Questions for a Bespoke Expert
Vital questions for the sartorially inclined.
The Two- vs. Three-Button Debate
Ah, the great jacket debate! Let me run down the most commonly argued topics. First, two or three buttons: The style right now is two-button, but I think a three-button version is more in proportion. The balance of the garment is just more handsome. You don’t button the top one, and it hits the waist beautifully. A two-button garment certainly can do so as well, but I think proportionally a jacket is more elegant with a three-button front.
Now we come to double- versus single-breasted: I like both. I might recommend double-breasted, only because it settles the whole argument about two buttons or three buttons on a single-breasted jacket.
Jacket pockets: slanted or straight? Both are stylistically viable. I like a slanted pocket because it creates a bit more tension. It also brings up a little more of an issue for the bespoke tailor because he has to match the pattern, and that’s a hallmark of a truly beautiful handmade garment. But too much tension isn’t good. For example, a flat-bottom vest shouldn’t have a slanted pocket on it because that creates uncomfortable tension with the horizon, which is the bottom of the vest. The real mark of a casual jacket is a patch pocket outside the garment.
Can I send my custom shirts to the dry cleaner?
Shirts should be laundered, not dry-cleaned. The Upper East Side’s Hallak (1232 Second Ave.; 212-832-0750) is one of the best cleaners I’ve come across. For what it’s worth, Grand Hotel in Milan also does a great shirt. But the truth is, at home I use Tide! I gentle cycle in the machine, washing whites in warm water and colors in cold water—I never put them in the dryer. As for suits, most good bespoke tailors will clean the suit for as long as you own it (dry-cleaning breaks down the fabric). Instead, you should spot-clean it: Sponge it, then brush it with boar’s-bristle brushes by Kent (from $15; kentbrushes.com) every time you wear it. The real monster is pressing. A bespoke garment is three-dimensional. To press a suit flat is criminal. Tailors may charge you for it, but it actually takes two hours to properly press a suit, and it’s worth it.