquely designed for women.

  8. My feelings about tailoring has changed over the years - I used to feel it wasn't very me, it was too corporate, it was too stuffy and stifling. Little did I know that something well-tailored will give you room to move while looking sharp. It's inevitably some suits will date - different shoulders, lapels, length etc - but there's a middle-ground somwhere where something from the 40s or 50s can look so very now.

  9. on a business trip to singapore years ago, i got my first tailored piece, a silk jacket, and i was hooked. it fit like a glove and was like putting a second skin on every time - not constricting or uncomfortable, just me. it really taught me how to look for well-made, well-fitting garments- to look at inside seams and finishing, armholes, shoulders, etc. it's always worth it to me to invest in the best tailored pieces I can afford, i end up wearing them forever and feel confident and happy every time i wear them. (I walk taller and feel slimmer too!)

  10. S: i know what you mean! i don't really think there are any tradition-bound standards in the womenswear market. i mean you have people who can afford couture and luxury ready to wear, but luxury RTW's no guarantee of quality either. for everyone else it's wading through all the retail mark-ups to pick through and discern quality on a piece-by-piece basis.

    lin: i feel that a slim cut, fitted suit won't date in the same way as other riffs on the silhouette. it's amazing how structure that fits right makes all the difference, no? also, from what i've seen, a lot of people in corporate uniforms are wearing suits that don't fit properly :P

    c'est moi: exactly this! i think having clothes that fit right also subtly encourages one to stay healthy and in shape, and continue to fit into them! :)


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