Tuesday, December 1, 2015

White Wedding Dress Alternative

Here is Sarita wearing her brand new wedding outfit. The veil adds a really nice elegant touch to the crisp white suit.

A picture Sarita sent us so we could model her suit after this one.

It's always a joy for us when somebody comes in with a suit idea. This time, it was an idea for an unconventional wedding outfit which I love so much: A clean and crisp white ladies' suit. 

The best thing about this suit that Sarita wanted us to make is that it's not your typical slim fit suit that's been dominating the fashion scene for the past 5-6 years. Sarita wanted a tailored suit that is comprised of a tailored jacket plus a pair of double-pleated wide-leg palazzo pants--a refreshing departure from the skinny pants. If you don't already know, wide-leg pants and flared bottoms are making a huge comeback. 

I've known Sarita for several years now. She and her family has been coming to us for their tailoring needs since as long as I've been working at Balsam Tailors (coming up 7 years! Woohoo!). It's always a pleasure to see her and her mom walk through the door. All of us somehow always end up chatting for at least an hour on any topic you can think of.

That one day Sarita told me that she was getting married, I nearly cried. I love happy occasions. 

Working with Sarita on her suit was a blast and I even got a big hug at the end when it was all finished!

Congratulations Sarita on your marriage and I can't wait for our next chat session! :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Resurgence of the Wide Lapels

If you're one to pay attention to fashion, there is no doubt that you know in the world of fashion, every style and trend that's ever been thought of in the history of mankind will eventually make its way back into the modern times. 

For the past 5-6 years, the two most popular suit cuts around the world have been the British and the Italian styles. Both styles are characterized by the slimness throughout the entire length of the body, with the Italian style being tighter than its UK counterpart.

You've all seen these styles displayed in the windows of large clothing retail stores: undersized to tight-fitting jackets with shirt cuff-exposing jacket sleeves and almost-too-short skinny trousers that hit at or above the ankles. Most often, you'll see narrow lapels adorn these suit jackets.

Lapels. Lapels is the focus of this blog entry. 

There has been a resurgence of the wider lapels visible on catwalks, recent tv shows, blockbusters and magazines. For the first time in many years, I'm being asked by customers to design a suit for them that features lapels that are wider than 2.5" or 2.75". 

The above pictures showcase a custom navy suit that we recently made for a really good-looking young man who has been our loyal customer for years. Notice the width of the lapels? Those are 3.75" wide! I'll call our model, Andrew, since he wishes to remain anonymous due to professional reasons.

During Andrew's earlier visits, he would request simple clean-looking suits in various colours but all of them had the same skinny lapels. With his model-like features and towering height, we knew he would carry our suits well. Our business is to make people look good but Andrew made our suits LOOK REALLY GOOD.

Time passed and we saw Andrew again recently. He said he wanted some new suits made but with wider lapels. "How wide?" I asked. "This wide," he replied. His thumb and index finger indicated four inches of width. 

I smiled. "Wow. That's really wide. Um, why don't we try 3.75" or even 3.5" first?" We discussed this topic for quite some time. There was a lot of uncertainty because he hadn't seen himself in a wide-lapel suit before. He'd only seen them on actors on tv.

I didn't think it would be an issue. I knew it wouldn't be an issue for Andrew to wear wide lapels. He is really tall and has 20" wide shoulders. That's a really broad shoulder width. Most men have shoulders anywhere between 17" to 21". 

Here's a good way to figure out the maximum lapel width for yourself before you end up looking goofy: Your lapel tip generally shouldn't cross the imaginary halfway line of your shoulder. Check out the diagram below to better understand what I mean.

I just want to remind everyone that style is very personal. I simply inform people of what is currently the most popular trend according to the fashion industry and what my customers commonly ask for. But if you have a preferred style, say you like the skinny lapels, by all means, rock it and keep rocking it!

So there you have it. Wide lapels aren't out of style anymore. They have come back and is starting to make their way back into men's wardrobes! 

Perhaps try out a new style?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Slim Fit Grey Suit Post. Yes. Another One.

We never get sick of making grey suits here because we like them a lot. We think they are the one piece that any guy should invest in if he were to get just ONE suit ever in his whole entire lifetime. 

The Grey Suit will go with many items that you will likely already have in your wardrobe. The Grey Suit will also be suitable for many special occasions or work meetings. You may think of it as a fool-proof blank canvas.  The Grey Suit basically has your back covered. 

Here, we are featuring Abhijeet, who managed to provide us a full set of measurements all the way from Toronto using the detailed instructions I gave him. The measurements were almost good enough for us to make him that awesome suit. Since there's a fitting that is always included in our suit-making process, all of the little imperfections that were present were looked at by us during Abhijeet's fitting and remedied soon after.

