It's a foregone conclusion that a new tie is inevitable for Father's Day. If the cravat proffered by an eager set of hands and a smiling face is too narrow and not quite the pattern or color you yourself would choose, don't despair. A new suit, a 'bespoke' suit, will serve to heighten the affection and enthusiasm that went into the selection of your new neckwear.
Mind you, we're not talking of a new, off the rack suit that Armani or Ralph Lauren can clone out ad infinitum. No, we have in mind a new concept, the Bespoke Suit, exactingly built to your features from one of the last remaining premier tailoring establishments in the civilized world. Your tax bracket should already have made you aware of the enterprise begun by Gieves and Hawkes in the 1770s. However, if your nouveau riche six figure income is one of those dot com triumphs, then a bit of history is in order.
Gieves and Hawkes have been purveyors, in the Bespoke tradition, of gentlemen's apparel from the days of George III. Originally, two separate firms, Gieves dressed Lord Nelson, while Hawkes outfitted the Duke of Wellington. Possessing Royal Warrants of Appointment for the last 200 years, both firms have been the final word in sartorial excellence to the aristocracy and business magnates of the Empire. Best known for its conservative, staid pinstripe suits for bankers, the now consolidated firm presents clothing that whispers quietly but commandingly of its wearer's status.
During one of the world's earliest newspaper-hyped teapot tempests, David Livingstone, dressed by Gieves, became the searched for lost soul in darkest Africa by New York Herald
reporter, Henry Morton Stanley. Livingstone himself was an early media celebrity whose extensive writings and lectures had opened "Darkest Africa" to 19th Century Europe. With great fanfare he returned to explore and locate the headwaters of the Nile River. When the world heard nothing from Livingstone for five years, Stanley, in a charade of a deadline delimited pursuit, was hurriedly dressed by Hawkes and dispatched via steamer through Suez to Lake Tanganyika. Livingstone, who knew fully well where he was, was then "discovered" by this heroic fourth-estate chronicler. At their momentous meeting, each doffed their hats whereupon Stanley uttered his famous interrogatory, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"
Actually, each was quite intent at looking at the label in the other's hat. Stanley was wearing the famous Hawkes solar campaign helmet. A design so well thought, it was later appropriated by Nazi General Rommel for his Afrika Corps. Livingstone, a man of quiet and taciturn demeanor, reportedly wore a more sedate carapace delivered from Gieves.
Changing economics and tastes resulted in a merger of talents that now reside at a capital address in the heart of the Mayfair District, Number 1 Savile Row. There is an Internet site (gievesandhawkes.com), and, with your acquisition of airline tickets and a place to stay, it is time to commence the journey.
In the truest tradition of the tailored suit, a gentleman is carefully and exactingly measured from all directions. Paper and cardboard patterns are then made that will be referenced to in the design and fit of the bespoke clothing. However, before this task is begun, a meeting with the Bespoke Manager, Matthew A. Cowley, is a first requisite. It is here that this expert in men's clothing will evaluate and consult, suggest and proffer, that which in style and material will make it quite obvious you are wearing
a Savile Row suit. Comments and input from the spouse are expected and tactfully incorporated.
Realizing that the gentleman is often there only because of the woman behind him, Mr. Cowley and his staff take great pains to diplomatically respond to her concerns.
Towards the attainment of impeccable values in service and craft excellence, there are certain rules of style that will never go obsolete. Your height
will very well determine stripes versus plain, cuffed versus uncuffed and perhaps even single versus double-breasted. Honed by years of experience and a level of sophistication in dealing with those beyond even your pay grade, the Gieves and Hawkes tailor is your ally towards the presentation of your finest image.
There are a few specifics that will ingratiate you with the staff and display your obvious acumen and sophistication. A member of the sales staff will greet you at the door at the time of your fitting appointment. Try to arrive a little early and ask to be shown and told about the Sea Chest. This was a trademark wardrobe storage trunk from the eighteenth century for cadets and officers of the Royal Navy. Their uniforms and under-clothing, often tailored exclusively by Gieves, was stored in this private, inviolate space while at sea.
Next, make mention of your admiration of the Battle of Britain tie. An exclusive of the firm, the tie was designed for and sold only to British airmen who fought in the Battle of Britain. This dark blue neckwear features the rose of England and a tiny outline of the British Isles woven in gold.
The company will sell one only after receiving proof that the purchaser actually fought in this battle.
During the process of measuring you will be asked on which side you 'dress'. Here again, you astuteness will be appreciated when you answer, 'right or
left' depending upon which side of the crotch seam your masculinity naturally resides.
The details of selecting the fabric, linings and buttons will be as carefully considered as the actual building of the suit. One specific characteristic of a true bespoke suit is working cuff buttons. Originally referred to as surgeon's cuffs, this bit of four-button polish literally permits you to roll up your sleeves preventing needless soiling of the fabric.
Just one final and gentle reminder -- You are dealing with an organization skilled at cutting cloth, not at cutting prices. It will cost about $3,600 for a standard suit. It will become a part of your heritage that not only will last longer than you, but also will remain a statement of your