Saturday, August 15, 2009

The jacket with a thousand fathers

If I were honest, I'd blame Ralph. His "Out of Africa" creations. They left an indelible impression. Khaki, olive drab, linen, perfect summer weather wear.

I don't look like Robert Redford, and I didn't/don't have Meryl's money, so for a young man putting together a working wardrobe, linen didn't make much sense. My masters would have shown me quickly to the door.

Fast forward a few years, until say 2007 or so. Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist published this photo.

I take a look in the mirror, and say I'm old enough to pull off a bit of linen. It's likely to be tough sell at home, but c'est l'vie.

Fast forward again to summer 2009. Schuman does it again.

I'm floored by the details of this jacket. Mentally, I'm composing my own. In the mean time I bought several linen suits. Research. I wanted to get a feel of how linen worked. I fell in love. I enjoyed the creases. However, the heavier the material the more rumples, the fewer wrinkles.

Scott begins to rub it in. I feel like I'm in "The Blues Brothers". It must be a mission from the gods. "Find a heavy linen jacket", they said.

I hesitated. I rationalized my sloth. Closet's too small, time to save some money, it's too late for this year, and on and on.

Then Mr. Mort adds his two cents worth. This is the jacket you were meant to have, said Mort.

Not so fast. If I was going to do it, it was going to be my way. Unlike one you would ever find in a store. Unlike one, I would ever see again.

Two weeks ago I succumbed. Made my list, went to the tailor. Sing like this I said.

Unconstructed, one button, shawl collar, side vents, patch pockets, working sleeve buttonholes picked in baby blue, half lined. I want to wear it like a cardigan sweater.

Today the tailor's translation of my vision came home. It was worth the wait. As I have said before, you need to think a problem through, thoroughly. Once you understand the problem, the solution is often obvious.

You've waited long enough. Here it is.

The blue stitching on the jacket button may have been a mistake. Easily fixable.

The cloth is still very stiff. Needs a bit of the Fred Astaire throw it against the wall treatment, or even better to be rolled up in a gym bag for a couple of weeks. I more likely to wear it soft. Also, it's surprisingly heavy. Not uncomfortably so, but noticeably.

I especially like the hand sewn edges along the collar.



ADG said...

Toad...that coat is nirvana man! I've been waitin' all these weeks to see it. Hope you don't mind that your contrivance is the inspiration for my next rig...when I get the dough.

I'm sure the new will fall right out of it if you just put it on and watch 4-6 consecutive hours of Merchant-Ivory stuff on TV.

Finally-get Mrs. T. to snap a couple of pics with you wearing it. I need my mind's eye to process the 3-D ish image of the coat.

Good on you my man!


Mrs. Blandings said...

This makes me want to have something made. Really well made. It is just right.

Clinton said...

Toad - I have to say, when you said "shawl collar" and "linen" in one sentence, I was more than a little dubious. I couldn't visualize that working out well. I couldn't have been more wrong, I'm thoroughly impressed with how it came out, both in terms of your vision and your tailor's quality workmanship. Bravo!

initials CG said...

I know what you mean about thinking through tough's a great jacket! And honestly, wait a while before removing the blue stitching. It has a certain something out of the ordinary.

As far as linen goes, Irish linen is by far the best, imho. You'll find lighter, cooler weights, but real irish linen (costs a lot)just gets better with wear and tear and stains and time and...tailors like working with it.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Wow! Nicely done. Very "Out of..." the ordinary.

Agreed, wait to remove the blue stitching at least a bit. I might have done it in white, or not... .