A cut above the rest
Sometimes, off-the-peg simply won’t do. Jemima Sissons reveals some of the finest bespoke tailoring houses for women in London
Jemima Sissons finds some of the finest bespoke tailoring houses in London for women
SOME go for a cashmere jacket with a silk lining featuring their favourite pug, so that their faithful hound is forever close. Others will happily dole out £5,000 each on matching tie-dye onesies for the Burning Man festival to ensure the perfect fit. Then, there are those who simply want the perfect shirt or pair of trousers. This is the illuminating and covetable world of female bespoke.
My own epiphany came when I tried in vain to find a shirt that wouldn’t gape open at the bust. I turned to Turnbull & Asser, which has been making exquisite bespoke shirts since 1885. In the hushed surrounds of the atelier in Davies Street, I was measured up and discussed my preferences. I wanted to be able to buy beautiful cufflinks, so went for a double cuff. I wanted the collar to be femininely rounded and to have the option to tuck the shirt in or leave it out. Most important for me was the placing of the bust buttons and a discreet inside popper to ensure extra security.
After one fitting, at which it proved to be too short, the shirt was made and delivered within six weeks. It fit like a bespoke item should. It was pricey—the company doesn’t do single orders the first time and a set of three costs £1,000—but the pattern is easy to repeat in the future.
Around the corner in Savile Row, Phoebe Gormley of Gormley & Gamble explains the paradox with women’s clothes: ‘Women wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time. Logically, they should, therefore, spend 80% on that 20%.’
She’s the only tailor on Savile Row catering solely for women and does everything from cream cashmere coats with fur collars to white-silk tuxedos.perhaps her greatest skill lies in making the perfect pair of trousers—often for a difficult size or shape.
After a bucolic upbringing in Suffolk— ‘there were three churches and a sewing shop, so if you weren’t into religion, there wasn’t much else to do as a child’—phoebe ended up on Savile Row two years ago. Her first customer was the CEO of Virgin Money, who, at 6ft 1in, found buying clothes difficult.
Of course, womenswear isn’t without its challenges. ‘It’s a different skill set to men’s tailoring and there are more measurements with a woman—they’re very different to cut. A woman’s weight also tends to change more,’ continues Phoebe.
Dominic Sebag-montefiore, creative director at Edward Sexton in Knightsbridge, is an advocate of the power of tailoring to transform awkward body shapes: ‘If you haven’t got the smallest waist, we can make the shoulders wider and the bust fuller.’
For a beautiful hunting jacket, Richard Anderson is the go-to place; for shirts, Emma Willis makes exquisite bespoke pieces from her Gloucestershire town house—and these can still be thrown in the wash. Those looking for shoes should turn to Caroline Groves, whose creations have theatrical flair, but also work for day-to-day.
Still ruling the roost for impeccable tweeds and smoking jackets—as well as the aforementioned tie-dye onesies—is Huntsman. In addition, the company offers a ‘design your own tweed’ service, with a trip to the Islay mill and woodcock shooting—the ultimate gift at £10,000, including a jacket.
‘There are more measurements with a woman–they’re very different to cut’