A Fine Man Once Said:

"Part of the 10 million I spent on gambling, part of it on booze, and part of it on women. The rest I spent foolishly."

- George Raft

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Word on Wilfred the Tailor

I often receive queries regarding opinions on decent tailors here in New York City, and so this seemed like a good time to perhaps write a few words about my alterations tailor. I have been frequenting Wilfred's for some years now for work on suit jackets and pants, odd trousers, dress shirts, and blazers, overcoats, and just about anything else one might need to bring to a tailor at one time or another. Here, then, are my thoughts and impressions on Wilfred's, based on my own experiences over the last few years.

When I began visiting Wilfred at 23rd street (they have since moved to 30th and 6th), I generally worked with whichever tailor happened to be at the front desk when I popped in. In those instances, the attention to detail varied somewhat, which tended to stretch out the time from when I brought an item in to when it was actually completed. Since I'm usually pretty easy-going when it comes to this sort of thing, a two-week turnaround time wasn't really much of an issue for me. In the end, the clothing was done the way I wanted it, so I had no real complaints.

More recently, I began dealing directly with Wilfred because I found that he had a better understanding of how I wanted my clothes to fit, which seemed to eliminate a lot of the back and forth that had occurred previously. As with any tailor, our relationship has only improved over time. He literally knows how I will like a pair of flannel trousers to fit, at this point. Interestingly, I have also developed a better sense of his personal preferences, which I think is important because if these things are not discussed in advance, you are likely to end up with the "house" style or something more in line with the tailor's idea of how he might wear a jacket or pants. Of course, these are simply preferences but at this point mine are well-known, which makes things much easier. At this point, I know that Wilfred prefers a fairly tapered leg with more of a cuff than I would prefer. I have tinkered with that look at times, but I generally prefer a straighter leg with a cuff at about 1 3/4 inches at most. Everyone at Wilfred's knows my preferences for the most part, so while there is still a dialogue regarding how to approach a specific alteration, there is significantly less time wasted with suggestions that I will not be interested in pursuing.

As for the actual work that's been done, there's almost to much to mention here item-by-item. Off the top of my head, I've had shirt sleeves shortened, suit sleeves shortened from the cuff, suit sleeves with working button holes shortened from the shoulder, working button holes created on a jacket, trouser pleats removed to create a flat front, the crotch of the trousers shortened, trousers taken in at the thighs. I even had another jacket re-weaved by someone that Wilfred recommended - the moth hall was gone and the fabric looked seamless when I got it back. Of these alterations, I would describe the re-cutting of the trousers (a pair of pants from a navy Oxxford suit) as a complicated piece of work that I was ultimately very pleased with. The re-working of the shoulder was done on an odd Navy Borrelli jacket that I like to wear casually. This was also done quite well, in my opinion, and I was pleased with how it turned out.

One other piece of work that I was very pleased with, and which I think deserves special mention, was the shortening of a Dunhill Bespoke double-breasted (which, in the interest of full disclosure should be pointed out was not made for me originally) from the shoulder, something which I had never heard of before. Because of the placement of the 6x2 button configuration, shortening from the bottom would have ruined the proportions of the suit (a lovely, classic grey pinstriped flannel). Wilfred suggested shortening from the shoulder and at the same time shortening the sleeves from the shoulder due to the working buttonholes while also reducing the shoulder opening and the width of the sleeves (mainly between the shoulder and the elbow). Finally, the jacket was taken in at the sides to create a more tapered silhouette. Quite a bit of work, but as I received the suit gratis from a friend, I thought it was worth the expense to finally have a classic DB for the colder weather months. As I said, I was blown away by the results, and hope to post some pictures of the Dunhill (and the shoulder work on the navy jackets) this weekend.

All in all, I would definitely recommend Wilfred's Tailoring for "basic" alteration work. If you're a bit finicky when it comes to your clothes, I would suggest that you get a sense of what Wilfred would recommend beforehand. If what he suggests is in line with your sensibilities, then great. If not, don't hesitate to make your preferences clear. This way, I think you'll be satisfied with the work. I would also recommend him for more complicated work, based on my experience, although be prepared for more back and forth, and more "fittings" before the work is finalized. On average, I would say that work is done within a week (the turnaround can probably be faster, although I've never asked) and in some cases, if I didn't like the look of something, another few days were necessary to get it just right. The Dunhill DB probably took longer (perhaps three weeks) but the suit jacket was essentially re-cut so there was significantly more trying on to ensure the fit was good.

One final word when frequenting Wilfred's: the man to know is Rob at the front desk. He really makes the place run smoothly and efficiently. Quite literally, Rob is the man.

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