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Bespoke blue voile shirt

23 May 2011

It was a pleasure having dinner with Will of A Suitable Wardrobe in San Francisco last week, if only for the wonderful food at Kokkari and Eleni, our lovely waitress. But perhaps most sartorially significant was that I picked up two metres of blue voile.

The cloth is that offered by Will on his online store: a fine cotton voile woven in France on 18th-century looms. The description of it as extremely lightweight but not transparent is accurate, fortunately for me as I am more likely to wear it without a jacket than many bespoke customers, certainly including Will.

It will be taken to Turnbull & Asser this week, where I have had all my shirts made for the past two years, and made up in a button-down, single-cuff bespoke shirt. I have never previously brought my own cloth to T&A, so this will be a new experience and one that could open up a new world of shirting possibilities.

T&A charges £120 to make up the shirt, which is pretty good value considering a standard bespoke shirt from them costs £200 and Will’s cloth set me back $110, or around £70.

It also allows me to expand beyond the range of cloths on offer at T&A, which is broad in some ways but limited in others. There is an impressive range of multicoloured stripes, many of them unique to T&A. But as 90% of my shirts are plain blue, I’m more interested in experimenting with cloths and weaves than I am with colours. Frankly, I find a strongly striped shirt limits too much what pattern and colour can be worn elsewhere.

(Though it should be said T&A recently began offering some cotton/cashmere blends, a blue version of which is also on order, despite it being entirely the wrong time of year. It is accompanied in that order by a blue hairline stripe – an illustration of the minimal texture I prefer.)

I’ll report back on the process and results.