Show us your British suits

Discussion in 'Suits' started by avedwards, Jan 7, 2011.

  1. PeterB

    PeterB One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    Abu Dhabi
    GHT, you may be right. Austin Reed is not what it was, and Dunn disappeared, I think, though it was decent in the 80s. Keep in mind that (as far as I know), all the sellers you mention sold solid workmanship, perhaps slightly dull, but characteristically good English quality -- all the suits and jackets more or less the same look, just quality differentiated along with price. I don't think people want that, anymore. I was in Bath in the summer on holiday this year, and most of what was in the gents' outfitters looked like knock-offs from a fashion show. Next isn't really Hepworths' is it? I found that you can't get the kind of price-quality combination that firms like Burton used to offer. Nowadays, if it is cheap it is nasty.
     
  2. esteban68

    esteban68 Call Me a Cab

    Agreed Peter, skinny cut in cheap fabrics that don't drape well and branded accessories that aren't well made like composite ' leather ' belts or watch straps that only fit skinny youths wrists!
     
  3. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,753
    Location:
    New Forest
    It was Montague Burton who had the vision to open menswear shops where you could get measured up for a suit, which I, and many others like me, would do. The details were sent off to a factory, the suit would take about six weeks, but would come back, after a couple of weeks, tacked, for a fitting, to take this in or let that out. The others saw Burton's success and joined in. A suit back then cost around one and a half week's wages. (average wage)
    You are right Next couldn't hold a candle to Hepworths, that's why I use the term: 'morphed.' And you are right about cheap and nasty. When my brother-in-law passed away some years ago, I needed a suit, rather quickly, that was sombre and conservative for the funeral. I paid three hundred quid for such a suit, off the peg, at Debenhams. Apologies to my brother-in-law, but I'm almost ashamed of that suit. I have had to go to a few more funerals since, it's the only time that whistle sees the light of day.
     
  4. Dirk Wainscotting

    Dirk Wainscotting A-List Customer

    Messages:
    355
    Location:
    Irgendwo
    'Factory' needs to be put into perspective though. At least up to the 1960s these places were factories only in the sense of scale. They contained actual skilled cutters and tailors and very skilled seamstresses. A lot of these were cutters and tailors who went there because they could earn more than in the bespoke trade, with better job security.

    You should have gone to M&S. Their OTP suits are rather good for the money
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
    esteban68 likes this.
  5. PeterB

    PeterB One of the Regulars

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    174
    Location:
    Abu Dhabi
    This is really interesting, what you fellows write. I had often thought that the Burtons factory was more than just a production line. What I am surprised to hear is that they actually ran up a draft for a fitting. I thought they came back already made up. Sadly, I never had the chance to buy a Burtons suit. By the time I was living in London, in the late 80s, Burtons was a kind of Top Shop, at least that is how I remember them. One and a half weeks' wages, on average, would have been a fair amount. To have that same level of service and quality today one would need to pay about GBP 800 to 1,000. I am not sure of what average wages are today in the UK, so I don't know if, when one accounts for inflation, they would be more expensive today than they were, in terms of purchasing power equivalent.

    Dirk, thanks for sharing that about your grandparents. I imagine that the craftsmen and craftswomen who worked for Burtons took a great deal of pride in their work.
     
  6. esteban68

    esteban68 Call Me a Cab

    £23'000per annum ...I'll let you work out the weekly rate!
     
  7. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,753
    Location:
    New Forest
    Twenty three grand is about £460 @ week. Add 50% = £690. That's about right on the button. I paid Rocacha between £650 & £750 for the three suits that he has made me. The price variation comes from whether there's a waistcoat or not.
     
  8. herringbonekid

    herringbonekid I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,022
    Location:
    East Sussex, England
    2 Burton DBs i sold recently. the brown one is dated 1953. the blue on is CC41 labelled.

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  9. Patrick Hall

    Patrick Hall Practically Family

    Messages:
    541
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Really like the alternating stripes on brown.
     
  10. Mean Eyed Matt

    Mean Eyed Matt A-List Customer

    Messages:
    432
    Location:
    Germany
    I like the brown one too. These stripes are really nice, but I do love the buttons on that one!
     
  11. Fastuni

    Fastuni Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,225
    Location:
    Germany
    My new favorite suit (and go-to suit for office/town) is this conservative British 1950's beauty.
    It has all the hallmarks of late-30's and 40's tailoring (wide straight legs, nipped waist and broad shoulders).
    Unusually for British tailoring it has the bunny-ear suspender straps, typically found on German suits.
    The condition is marvellous and the tailoring and handcrafted details impeccable.
    It would be even better with a matching waistcoat, but I don't complain.

