Everyone knows I prefer long-sleeved shirts over t-shirts. I find them to be versatile as I can dress them up with a tie and a sport coat or down by rolling up sleeves and leaving the top button unfastened. But there are times when you simply just want to dress down during the weekend but still look classy. When I tried on the Saint James Nautical T-Shirt from Kapok I knew I just had to have it. It was more than what I usually pay for a t-shirt at HKD 440 (PHP 2,420 at PHP 5.5 to the HKD). Continue Reading
I purchased two yards of black chambray during my first visit to the textile market in Binondo last January. The fabric is slightly yellow due to the number of years it has been stored there giving it a somewhat vintage look. The photos don’t show that yellowing as I opted to go black and white. I used my GAP utility shirt as my basis but changed the design of the pockets. My tailor didn’t pay attention to the distance of the pockets from the shirt placket and it was too long on the front so I had he shirt redone. This is the finished product.
Last month I went to Binondo to check out the textile market. I only bought two yards of black chambray for a shirt but promised myself that I would be back to buy more. I went back over the weekend and looked through pretty much every corner of the market looking for fabric. I bought quite a lot this time around for what I spent.
I’ve described the fabrics by stating their color, material and weave. I also included how much is a yard in Philippine pesos and the width of the cloth in inches. Continue Reading
Hey,I was browsing how to clean Bristol Montgomery shoes when I saw the link to your blog. I would like to commend your blog, it’s really informative. I, myself, am trying to improve the way I dress since I am now working. I am required to wear formal wear (sometimes with coat) in the office 5 days a week and I want to look good. My main problem is, I’m short. I’m only 5’3″ and finding shirts that fit me is a really hard and sometimes embarrassing as they tend to be too long (small size) or too wide on the shoulders. One of your entries talks about you having 3 shirts custom made, I would like to try this too. Where did you buy the fabrics and where did you have them made? I live near Makati, do you know any good tailors near me? Your help would be highly appreciated. I am also thinking about having my first coat made, I also saw entries of you having your coat done. Could you also help me with this one? I know I may be asking too much but I really need help. I want to look good. Hoping for a reply,
Glad you like what you’re seeing here. You made a good choice by purchasing a pair of Bristol Shoes’ Montgomery. Good shoes are the foundation of any wardrobe.
We have the same problem of finding the best fitting shirts and that is exactly the same reason why I no longer buy shirts off the rack (unless I find them really nice and can’t find them anywhere else). Fanbi Fabrics has by far the best selection of shirting fabrics in the metro. For your size and body type, I would recommend striped dress shirts with pinpoint collars to give that additional height. As you are already going with striped shirts, pair it with solid ties not wider than 3¼ inch.
For your suit, I would recommend a two-button charcoal gray suit with classic-width notch or peak lapels. A two-button suit is more modern and the longer ‘V’ will make you have a longer looking torso. Notch lapels should be on the upper part of your chest along or near the collar bone (beware of tailors who advise otherwise). Peak lapels will give the appearance of height and at the same time add a touch of flair. The suit should cover your buttocks but should also be as short as possible to balance the look. Opt for side vents.
In a follow up email you said your shirts tend to bulge around the waist. This is due to the fact that there is a lot of excess fabric that sometimes cannot be tucked in. Shirts you still would like to wear should be properly altered. In relation to this, I would also recommend that your suit trousers start right below your belly button with legs cut straight. This will give you longer legs and enough space for your shirts to be properly tucked in. Your trousers should also break on top of the shoe and should not bunch up. Lastly, add some cuffs (1⅝ inch) to compliment your choice of shoes.
I have had shirts done by Galang and Cornell but no experience with them having a suit commissioned. They both do generally good work with Galang relatively cheaper than Cornell. I suggest you visit both shops and take a look at the suits & shirts they have created if they are to your liking.
Best of luck on your new suit and shirts.
Buying off the rack clothing is a convenient activity. You walk into the store, pick some clothes, try them on, and if you like how they look and fit, you walk out with them. It’s what everyone does in this day and age. Unfortunately, all off the rack clothing is made to fit all kinds of people. If you’re lucky and by that I mean your body is almost exactly like the fit model it was designed on, you will look swell. In most cases you won’t and this is a huge problem for all men out there especially those with unconventional body shapes.
In my experience, buying shirts off the rack will end up like this:
- The shirt has a lot of extra fabric around the waist when tucked in;
- The shirt sleeves are too loose;
- The shirt sleeves are too long; and
- The chest is too wide even with the right shoulders.
And buying pants ends up like this:
- Too straight down the leg;
- Thigh area is a bit loose; and
- The length has to be shortened by 2-3 inches.
Such problems can be remedied through alterations. It might sound simple enough to the average person, but there is actually an art to having alterations done. Let me show you how.
1. Don’t just go to anyone or any shop that claims they can do alterations. There is at least one alteration shop in each mall these days but you can’t trust them. My advice is to have alterations done at a real tailor who is skilled at creating clothes from scratch. Real tailors employ master cutters who are experts at how to cut the fabric so that it fits well. A master cutter will be able to properly advise you on the alteration.
