Photo by Salt Water New England

Friday, February 19, 2021

Do You Shop for Tailored Items Online, and if So, How?

 

This little late rally on shopping at O'Connell's sets up another great set of questions for Muffy's readers:

Do you shop for clothing online or at stores, or do you shop for some things online like shirts or sweaters but other things only at stores, such as tailored items? If you buy tailored items online, do you provide information for things like cuffs or do you buy online but have final alterations done by a local tailor (or are you able to cuff trousers and sew buttons yourself)?

 

19 comments:

  1. I've only done that once and it was when I was still in college. It wasn't on-line. It was mail order. That's how you did things then. I had made an inquiry from an advertisement, probably in some British magazine. They sent me a thick envelope full of fabric samples. They were located in Blackburn, Lancashire. At the time, they weren't too expensive, so I ordered three or four shirts. Apparently I did all the measurements correctly, because they all fit perfectly. They had stiff (Trubenized) collars, which is something I wanted. I still like collars like that. One of them was in Oxford cloth, another in nylon. My neck is a little larger now but no less stiff. I used to have a lot of trouble finding shirts in stores that fit but with on-line ordering, that's no longer a problem.

    I had previously had two suits made in Britain when I was in Germany in the army but that was all done in-person.

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  2. In stores if possible, but some items I just would rather order from certain venerable establishments in the U.K. Thanks very much!

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  3. Mostly online now. I don't have the patience to shop for clothes in stores and since I am pretty close to retirement age, I don't buy suits anymore, however I still do buy a few tailored jackets (from Walker Slater in Glasgow, but again only online). There aren't a lot of shops in Geneva that have a good selection of traditional clothing for women so I have been buying from trusted shops in the UK, Germany and Austria, for the most part.

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    1. " Traditional clothing for women" exactly my desire. Would you care to share some of your favorite shops? Thank you!

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    2. @Anonymous @1:50 pm, did you mean shops in Geneva? I regularly eschew shopping for clothes in my city as the style is typically what passes for European haute couture, and like everywhere else, increasingly more bling-y and trendy than I care for, really. The only boutique I care to go into about twice a year is Ernest Mayor on Rue de la Corraterie, which carries, among other things, beautifully made Trachten (traditional clothing in German-speaking countries) like Bavarian or Tyrolean jackets and dress shirts. It is quite limited though, and the shop is more known for selling hunting rifles and gear, and as I am more and more anti-hunting and anti-guns, I don't linger as long as I used to.
      If you meant 'where do I go online', there are a number of places in the UK that I like (they are either online purchases or I have personally been to them), such as Johnstons of Elgin, Walker & Slater in Glasgow, the Barbour shop in Edinburgh, Peregrine, Cordings (with thanks to this blog!), the Carrier Company in Norfolk, and the Iona Craft Shop on the Isle of Iona in the Hebrides. I am also a fan of Breton shirts ('marinières'), and since lockdown they have steadily become my 'uniform' of choice (worn underneath my Aran or Fair Isle cardi, or my ancient navy down vest), and I have acquired a number of them from places like Le Minor, Armor Lux, Orcival, Le Mont St Michel, and The Breton Shirt Company (this last one, a UK company, but they are well made and faithful to the way a marinière should be made, with a couple of them supplying the French navy). I also like The British Shop in Meckenheim, Germany. In Vienna, I go to Loden-Plankl for my Tyrolean boiled wool jackets.

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    3. Walker Slater is based in Edinburgh and opened the Glasgow store as a third outlet. The London store is now in Covent Garden, opposite the Masonic Temple. Alternatives to Cordings worth considering are Oliver Brown in Chelsea, Farlow's in Pall Mall and Ratcatcher in Yorkshire.

      For Breton clothing, I also recommend Saint James and Arpenteur but the latter can be expensive. The Bretagne Boutique is worth a look but I have not bought anything from it.

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    4. Wonderful, thank you for all of the information!

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    5. You are most welcome.
      @Ken, I usually stop by Walker Slater for fittings in Glasgow on my way to Iona every 2 years; otherwise it is an online purchase. Thank you for the tip about the Covent Garden shop. I am much more in Scotland and Manchester these days than London as the capital has become more frenetic (and when I did go, it's mostly for books at Daunts, and for regular visits to the Chelsea Physic Garden and Kew) with Covid, well, I would rather shop online now. Yes, I also love St. James but they don't ship to Switzerland, which is frustrating.

