Saturday, September 30, 2006

A Trip to Harrods

When I took my mother to Harrods today, I thought the unavailability of everything would depress me (I wanted to buy an umbrella, but the cheapest I could find was 15 quid). Instead, something happened that was rather unexpected. I was wandering confusedly from room to room, becoming more and more exhilarated by the sights and sounds, when suddenly I realised I was moved. Perhaps it was the music thudding from the walls. The thick mist of scent carried on the air. Or the crowds of people pressing around me. Whatever it was, it was powerful. As if I was breathing the consumerist fumes.
By the time we reached the Food Court I'd become like a child, pointing at everything in awe. An old lady sipping pink champagne at the fish bar was the most elegant thing I'd ever seen. I practically worshipped the green-slippered feet of an incredibly beautiful Japanese girl eating sushi in the corner. Even a group of Americans pointing at the plastic pig carcasses on the butcher's ceiling seemed so innocently happy I couldn't help sharing their amusement.
At the top of a pair of gold escalators we stood looking up at the glitzy, gold-plated walls, when suddenly, as if from nowhere, the tinkling strains of Gounod's 'Ave Maria' filled the air. By far my favourite piece of music, here, at the top of the escalators in Harrods, it was as if I'd never heard it before. These celestial notes, at once so familiar and so strange - almost too beautiful, in fact, to be made by human hands - were somehow perfectly suited to the glamour that surrounded us. I clutched my mother's arm. She was listening too. Not quite knowing what we'd just experienced, we walked happily down the escalator together.
Breathe the consumerist fumes yourself at

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Fetishised Body of Victoria Beckham

Before you visit A Suit That Fits and purchase one of their excellent suits, pause for a moment and let me inform you about the exact nature of this thing you're about to do. In this age of consumer capitalism, one Marxist concept remains tellingly accurate: the phenomenon of commodity fetishism. Marx distinguished between the 'use value' and the 'exchange value' of a product; the former, he argued, had little to do with the value of a product in the capitalist system; rather, capitalism created its own economy, in which the commodity's ability to be exchanged was the real determinant of its worth. Later Marxists, such as Herbert Marcuse, explored the 'fetishism of commodities' that arose from this system of exchange. Integral to this phenomenon, they said, was the belief that power resided in the product. Purchasing this product meant that power would be bestowed upon the owner.

One may argue that this 'power' is illusory, that by emphasising illusion, consumerism is shallow. But in the context of a society that values this illusion, its power is no longer illusory at all: it becomes the determining means by which some are empowered and others are excluded from power. Victoria Beckham is a case in point. By hiding her face behind Jackie O glasses and stuffing her ritually starved limbs into Rock & Republic jeans, she oozes the essence of consumer power, utilising the fetishism of commodities to bestow her body with a mystical power. Her greatest talent, then, is perhaps the way she adheres so rigidly to these rules; by adorning herself with a surplus of fetishised commodities, leaving us with no doubt as to the artificial, socially constructed nature of their power, her appearance contains a devastating critique of consumer capitalism itself. She is, in fact, a great deconstructionist; and whereas the theorists of old sat writing in their ivory towers, she is on the carpet, posing before the cameras, undermining the very system she upholds.

It's the same with this blog. Like any advertising endeavour, its existence relies on the fetishism of commodities. The belief that the bespoke tailored suit bestows power on its wearer is central to my attempt to get you to buy a suit from A Suit That Fits. The effect the suit produces is different to the mystique of Victoria Beckham. But it's certainly no less seductive, representing wealth, commerce and power. Its authority arises from an all together less mysterious, masculine physicality, which our culture - the City of London - fetishes above all else.

This blog entry was made possible by A Suit That Fits.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fashion... or should that be Fascism?

If there was one thing the Nazis understood above all else, it was the power of image. With their flags, their rallies and their militaristic uniforms, they whipped the German people into a frenzy of hope and expectation. The uniform itself was designed to appear noble and powerful; it went on to become one of the single most influential dress codes of the 20th century. By adopting the military look and promoting an overtly masculine presence, the Nazis appealed to the German desire for security in a time of economic hardship. They created a uniform for everyone, from students to nurses to the labor corps, and in the process they made everyone an extension of the Reich.

