I must be out of my mind.
I’ve seen a few Tom Ford suits around which made me curious. We’ve seen them on celebrities, whom I assume had been fitted by people who knew what they were doing. But then I started seeing them on “regular” people and the shape had me intrigued. I noticed a shape and a cleanliness to the chest that I’m not used to seeing in RTW. IN fact, a degree of shaping in the whole garment that I’m not used to seeing in RTW. I was in Milan a few weeks ago so I stopped in to the shop there are tried some stuff on. First I tried their Base A, which is quite fitted, but I was told it was the larger of the two basic fits. ORLY? Then they showed me the Base B which, if you’re not built like Cristiano Ronaldo, you can just forget. But then, if you are built like Ronaldo, I don’t know of another suit being offered off-the-rack which is shaped quite like this.
Some people like their tailoring to look a little rumpled. I prefer mine to look clean. I like Brioni because it is a clean garment. Others prefer Kiton because it looks a little soft, a little easy. Well, these garments definitely fall into the clean category. Very clean. Made by the Zegna Couture factory, whose work we examined in a previous post there are some similarities and some differences. And for those who think that TF is just rebranded mainline Zegna, you are quite wrong. I see nothing inspiring in mainline Zegna. I was, however, moved to want to get my hands on one of these TF suits to have a better look.
A SF poster announced that there were some TF suits at Century 21 so I asked him to give me a call if he went back to the store. Which he promptly did. His instructions were this- get me a suit in a check so I can study how they shape it. Got it. And he did. So there I was Paypaling far more money than I had ever imagined I would spend on something I was about to tear apart and I wondered if maybe this habit of mine was getting out of hand. Oh well. So a few days later a parcel came, and then out came the scissors. And thanks to Angelicboris for making the trip to C21.
Before I started cutting, I wanted to get the draft down. I measured the check in the cloth and then drew a grid on paper in the same dimensions. Panel by panel I used the grid to reproduce the pattern pieces as they were before sewing; if I were merely to measure the dimensions of the seams and the panels, I would not get an accurate representation because of the stretching and shrinking going on during the shaping of the garment. By getting an accurate draft down, I can then measure seams and compare them to the paper- the shoulder seam, for example, measured 6 5/8″ on paper but the garment was 7″, telling me that they stretched the shoulder 3/8″ to hinge it forward. Stuff like that. Do I hear snoring? Sorry.
The cloth is a fantastic wool/cashmere blend which has the stoutness of an English cloth and the refined finish of an Italian cloth. I would be happy to spend my life sewing cloth like this.
Some of the cosmetics that stand out.
These “milanese” buttonholes baffle me. They are worked, by hand, around a length of gimp with no visible knot on top. A real work of art which I haven’t the first clue how to reproduce. Next time I am in Italy I will find someone to teach me. Unless someone reading would care to enlighten me?
The barchetta breast pocket is not only curved and blunted, as in the southern Italian style, but the corner is rounded right off.
It is also distinctly Italian, the only such detail in a garment which otherwise looks very much inspired by Savile Row.
The undercollar is made from self-cloth, and has been felled and finished by hand.
And this kind of waistband finishing is very reminiscent of Savile Row tailoring
The shoulder on a TF is usually pretty imposing so I was surprised to find a very thin amount of wadding in the sleeve and a pad which is not very thick.
No surprises here- pad stitching by automated machine.
Then I got into the coat front itself- the layers of canvas down the front and in the chest and shoulder. It’s a rather complex configuration which I will get into more detail about later. Of particular interest, though, was that the main haircloth piece extends right down to the waist level, and a second piece stops four inches above, with a rather deep chest dart. This is what is giving the polished-marble appearance to the chest. A number of other pieces of different types of canvas are staggered through the chest and shoulder and are going to require further study. Another point of interest to tailors is that the haircloth is trimmed out of the seam allowance in the top 4 or 5 inches of the shoulder so rather than supporting the rope, it is soft and collapses a little. The whole top of the sleeve, though clean, is very soft to the touch.
My one quibble about this suit is that despite all the work that went into it, and despite the magnificent hand-made buttonhole on the lapel, the buttonholes on the front are done by machine! Not saying that machine buttonholes are bad, but it’s just so in comprehensible when the one on the lapel is so lovely! And Zegna Couture makes one of the nicest hand-made buttonholes on the RTW market on their own production so why not on the TF? I think everyone else at this price point has hand-made buttonholes so why these machine-made ones? I remember hearing something about problems with capacity- they didn’t have enough skilled people to make enough buttonholes, but come on. Train them. Go get a few in the south, where they are all over the place. I don’t know. Anything other than these machine-made ones!
What is it about buttonholes that makes me hyperventilate?
Tom Ford’s styling is not for everyone. His fit even less so. But if you like the bold styling, are looking for a suit with gobs of shaping (and are slim enough to fit into it) without going bespoke, there is nothing else, that I know of, on the market like it so go try one on. But be prepared. They are not cheap.
I just noticed this is post number 100. Cool.
I am reposting a comment left in the comments section:
I could not tell from the photo, but I have a question about the trousers. I am a theatrical tailor, and worked on an opera Tom Ford designed a year or so ago. One detail he had us do is to bring the side seam forward on the back part, into what would be the pocket facing on a slightly slanted pocket. At the hip, the side seam would appear below the pocket, but would be flat through the pocket. He claimed it made a better line when sitting around that part of the hip. Did you notice this on his trousers in the store, or do other makers use this detail as well?
Well, as a matter of fact, I did notice this, and my first thought about it was that it was, indeed a way to get the pocket to lie more flat, but I thought it was more to do with standing than sitting. You can see a pronounced forward slant here
This is not to say that the theory actually works.
The shoulder seam is also slanted backward, like A&S and many Neapolitan tailors do. My (partially unsubstantiated) opinion is that this does not, actually, help, and I do feel some pressure on the shoulder points when wearing the coat, however I can not definitively state that this pressure is due to the slant of the shoulder seam and not some other element.
But back to the trousers. It is an intriguing idea, one which has the consequence of skewing the plaid matching toward the top, but if it works,I would be willing to forgive it. I’m not sure if anybody else does this, though I saw a few trousers in Italy which make me suspect that they are not alone, but I did not look close enough to say for sure. I will definitely be paying more attention in the future; anyone with pictures of the side seam on checked trousers from Mabitex or Incotex would be kind to point them out.