Arbiter of Taste

Jack Simpson, Dormeuil

"I would be very comfortable hosting a dinner party in this," Jack Simpson says, pointing to a one-button Shetland wool blazer in a color he calls Bishop's Purple. And I believe him, for Simpson is quite comfortable in the suit he has on in Harvest Gold (a deep, rich yellow to my eyes). We have just come back from lunch, and as we cross 67th Street I watch that suit evoke the sort of double take from a New York City bus driver that is usually reserved for curvy women in sundresses.

What's interesting, though, is that Simpson has made that suit plausible to me—although I'm not ready to wear it. What I am ready to do, having spent two hours with him, is take a giddy plunge into the rich layering of pattern and color that is the hallmark of the Jack Simpson style, one that he has brought to Dormeuil as the company's new president and design director.

What Simpson has done at Dormeuil is set up a complete personal tailoring service. You aren't buying a suit,you're buying into a style of dressing. It's a style that is gentlemanly but also quietly masculine, that loves sartorial complexity ("What we've found," says Simpson, "is that patterns are best complemented by other patterns") but can also transform a navy-blue suit just by adding a white vest.

The process starts out with a wardrobe evaluation. Simpson comes to your house, looks in your closet—"Usually I find six versions of the same suit and two garish coats that are never worn"—and asks a lot of questions. The goal is to get you out of your gray-pinstripe rut by establishing a sartorial baseline, then seeing how far you're willing to go in which directions.

What follows is the usual custom-suit process—measurements and two fittings. The suits are more English than Italian in inspiration: Shoulders are softly roped, lightly padded, and slightly extended to maximize contrast with the waist, which is slightly suppressed. At the same time Simpson starts accessorizing custom-made shirts and matching ties so that you end up with perhaps three suits but 30 outfits. Plus, Simpson lays out and photographs each combination, then sends you the developed prints so that on that morning when you're running late, you don't have to default to a white shirt and repp tie. And no one has to know that you dressed by number.

The House of Dormeuil, 21 East 67th Street, New York, NY 10021; 212-396-8888; fax 212-396-9999.