Carol Alayne

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Archive for July, 2008

Joel & Son Fabrics

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Mr Joel & Gary Bull, suppliers to Tailoring for WomenWe have quite an exclusive list of suppliers for our specialist suitings, however whenever we receive a commision for something out of the ordinary we turn to Joel & Son Fabrics.   Situated just north of Marble Arch in Central London, they have the most extensive range of printed silks and beaded lace that you can find almost anywhere.

Alongside, they have a wide selection of materials with which you can co-ordinate your garment. They also have a wealth of advice as to how to match the properties of a particular cloth with a garment’s design or purpose.   There reputation is such that they are frequently required to source and supply fabrics for many a State occasion.

We have worked together for the past 20 years and I frequently send my clients direct to their premises where Joel’s staff are extremely helpful, and will take time to make this first exploration part of the whole bespoke experience.

About the knowledge base

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Every high quality hand-made product has a process, and at Tailoring for Women we are no different.

Tailoring for Women samplesOne of the complexities of any tradition is that over time it can become cloaked in mystery, and bespoke tailoring certainly qualifies, with a history going back over 500 years.  (For those who want to be ‘in the know’ there is a fascinating insight into the historical background in The Savile Row Story.  Sadly now out of print, there are still copies available.)

As the Knowledge Base of our blog expands you will find a wide range of articles to help demystify the process, making your wardrobe decisions a little easier.

In time there will be guidance notes about the process of placing an order and how best to prepare for this, advice on the choice of materials, tips on how to look after your garments, and more general articles about colour analysis, seasonal innovations, and insights into how a bespoke garment is transformed from a collection of disparate materials into an elegant 3-dimensional sculpture.

Remember to Include Tailoring for Women in your RSS feed to keep up to date.

Shirts for Women: Emma Willis

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

I was invited to meet with Emma Willis in Jermyn Street the other day.  She has impressive premises with an extremely helpful staff and a beautiful display of shirts made from top-end Swiss and Italian cottons.  This image is from a feature she received in Vogue.

Emma Willis Shirts

What I found exceptional is that she has a specific range of shirts for women with the right feminine accents and detail that really do cater to the female form.  Other shirt makers have collections for women, however as an observer and purchaser I find their product no more than a version of a man’s shirt. Take for example cuff size; usually too big for the female wrist.  And button position – never at the bust point where it is needed!

Certainly the experience of meeting Emma and her staff makes it worth a visit, and a welcome pause if you are walking through St. James, just off Piccadilly.

Dressing for the stage

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

When I first started business in the UK it was through a company I created called ‘The Concert Store’.  Music is a great passion of mine, and this business brought me into contact with a wide range of concert performers.

Mary Carew and Sarah Eyden in concert

Mary Carewe was one of my early clients and here she is pictured with her duet partner Sara Eyden at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool performing at a Bernstein Spectacular with the conductor Carl Davies.

Later in July Mary flies to the States to perform in Indianapolis, and she will be appearing at the Cadogan Hall (6-9th August) in a celebration of the music of Cole Porter.

Tailoring for Women goes to the Olympics

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Team Great Britain heads off to Beijing on a wave of success in the European Championships and with our waistcoats securely packed in their luggage.  I began working with them in November 2007 as a result of the successful collaboration  for the last Commonwealth Games.

The interesting thing about the shooting waistcoats we made is that they require a combination of diverse fabrics each with their own properties that have to be blended together into a highly developed garment that works with the athlete when they compete at this high level.  A particular issue also was how the materials might react to the climatic extremes in China.

The credit crunch: Best value…made-to-measure or bespoke

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

It seems from recent press that ‘buying quality’ is the advice when preparing your wardrobe in times of financial uncertainty.  So how does this apply with your tailored garments.

In ‘Looking the Business‘ (Times Online) the suggestion is that made-to-measure is a better option to bespoke.   It may be helpful to expand a little on what lies behind each of these terms.

The process of made-to-measure involves in effect the use of a pre-set template to which a limited number of measures can be applied to make for a closer fit to a client’s figure.  Generally there will  be a limited choice available for stylistic changes such as the type of pocket or number of buttons.   Once details are finalised they are sent to a factory for the suit to be made up.  The client will have probably one more fitting where limited adjustments can be made.  The end result is something that will give a generally acceptable fit but without authentic refinement to the figure of the client.

By way of contrast, bespoke gives control to the client throughout the whole process.  There are literally no limitations to the adjustments that can be made with regard to materials, fit or style.  Also, because of the way in which the garment is made, over a period of time it will ‘mature’ and settle on the figure for which it is designed.  The fusing of materials (literally gluing together) that us used in the made-to-measure process limits this process.

Longevity also has a part to play.  We all understand only too well how our body shape changes over time.  With a made-to-measure suit it is difficult to accommodate these changes because of the way in which the garment has been constructed (see comments re fusing above).  If I were to tell you that recently I made some modifications to a suit that was made before I was born, it gives you some idea as to how bespoke stands the test of time.

So for these financially challenging days lets do a ‘back of an envelope’ calculation on the respective values of each.  The average cost of a £500 made-to-measure suit with a lifespan of about 5 years (worn once a week) works out at around £2 per week.  A bespoke suit at around £2,500, with a lifespan of 30 years, and with the same frequency of use works out at £1.60 per week.  And that is for a suit that fits.

You think that 30 years is excessive?  A number of my clients are having their grandfather’s suits re-modelled.  Go figure!

Gold medal winner – Richard Faulds

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

I was thrilled to see that Richard Faulds took a gold In the double trap competition in last month’s World Cup in Suhl, Germany.  Another Gold medal to add to his collection.


Recognised as a pioneer of bespoke tailoring for women, Carol Alayne has over 25 years experience of creating striking garments for arts, sports and media personalities and business wear for professionals and executives.



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