Tag Archives: bespoke

Shopping Challenge: Norfolk Jacket

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Last month I put out the call for a shopping challenge, asking Lindy Shopper readers to send me on a mission for your heart’s desire, the garment you have been unable to find and add to your wardrobe. My first response was from Rich Werden, a fellow dancer and vintage clothing enthusiast who I met last year at All Balboa Weekend. One of his challenges (email subject line: “You want a challenge!?!?”) was to find a Norfolk jacket, or as Rich more aptly put it:

“The Coup de grace is a belt-back sport jacket that would actually fit me. The naming of this style is difficult: sometimes these jackets are called Action-Backs, Norfolk, or Bi-Swing jackets. The style was popular in heavy wools n’ tweed as an outdoorsman thing for going sport shooting in England, but of course, being a dancer, I wouldn’t want anything so heavy. Really, Nick Williams has an excellent white one that I have been jealous of for years! I can’t even find a place that would do one bespoke!”

Out of my element and, perhaps, out of my league, I set forth my online quest for this belt-back jacket. My first stop was eBay, to look for the right key words for my eBay searches, as the plan was to look online, but also have searches sent to me daily using the key words Rich gave me for this particular jacket. The term “Norfolk jacket” yielded the most results, almost all of them in tweed.

One of the jackets caught my eye, as it was in a lighter color and sans tweed, so I clicked through to view the auction description. The auction was for a vintage 1970’s Norfolk jacket, offered for sale by Bookster, a British company that sells vintage menswear, but also has their own retail web site for custom menswear – “Home of The Bookster Range, Craft Tailored in England from the Finest British Tweed, Wool and Linen Cloths at Accessible Prices.”

A promising start. I honed in on the word “linen” – yes, here’s a dancer-friendly fabric!

Bookster's Half-Norfolk Jacket

Not only does Bookster offer a “Half Norfolk Belt Feature” (among other lovely bespoke options), but they also offer their jackets in nine different colors of Irish Linen, including two stripes (you’ll have to scroll to the bottom for the linens).

I messaged Rich with the link, hoping that this was even close to what he wanted. Rich agreed that the linens would be the way to go. 🙂

The price is where things get squirrely. Everything is so customized and “bespoke,” down to the number of buttons, vents, regular v. comfort waistline, sleeve length, back length, pockets, shoulder pleats, yowza…I did a sample order, pretending to order a linen Norfolk jacket for my husband and the cost came out at around $550 U.S. This seems like a lot, but if this is THE piece you are missing and you will wear it until you are old and gray, I’d say it would be worth the investment. We do want to invest in some quality pieces, even though Lindy Shopper is always looking for a bargain. Or you could always settle for the disco-era Norfolk jacket they listed on eBay for $65.00.

As a side note, you can also order knickers from Bookster as part of your tweed or linen suit.

Matt Deckard's Action-Back

Rich upped the ante and found another website, Matt Deckard Apparel based in Los Angeles, offering several versions of the action-back jacket from this side of the pond. The photographs on this site give you an excellent idea of how the pieces will look in an ensemble – such classy gents! Prices range from $800 to $1,500 for a bespoke suit, so maybe the Bookster jacket isn’t looking so bad as an investment.

I’d like to thank Rich for this wonderful foray into menswear – I hope this information will help some of you in your searches as well!

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A.J. Machete & Sons Fine Tailoring

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Based out of Denver, Colorado, A.J. Machete & Sons offers bespoke, tailored menswear items of bygone eras through its Etsy store. While the suits are in the bespoke price range, their Etsy site does offer some more affordable garments and accessories that you may want to add to your existing swing dance wardrobe, such as custom vests, spats, cravats, and a 1930’s sports jacket.

They get a custom fit by using a muslin mock-up – if you’ve ever watched Project Runway or had something custom made before, you may be familiar with this process. Here’s their process for getting the right fit:

“First we get a rough idea of your measurements. You can measure yourself or a suit that you have. We would be glad to help you through this process and to mail you a cloth measuring tape, or, if you are in the Denver area, to measure you in person.
But even the most perfect measurements do not guarantee a good fit. All of our bodies are different shapes and sizes, moreover, we have different postures. A suit made from measurements is no better than a ready-to-wear suit…. it is unlikely to fit every aspect of your body smoothly. To remedy this, we first make the suit from a rough cotton muslin fabric and send it to you for feedback and (digital) pics.

Through examining the way that the muslin wrinkles and pulls, we can get an excellent idea of your figure and posture. At this point, we adjust the pattern based on your feedback and our knowledge and begin to create a suit that fits perfectly.”

Check out A.J. Machete & Sons’ blog, Denver Bespoke, for more examples of their handiwork.

Silk cravat/ascot, shown here in cranberry dupioni silk

Custom spats - not my first choice of fabrics, but if it's custom, I suppose the sky is the limit on fabric choices

Choose a 4 or 6 button vest

Four pocket high collared vest

Peak lapel vest

1930's style sports jacket

Indochino: Indescribably Stylish Suiting

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I really am speechless as to how to describe the suiting on the Indochino web site. It manages to be all things at once: cool, classic, vintage, modern, tailored, and edgy, with a slight sense of humor, a dash of executive, and a pinch of street cred. I’d like to think there’s a little something for everyone here and, with suiting tailored to your measurements, perhaps there’s a perfect fit for everyone as well.

I started out looking for three piece suits and quickly noticed the attention to detail on these garments. There were varying lapel widths, peaked lapels, excellent fabrics, and options like choosing your pant leg width, pick stitching, and a functional buttoniere. The term bespoke is tossed around a lot – items custom-made to the buyer’s specification – and I like it! The best part is that these custom suits cost much less than even your local tailor would probably charge you – I do try to keep the things I post on this blog under $200, but considering comparable expense for such suits as these, the Indochino price is a discount.

Never fear! There are things other than suits on this website, and well under $200. Shirts with custom cuffs and collars, vests in three different cuts, ties, cufflinks, pocket squares, and even a tie clip! *nods to Lindy Dandy* There are also gorgeous blazers, overcoats, and pants that are in that upper range, but…well, you should see for yourself.

I am, perhaps, most impressed with the construction of suit jackets, which have a canvas interlining to provide structure and drape. That extra layer is just another barrier between the lead’s sweat and the follower – just think followers, if the guy is wearing an undershirt, a dress shirt, and one of these jackets, that’s 5 layers of fabric the sweat has to wick through until it reaches you! Every little bit helps.

Here’s what I’m loving:

The Havana Suit - a lovely linen suit for summer

The Montecristo - the brown linen adds a nice twist on summer suiting

The Black Pinstripe Suit - classic, and check out those peaked lapels!

Blue Pin Stripe Double Breasted Suit

Navy Blue Pin Stripe Suit

The Nouveaux Socialite Tuxedo - LOVE this

The Performer Full Dress Tuxedo - it's killer diller!

The Weekend Jacket

The Nouveaux Socialite Vest

Light Gray Vest

Metallic Trifecta Cufflink

Good Groove Tie Clip