Monday, 22 August 2011
Two ways to get shirts altered: T&A, Emma Willis
I used to wear bigger watches. Chunky, sporty things with chronometer dials and a leather strap. So when my pattern was first cut at Turnbull & Asser the cuffs were set quite wide – though slightly wider on the left than the right, of course.
That has since changed. My taste has become more reserved in many ways, of which that is just one (a faded love of Etro patterns is another). I now wear one, much slimmer watch. So my cuffs do not need to be so wide; all shirts made since the switch have been ⅝ of an inch smaller. But there were still four shirts in the wardrobe with the old width.
It was a pleasant surprise to be told, therefore, that T&A would add an extra button on the cuff so I could fasten them a little tighter. For free, while I waited. Perhaps this shouldn’t have been a surprise. After all, any good bespoke tailor will press your suit reasonably regularly and deal with small aspects of wear and tear. But such is the lack of service anywhere else in retail, that these things often catch one unawares.
And there was another suprise two days later. I have a lovely Sea Island cotton shirt from Emma Willis, made for me a couple of years ago in gratitude for a piece in the Financial Times. But while the cloth is gorgeous, the arms have always been half an inch too short. Which, when you want a half inch of cuff showing at the end of your jacket sleeve, might as well be half a yard.
Laziness, and an assumption that nothing could probably be done, left the problem unaddressed and the shirt neglected in the back of the wardrobe. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover that most bespoke shirts leave ½ to ¾ of an inch of inlay within the (double) cuff. Surprise here was probably justified – after all, one of the frustrations of a shirt as compared to a suit is that it can never be let out, only taken in. (You can add panels down the sides, but they look awful.) The shirt has been sent away and will be back in mid-September, when every factory in England and Europe wakes up again after the summer.
A most satisfying week.