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Tailor-Made Elegance > Sur Mesure January 19, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Fashion & Style, Shopping.
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It is the end of the 18th century during Edward’s III reign in England. A rebellious youth, George Brummel, wants to resist the uniformity and standardization introduced by the industrial revolution that has changed the habits of the aristocracy. He becomes leader of the Dandy movement, which considers that a gentlemen’s best friend is tailor. Beau Brummel, as he was called in the history of men’s fashion, inspired many men of his time around the world, and insisted on having the perfect, tailor-made suit.

Besides the aesthetic superiority of a tailor-made suit or sewn as it is referred to by Greek professionals of the trade, there are many practical advantages that make a man choose a more complicated process rather than prêt-à-porter. The patterns of a ready-made garment are cut based on the measurements of a dummy and constructed based on statistics, not a real man. Very few men, however, have average measurements or the perfect proportions. One arm might be slightly shorter than the other, the right shoulder might be wider than the left, the chest narrower, the waist not as slim and the pants are usually a different size than the top. The made to measure suit provides a solution for all of these anatomical disproportions. Everything can be adjusted. The tailor made suit is what the French call “seconde peau” or second skin and, by definition, fits perfectly.

Many men, especially young men, resist the idea of a suit that clings to their physique in such detail, preferring a more relaxed fit that takes them through the day, from work in the morning to an evening out, without changing clothes. However, it’s not necessary to hold your breath in a tailor-made suit. A tailor’s creation may be true to a respected tradition lasting for decades but, at the same time, may also evolve taking into account the conditions of modern life. In this way, the suit has the possibility to include modern, practical lines using easy-to-wear, flexible fabrics. And, don’t forget, tailor-made is a suit you select for yourself and make as you like.

The process is simple. First, a person has to choose his tailor, usually on the advice of a friend he trusts for his taste and style. The good tailor is not promoted through extravagant advertising but by word of mouth. It is very important that from the beginning you choose a tailor who is committed to helping you make the suit of your dreams because, as they say in Greek, «you marry your tailor». It is very difficult to change and, usually, impossible to return to prêt-à-porter once you have experienced the «good taste» of sur mesure.

On the first visit you will be «measured» to see what kind of man you are. Not with a measuring tape. No rush. That will eventually happen, but, initially, your tailor will want to learn a few things about your character, your profession, social life, so he can decide which suit is more comfortable for you. Then he will measure your chest, your waist, the length of your arms and if he discovers an irregularity in proportions, or you tell him, he will find a way to camouflage it with the right pattern. If you are happy with the results, the same pattern will be used for your next order, with the assumption you haven’t dramatically gained weight.

You will need to answer the following questions the tailor will ask you, basing your answers on what you exactly want. «How many buttons would you like on the jacket? Would you prefer double-breasted? How would you like the back? What shape and size should the collar be? What color lining? Buttons or zipper on trousers? Any pleats? Will there be a breast pocket on the jacket? Will you wear it as a suit or use the jacket as a blazer with jeans, as well?» Don’t be in a hurry to answer. Details make the suit personal. Perhaps, you’ll need a fitting before delivery, but final touches are done at the final fitting when you approve your suit.

In Athens, you won’t find the centuries-old tradition and accumulated expertise on a bespoke suit that you will find in London’s Savile Row. What you will find, however, are creative tailors with passion and love of their «art», such as Mr. Kourlas, near Syntagma Square, who is loyally recommended by all elegant gentlemen. For hours, he stands above his table working with a pattern to find the golden mean to accentuate his client’s proportions. Austere in his work, but communicative and well disposed in personal moments, he is someone a client can work with for the perfect suit.

In Greece, you can also find Italian designers, including Kiton and Ermenegildo Zegna. We spoke with Mikele Potso, head tailor of the House of Ermenegildo Zegna, who gave us advice on how to choose among the 450 available fabrics and patterns. «We specialize», he says, «in style consultancy, to be able to recommend a total look and outfits for every type of man. More than 450 coordinates make your life easier, not complicate it». What fabrics would he recommend for the warmer Mediterranean climate? «There is a demand for lighter fabrics, therefore, you fill find many of these even in our winter collection. You should know that wool breathes more than any other fabric, even cotton, which makes it ideal for the warm climate of Greece and my country, Italy». How can you tell if a suit is sur mesure at first glance? «From the buttonholes on the jacket sleeves; they should be real, as opposed to those on ready made jackets are decorative. Sur mesure garments must be worn with the last button on the sleeve unbuttoned, to indicate superiority».

A new arrival in the world of tailor-made suits is the Glou Premium Store in Piraeus. An original idea by the Glou brothers, it is housed in a beautiful neoclassical building (1894), designed by Ernest Schiller, renowned architect of the era. The gentlemen experience is complete with barber shop, cava with a wide selection of spirits and wines, cigar room, café and delicatessen.

There you have it! About a month later, delivery differs from tailor to tailor, you will enjoy your tailor-made suit. According to a traditional saying, «there are two kinds of gentlemen: those whose father takes them to a tailor when they are in their teens, and those who discover sur mesure for themselves and appreciate its superiority». There is no other kind of gentleman.

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