Friday, 25 March 2011
Prince of Wales at Henry Poole: Part 3
The next stage in my Henry Poole double-breasted suit is the cutting (previous post, measuring, here), being done here by cutter Craig Featherstone. Henry Poole characterises itself as a house that tries to achieve ‘balance’ in the cut of a jacket. But what does that mean?
Well, as an example, the width of the lapel is usually around half the distance from the collar to the shoulder. In my case that meant a width of 3⅝ inches. That’s a little above what I would usually have, which is 3½, but a little less than the full-bellied DB lapels that I have from Anderson & Sheppard.
Simon Cundey says that this striving for balance is influenced by long-term trends, but tends to temper them. So when lapels were five inches wide in the 1970s, Poole’s were 4½; when they were 2½ inches in the 1960s, Poole’s were three.
The gorge on a Poole suit tends to be cut quite high – noticeable when you consider the width of the lapel. On a double-breasted suit like this one, that means having the points as high as possible without lifting off the cloth when worn. A look where the point lifts away is favoured by old stylists like Chittleborough & Morgan, as it accentuates the breadth of the shoulder and a waspish waist. But traditionalists like Poole and Andersons tend to consider it messy. The Poole cut still adds plenty of height and breadth, however, particularly as the waist tends to be cut a little higher in order to find the absolute slimmest point on a man.
Simon calls this style of DB a 2 plus 1. I call it a 6 by 4. Others prefer 4 plus 2. Even Simon and his father Angus Cundey disagree over the correct terminology. Whatever you want to call it, the jacket has six buttons on it, of which four appear to fasten. It is the standard choice, but Simon particularly prefers it for the dual benefits of breadth through the angled top buttons, and height due to the vertical lines of three.
Craig subscribes to the Poole view on balance, but says he tends to cut things like the lapel by eye rather than considering exact measurements of width across the shoulder. He also likes, as you can see, to keep a photo of the customer tucked amidst the paper patterns. Given the number of times a tailor has pretended to recognise me and had later to admit his pretence, I can only recommend it.
Next: coat making