As Summer approaches, illustrious blazer specialists – as well as bespoke tailors – Benson & Clegg gives us some pointers
Article by Tony Martin head cutter at Benson & Clegg
As the head cutter and one of the owners of Benson and Clegg, I am often asked to how to define our company. Benson & Clegg are Bespoke Tailors and Gentleman Outfitters that takes every opportunity to create the perfect and impeccable English styled wardrobe for our clients.
I am often asked what is our house style or signature tailored item.
I am not one for putting bespoke tailoring in shackles and then adding it to a box by saying I have a house style, I see bespoke tailoring as being free, with no restrictions and for you to create the item of your dreams. On the other hand, having been trained by two such traditional Master Tailors as I have, it is hard to not find my own style; much like the head of a couture house in Paris or Milan, you bring your own ideas to the table and create a new style for the company.
I like to make garments that fit and hug the body’s contours perfectly with a clean natural shoulder line and a perfect silhouette. Benson & Clegg have always and will always produce the very best in traditional tailoring, the very best in quality and value for money that you will find anywhere in the West end of London and equal to the standard set by the Savile Row Bespoke Association.
Mr Benson and Mr Clegg were specialists in evening and morning dress, this is how they gained HRH King George the VI as a client and then went on to produce all of the King’s civilian and military garments. We were awarded our first Royal warrant for HRH King George VI in 1944. These skills have been passed down through the generations and continues today, but our new specialty is the traditional men’s blazer.
As we are now known to be the blazer specialist, we provide everything that you associate with the gentleman’s blazer, from the cloth to the buttons, badges and the construction of the garment – all of which can be seen on our website. In 1992 we was awarded our second Royal warrant to HRH The Prince of Wales for Buttons and Badges and more recently in 2012 for Military neckwear. The award of the Royal warrant is a sign of excellence in our field and we pride ourselves on giving our client the very best service at all times.
We also provide a bespoke blazer button, blazer badge and bespoke tie service in which the client can commission their very own design for these items. This could be a family crest, a corporate design or something more individual.
The word blazer comes from a battleship in the mid-19th Century HMS Blazer, on which the sailors would wear slightly different stripped jackets to distinguish which ship they were assigned to. For example HMS Blazer wore a blue and white stripe and HMS Harlequin wore their own colours. In the late 19th century the Royal Navy designed the uniform that continues to this day, midnight blue and heavy in weight.
This garment is the traditional blazer we now wear for everyday use. It can be single or double breasted with your choice of buttons, either brass, gold, silver, bronze, antique or in more modern times, horn or mother of pearl. This garment can be used as a very formal jacket worn with grey worsted, cavalry twill or flannel trousers or can also be dressed down with a pair of denim jeans or cotton chinos.
The modern blazer originated from the mid 1800s, when the rowers at the Henley Regatta would wear their school colours woven into a blazer to distinguish them from other school teams whilst they were racing. This created the boating blazer. This garment usually has three patch pockets and is a little less formal than a navy blazer, and is a bit more fun. This style of blazer has also been adopted by other sporting teams like cricket clubs and golf clubs.
In our Jermyn street store London we offer the complete range of blazers, from our ready to wear navy blue single and double breasted with a choice of over 120 buttons to choose from. We also offer a made to measure garment with no limitation on cloth or style choice; this offering is hand cut from the clients unique measurements and figuration and is hand finished in our London store.
The jewel in our crown is our handmade bespoke tailoring service that is also fully made on site in our Jermyn street London store using all of the knowledge that has been passed down through the generations of great cutters and tailors that have gone before us.
This brings me to how do you choose the right style of blazer for you and your body type.
As I mentioned at the beginning I am not one that likes tailoring rules, for example tall men should not wear narrow stripes as it elongates the body or short men should never wear bold wide stripes as it make them look dumpy. To me that is all nonsense, if you wear a garment that fits well that in turn gives you confidence you can wear whatever pattern you like.
This is different though when discussing body shapes and types, for example if you are of a taller build, a well fitted double breasted jacket looks very elegant, this also goes for the shorter gentleman, but maybe choose to have a one show two buttoning jacket instead of a more traditional two buttoning show three. Again if you are on the taller side, a three button single breasted jacket is more than acceptable as you should only fasten the middle button anyway, but if you are more vertically challenged a single breasted one or two button coat is the way to go as this style accentuates the waist line with the V and A line silhouette of the jacket.
Choosing the right fabric is also a very personal decision and thought need to be given as to what the blazer is needed for. For example if the blazer is for winter, a true west of England flannel is the perfect choice, but if you are attending a garden party or if you are using it for work or travel in the summer months a nice light weight plain weave or fresco cloth works well as it allows the body to breath and has good recovery from too much creasing.
Next year Benson and Clegg celebrate our 80th Anniversary and to celebrate we are planning a shop refurbishment to echo our story of the past 80 years and for the generations to come. We are creating a very personal and welcoming tailoring environment on the first floor alongside a very traditional and intimate retail store on the ground floor. We are also creating an area for wholesale buyers to spend some quality time looking through our collections and talking with us about our upcoming projects.