Monday, January 12, 2009
Tailor Made Lessons
It seems like ages ago that I bought a few pair of pants at the Bill’s Khakis factory seconds sale. And I’ve been sitting on two pair of sweet thrift shop finds for an equally long while. I needed to have the pants hemmed and a pair of sport coats and ties pressed and dry cleaned before I could officially work them into the new wardrobe.
On the way to work, both bike and drive, is Mt. Penn’s The Modern Tailor. I’d never noticed it before I started this experiment, despite the large neon sign and the fact that I’d passed it several hundred times. I liked the idea of staying local and was looking forward to the opportunity for a new gentlemanly experience more than anything.
Although he calls his business the Modern Tailor. This guy is 100% old school. He’s a stout Italian character named Felix. In each of my three interfaces with him, he never missed an opportunity to complain about his multitude of physical ailments and he was always wearing shorts with suspenders, in the middle of winter by the way.
I wasn’t entirely pleased with the overall experience. It cost a little more than I had hoped, took a little longer than I imagined and the final result was unspectacular. But he did clean the ties for free and I learned a few lessons about going to the tailor that I believe will prove to be worth every penny paid.
1. Trust the tailor’s recommendations. - He asked if I wanted cuffs, as if it were a given. I balked and I regret it. From now on my tailored pants will be cuffed.
2. Tailoring is serious business. - Go strong or go to TJ Maxx. If your going to have something made or altered, you better be willing to drop major coin and be patient. Tailored clothing is the opposite of casual on many levels.
3. Fit is foremost. - As a recovering shlub, it seemed like a big enough step to start caring about what kind of clothes I wore. Trying them on before buying them was not a natural instinct. Furthermore, it’s been a total revelation to discover the importance of how something hangs, sits, and creases. It’s something of a Pandora’s box. The more I pay attention to men’s fashion, the more I understand that a proper cut has a lot more to do with how good clothing looks than color, texture, or even style. The shop was cluttered with all variety of ugly clothing. But when I started to notice similar items on old men about town, if it fits right, almost anything works. Plaid pants here I come.
Right now I have at least two sport coats I need cleaned and another pair of pants to have altered. I’m still weighing my options. My father-in-law knows a guy that used to be a big time tailor who since retired and does a little out of his house. I’m interested in checking out a different dude as well as comparing them both to a chain dry cleaner, for perspective. Down the road, I’d like to get a shirt custom made and eventually a whole suit. But I’ll probably have to do some saving up as well as a load more research. One thing’s for sure, now that I have a better grasp on the whole picture, I’m going to be taking a much more deliberate approach to attaining new clothing. Which is what I was hoping for all along.