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Malcolm Levene

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The Intuitive Tailor

Posted: 09/02/2010 8:39 pm

This blog was inspired by a friend who asked me to help him to purchase a suit. Clothes, fabric, style and design are attached to my DNA, so to speak. The kind of DNA I'm referring to is Design, Nuance and Attractiveness. These three characteristics are what make any clothing item truly desirable. In addition, they can affect how the wearer feels in an item of clothing.

When I was a lad I used to visit my father's tailoring shop every Sunday, which was located smack in the middle of Brick Lane, east London. In those days the street was the epicentre of London Jewry. It was littered with kosher butchers, fabric emporiums, bakeries and a Yiddish theatre. Dad's shop, "Russell Sinclair," named after my middle name and his partner's son's middle name, struck a distinctive note where the shop front awnings were occupied by Rosenberg, Levy, Shmulovitch and Bernstein.

Dad instinctively knew how to design a pair of trousers that would look great and as importantly, felt great to wear. He intuitively knew how to cut a precise pattern for them and did so with flair and apparent ease. Many years ago I recall walking along Kings Road, Chelsea, wearing a pair of green gabardine bell bottoms my father made for me. Strangers approached me, asking where I had purchased my trousers. They were that good. Had it not been for the choice of fabric, the cut and fit, they would have been just another pair of ordinary trousers. Whenever I wore them I felt confident, stylish and as if I was just a little special. That's how well designed clothes can make you feel. They can lift your spirits and buoy your self confidence.

Nuance is not something on which our current culture seems to focus, particularly when it comes to fashion and clothing design. However, nuance is critical in any design that is likely to have longevity, be that a building or a suit. One of the dictionary's synonyms for nuance is "refinement", a perfect description for the kind of attire I'm referring to. And when one wears clothes that are refined, that's exactly how we feel - refined. Furthermore, when we act and communicate in a refined fashion, the combination of that inner and outer refinement is a winning formula; it also promotes feelings of greater self esteem.

In order for anything to have the word attractiveness attributed to it, it must have eye appeal which is produced primarily by visual stimuli. This is often prompted by a gut feeling - you see something and for reasons you can't explain, you are drawn to it. On the day I helped my friend to buy a suit my eye was taken by a single sleeve that hung in the middle of about a dozen others. The way the fabric of the sleeve almost glistened, its iridescence, drew me to it. The sleeve draped softly the way quality fabrics tend to, that's when I knew that my friend would look great in it and feel great wearing it. And as soon as he tried the jacket on and felt the soft fabric slip over his shoulders, he smiled. When he looked at the jacket in the mirror, his smile widened, he stood straighter, held his head higher and we both knew he'd found his suit. It was as if the DNA of the suit matched his DNA.

Here's how you can find a good DNA match:

Design:

  • Look for simplicity. Less is more.
  • Avoid additional design features, such as zips that don't work or additional buttons that have no practical use.
  • If you don't feel you have an eye for clothes design, find something else that resonates with you visually and use those elements to inform your clothing choices.

Nuance:

  • If any clothing item you try on says more about the clothing than about you, think again.
  • If you decide to enlist the help of a Personal Shopper, be sure she or he feels, looks and sounds right for you.
  • If the item looks as though it's of the moment or trendy, know that it won't have longevity.

Attractiveness:

  • If you feel as though you are more attractive when you try on a new clothing item, it's an indication that you are making a good choice.
  • When your eye is almost magnetically drawn to something, acknowledge that and investigate further.
  • Be open to new visual experiences, which at first may seem different, yet are likely to widen your ideas about what you find visually attractive.

 

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