Purpose, Style, and Fabrics

Making the right decisions for your bespoke jacket

Walking into a bespoke tailors to order your first bespoke jacket is an exciting time. It's a step into another world and one that gives years of pleasure.

However, it can also be a tricky and daunting process, with a few nerves thrown in too. There seems to be a never-ending selection of fabrics from all over the world with millions (or so it seems) of style choices that you may have never heard of, alongside questions on how, where, and why you are ordering a bespoke jacket.

Some people research a lot, read blogs, look on Instagram, and come to us armed with information and pictures.  Others pitch up with no fixed ideas and no set plan. Both approaches have their merits but somewhere in the middle is probably the sweet spot. The trick to research is to do enough to know what you like, but not too much that you feel constricted by it.

Our approach, formed through years of experience and habit, is to focus on these few things.

Tip 1 - Know Your Habits and Purpose

Focus on why the jacket is being purchased. Where will it be used and what will it be worn for? Is it for daily wear or is it for an event? What would you like to wear it with? And how can you make the jacket serve its purpose?

Making a bespoke jacket that works for you is absolutely key here. You want it to work for you and become that go-to jacket.

For example, I want a go-to jacket that I can wear most days and use around the workshop. I personally carry a lot of things with me... wallet, phone, keys, measuring tape etc, and have a habit of loading up my outside pockets with things as I dash out of the door. I also carry a pen and business cards everywhere I go. This isn't my only habit but let's just focus on one.

So, I want something that is easy to get items into, can be done in a rush, and retains the lines of the jacket as much as possible. So we start by considering flapped pockets, but I feel these a little fiddly when rushing about. I have a tendency to rush out of the door so often leave half the flap inside the pocket. We could remove the flap completely and have jetted pockets, but I'm heavy handed and put a lot in the pockets so there is a risk of sagging. Patch pockets have the advantage of not sagging, the ability to take a moderate amount of weight, and look great on a casual jacket, so we have a clear winner... patch it is.

Brisbane Moss - Casual Jacket

Brisbane Moss - Casual Jacket

However, I tend to favour large silk pocket squares and prefer a deeper breast pocket so that the pocket square can reach the bottom of the pocket. So we decline to place a patch on the outer breast welt and go with a welted pocket.

That's one example... but purpose influences everything, from fabric weight to patterns, to style and cut. You will see purpose pop up again and again throughout the process.

So, onto the next step.


Tip 2 - Combine Style with Purpose

Style is a combination of all the choices you make on the jacket. Some choices are for function and some are for style. Once you have decided which choices work best for your purpose and habits, you can then move forward with deciding how these fit in and influence your style choices.

Some style choices work better with others, and each choice influences another. For example, peak lapels always look best on formal outfits, therefore, their natural style partners are jetted pockets and silk covered buttons.

Following on from the above example in Tip 1, we can see how patch pockets affect the style. Patch pockets are considered casual and are most often used on country wear or Neapolitan style jackets. Therefore, depending on your style, it's best to go down one of these routes.

I decide I prefer a lighter suit and enjoy a soft tailored jacket, so decide to take my style influences from the Neapolitan style of jacket. This style of jacket is more commonly seen with a 3 roll 2 button front, soft "spalla camicia" shoulders, and shaped foreparts. All of which I like, and I'm happy to go with them. I also add 4 kissing buttons to the sleeve to add a little "spezzatura" and individual touch.

The "Spalla Camicia" shoulder - With its signature gathers around the sleeve head

The "Spalla Camicia" shoulder - With its signature gathers around the sleeve head

Again, this started with only one point of the jacket... the pockets, but you can see how this single choice can affect the other parts.

So, now your jacket is purposeful and stylish, and definitely unique... and we still have one more tip to go.


Tip 3 - Fabrics Make All The Difference

Arguably the biggest decision of the jacket is the fabric. It's a choice that will massively influence and affect the finished garment's feel, weight, and look. Walking into a tailors and seeing so many bunches and options can feel bewildering. But fear not, take your time as now you know your purpose and style. It makes the selection so much easier.

By all means, know what colours you prefer and feel free to come armed with photos, but don't worry about thread counts, weaves, or styles, we'll help and advise you on those. We know the bunches well and spend a lot of time selecting the best ones, so just let us know your purpose and what you like and we will help you whittle it down.

Going back to knowing its purpose is again key. Where and when will you wear the jacket most? How often are you looking to wear it and what is the climate?

Lighter fabrics (7-9 oz) and ones with higher super numbers* tend to feel softer and have more defined and detailed patterns, however, the higher the number the more delicate they become. Heavier fabrics (13-14 oz) are much more durable and make a cleaner looking garment, however, they are a little rougher and the patterns are less defined.

Colours are hugely important too. They are influenced by your skin tone, personality, preferences, and wardrobe.  We'll cover that in another post. So for now, just know the colours you like, and we will sort the rest ;-)

It's a game of compromise...

So finishing off with the example from tip 2. We have a soft tailored bespoke jacket, with patch pockets and Neapolitan influences. I want to wear the jacket all day and to have the ability to throw it on with almost anything. I have light skin, blue eyes, and wear a lot of navy and grey trousers and brown shoes.

Solbiati "Graffiti" fabric

Solbiati "Graffiti" fabric

We debate forest green (such a good colour) but decide that the better choice is a brown with some texture in the fabric. It will go with most of my wardrobe, be able to be worn semi-formally with grey flannel trousers, and more casually with navy chinos.    I make a note of the green fabric for future...

I want durability but also run a tad warm, so we plump for a mid-weight 12 oz fabric which gives a nice balance. It should be good for 10 months out of the year in all but the hottest months of July and August.

And I also want some texture. In a jacket I like depth and character... so we go for a wool and cotton blend in a biscuit brown puppy tooth from the excellent Graffiti Bunch by Solbiati.

I'm very happy.

Think of the above tips as fluid, with the ability to move around and influence each other. Style and fabric are definitely closely interlinked, but when in doubt, always come back to purpose... this is what will see you though and make the jacket last for years to come. All 2 of these tips could really be covered by their own posts, but the above gives you a great base and guide when ordering your bespoke jacket.


Thanks for reading... please like, share and comment.  

Scott & The Colmore Tailors Team

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Colmore Tailors are specialists in men's tailored suits, made-to-measure and bespoke.


*Super numbers relate to the thread count of a particular fabric as measured in microns. The higher the number, the finer the thread, and the more threads are packed in per inch. They usually start at Super 110's and go up in increments of 10's.