    A nice feature is the enormous lower interior pocket .

    The black bowled corozo buttons are German and were added by me, as I prefer their look to the blueish flat, plasticy British buttons (sorry gentlemen).

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  12. GBR

    GBR One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    288
    Location:
    UK
    The large inner pocket is reminiscent of a 'poachers pocket' but this is certainly not the sort of suit that would be worn to the guns - legally or otherwise! Odd that someone should have something of that size to carry in the City.
     
  13. GBR

    GBR One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    288
    Location:
    UK
    Does it feature detailing which Americans would expect and which were not commonplace for RTW suits in the UK market at the time - two in-breast pockets, two back pockets etc?
     
  14. Fastuni

    Fastuni Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,225
    Location:
    Germany
    It is tailor-made and has the typical features of British tailoring: one interior chest pocket, one trouser rear pocket.
    I assume the large interior extra pocket was for documents or maybe a bag of tobacco.
     
  15. Jim C

    Jim C New in Town

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Essex UK
    I was lucky enough to find this suit in a charity shop last week. It was made by Max Cohen Ltd., a tailor's in Aldgate High Street, London.
    I'm guessing by the narrow lapels and cuffless 8 and a half inch trouser bottoms it dates from the late 50s/early 60s? Apart from a missing pocket button it's in excellent condition. What's even better is that it was only £5 and fits me perfectly!
    Maybe some of the more knowledgeable people on here could tell me when button flies and brace buttons generally went out of fashion? Or maybe they never did?
     

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  16. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,753
    Location:
    New Forest
    Dear, oh dear, Max made me at least three suits, and because memory can play tricks on the mind, I googled Max's tailor's shop, only to find that it's now a Subway.
    Narrow lapels were very popular in the early sixties through to about '68. The Beatles wore a 'uniform' of a lapel-less suit, circa 1963. It was copied by many, but not that many that it took off in a big way. The preferred style was the slim lapel, with the suit being a solid colour, rather than check, herringbone or tartan. I remember bottle green was a great favourite. All my suits of that era, that is, when I bought them, had zipper flies, it didn't even cause me to think that buttons were an alternative. As for buttons for braces/suspenders, certainly not during the early sixties and onwards. Fashion conscious men of that era were very proud of their slim, triangular shape. No need to support pants if they fitted comfortably on a waist of 28" or less. For the sake of bravado, I was a 26" waist in 1964. 50 odd years later I would be proud to boast that 36" waist was mine. Not so I'm afraid. Out of curiosity, are you from the London part of Essex? I lived most of my life in Seven Kings, then later in nearby Wanstead, which of course was London E11.
     
    Jim C likes this.
  17. Dirk Wainscotting

    Dirk Wainscotting A-List Customer

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    355
    Location:
    Irgendwo
    The 'collarless' Beatles suits were by Pierre Cardin (before he became a mere name on a Walmart Pen and every pair of cheap socks). It was copied rather widely throughout the sixties.
     
  18. Jim C

    Jim C New in Town

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Essex UK
    I'm originally from Harlow 'New Town' (where I found the suit) which was initially populated by Londoners. My mum moved there from Forest Gate in the late 50's.
    I've done a little bit of research on Max's shop and it seems it was there from around 1949 until the mid-80s.
     
  19. Dirk Wainscotting

    Dirk Wainscotting A-List Customer

    Messages:
    355
    Location:
    Irgendwo
    The suit is 1950s, or at least employs a cut and shaping of the fore-parts that reflects the 40s/1950s which a tailor of that period would obviously still use into the sixties (many tailors hate the changes of fashion). The narrowing of lapels would have been a customer concession if it was made in the late 50s or early 60s.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016
    Jim C likes this.
  20. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,753
    Location:
    New Forest
    True, it was copied, but the style never became anywhere near as tab collared shirts or paisley fabric shirts. Nor did it ever replace, match or even hold a candle to the slim lapel suit of the sixties.
    One of The Sixties bands, I really can't remember which, might have been The Searchers, had suits made with three vents at the back. Traditionally, you had a centre vent, or two side vents, or none at all. I remember those that copied the three vent style. How they wasted their money, the three vents looked like someone had got hold of the jacket and ripped it into shreds at the back.
     

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