2. Use pins to mark and better imagine how your piece of clothing will look like on you. By using them you will be able to see how much fabric will be removed, what your shirt/pants will look like if shortened, and so on. I had this alteration experience that went the wrong way after the one who was going to do the alterations didn’t use pins. Many of my shirts became unusable after the alteration so I’ve sworn only to have my clothes altered by professionals who use pins.
3. Flex and raise arms to see how the shirt will move. Once the pins have been applied everything might look fine but it is important not to ignore your shirt sleeves especially when they’re long. Folding your arms means fabric will move and you don’t want the fabric to be too close to the skin that you can no longer move in them. Extend your arms forward and fold them to see how the fabric moves. Do this while the pins are in place and adjust the pins until you can fold your arms without much restriction.
4. Sit down and see how your shirt will expand around the waist. There are a lot of men out there who do not have a flat stomach. They might have a small or big belly. A shirt that fits well while standing up might become uncomfortable when sitting down. When you can no longer take your stomach in, the fabric will eventually need to accommodate your belly thus you will need to make sure that there is some excess fabric. Sitting down helps you estimate how much fabric you will need to allot in order for you to wear it comfortably.
5. Follow the stitching, thread color and how fabric is put together. These are minor details but this can affect the final look of the clothes you are having altered. Clothing such as a denim shirts have been washed and it shows along the stitched areas. It might not be possible to retain the original look along the stitched areas but at the very least follow how it was folded and stitched.
6. Repair jeans early. Jeans can easily get stressed at the crotch area and I advise that they be repaired early way before they stretch too much and rip apart. Denim is darker when it is not stretched too much so the repairs done to it will not be that visible.
7. On the use of darts. I don’t have darts added to shirts as I prefer a clean back and a better fit. I usually see darts on very slim-fitting shirts who are meant for very slim people and I’m just not one of them. If you are a slim guy and there isn’t a lot of fabric to be taken in, try using darts.
8. Extensive alterations can be costly. Extensive alterations mean taking in the sides, shortening the length & width of the sleeves and shortening the overall shirt length – it’s like overhauling an automobile. It can cost you anywhere between 800 and 1000 pesos for an extensive alteration depending on the shop. When buying clothes off the rack make sure they fit well to minimize the alterations to be done.
Having clothes altered ensures you have the best possible look and fit when buying off the rack.
I have my clothes altered at King Philip. They can be found along Arnaiz Ave./Pasay Road in Makati City.
It was the first time I had bespoke shirts made so I thought I should write down a few things about the outcome and what I should be doing for my next batch of shirts. I had three shirts made: a light blue chambray shirt, a red and blue stripes shirt and a white Japanese cotton shirt. It took the tailor about a week to finish.
1. Know the fabrics you will be using. Sometimes the reason why it doesn’t turn out the way you want it to be is because you chose the wrong fabric. Certain fabrics appear more casual and others more dressy. The white Japanese cotton shirt that I intended to be a dress shirt came back looking like a casual shirt after being laundered. The fabric is like my white GAP shirt but it’s a bit thinner. I’ve decided to have the shirt altered (collars and cuffs softened; collars changed to button down).
2. Bring a ‘blueprint’. I used the Oxford shirts I bought from Uniqlo because they fit great. I told my tailor to follow them but he still took measurements while I wore it just to be sure.
3. The shirt placket should depend on how you intend to wear the shirt. Casual shirts usually have a strip about an inch in width while dress shirts are folded underneath to appear more neat.
4. Casual shirts should not use stiff collars and cuffs. Dress shirts should use them but should be softer than the usual. I had to ask the tailor to change the collars and cuffs on my two casual shirts because they were too stiff. They didn’t give off a casual vibe.
5. Ask advice on the right thread color to use. You can also look around for the appropriate thread colors.
6. Choose the buttons that your shirt will have. The tailor normally provides this as part of the service but it is better to choose them so that it gives off the right vibe.
7. Mind the length of the shirt. Shirt lengths should be about one or two inches higher than the lowest area of your crotch if you will use them both tucked in and tucked out. Use your pants as a reference.
8. More room around the chest & arms, longer sleeves and wider cuffs. Since I patterned my shirts from a casual shirt, the areas around the chest and arms are a bit too tight. I’ll add about two centimeters around the chest area so that the fabric does not stretch – stretching is apparent for fabrics with stripes. The sleeves of dress shirts should also be longer by about an inch and the cuffs slightly wider to accommodate my hands (especially if you intend to wear it with a suit).
9. A semi-spread collar looks really good on dress shirts. It’s a modern and fashion-forward collar type that’s not as bold as a full spread collar nor as boring and common as a straight point collar.
10. Clean back for dress shirts. No darts (unless really necessary). No pleats or folds.
Now let’s talk about costs. The tailor billed me 600 pesos for making the shirt and the buttons. Fabrics cost anywhere between 120 to 200 pesos per yard. The chambray is quite cheap at 120 pesos per yard. Both the red & blue stripes and the white Japanese cotton cost 180 pesos per yard. I bought two yards of each fabric for each shirt with some extra fabric left for minor alterations. Each shirt cost me less than 1,000 pesos.
Having my first batch of bespoke shirts made has been a great learning experience. I look forward to applying what I’ve learned in the next batch.
(Originally published on my Tumblr blog)