CE&C Renovation Experiment: Five – Capsule Wardrobe IV – Bespoke the New Frugal Luxury?

“The truly fashionable are beyond fashion.”

  • Cecil Beaton

Three years ago, I bought a pair of extremely high-end black washable stretch crepe pants. Not only were they the most comfortable pants I have ever owned, they looked as good as any pair of pants could on me. They were both elegant and casual. I could take them with me anywhere. We became inseparable. They made me feel happy whenever I put them on. Then, like most relationships, last year my pants decided to abandon me, purposely tearing on the first aberrant nail that decided to stick it’s slender shiny talon out of a piece of furniture as I was walking by. What I thought of as “my pants” proved how fickle they were, sticking to that nail as if I wasn’t even there.

Unable to completely bury what was left, I put the carcass of what was once a beautiful relationship on a shelf. Slowly but surely I began to forget about my special relationship; however, nothing was able to completely fill the void that has been left in my closet. Oh, I tried. No other pair of pants – and I have dated many over the years – has ever been able to replace what I had lost. The maker had moved on to other more fashionable styles.

I remembered the story about how my Grandfather became a tailor. He was 17 years old. WWI had just sung it’s final and tragic swan song. Life was returning to a new normal. His cousin, who had a ladies clothing store in Toronto, was complaining (as cousins in Toronto often do) that he could no longer import his best selling coat from Montreal because transportation costs had gone up so much he could no longer make a profit. My Grandfather asked if he could borrow one of these “bestselling coats”… so he could “have a look”. That afternoon, he took the coat apart. By the evening he had used the pieces of the coat to make a pattern. And he never looked back.

When I decided to start this blog last month, I made a commitment to renovate myself and get better connected with the city that I have become a part of.

In thinking about my CE&E Experiment, capsule wardrobes, my pants, my Grandfather and my community, I had a eureka moment.

There is an absolutely fabulous fabric store in my neighbourhood called Darrell Thomas Textiles. Sometimes I go in just to look at the stunning high-end designer textiles the store stocks. But not knowing how to even thread a needle I just look and touch. The store also has a few items of exceptionally beautiful and very well made clothing that are produced on the premises.

Last week, on the off-chance, I dusted off the corpse of what were once my inseparable pants, and went to Darrell Thomas Textiles and asked Darrell if he could reincarnate the ghost of my pants past. While he said he could not, he only made his own designs, Darrell told me of a seamstress who made bespoke clothes. And she was just up the street from Darrell’s.

I went over to Dow’s Lake Tailoring and asked if they could clone my beloved, and was told no problem, but it would take a month as they had to make a couple of wedding dresses before they could get to my order. We then discussed what type of fabric and how much was required.

So I returned to Darrel’s, bought some of the fabric I had been drooling over in both black and navy for two bespoke replicates, and also asked Darrel to make two shirts of his design, using the same material as the pants.

The price for each pair of pants plus the shirt is less than if I bought a new pair of high-end pants off the shelf. Furthermore, I will be getting exactly what I want.

I asked Darrell to also make me two silk infinity scarves. I chose two exquisite fabrics: one by Armani, the other by Versace. The price of the two scarves together will be a fraction of the cost it would have been had I bought just one in a designer store.

I feel like the guy in the old V-8 commercial… I had forgotten what I have always known.


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