My introduction to bespoke tailoring is a tale of two suits. In the early Noughties, I got a booking to be a fashion presenter for the BBC at Royal Ascot. I didn’t own or inherit morning tails or a top hat but fortunately had recently met a dapper chap called Chris Modoo who worked for Britain’s oldest tailor Ede & Ravenscroft. I was measured-up for black morning tails, grey and black stripe brace-top trousers and a buff waistcoat. Instead of the usual consultation between cutter and customer, I just nodded my head and allowed myself to be guided. It was Chris who pointed out that the brace-tops had to be high so there was no danger of showing shirt and insisted that I wear yellow over-the-calf socks and garters. Chris selected a claret tie with white micro dots, a duck egg blue tunic shirt and a detachable stiff, stud collar. We worked on over forty combinations of shirt-tie-waistcoat-pocket-silk for the subsequent nine years that I worked at Royal Ascot. He never got one wrong.
About five years into the BBC gig, weight or wear necessitated new kit. By then, I was a little more familiar with Savile Row and asked Davies & Son chairman Alan Bennett to cut a new tailcoat inspired by one worn by the Duke of Windsor when Prince of Wales in the 1920s. Alan doesn’t advertise it, but he is incredibly knowledgeable about the history of Savile Row. There wasn’t even a question that he was going to cut generous ‘spongebag’ (houndstooth) trousers as worn by the prince and trim the tailcoat with black braid. It is the form at Royal Ascot for the men to wear dark waistcoats on Ladies’ Day so Alan cut a single-breasted tone-on-tone vest from the same cloth as the tailcoat and trimmed it with ‘slips’ made from white Marcella. Every detail was an homage to the Prince of Wales and was carefully considered. Even if you didn’t know or care about tailoring, you’d know Davies had produced a winner.