We all have our dealbreakers when it comes to tailored jackets, and over the past couple of years I’ve settled on mine: I need a natural shoulder and a three-inch lapel. Everything else is negotiable. Of course a center vent is kind of required, since I mostly wear buttondown collars and believe they’re best paired with a single vent, but those aren’t tough to find. And darted versus undarted doesn’t really matter to me.
The problem I’ve come up against is that there’s very little off the rack that fits this criteria. I can get a narrow lapel though not with a natural shoulder, and I can get a natural shoulder but not with a narrow lapel.
The only source I’ve found for both — not to mention bonuses such as patch pockets, lapped seams and a 3/2 roll — is Polo Ralph Lauren, but these jackets tend to run about $1,500. I’ve been lucky to find three on eBay at a fraction of that, and these Italian-made jackets are terrific. Another option is the new Norman Hilton, where you don’t get patch pockets but you do get a hook vent, and the shoulder is natural and the lapel is three inches. Unfortunately fabrics are limited.
But at Bruce Boyer’s recent book-signing party at Leffot, I spent a long time talking shop with a bunch of hardcore clotheshorses who suggested I try LS Clothiers on West 45th between Fifth and Sixth. The result is my first made-to-measure sportcoat, and it certainly won’t be the last.
The jacket was manufactured by H. Freeman, originally founded in Philadelphia a century ago but now operating out of Maryland. I selected one of their fabrics, a simple mid-weight charcoal herringbone, and offered up my physique to the tape measure. About a month later the jacket arrived, and it’s a peach. The comfort factor is amazing due to the balance of how the jacket hangs from my shoulders. But just as compelling as comfort is the ability to choose all the details.
Jacket details include a full canvas lining with plenty of handwork, a 3/2 roll, lapped seams, edge stitching and 8.5-inch hook vent. The chest is undarted but has some mild shaping through the sides. The two-button cuffs feature working buttonholes, and I provided the English horn buttons myself. And of course you get your name sewn in the lining, which is kind of cool the first time you see it.
For the next one I’ll bring in some Holland & Sherry cloth and maybe scoop up the last of Paul Winston’s Kama Sutra lining.
You’re probably wondering about the price. With tax and working buttonholes (a $38 surcharge), the jacket came out to $640, quite a bargain considering you’re getting exactly what you want and a perfect fit.
Inside the breast pocket there’s a little card to remind you where your money went. Thanks, Mary. — CC