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  4. I've always had O'Connell's finish my trousers. They always come out just right. I wouldn't have anyone do anything to a suit. That requires some in-person skill.

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  5. Mercer & Sons and J. Press make online shirt purchases easy when it comes to my exact dimensions. For other items like suits or sports jackets and odd pants, new or vintage, I visit my local tailor for minor alterations to sleeve or inseam lengths. He has also done a good job with shortening on jacket about an inch and taking in or letting out jackets. I hadn't realized it before, but in the last ten years or so, I've gone over to online attire purchases almost entirely. Far easier and certainly more pleasant than braving any shopping mall for a whole host of reasons.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

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    1. Me too. I’m not sure what brick-and-mortar stores I would go to anyway besides J. Squeeze in NY. The only other places I buy stuff from are in South Carolina, Buffalo, and London. Mercer is of course online only.

      I think for online you need:

      (1) Loyalty to a small number of stores so you can get to know your size as it relates to their particular merchandise
      (2) A competent tailor
      (3) Acceptance of the fact that there will be some returns and exchanges

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  6. Most of my clothing purchases have moved to online. Many stores don't have much stock readily available. Every dress shirt I have purchased lately (at least 3-4 years) has been from one of the made-to-measure sites. The fit and quality are superior to off-the-shelf, in my opinion. It's notable that J. Press has incorporated made-to-measure shirts into their site. I still get all suits and blazers tailored in person. It's difficult to overstate how much more comfortable a good suit or jacket feels after a great tailor has altered it.

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  7. 100% online. I'm 5'9" so I need to buy tall sizes not stocked locally.

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  8. I order my dress shirts and button-downs via email from a tailor in Bangkok, made to measure. He does trunk shows in the U.S. and took my measurements at one of those years ago, and fortunately my dimensions haven't changed. I don't like the cut of his suits, so I get those from a tailor near me in Boston. Will probably try a different tailor when I move back to New York next year, as the current shop doesn't have the lining color I like. It'll be a while before I need new suits, anyway. The ones I have just avoided a whole year of wear, with no resumption date in sight.

    Ole Brumm, you're in Geneva? I lived in Chêne-Bougeries, 2017-19.

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    1. @John E., I live near the Parc des Bastions. I am one of the many international civil servants in the UN system of organisations.

      I love that you order your dress shirts from a proper tailor. There aren't that many options for women here unless I can find a modiste I trust who won't also necessarily cost you your monthly salary. As you are aware, Geneva is easily the most expensive city in Europe.

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  9. I will buy khakis, OCBDs, sweaters, shoes on lasts that I am familiar with, ties and most basics online or by phone(I call my favorite associate at a men's store like the old days). Tailored (off the rack, made-to-measure and bespoke jackets, suits and dress shirts) items are something that I buy in person and they may take more than one visit. The good news is that I no longer work in DC, so suits are now reserved for big meetings and funerals.

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  10. Living in Upstate New York one has to rely on trusted vendors you can access online. Proper Cloth is an excellent source for shirts and suits that are not a good as MTM but close. DannOnline and Ben Silver have good selection and extraordinary customer service.

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  11. I only buy tailored clothes from retailers or manufacturers that I know well, e.g. Cordings and Bladen. It's worthwhile checking the measurements, especially the chest, in the size guide before buying. My trousers are hemmed or cuffed by my local alterations tailor. He can also alter jackets and does a second fitting before cutting the cloth.

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  12. Having worn the same articles since the early 1960s I know my sizes for everything well enough that I order virtually everything online and have yet to need to return or exchange anything, including suits, odd jackets, and shoes. While Mercer shirts are lovely and offer wider choices, I love the unfused, unlined OCBDs from O'Connell's. They have the perfect roll and the voluminous fit I love. I used to use more sources, but now, other than O'Connell's, it is down to Bean for five pocket cords and denim and canvas shirts, Hunter & Coggins for Haspel suits and Berle pants, and, recently, Pendleton for a great deal on a Shetland sweater. Locally I'll wander into Orvis or REI, but it is usually only browsing. For in store shopping my go to stores are books, records, and wine/liquor stores, but I have recently begun buying more records online.

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