Ilkley bespoke tailors Norton & Townsend shares its tips on choosing suits. Stephanie Smith discovers more about its guide to the language of menswear.
Far from being a dying craft, tailoring is enjoying a renaissance as modern men increasingly learn to appreciate the confidence and style that a well-made suit can bring.
Bespoke tailors Norton & Townsend is based in Ilkley, from where it operates a network of tailors across the country. It was founded in London in 1990, and has a shop there. It opened its second shop in Bolling Road, Ben Rhydding, near Ilkley, at its headquarters and parent company, Buxton Pickles.
Many of the fabrics Norton & Townsend uses come from Moon & Sons, based in Guiseley, helping the company to spread the message that quality cloth and master bespoke tailoring is the key to becoming a well-dressed man.
Its classic meets contemporary approach is exemplified by its latest fashion shoot photographed by Dan Kennedy and modelled by solicitor-turned-model Richard Biedul, who has worked with Polo Ralph Lauren, Vogue and GQ Spain in the last few months.
So, for those whose New Year resolutions include turning on the style, Richard Jupp, tailor and head of operations at Norton & Townsend, gives his guide to choosing a suit and dressing to suit body shape.
Tall: Finding well-fitting clothes can be a difficulty at the best of times, and suits can be even harder. Longer limbs mean often you are in the extremes of the sizes, although you might not always match the rest of the measurements. This is the problem of “scaling” – as the length of the leg or arm gets bigger, other dimensions of the suit will also. This means that you can be left with arms that are long enough, but a jacket that’s too big, or vice versa. Having trousers, shirt and jacket sleeves the ideal length can make a real difference to the overall look of the suit – and unlike your waist, these measurements are unlikely to change. For the longer limbed, we’d suggest a closer fit of suit, to avoid the billowing out. Use horizontal lines to break up height, with your belt, for example. If you’ve been blessed with a long torso, you can afford to cover some of it with a waistcoat, or if the suit is a great fit, simply button your jacket.
Large: Again, it’s likely that larger gentlemen are going to have trouble with the problem of scaling when buying off the rack. What might fit you in one area is too tight or too large in others. Settling for a suit that has too large a profile in areas can serve only to exaggerate your size, rather than one which matches all your different measurements. Having a suit which is neatly brought in at the right places can avoid bulging fabric and a baggy and untidy look, but avoid going too tight or you might give the impression of forcing yourself into too small a suit.
Short: One of the most important things to remember is avoiding excess cloth to make sure you don’t look like a school child in a blazer that’s a few sizes too big. Also be sure the skirt of the jacket doesn’t overlap the trousers too much, to ensure that the length of your legs is accentuated.
Slender: One of the most frequent problems you’ll face when looking to buy a suit off the peg is the way you can appear to be drowning in fabric. Ask your tailor to give you a sharp and slender silhouette, to avoid excess fabric around the shoulders and the baggy look that ill fitting trousers can give. You can match the slim fit of the suit with slender lapels and a narrow tie for a particularly elegant look.
Muscular: Finding a suit that’s flattering and well fitting for the more muscular physique can be quite a challenge. If the fit isn’t right, it’s hard to tell between musculature and just size. A better fit around the chest can be achieved by adjustment of the chest darts. Other details, like allowing a little extra room on the shoulders for those bulging deltoids can make a great deal of difference, avoiding the impression that you’ve borrowed the suit of a smaller man. The suit jacket should also be nipped in a little around the waist, otherwise the breadth of the jacket can obfuscate that hard-earned “V taper”. If you’ve got an athletic physique with chunky glutes, a centre vent option in the jacket might be more sensible than the side vent option to keep the shape and fit of the skirt of the jacket. A tapered trouser fit might well be a better option than the slimmer fit, allowing more room in the upper leg.