In Italy, meanwhile, the fascists were the first to utilise the devastating cool of a sheer black shirt and tie. Black has always represented the point where civilisation and barbarity meet, somehow mixing darkness with sophistication. But in the hands of Mussolini's violent fascists its dangerous allure was exploited to the max. The paramilitary Squadristi wore black turtle-neck sweaters, black shirts and ties and a black fez with tassles: the aim was to intimidate and the effect was achieved through fashion.

Given their penchant for style, is it any wonder that the Fascists found sympathetic bedfellows in the world of fashion? The values of fashion, like Fascism, are skin-deep, ruled by image, sensation and seduction. Designers, like dictators, manipulate the power of image to draw gasps and sighs from their captured audiences; they conjure a whole ideology in a single aesthetic instance. Coco Chanel was one leading lumière of the fashion world who couldn't resist the 'Nazi chic' (she even dated a Nazi officer). Hugo Boss was another. Before and during World War II, he designed the uniforms of Hitler's elite killing troop, the SS, and manufactured them with slave labour. (The factory was later labelled an "opportunist of the Third Reich" and fined 80,000 Marks.) And finally, it comes as no surprise that some of the last century's biggest fashion spenders have been the wives of brutal dictators. Think Imelda Marcos and Eva Peron.

What this says about fashion is unclear, other than the fact that our tendency to be seduced by appearance becomes dangerous when exploited by cunning politicians. One of the benefits of consumer capitalism is that its proliferation of different styles prevents society from becoming monomaniacal, thus neutralising the inherent power of fashion. Fashion, in fact, becomes a commodity rather than a weapon - which, although in some ways sad, is clearly a necessary precaution. When George Bush dons a military uniform whilst engaging in political affairs (and to be frank, that image isn't quite as absurd as it should be) - only then do we need to worry.

This blog entry was made possible by A Suit That Fits.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bespoke Icon of the Week: David Cameron!

My feelings towards this man are complex to say the least. He's certainly powerful, sexy and devastatingly stylish. His skin is immaculate and his hair is beautiful. But at the end of the day he's still a Conservative. If he really cared about the environment, the health service, society's poorest families, why didn't he join New Labour? You never can trust a Conservative. Not even one with gleaming skin.
The thing that most troubles me is his appearance. At least in the old days you knew where you stood. There were two types of Tory politician. Those who looked like they'd walked out of a massage parlour and those who resembled freshly dug corpses. Either way it was easy to despise them. Mr Cameron, however, is changing all the rules. Young and beautiful, clearly moisturised, he's proving that one needn't look like a blood-sucking Conservative to be one. All you need are some half-decent beauty products and a bespoke tailored suit and you too can be beautiful.
On a more serious note, Mr Cameron's devilishly smart appearance highlights one of the most widespread but largely unacknowledged problems that exist in our society today. Whilst the Conservative Party leader is measured and dressed by the world's finest tailors, the majority of the British population are deprived of this pleasure because they're unable to afford the extortionate prices of bespoke tailored suits. 'A Suit That Fits' exists to address this problem. We are a London-based garment house that provides bespoke tailored suits at prices our customers can afford. Give us your measurements and your style preferences and we create the look you want from just £110. Visit to find out more.

London: Crown Jewel of Fashion since 1700

Having moved very recently to London, all I hear is "Welcome to London!" "Welcome to London!" Sometimes this is said in a serious tone, as if becoming a 'Londoner' is something to be congratulated on. At other times it is accompanied with an ironic twist of a smile and a sharp glint in the eye, as if to say, "Welcome, but we'll see how long you're still smiling." All in all it is very welcoming. Even the shopkeepers smile and say, "How are you?" But more importantly, there's something in the air, something that's proving particularly felicitous for a fashion writer new to London. Everywhere I go - Paddington, Victoria, King's Cross - rolling screens display pouting, life-size models, all of whom move endlessly down pristine catwalks whilst enchanted faces gaze from the sidelines. I find myself stopping among the London hordes, disturbing the businessmen who walk hurriedly by me, whilst I stare, entranced by these impassive creatures. It's enough to take your breath away.

