Most of the traditional tailors and clothiers have contributed some signature piece or look to the canon. Henry Poole gave us the dinner jacket in 1865. In the late 1800s, Cordings pioneered the covert coat and tattsersall shirts. Haspel introduced seersucker suits around 1909, and Brooks Brothers’ contributions are almost too many to list – from introducing madras clothing in 1902, Shetland sweaters around 1904, and pink buttondown shirts in 1949. In the 1960s, Chipp popularized patchwork madras as well as embroidered critter trousers and jackets.
The Andover Shop’s contribution to the canon, in keeping with its playful patrician-bohemian aesthetic, is patchwork tweed. “Over the years, we’ve offered a range of patchwork items, from trousers, vests, jackets, scarves, and hats,” said Jim Toomey, vice president and nephew of the shop’s co-founder Virgil Marson. The tweed scraps are the byproduct of their made-to-measure and bespoke work, but there is an art to how they are thoughtfully combined into something more than the sum of its parts. The shop’s head tailor, Pat Grillo, explained how there’s a balance of how the tweed scraps are assembled. “We connect horizontal lines of different patterns across a solid color block, so that there is continuity. Or we carry through one minor color into the major color of the next block — this blue overcheck patch segueing into a blue herringbone tweed patch. And the whole piece has to have a rhythm and balance. Sometimes we end up removing one swatch and replacing it with something brighter or more subtle. It takes molto lavorare to make it look effortless.”
Last year, in his final months at the Cambridge shop, co-founder Charlie Davidson held up a patchwork tweed vest to show me. “This fits you perfectly. You should get this.”
I was skeptical: “But what does it go with?”
“It goes with nothing,” he grinned, “so it goes with everything.” Charlie proceeded to demonstrate how it worked as the centerpiece of an otherwise understated combination of navy blazer, khakis and blue buttondown.
Larry Mahoney, vice president of the Cambridge location, offered another view. “You can also wear it with chambray or denim shirt, for more of a louche boarding school musician look. Just imagine playing acoustic guitar on a park bench just past Harvard Yard, a block from Sylvia Plath’s former apartment. It’s Good Will Hunting meets Almost Famous.” – ANV
Vintage Andover Shop items from The Cary Collection.