Why we need tailors (Yes, it’s way past friday)

Sorry. Fever took me out for more than a week – not having had one for a long time, this one seemed especially virulent. Not that it’s a good excuse, and I missed out on a lot of things I would have wanted to write about, too. In any case, I’m back.

A while back I reported having visited this tailor in the industrial complex around Ubi. I have since had a shirt made, a white one and I’m honestly not too pleased with the results. Now that I think about it, I didn’t really get to consult and speak much with the frontline staff, and the tailor wasn’t anywhere to be found. The shirt came back alright, but the cuffs felt like cardboard, and the shirt crumpled after one wash.

There are many good reasons for having a tailor. Like most men, I once believed – truly believed – that style was overrated, and good, fitting dress shirts with nice stripes and checks was absolutely impossible for people like me. They belong on the style section of GQ or Esquire, you know, the sort that comes with a caption that says “On him: suit by insertitalianlabel, $3,387. Plain shirt by anothereuropeanlabel, $750…” The numbers are depressing, the models make you jealous and you start to feel like the crummy shirts at sale bins should suffice.

But it shouldn’t, and sooner or later you know it. The shirts are baggy. The prints are fading. And the stitches are coming off. The reality is, we all need a tailor to help us look better, regardless of our figures. I still don’t think we should be paying $300 for a shirt, but tailoring is sort of a middle way – you won’t pay $20 for a crummy shirt, but for the option of having your individual style, shirts made exactly the way you want it and with flattering form, $100 isn’t too expensive an option either.

That said, there should be some basics you’ll need to know, too, like separating style from fashion. I’m going to cover these fundamentals in a separate post, but the rule of thumb is this – if it looks too dressy, something only select individuals might be able to pull off, involves ascots, scarves and redefining a shirt, it’s probably fashion. And stay the hell away from Johnny Depp.

The benefits of having tailored shirts are definitely worth the investment too. Look at it this way – day in day out you have many, many guys out there who are content with off the rack clothes. They look average, and they seem content to be so. That shouldn’t be the case with you. When you pay attention to sartorial detail, you set yourself apart immediately from over 80% of the competition. People notice you, be it a potential girl, interview or future boss. You commute to work everyday and in that 1 hour, you are a free walking advertisement to hundreds of people who cross your path. There is simply no room to botch this most important billboard – yourself.

But even if you’re sold on the idea, what about the tailor? I’m not about to fly over to Savile Row, you know. The good news is, you don’t have to fly there. The bad news is, it’s tough finding a tailor. There are many alleged tailors, shady stores who promise cheap prices and 24h suits, or outsource the work to seamstresses overseas and then overcharge you for it. The best thing to do is, ask and google around. If your friends have any recommendations you’re good. If not, stay away from the shadier places like the shops along Lucky Plaza or Le Meridien Hotel and Peninsula Plaza, and try some of those pricier ones you find on google, with websites, reviews and good explanations of technical jargon in bespoke tailoring. One local option I can offer up would be Sam’s Custom Tailor, affiliated with Mohan’s. There are some others here as well.

I just had 4 shirts made, and although it was a HUGE investment, I think I’m going to like Sam’s a lot for their excellent customer service and sartorial advice – I certainly didn’t know button-down collars were going out of fashion until today. Next post, we talk about some basics in style, with more pictures if I can steal them.

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2 Responses to Why we need tailors (Yes, it’s way past friday)

  1. Here’s a tip for women about tailoring: most dresses can be professionally altered to truly fit, and will look much better.
    This post interests me, because I figured that out from watching my other half buy suits. The best shops alter them to fit.

  2. Kim says:

    Good to know. Men’s magazine do seem to have an obsession for talking about office wear. I don’t really read magazines for females, but I get the feeling that with a wider repetoire of clothes and dresses, the ladies could always welcome a section for dressing professionally, or better yet, something that works for both the office and afternoon tea with the bestie.

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