The explanation: it's London Fashion Week.

Before I get too carried away, I'd like to remind you all of the imporant role that London has played in the changing history of men's style, from the earliest days of the Restoration through to the innovations of the Swinging Sixties and the 21st century focus on online tailoring, exemplified by the cutting-edge garment house 'A Suit That Fits'.

The earliest equivalent of the modern day catwalk can be found in the 18th century, when the male members of London's top aristocratic families would parade up and down Hyde Park to show off their beautiful clothes; this was known as the 'Fashionable Hour', though it was, in fact, three hours, from 4.30 to 7.30. Given what we know about 18th century fashion, it must have been an impressive sight. Hand-sewn coats with wide skirts pleated into tight waists were worn over breeches and ruffled shirts. These were often blood red or deep blue or a more subdued black or brown, all of which were popular with the 18th century gentlemen. Today one can only imagine the sight of it - hundreds of gentlemen in brightly coloured coats sauntering beneath a pale blue sky in Hyde Park. "Such a blaze of splendour," said one commentator, "is now to be seen nowhere but in London..."

Towards the end of the 18th century, a strange phenomenon began to spread through the theatres, opera houses and parks of London: the rise of the dandy. The dandy was a sophisticated young man, usually characterised by immaculate personal cleanliness and close attention to appearance. He wore high-collared linen shirts and perfectly tailored pantaloons, partly inspired by the garments of the working class masses, who dominated France after the French Revolution. Whilst the Terror raged on the other side of the channel, a certain darkness, or severity of expression, reigned on the London scene, with black becoming increasingly popular.

With the dawn of the postmodern era in the 20th century and the sexual revolution of the 1960s, all these styles and more were borrowed and blended to create unusual, retro looks. London swung to a different beat and boho-chic was all the rage. Think Mick Jagger, a kind of drug-addled Romantic in ruffled shirt and silk-cravat, or the Beatles, sharp-suited Englishmen with Beatnik hair. Styles proliferated and no 'look' predominated. The individual wore what he wanted when he wanted to wear it.

Now, in the 21st century, grunge is out and tailoring is back. Brand new garment houses such as A Suit That Fits are offering quality tailoring at affordable prices. Thanks to this modern innovation in fashion, even Joe Bloggs can take part in the ancient history of tailoring. When Paul Smith unveiled his collection this week, the beauty of bespoke tailoring was vindicated once more. The suit is evidently the thing to be in.

The Mac Returns

Let’s face it, Clark Kent always was cuter than Superman. The latter may have been unstoppably powerful and good-looking, but how relevant is his ridiculously pumped-up frame, his bryl-creamed quiff and camp attire today? Mr Kent represents something far more interesting: the uncertain man. He may not be able to save the world. He may not be able to pull off lycra. He may even be a coward or a geek. But his bewildered expression and awkward stance stand for that rare and special thing we should value in men: sensitivity.

Why must we look to the strong for our conception of the masculine ideal? Isn’t there something undeniably attractive about those who hide their light under a bushel? Men needn’t be Superman to be attractive and stylish. A little attention to one’s Daily Planet wear… a sheepish look here, an awkward gait there... and already you’re a style icon. So ask yourselves, men, would you rather don a leotard or a suit? Would you be seen dead in a cape or do you prefer this rather fetching mac? Especially now the autumn rain’s come round again…Forget Superman. Be proud of the Clark in you. Visit for some serious Clark Kent chic.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Diversity abounds @ New York Fashion Week

In a dramatic shake-up to a week characterised by soft, palatable designs, Alexander Plokhov staged a catwalk show to remember on Tuesday night, combining a love of experimental construction with dark, brooding colours and an urban hipster vibe:

Marc Jacobs, meanwhile, brought the ambience of the great American outdoors to his cute spring collection, featuring refreshing greens and khakis:

...whilst Diesel introduced these brash, 1970s-inspired designs, with gold belts and shoes punctuating a less-is-more approach to summer clothing:

We hope to see you all at the next Fashion Week in February! In the meantime, don't forget to check out our range at A Suit That Fits!

