[quote=“Mother Theresa”][quote=“Lord Lucan”]I don’t see the point of tailored shirts unless you need them because you have an 18" neck and 33" sleeves or something.
A tailored shirt will be about twice the price of an equivalent quality off the peg shirt. A hundred US is a good guide for off the peg, so a good bespoke shirt should be around 100 quid.[/quote]
LL, you clearly set the sartorial standard around here. I mean that sincerely.
But I disagree with the above. True, if one pays more one can get very nice clothing that looks superior and may last longer. But I like tailored clothing because it fits just right, I pick just the right fabric I want and it can be cheaper than comparable off-the-rack clothing. I just went to my tailor over the weekend and ordered a shirt for NT$900 and dress slacks for NT$2300. I admit they may not be up to your standard, but they’ll look very nice: not just better than any local cell-phone salesman’s garb, but perfectly suitable for high-level, international, corporate business and, to the eye of almost all observers except you and a few London bankers, virtually indistinguishable from what you’re wearing.[/quote]
You’re probably right. And I don’t really set the standard of course, I just have a few decent shirts. But it’s all a facade: The City Banker. Jermyn Street shirt, woven silk tie, chunky cufflinks, school shoes, black socks, pinstripe or chalkstripe suit, and Bob’s your uncle.
But I have seen a lot of the so-called “tailored” stuff made in Shanghai, and it is, I am afraid, crap. Sorry. Someone please prove me wrong. The collars are crap. The material is badly stitched. The shirts are just cheap looking. Basically it’s all about ripping off the stupid foreigners. And tailoring is no exception. Badly cut, badly measured, shit material, floppy cuff and collars that you have to starch. Have seen good stuff out of HK and BKK, but not actually worn it, or tried to iron it. Of course if you allow a laundry to clean and/or iron your clothes then it doesn’t matter what they were like to start off with and perhaps that’s what’s wrong with these shirts I see that look like they were stolen from the Elephant Man. There are a couple of places here that might do good stuff, but the suit’s a thousand US for starters and haven’t priced the shirts.
As for suits, there is no need IMHO to go for madly expensive fabrics. A nice light wool in dark blue would suit me. My two favourite suits are made of a fabric approaching sackcloth in texture that they no longer make because there’s no-one else left in the world hairy enough to bear it near their skin except Almas John and he doesn’t wear suits. Of course I have to wear one of those throwaway shiny European suits for the summer and it has all the rigidity and shape of a floosie’s silk nightie. Also, given that I sweat like a ********* on Sport’s Day over here in the summer, the suits have to be cleaned every five minutes and dissolve after a couple of years anyway. For my next suit I’m getting a cheapo tailored suit. The material may wear out in a year, but no more baggy, er, bags, and orangutan sleeves.
I would get my casual clothes tailored too at the prices you quote, and clothes that fit will always look better than some Armani crap made in the backstreets of Milan on machines by Turkish immigrants unless you are Armani-man-sized. I can’t buy trousers over here in Shanghai, except from the re-importers. So it’s cheaper to get them sent over.
I’m going to give it another year of buying imported shirts and see what’s on offer next time I’m in HKG or BKK with someone who knows.
TNT: I have two shirts that are more that 10 years old. No visible wear at all. One simple wore through the arm the other week and is now dead. That one was 200s (I think) cotton so very thin to begin with.
I washed them for years in those shirt mangling cold-water 1940s washing machines they have in Taiwan. Now I have a proper washing machine which gently tumbles them in a very small amount (saving the planet you see) of warm water, but the shirts do not get clean around the collars and armpits sometimes. I am afraid the only option I can think of is pre-cleaning them with special soap. Basically like an old washer-woman. I wash and iron them myself, although I am training the wife in this regard. We are now in the tenth year of training and she still claims to not know how to do it (I claim to not know how to not make a mess of the kitchen when I cook or the Chinese for “I’ve got a headache” and life proceeds along in a jolly fashion on this basis). Do not allow a Chinese laundry to iron your double-cuff shirts or they will iron the cuffs into equal quadrants like a hot-cross-bun and you will be a source of amusement and a target for derision. People will stop talking as you enter the room and, later on, look furtively in your direction with big sad eyes, and nod knowingly to one another. If you haven’t got time to do your own ironing just get single cuffs. They will still iron a big crease into the cuff about where your thumb is but at least you will not look like a complete buffoon.
I have tried expensive imported washing powder (I am in China don’t forget where soap and the whole idea of washing anything are novelties) but it is no better for removing dirt. It does smell nice though. As I permanently smell of the pub this is not important to me. I do now wear a V-neck T-shirt in China during the summer to protect my shirts (and will continue to do so until aircon regains universal acceptance in Shanghai and when a man can hold his head up high in the Municipal Council and say “we shall turn on the air conditioning and to hell with the consequences!”). It is very effective. No more scary drenched foreigner in light blue shirt syndrome. You have to walk a lot in Shanghai too as there ain’t no taxis for no foreigners tonite*. Huge effect on sartorial planning. I met the British Ambassador earlier this year after walking for 20 minutes in 37 degrees and 100% humidity. Had I not had my trusty Giordano V-neck on underneath my blue shirt he may have simply brushed me off with an “Oh my God who let this blubbering sack of sweaty putrid filth into my breakfast briefing?” instead of the full “Hellow awfully spiffing to meet you and all that. Wot.” Which would have spelt social exorcism and looks of horror from the other chauffeur-driven non-going-outside-in-the-summer attendees.
I would expect a shirt costing fifty quid and well looked after to last five to eight years looking pristine, and up to ten wearable and without any fraying. I expect my shirts to last about three years in Shanghai because of the toxic washing powder and general filthiness (tapwater is green, air is grey with black particles). Suits about the same. Acceptable under the circumstances and probably longer than I’ll last if I stay in this godawful town.
*spot the reference and win a tin of warm REEB.