The Anatomy of the Power Suit

With the election coming up, Daniel Kinne, the tailoring tutor at Morley College, might have an insight into who is “cut from the right cloth”.
“Well suited.”
That’s the phrase. That’s what we want in a candidate and that is what all the candidates from any party want to portray. That they are well suited for the job and what better way to show the public this through the suit.

What should be better suited to the role of clothing the candidate than that unmistakeable stalwart of politicians: the two button, single breasted, notch lapel, navy jacket? Hold on a minute, you might say, what is all this talk about buttons and breast and all this about? Yes, an introduction to tailoring terminology might be in order.

The number of buttons is actually quite important: it determines the length of the lapel, the part of the jacket that rolls back onto itself and is connected to the collar. It also plays a role in how formal a suit is. In general one may say the fewer buttons, the more formal. Count them. Dinner jacket: one, business suit: two, blazer: many more. Jackets may also be single breasted or double breasted. In layman’s terms how many layers of cloth are placed over the chest, formerly known as the breast. Single breasted overlapping only a bit to button. Double breasted overlapping a lot to button, laying double across the chest.

However, who is just “well suited” versus who is “best suited”?

As the election heats up, Savile Row, the traditional home of London’s most sought after tailoring firms, has been called upon by the candidates. Simple off-the-peg styles, no matter how well crafted, simply won’t do anymore at this stage in the game! It’s time to go from the high street to the specialists.
Savile Row and its famous tailors are the home of true British tailoring and as a candidate not only do you want to be well suited, but you want to look solid: Solid on policies on what matters to voters most, a solid personal character and a solid resume. If you want solid then the traditionally British tailored suit is the one for you. This icon of the past, present and future has always been known to be more solidly made than its European cousins. Especially when compared with the light Italian suits. And the long and short of it is down to the fact that they just don’t get weather like we do. Then again, we don’t really get weather like they do, either.

However it is not just down to a question of the weather. There is also the little matter of tradition to consider that distinguishes the British jacket from the others. Having descended from a common ancestor in the coats of the early 18th century, towards the late 18th century we find the English favouring a riding coat, or redingote. This obsession with horses should play an important part in stylistic choices! Fashions changed once again and coats were replaced by jackets and a decision needed to be made about which three vents in the skirt, one at the back and two down the sides, should be kept and which should be eliminated. The common sense of the English prevailed. One vent, which the Europeans settled on, might be fine and dandy to make room for one’s own rump when walking, but, said the English, it should certainly require two to accommodate the rump of one’s mount when riding. Hence they ended up with just one vent in the back on the continent and we have two on the sides over here!

Hang on a minute, though, first it’s breast, now skirt, too? No, I am not joking. The part of a jacket below the waist, even to this day, is known as the skirt of the jacket. But that is nothing to be ashamed of! We are modern men, more in touch with our feminine side than maybe even we were aware of.
The allure of tailoring is self-evident in the tailoring puns that pervade our daily life. Things are “tailored” to your needs, “well suited”, “fitting”, all the hallmarks of a tailored suit are synonymous with the highest degree of quality married with the highest degree of individuality.

A suit made just for you, breaking perhaps a lifelong mould of squeezing yourself into the nearest, sadly usually larger-than-you-had-hoped-for standard size, can be likened to a butterfly emerging from its cocoon and taking flight.
And in a way that’s how we all want to feel at the end of the election, that we will have someone who fits the role best.
To find out more why not try your hand at tailoring? You might find that it suits you, if you pardon the pun, and pick up some more vocabulary along the way such as carbage, pork piece and tailor’s ham.

With the election coming up, Daniel Kinne, the tailoring tutor at Morley College, might have an insight into who is “cut from the right cloth”.


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