Our thoughts go out to Marianne Faithfull: fashion icon

Marianne Faithfull has been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, her publicist announced today. Here at A Suit That Fits our thoughts go out to Marianne and we wish her a speedy recovery. We’d also like to take this opportunity to salute her for the amazing influence she’s exerted on the world of fashion, the bespoke tailored suit in particular.

If there’s one woman who can show a man how to wear a shirt and tie, it’s Marianne. This gigantic icon has conducted a public love affair with the suit ever since she first appeared in the 1960s. One of the original suit-wearing starlets, she has always pulled off the achievement with nothing less than immaculate style. (see photos below.)

With interest in her work increasing and the likes of Nick Cave and Damon Albarn flocking to collaborate with her, her suit-wearing days are assuredly far from over. Get well soon, Marianne.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Bespoke Icon of the Week: Camille Paglia!

Ok, before you run and hide, hear me out. She may be the kind of woman whose total absence of softness scares men shitless, but there’s no denying it, Camille Paglia is a mean dresser. She’s not dissimilar to Margaret Thatcher, really, with her power-dressing, liberal-despising, anti-feminist approach to life. The only big difference is perhaps the red hair, which is surely dyed.

I'm sure she wouldn't mind me objectifying her like this. Image is everything, and she must be fully aware of that. Besides, I can’t help thinking she deserves some respect for upholding masculinity - and the ideals of consumer capitalism - in the face of a pervasively androgynising, leftist influence.

So perhaps we should sit up and listen to this witch? She did, after all, rave about the ‘sublime male poetry’ of construction and design in the modern world. And what represents this 'poetry' better than the bespoke tailored suit, an article of clothing that conceptualizes everything transcendentally capitalist and authoritatively masculine in man? Don’t be scared. Give Auntie Camille a hug, snuggle down next to her bespoke-tailored side and let her tell you the stories of the Maenads who tear men limb from limb.

To assert your masculinity, visit

Who’s looking good?

“Who is this sharp dresser?” I hear you say. Surely not the same guy who graced the stage with ‘off the cuff!’ favourite Miss Kylie Minogue in what looked like a white C&A shell-suit a few years back? (see below.) Yep. Would you believe it? Justin Timberlake has discovered the joys of a bespoke tailored suit. And now he’s looking rather fine.

How many times do I have to say it? The bespoke tailored suit is a panacea for all kinds of appearance-related issues. First we had Pete Doherty transforming himself before the courts into a well-dressed Artful Dodger, albeit on amphetamines; now we have Justin the affectionately named ‘trousersnake’ giving Sean Connery a run for his money.

Perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that he's got an album out now, which by all reports is said to be rather good. But more importantly for us, he seems to have come of age, stylistically at least. So let me salute the birth of a style icon. An unlikely style icon, perhaps. But then the best always are.

To catch a rear view of the be-suited Justin visit:

To take a leaf out of his book, visit:

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Marriage Made in Heaven

To coincide with the launch of New York Fashion Week, Brooks Brothers have announced the introduction of a ‘guest designer’ range, beginning in autumn 2007 with a 50-piece collection that will marry the traditional approach of America’s oldest tailors to the ultra-cool designs of Thom Browne. “Thom Browne's brilliant eye, his ability to foreshadow the market and offer a special look will bring a new dimension to Brooks Brothers,” said Chief Executive Claudio del Vecchio.

You bet it will. Browne, who pioneered the late 50s/early 60s ‘geek chic’ look of leaving inches of ankle exposed below the hem (see above), expressed his desire to maintain the classic tailored sensibilities of Brooks Brothers whilst throwing in a few touches of his own. One can only wonder if the streets of the UK will bear witness to an influx of exposed ankles after Brooks Brothers opened their first store in the City of London last year, ahead of an expected roll out of 10 to 12 stores in the coming years.

If you’d like to order your classic bespoke suit online, visit

Three facts about Thom Browne:

He claims Steve McQueen and Sean Connery’s Bond as two of his greatest inspirations.

His very short, retro designs were described as ‘irresponsible and childlike’ by American designer Alan Flusser.

