ASK DAN: Suit Cloning, Hat Re-Sizing, Ascots

April 15th, 2015

Suit Cloning

Q: I’ll be measuring for on online custom suit; probably with one of the brands you’ve reviewed. My question is: once I have my measurements can I bring several old suits to the tailor, hand them the numbers, and tell them to tailor them to my proper measurements?  I have a closet full of OTR suits that have almost never been worn because I ultimately decided I didn’t like the fit (after convincing myself they fit well enough in the store), but I really don’t have time to try them on at the tailor and have a conversation about each one.

A: Hmm. I doubt you’ll find a tailor willing to re-cut suits without doing a fitting first, that’s risky business. Also, just because he knows your body measurements doesn’t mean he knows how you like your clothes to fit. Fit is largely subjective, as you know. What you can do is once you receive your custom suit and get the fit right (which will likely include a trip or two to the tailor), you can then bring the new suit to your tailor and have him replicate the fit (as best he can) with your old suits. At least this way he will have a point of reference as to how slim or full you like them. Although, I have a feeling that if the old suits hanging in your closet aren’t worth the 10 minutes it takes to try them on with the tailor, they’re probably not worth the cost of re-cutting them either.

Re-Sizing a Hat

Q: Hey Dan! Love the site and was hoping to ask a quick question. I just inherited some very cool vintage hats from my late grandfather. He had many felt fedoras in different colors and shapes – like the hats that every working man used to wear in the 1950s and 1960s. The problem is, they’re all a little too small for my head (grandpa was a petite old man)…can I have a tailor add a piece to make them bigger, or something? I really want to add these hats to my collection, but I can’t make my head any smaller!

A: I feel your pain, as I have an enormous mellon and even XL hats sometimes run snug. I have some good news for you. Most felt hats can be stretched, quite a bit. Bring them to a local hat shop and show them the issue. They will apply steam on a hat block and apply pressure to stretch the felt. If there’s a leather band on the inside it might be a little tricker, but in some cases, you can cut that band and add a little extension to it. Take them to your local hat experts, they will have solutions for you. Congrats on the vintage hat score, that’s a big time style upgrade and a cool way to keep grandpa’s legacy alive!

Pulling-Off Ascots

Q: Hi Dan. When would it be appropriate to wear an ascot? Are they in style? And what’s the trick to pulling-it-off without looking overly pretentious?

A: I’ll leave this one to the legendary style guru Glenn O’Brien, who had a great response to the question of wearing ascots:

“In automobile advertisements, we often see small subtitles that say PROFESSIONAL DRIVER. DO NOT ATTEMPT THESE MANEUVERS. Perhaps pictures of men in ascots should carry a similar warning. Wearing an ascot is tricky. Some men can do it effortlessly, while others will look pretentious no matter how they wear one. There are two kinds of ascots. The lesser known but more properly called ascot is a double-knotted tie worn with a pin as part of formal day wear. It is named for Ascot Heath, in England, a famed horse-racing track where this tie was popularized at the Royal Ascot race, a showcase for fashion plates since 1711.

What Americans commonly refer to as an ascot is a sort of scarf usually worn around the neck inside one’s open shirt collar to dress up a casual look. Once a chic accessory for informal occasions, the ascot is now a rare sight. When one is sighted, it is often considered a mark of affectation, ostentation or foppishness. Once sported regularly by stylish men such as Fred Astaire and Cary Grant, the informal ascot somehow came to be associated with very annoying people. When I think of ascots, I also think of men like Felix Unger and Dr. Smith of Lost in Space—aggressively tidy nerds. In the newspaper this morning, I saw a picture of Mobutu Sese Seko wearing one, and I don’t know what was more trashy: his loud ascot, worn high on his neck, or his absurd leopard-skin hat.

Worn by a man of genuine style and easy manner, the ascot, or neckerchief, still works its charm. It adds a far nicer touch to an open shirt collar than does a T-shirt or a thatch of chest hair. I sometimes wear one when I’m entertaining at home. I favor something subtle, and I wear it low so it peeks from under the collar, adding a touch of color or pattern to a simple outfit. But there’s no reason the ascot shouldn’t be worn in a casual workplace—as long as it is worn with casual verve and not uptight posturing. It shows more care and respect than an open collar, and it also shows a certain bravery. A scarf or a foulard ascot knotted simply around the neck makes the kind of statement that may eventually lead us away from the fear of individual expression and the mass conformity that have come to rule the way men look.”


Thanks for reading. Got a style question? Hit me!

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

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