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Men's Fashion Issue

Anatomy of a Gentleman

Power points in the science of the suit

April 03, 2005|VICTORIA NAMKUNG

Men are showing signs of renewed interest in "dressing" these days, and old-school tailors are breathing a collective sigh of relief. For this elite group, fewer torn jeans, baggy fits and Hawaiian shirts in the landscape means a better world. "There was a time I really thought about retiring and giving it all up because the old guys were disappearing," says Jack Taylor, the legendary Beverly Hills tailor who suited up the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Danny Thomas. "But a younger generation started discovering me recently." That coterie includes movers and shakers such as Decades store owner Cameron Silver, fashion photographer Dewey Nicks and actor Jason Schwartzman.

With Taylor's hand-sewn bespoke suits starting at $2,950, gentlemen in the making can visit his atelier for less than the cost of an off-the-rack Brioni or Gucci. Taylor, 87, wears a suit every day of the week and welcomes the recent boom in nattiness, but he still misses the old days. "Cary Grant was the best because he really loved clothing," Taylor says. "He was good-looking, tall, and what else was he going to spend his money on?" Ready to look like a Rat Packer? Here are Taylor's tricks and tips to consider when having a suit made to measure:

A good tailor should measure height, collar, chest, waist, seat, pant length and inseam.

A collar should show a quarter-inch at the back of the neck

The jacket's sleeve length should show 3/8-inch of the shirt's cuffs.

Sloping shoulders can benefit from a pad, but square shoulders do not need any padding.

Pants should sit right at the waist. If they're too high-waisted, suspenders are required.

Go for the finest wool that you can afford. Blends with silk and cashmere are pricey, but worth it.

Think about a custom lining. Creative types can go as outrageous as pink polka dots.

Chalk or pinstripes must follow the angle-line of the lapel exactly.

Lapels should be sized according to the client. Bigger guys will need larger lapels to create balance.

A jacket only needs a one-button closure, right at the waist. The other two buttons are just decorative.

Pant hems should be slightly longer in back, hanging shorter in front for a small break from the foot.

A quarter-inch slant to pockets helps pants hug the body.

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Jack Taylor, 188 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 274-7276.

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