He was the recipient of the 2006 Council of Fashion Designers of America Award for menswear.

Three facts about Brooks Brothers

Henry Brooks opened his first store in New York on 7th April 1818.

Though many people consider Brooks Brothers to be a very traditional tailor’s, in the early days they were famous for introducing the ‘ready-to-wear’ suit.

Ralph Lauren started out as a salesman at their Madison Avenue store.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Scissors: No Longer a Lost Cause

In this permissive age of the 'ready-to-wear' suit, when you can no longer turn around on the Tube without bumping into a man whose business attire looks more like a sac than a suit, what will become of these bright, shiny scissors? Thanks to the wonderful sponsors of this blog, I've been able to save a pair from utter extinction. His name is Tailor, and he can be found by scrolling down to the bottom of the page.

If you'd like to play with him (yes, I know you shouldn't play with scissors, but in the name of a good cause I'm sure you can make an exception this once), just click in the box and watch him follow your cursor. You can even help me sharpen his blades by feeding him bits of paper from the 'more' box. He makes a lovely chomping sound, too, so be sure to keep your speakers on.

Whilst playing, take time to reflect on the fate of the scissor population at large. For Tailor's existence is by no means representative. Thousands of scissors have already fallen by the wayside as machine production of the 'ready-to-wear' takes over from the ancient art of tailoring. Here at 'off the cuff!' we want every pair of scissors (and every expert wielder) to rest assured that we are committed to transforming the British male - from a sloppy, 'dressed-by-his-girlfriend' excuse for a man to a beautiful, bespoke tailored masterpiece - all at a reasonable price.

To help, visit

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Simple is beautiful @ New York Fashion Week

Perry Ellis Menswear kicked off New York Fashion Week last night with a collection of soft, unfussy designs, mostly in muted greys and creams. If you’d like to achieve a similar, understated look at a more reasonable price, try the classic grey and cashmere suit at, or wait until Spring 2007 when these simple designs really hit the high street.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Kylie condemns the ‘ready-to-wear’ suit (allegedly)

There’s nothing worse than a man in an ill-fitting suit. So said Kylie Minogue, apparently, in conversation with a friend of a friend of a friend of mine at a London show the other night. Despite her humble beginnings in the suburbs of Melbourne, it wasn’t long before La Minogue had turned her back on the ‘ready-to-wear’ suit and decided that only bespoke tailored men would do. According to my source, the excellent quality of the average Londoner’s suit was one of the first things that young Minogue noticed on arrival in these murky shores. Perhaps it was that which made her want to date cheeky Essex chappy James Gooding, who frankly looked like he could do with a hair-wash:

"But what about me?" I hear you cry. Are you worried that a woman like Kylie could never be yours because the bespoke tailored suit just isn't in your price range? Well, thanks to the new company trend of offering bespoke tailored suits at high street prices, you need no longer fret. Visit and check out their range, beginning at £110 for the classic cashmere suit. More importantly, perhaps then Kylie will be convinced that she really does live in a land of well-fitting suits. We wouldn’t want her flying back to Oz now, would we?

Think you can handle pink?

Until recently there was something incredibly sexy about a man in pink. Not only did it say, “I’m so comfortable in my sexuality, I can wear what I want,” it also suggested a level of confidence that would inevitably translate into the bedroom. Now that every Tom, Dick and Harry has donned a pink shirt, the colour has lost some of its charm. Pink is in desperate need of an edge.

At ‘A Suit That Fits’, the London-based garment house, they’ve managed to provide exactly that. With prices starting from £170, some may find their all-pink extravaganza of a three-piece-suit, and their matching pillar-box red and emerald green suits, a bit too much to handle. Others, like myself, who can't help appreciating a man who makes an entrance, are sure to be impressed. So, my moral for today, guys, is think Dick Tracy and stand out from the crowd. Be a man. Be pink.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bespoke Icon of the Week: Pete Doherty!

