Earlier this summer I met with Lee Denslow of Emerson Bespoke, a Connecticut-based clotheshorse who’s having a blast running a little side business making custom clothing. Lee was making me a tweed sportcoat (which I’ll share soon), and the measuring and finishing was done by his associates at Alterations Master, located just a few doors down from Paul Stuart on 45th Street.
I was wearing my gray suit from Tex-Teq (the tailored clothing division of Kamakura Shirts in Japan), and when I started talking shoulders with the fitter Juan, saying that I liked a natural, sloping shoulder, he took the jacket I was wearing and did something I’d never seen before. He pinched the fabric on the shoulder seam in a way that made it slope down more steeply. The term he kept using was “angle” — not being a nuts-and-bolts tailoring guy, I’d never come across the term in discussions of different shoulder styles.
Juan’s demonstration stuck with me, and eventually I decided that I should have the experiment done in order to report the findings to you guys. Now alterations in that most delicate area of a jacket are tricky, but I think the operation was a success and the suit now has a more sloping silhouette. A small wrinkle appeared on the back of the neck area, but I’ll see if that can be steamed out. Also, as a result of the alteration the gorge is slightly higher. I think a high gorge is more elegant, especially if you’re tall (or want to appear that way), but that’s a taste matter only you can decide.
Turns out I don’t have a very good “before” picture, but this one kind of shows that the shoulder angle is more horizontal:
And here’s an “after” photo taken Tuesday night at a party hosted by Kirby Allison’s Hanger Project at Nat Sherman, the celebrated tobacconist on 42nd Street. You should be able to note that the shoulder comes down more steeply from the back of the neck:
Now clothing alterations are one of the biggest forms of Manhattan sticker shock, not too far behind real estate. This operation is going to run you $250 or even more. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s actually a bargain. Another partygoer at Kirby’s event was none other than Len Logsdail, the renowned tailor with a growing list of movie credits (“Wall Street 2,” for example). Len’s suits start at around $6K and when we chatted about this alteration, he said if a client brought it to him he’d have to charge about $700 for it to be worth his time.
As I never tire of saying, only you can decide what your priorities are, from cost and quality to fit and style. But if you’ve got jackets in your closet that you love everything about but the shoulders, and are willing to pay up in order to have them more to your liking, here’s an option you may not have known was possible.
Alterations Master is a busy, busy place (always a good sign), with a handful of tailors (not just one), excellent service, and Juan seems to really know his stuff. They own the piece of cyber real estate Alterations.com, so you can head over there to book an appointment, or telephone them at 212.392.5711. Of course they’re also a fantastic resource, conveniently located in Midtown, for all your other alterations needs. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD