Hot on the heels of the bespoke trend, Friday’s features editor Anand Raj OK gets measured up…
It was clear: the pleasant, well-dressed woman at chic Ascots and Chapels did not like my shoes. In fact, the moment entered the bespoke suit tailoring suite at Dubai International Financial Centre, I saw her eyes linger just a second longer at my brown leather formals.
Mahir Ali, the co-owner of Ascots and Chapels, greeted me warmly before introducing me to the lady: “Please meet Janet Small, image consultant.’’ Janet extended her hand. The grip was firm and even as we were exchanging pleasantries I realised she was looking deep into my eyes. Was I secretly pleased? It’d been a long time since any woman looked into my eyes this long.
“Your eyes,’’ she said, “they are ummm, slightly greyish black.’’
I wasn’t sure whether that was a compliment or a statement. Janet is who Mahir summons to advise high-profile clients looking to
improve their style quotient and I, a regular jeans and T-shirt kind of guy, was being given the celeb treatment.
But what does eye colour have to do with choosing a suit? “A lot,’’ said Janet. “Eye colour is one of the first things that helps me when choosing the fabric shade.’’
Oh, so she was looking at – and not into – my eyes.
“But I also spotted you looking at my shoes,” I whispered.
“I’ll come to that later,’’ she said. “First, let’s get you a suit.’’ I agreed.
“Going by your eye colour, grey with a slight charcoal overtone would be right for you,’’ she said. “But you also have a certain mischievous look in your eye and to highlight that go for a nice soft purple shirt.’’
Behind the counter, Mahir was also studying me. “Yes, darker colours suit your height and build,’’ he said. “They will accentuate that adventurous streak in you.’’
So, if somebody is not adventurous but wants to portray that kind of a look can he wear a grey suit? I asked.
‘You have a certain mischievous look in your eye and to highlight that go for a purple shirt’
Mahir was clear: “You should wear the suit. The suit shouldn’t wear you. There’s a difference between looking like James Bond and looking like a pub bouncer.’’ Janet agreed; “If you are unsure of what suit shade to choose, go for navy or charcoal.’’
Next was the jacket lining. Mahir suggested purple. “It’ll elevate the suit,’’ he said. Before taking my measurements Mahir had a detailed chat, as he does with all clients.
“We always begin by asking the customer some details about his job. For instance, if he’s in banking, the suit should reflect a certain strength, security and seriousness. But if he’s in the hospitality industry, there could be some fun elements in the suit, like a funky tie.
“Next, we ask if they button up the jacket or leave it open; whether they use it while sitting and working… All these affect the cut of the suit.’’
Next step: deciding the structure. “Slim lapels look good for those with broad shoulders. If a broad person wears a jacket with broad lapels, all attention will be concentrated on that part of the body. But with slim lapels, the eye will travel from the shoulder to the chest and down the lapels to the buttons and the cuffs… the entire suit.’’
With the classic suit still in vogue, Mahir suggested going for a singlebreasted with two buttons.
“Next is personalising,’’ said Mahir. “This includes having your signature affixed on the inside of the jacket or different coloured or contrasting threads to fix the buttons.”
As for trousers, the classic is flat front. “Because trousers end up being used more than the jacket, we give two pairs of trousers with all our suits. That way you get to wear the suit for a longer time.”
And where exactly should the trouser sit on the waist? “An inch lower than your navel,’’ says Mahir. “If you have a paunch, wear the trousers a little higher.’’
Measurements taken, I prepared to leave when I remembered that Janet had yet to tell me what she had in mind about my shoes. “Oh, it’s about the shoelaces. Go for contrasting coloured shoelaces – it’ll add pizzazz to your style. It’s the in thing – bright red shoelaces with brown shoes. Or purple shoelaces with brown leathers. Or pink with black shoes.’’
I have yet to follow her advice.
Dashing in purple accents with a sense of adventure
Mahir Ali can help you develop a signature style