The North by Northwest suit – as worn by Cary Grant in the 1959 Hitchcock movie of the same name – is probably the most iconic suit in movie history – Esquire voted it number 1 in a top 10 greatest suits poll. Readers of this blog will know that in 2016 we embarked on a mission to recreate this iconic suit – the journey described in a series of blogs. We also made an 11 minute documentary about the process which is published here for the first time. Enjoy.
What is seersucker?
It’s a fabric, not a colour pattern, made by ‘puckering’ some of the threads using a slack-tension weave to create a wrinkled effect that keeps the cloth away from the skin, giving it cooling qualities.
Where does it come from?
The name comes from a Persian origin – sheer & shakar, which means ‘milk & sugar’ and has been popular with both high society and the working class, from British colonialists and Southern US gentlemen to train engineers, butchers and cotton workers. In 1920 ‘hipster’ undergraduates at Princeton took to wearing it, lending it a Great Gatsby air – a preppy image that remains to this day.
Seersucker is hot!
In contrast to the famous cooling qualities of the cloth itself, the market for seersucker is decidedly hot at the moment. There was a noticeable upturn in demand last summer and this year a number of clothmakers have brought out their own seersucker ranges, aiming to capitalise on the popularity of this long standing summer standard.
Fit for purpose
Traditionally seersucker has been worn with a relaxed fit, especially in very warm climates. It also lends itself to a fitted look and ordering a made to measure or bespoke seersucker jacket will ensure the wearer looks sharp whilst remaining cool.
Dark or colourful?
Dark colours are popular at the moment – black and navy in particular. For a more traditional, summery seersucker look, light blue or grey is often specified, and for the more adventurous a wide range of pinks, yellows, greens and reds are available. Ask Chris about them when you’re in the shop.
To book an appointment contact Chris here
“In his uniform of bespoke black suit and unbuttoned shirt, a look born from the same gothic imagination as his soul-stirring lyrics, Nick Cave is his own best advert. Ordered mostly from Chris Kerr on Berwick Street, Soho, this is a wardrobe that exceeds in nuance what it lacks in colour. The cowboy belts, forward-point collars, Chelsea boots and carefully cut flares are the work of a man, and his tailor, undictated to by trend. After all, wherever Cave goes, he leads.” Holly Bruce, Sub-Editor, GQ
Of late, Tweed has become rather cool – you see everyone from David Gandy to Guy Ritchie wearing it and hit TV shows like Peaky Blinders have lent it a roguish edge. Its commute from aristocratic country wear to the streets of Florence and Soho is well deserved. Tweed is a very interesting and adaptable cloth indeed.
Take Harris Tweed for example – you can only make it if you live on an island in the outer Hebrides and have a weaving shed attached to your croft. The result is a highly original and individual cloth – no two pieces are the same.
Harris is probably the most famous name in tweed but there are many other makers whose swatches display a surprisingly wide range of weaves and colours. There’s even a tweed for cyclists that has built in reflective qualities.
Tweed lends itself to personalisation in other ways too – arm patches, patch pockets, velvet collars, chunky buttons. For a more conservative look, a black or dark blue tweed will serve you well in the chillier months.
Do you feel the need for tweed? Book an appointment with Chris here.
Whether you’re getting married, going to a smart wedding or off to Ascot, our comprehensive morning dress guide will ensure you are suitably attired for the occasion.
Our morning dress guide starts with possibly the most straight forward choice within the ensemble – the coat.
The morning dress coat is a fairly standard issue item, with little variation on design or colour – it’s almost always a charcoal black, though occasionally grey. The lining is usually in a matching colour. It has one button at the front and two at the back. There’s a breast pocket for your handkerchief (optional) and the tails should fall to the back of the knees and no further.
The waistcoat is the main opportunity to inject a little personal flare into what is a pretty standardised outfit. The Duke of Cambridge is often seen wearing a duck egg blue one for example, which is double breasted, with lapels and pockets. Prince Harry favours a mustard coloured waistcoat in a similar style. Whilst usually made from wool, linen is also an option and probably a wise one if you’re wearing it in the height of summer.
Cream waistcoats are also seen and are certainly a little more interesting than the standard dove grey ones – though these can look very elegant, particularly if double breasted. The royals again tend to favour a double breasted waistcoat to a single breasted.
There’s also an opportunity to personalise the back of the waistcoat with a contrasting colour. A cream silk backing for example, will contrast nicely with a blue shirt when the coat is removed.
Traditionally morning dress trousers are grey with black stripes and you’ll see a few variants in the weight of stripe on cloth swatches. Black and white houndstooth is an option too – the trousers look grey from a distance. They are worn with a fuller cut than modern suit trousers with one or two pleats. Braces should be worn, not belts (and absolutely not both!)
MORNING DRESS GUIDE TO ACCESSORIES
The coat, waistcoat and trousers are the key constituents of any morning dress guide but arguably the accessories you choose to go with them are just as important – taking the sartorial effect to a higher level (or a lower one if chosen unwisely).
The traditional shirt for morning dress is called a Winchester and for those of my era, it’s best described as The Gordon Gecko shirt – blue with a white collar and cuffs.
The always stylish Prince Michael of Kent sometimes wears a particularly traditional, striped blue and white version of this and The Duke of Cambridge (and sometimes Prince Harry) can be seen wearing a pale blue version. The most popular alternative to the Winchester is a plain white shirt though a pale blue is also sometimes seen.
Bearing in mind you have contrasting colours for the waistcoat and possibly the shirt too, the choice of tie can be a little tricky. The tie is usually a solid colour – or at least patterned in a way to look like a solid colour from a distance. Purple or burgundy works well with a powder blue waistcoat and blue ties with a mustard one. Spencer Matthews of Made in Chelsea fame wore a winning orange tie and pocket handkerchief combination to his brother’s wedding.
Morning dress offers a rare opportunity to deploy a traditional tie pin, giving the necktie a bit of swagger. A handkerchief is also a good optional extra. The Duke of Cambridge is usually spotted with a white one in place, as is the Duke of Edinburgh. The handkerchief doesn’t have to match the tie, but should complement it.
Black oxfords, highly polished – not patent leather. That’s it, not much more to say there. You can however add some dash by choosing socks that match your tie – ideally knee length ones that won’t crinkle when you sit down.
Actually not necessary for a wedding. Needed if you’re going racing though.
How much does a morning suit cost?
Tailcoats are a specialist item – even in bespoke tailoring terms. If you look inside the coat, roughly where the shoulder blades are, there’s particularly impressive stitching to create a quilted effect. The waistcoats too can take up a lot of tailoring time, depending on the style ordered.
The net effect of this is that you should expect to pay more for morning dress than for a bespoke suit. The cost could range from £3000 to £10,000 depending on which tailor’s door you walk through (and on which street).
The morning dress (coat, trousers waistcoat) featured in this blog can be ordered from Chris Kerr from approx. £3000
Book an appointment here