Do you find that shirts you buy often don’t fit in exactly the same way: sleeves are a bit long, extra fabric balloons around your waist or it fits perfectly everywhere but is impossible to do up the top button? Let’s face it, we’re all made differently and ready to wear clothing will either work for you or not. Chances are if you find a brand and cut of shirt that fits you you’ll stick to it. This used to mean Rugby Ralph Lauren’s Oxford Shirts for me, which I discovered fitted me perfectly (alas the sub-brand is no more). But I’ve also bought shirts knowing that they weren’t a perfect fit and had them re-tailored. Going a step further and having a shirt personally tailored to my specifications was a new step (aside from a few half-successful efforts while backpacking in Asia) for me. Personally tailored shirts manufactured here in the UK is a service being offered by Ede & Ravenscroft, London’s oldest tailor no less, so I decided to try them out.
Stepping into the wood-paneled interior of the Ede & Ravenscroft store on Chancery Lane with it’s air of establishment exclusivity (they also produce gowns for universities and wigs for the legal profession) I felt a tad out of place in my Raf Simons trainers but the team on the sales floor were so welcoming that I was soon caught up in the excitement of making choices for my shirt. And anyway with a bit more research I discover that Ede & Ravenscroft are a brand bringing the heritage of their brand up to speed with in-house designer Michael McGrath; SS15 features soft pastels, languid botanical prints and their LC:M presentation was styled by David St John-James, the Fashion Director of Port Magazine.
Back to my shirt: presented with an array of cotton options including poplin, fine 120’s, twill, Oxford and Sea Island I chose a luxurious Italian-produced cotton with a herringbone weave in a silvery grey. Real mother of pearl buttons, cuffs with rounded corners, a collar to suit my preference of (usually) not wearing a tie and a subtle monogram detail on the gusset, completed my choices, having been expertly guided through my personal consultation by specialist advisor Roy. A couple of refits later (I rather think I terrorised Roy with my insistence on making the shirt slimmer each time) and my shirt is a perfect fit and a pleasure to wear.
So what’s my reaction? Having a shirt personally tailored is definitely worth it if you’ve yet to discover the brand that fits you best. Even if you’ve had this good fortune, the freedom of choosing fabric, cuffs, buttons and collars might persuade you to invest in something made to your exact specifications for a special occasion or just for the sheer pleasure of having something that’s unique to you.