Whilst not wishing to glamorise smoking, drug-taking or random acts of violence against reporters, I would like to raise my usually jaded voice in praise of Pete Doherty’s spectacularly retro/modish trilby/suit combination. All you aesthetically challenged men out there, pay attention. However lacking he may be in God’s graces, however disordered his life may be behind closed doors, Doherty is still a leading light for the average-looking man, proof that a little attention to detail – a little bespoke tailoring here and there – and the world can be your oyster. Raise your voices loud and proud; repeat after me, “Pete Doherty is my icon! The ugly man’s icon! I shall follow his lead by visiting and let them measure me up for size." Well done!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"In which the writer compares the Bespoke Tailored Suit to the Bayeux Tapestry..."

You may not know this but a well-made suit works in much the same way as the Bayeux Tapestry. Just as that great piece of medieval craftmanship must look hideous from behind, so the well-made suit, on the inside, looks like an intricate network of stitchings that appear to go nowhere but which actually work together to create that elegant and seemingly effortless outward show of masculinity which every suit-wearer desires. Lest we then forget, let us look behind the suit to the people who make it work. As they say, behind every great suit lurks a great team of experts. I’d like to introduce you to them now.

First, there is The Cutter, who traditionally measures the customer and forms a pattern of the intended suit from the results. The Cutter, incidently, is usually male (although in this democratising age of online tailoring, when a woman can easily take a man’s measurements without causing offence, this isn’t always the case). The Cutter, then, is the visionary who puts the outline of the suit together from a collection of abstract figures.

Next in line are the individual tailors who make each part of the three-piece-suit from scratch. These include The Bespoke Coatmaker, The Bespoke Trouser Maker, The Bespoke Waiscoat Maker and sundry other Bespoke Garment Makers we don’t have time to go into. Each of these expert Tailors is responsible for sewing their garments by hand and machine.

I would now like you to meet a very special person whose job, although small and seemingly rather trivial, is necessary, as with so many other small things, to the overall success of the project. The Finisher, who is traditionally female, is responsible for sewing button holes, tidying up linings and stitching the edges of the garments. Industriously, she goes about her work until the customer and The Cutter are entirely satisfied with the results.

And there we have it! The finished suit is posted to the happy customer; and the expert tailors – that’s The Cutter, The Coat Maker, The Sundry Garment Makers, even The Finisher! – can sit back, relax and wait for the next order to come through. (Admitedly we have missed out the whole alterations process, carried out on all parts of the suit by highly skilled tailors, but I am merely giving you an overview.) If you’d like to take part in this beautiful process yourself, visit and browse to your heart's content.

The Ancient Art of Tailoring - Online!

Do you remember or have you ever imagined standing in a tailor's, waiting for your inside leg, waist and chest to be measured, whilst staring intently at the wall, wishing they would just hurry up so you can go home? All so you can have the pleasure of forking out a massive chunk of cash for your 'bespoke tailored' suit? It's definitely not on the top of my list of favourite things to do. Now, thanks to the nice people at 'A Suit That Fits', things are beginning to change.

Bespoke tailoring has long been the preserve of stuffy Saville Row tailors. Just take a look at that ancient pair of scissors above and you'll see how far back the art of tailoring goes. In the early 19th century, British tailors were using steam, pressure and padding to mould woollen fabrics around the body. In the 1980s, when the high street sensed the need for suits at affordable prices, all this went out the window with the introduction of the 'ready-to-wear'. Here at ‘A Suit That Fits’ our approach falls somewhere between Saville Row and the High Street. We want to uphold the ancient art of tailoring whilst offering prices that customers can afford.

We're basically a group of young men and women who feel disgruntled by the price of tailored suits. We want to offer our customers affordable bespoke tailored suits without them having to fork out huge amounts of cash. Why, after all, should bespoke tailoring remain the preserve of those who can afford expensive Saville Row tailors when the rest of the British class system has, understandably, gone down the pan?

Jokes aside, our unique online process means that you can design and order your bespoke suit without having to step inside a tailor's. Give us your measurements and your style preferences, and with the help of our specially-designed 'Wizards' you can create the look you want. Our 'classic model' cashmere and satin suits start from £110. The price increases as you add extras, and you can add as many or as few as you wish.

Visit to view our 25 different colours and our trousers, jackets and waistcoats.