BESPOKE THREE-PIECE CITY SUITS
G.D.GOLDING (TAILORS) Ltd.
THREE-PIECE GREY FLANNEL SUIT
Mr Geoffrey Golding is the tailor of prime ministers and princes. Press photographers occasionally take pictures of him, as he goes into Downing Street or hurries away from a palace. (I include one such photograph for your interest.) He is the proud holder of a Royal Warrant. He also makes for many of those who hold commissions in our Armed Forces. He is, therefore, a man who knows how to please those who demand the very best standards – which is why he is always busy. But, fortunately, he is not too busy to look after those of us who, while unaccustomed to waving from balconies or attending Cabinet meetings or commanding regiments, require our clothes to be expressions of the finest tailoring skill in Britain. That is why I took the train to St Alban’s to see about a three-piece suit in grey flannel.
Mr Golding is a chap who likes a little style. (I quite often bump into him at The Ritz.) I know that when he offers me a coffee in his shop on Hatfield Road I will not be brought coloured water in a mug but proper coffee in a porcelain cup and saucer made by Minton. (Another photograph illustrates this point.) And yet, being outside London, he has been able to keep down his prices, so that they are roughly half what would be charged on Savile Row – and this is a proper comparison, for his tailoring is widely regarded as the equal of that to be found on ‘the Row’. For the three-piece suit I had in mind, for example, one would be thinking of around £2,000+, rather the £4,000+ of Savile Row.
While sipping my coffee, I surveyed a number of grey flannels from the huge selection of cloth patterns available, and lighted upon a woollen spun flannel (number 39249) from the famous firm of Harrison’s of Edinburgh. It was of a medium grey colour and of a medium weight – 13 ounces (400 grammes). It attracted me because it was highly variegated (or mottled). When there is no pattern, I find some plain cloths rather dull to the eye, but I felt sure this would make up beautifully. Strangely, this would be my first un-striped grey flannel suit. It was not that I had developed an urge to imitate Gregory Peck, hero of that rather dreary 1956 Hollywood film, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, but rather that one day I had found myself admiring a friend’s grey flannel suit, and thinking how well it went with his gold watch chain and boldly striped shirt. I knew I had to have such a suit.
Before visiting a tailor for a new suit, I always make a list of my stylistic requirements. It is a habit I commend to you, dear reader, for it concentrates one’s mind wonderfully – and there are few things more irritating than the realisation (particularly on the train back to London from St Alban’s) that one has forgotten to tell the tailor about some important detail of the desired garment. Here is the list I made for the three-piece suit in grey flannel.
1. Single-breasted, with peaked lapels
2. Single rear vent
3. One button to front
4. Four working buttons to each cuff
5. Straight outside lower pockets with flaps
6. Upper outside breast pocket on left, no flap
7. Change pocket within right outside lower pocket
8. Button-hole on left lapel (none on right)
9. One inside breast pocket to right and one to left
10. Lining in red (scarlet)
11. Pocket watch inner pocket in outside breast pocket
1. Single-breasted, with peaked lapels
2. Lining in red (scarlet)
3. 4 external pockets, no flaps
4. Vertical button-hole for watch chain (between lower pockets)
1. Braces back
2. Braces buttons: outside at the front, inside at the rear
3. Straight side pockets
4. No rear pocket and no front change pocket
5. Button fly
6. Two inward-facing pleats on each side of the front
8. Leg bottoms to measure 18 inches
The eagle-eyed of my readers will have spotted a new feature of this list: item 11 under ‘Jacket’. Sometimes I wish to carry my pocket watch in the outside breast pocket of my jacket, rather than in my waistcoat. It occurred to me that an inner pocket within the breast pocket – in the manner of a pocket for loose change – would allow the watch to sit without applying its weight to its chain, and thereby the danger of the watch chain being pulled out of the button hole in the lapel would be avoided.
Over the next few weeks, I made several visits to the cathedral city. Mr Golding’s premises are just a £5 taxi ride from the railway station, to which there are frequent trains from London, for St Alban’s is a place much favoured by commuters. Mr Golding made this adjustment and that, as any bespoke tailor must. (I am particularly fussy about sleeve lengths, as I like to show the cuffs of my shirts.) Eventually his work was complete.
From the photographs I hope that you can see that the suit he has created is an excellent and impressive piece of work. It feels supremely comfortable, and the cut is exactly what I had in mind. It is a formal city suit and yet it has a ‘softness’ which means it can safely be worn on occasions which have a hint of informality. The workmanship is, of course, impeccable, and the materials – not only the cloth, but also the real horn buttons, the linings and so on – are of the very best. It is a magnificent suit.
And that, of course, is precisely why Mr Golding is the tailor of prime ministers and princes – and the tailor of your correspondent. Mr Golding makes magnificent suits. For what more can one ask?