London’s Saville Row is the home of men’s tailoring, where made-to-measure suits and shirts are seamed and stitched on site. Your choice of material is key: a beautiful Scottish wool suit is ideal for cold weather, while modern, lightweight linen is on trend and perfect for warm seasons. Among the Saville Row innovations of the past decades is the Dinner Jacket, or tuxedo as it is known in America. The story goes that in 1865, the Prince of Wales wanted to have a more casual costume to wear for dinner than white tie at Sandringham—his stately home in Norfolk. Thus the oldest tailors in Saville Row, Henry Poole & Co, trimmed the tails and presented him with the dinner jacket. It is said that an American guest was staying at Sandringham and returned to the US with a copy that he wore to the Tuxedo Club, hence the two names. Take this advice from London’s most well-suited men: buy two sets of trousers, as they get more wear than a jacket.
Fresh from having a retrospective of his work displayed at The Design Museum, Sir Paul Smith is an iconic British designer who mixes high quality tailoring with colors and humor. He’s been in business for more than 40 years, and if you can’t afford a £500-1,000 suit, then Smith’s accessories are modern classics, too.
Henry Poole & Co.
The tailor’s archives show that Henry Poole & Co have dressed men as diverse as Emperor Napoleon III, Charles Dickens, William Randolph Hearst, and King Alfonso of Spain. Here, the Dolce & Gabbana model David Gandy spends £3,000 a piece on bespoke driving suits and then hops into one of his vintage cars. Who knew there was such a thing?
Now with seventy-seven stores in sixteen countries, Hackett has established itself as a definitive menswear brand. Fabrics are fantastic quality and the narrow-cut, ever-popular Classic Chelsea suit comprises 50 percent wool and 50 percent linen. Most of the suits are single breasted, feature a sophisticated gray, blue, and black palate, and range in price from £500 to £1,000.
Ozwald Boateng, Officer of the Order of the British Empire, is very well regarded in the industry. He is reputed for having put fire in the belly of the British tailoring business with his standout designs, recognizable by their fierce colors and bold patterns; including traditional Ghanian wax prints. His cheapest suit costs £1,000, but customers ready to splurge can seek out the rock star designer for bespoke tailoring.
Design duo Thom Whiddet and Luke Sweeney have gone from traditional tailoring to off-the-peg men’s clothing this year. They say that the most important aspect of a suit is the cloth (deconstructed linen; charcoal mohair) and suits begin at a steep £1,275 for ready to wear. Price on application for bespoke.