Thanks for modelling Abhijeet!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Best Year-Round Suit

Betty was looking for a versatile, easy-to-maintain, medium weight, non-wrinkly and comfortable grey suit to wear for any occasion all year round. 

Voila! We paired her up with an easy-to-wear budget friendly "Wool (70%) + Polyester (30%)" medium grey suit. With a wool-polyester suit, you get everything you want in a suit:

1. The breathable and moisture-wicking properties of wool
2. Medium weight wool that doesn't feel heavy
3. The texture of fine wool that's soft to the touch
4. Lowered cost due to the added synthetic material
5. The durability of polyester
6. The non-wrinkling property of polyester
7. Ease of ironing at home if necessary (but we always recommend taking it to a professional for pressing)

Check out what we built for Betty:

I really love these high-shine dress shoes by John Vluefog. The gold trim adds so much elegance to it.
Thanks Betty for sharing your suit!

Friday, May 1, 2015

What Kind of Grey Suit Should You Get?

This post is a comparison of how two different shades of grey affects how a person looks. One question I get really often is: What sort of grey suit should I get that I can wear year-round to everything?

Meet Andy. He's a professional who moved here from Toronto for his new job. On the way here, he lost his suitcase full of good work clothes and was left with just the suitcase of not-so-great looking work clothes.

I joke.

I actually forget the reason why Andy came in but he desperately needed a new work wardrobe. Of course, we were totally excited to help! 

He had a pretty good idea of what he wanted so it didn't take too long for him to make his selection. 

He also had a lot of decision-making to do when it came to choosing his shirts. We offer a lot of design options: French cuffs, convertible cuffs, contrasting collar & cuffs, contrasting plackets, concealed plackets, pockets with flaps or no flaps and so forth.  

Check out the following two grey suits that Andy is sporting for us:

Medium Grey Mixed Wool Suit & Contrast Collar/Cuff  Window-Pane Pattern Brushed Cotton Shirt

Medium Grey Mixed Wool Suit & Contrast Collar/Cuff  Window-Pane Pattern Brushed Cotton Shirt


Charcoal Grey Mixed Wool Suit & Window-Pane Brushed Cotton Shirt

Charcoal Grey Mixed Wool Suit & Wiudow-Pane Brushed Cotton Shirt

A medium grey suit is very versatile in that it's not too light for the cooler seasons and not too dark for the warmer seasons. It feels more casual than a black, charcoal or navy suit.

Contrastly, Andy's charcoal suit feels a little more "serious" and formal since visually, it's closer to black. When you put on a charcoal suit, you look like you mean business!

Notice that even just the very act of doing up your jacket and leaving your jacket undone affects how formal or casual a suit looks?

My personal opinion is that these are the two best greys to choose from if you want to be able to wear your suits all year round and not have to worry about looking too done up or too casual. Andy obviously had that all figured out before he even stepped foot into our store since he didn't really need any guidance in picking out the colours! :)

Thanks for modelling, Andy! You have a great smile and very lush healthy-looking hair! ;D

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ladies' Jackets - Handstitched By Our Shanghai High-Fashion Tailor

At Balsam Custom Tailors, we employ only the most professional and skilled tailors and seamstresses. Most of our very talented team members have had many decades of experience in making custom garments and working for designer labels. 

The following are a collection of pictures that document some of the jackets in their in-progress stage and the finished stage. All of them are made by our Shanghai Master Tailor :)   Pay attention to the fine details in the shoulders, lapels, jetted flap pockets, contour seams in the back... all are things that help determine the quality of a jacket i.e. Springy shoulders require more work because of extra internal parts that are built-in to produce that effect.

Jacket No.1 - Leopard Print Cotton

Jacket No.2 - Padded Lace Material 

Jacket No.3 - Padded Lace Material

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Creative Repair On A Down Puffer Jacket

If you have a puffer jacket (especially one made with down), you will know how annoying it is to get a rip in it. The outer nylon or polyester layer can't ever be mended in a way that it will become perfect again. You could try sewing up the rip but there will definitely be a seam.

I see cigarette burns and accidental tears in these jackets all the time. Down puffer jackets aren't cheap. A decent one will run you a minimum of $200. A really high quality one can cost as much as $1000 and up. Most people are reluctant to throw away a down jacket just because they put a rip in it They know that, beyond the aesthetic imperfection, it is still a very warm jacket that will do its work.

If you don't mind the visible seam that goes over the rip, especially if it's located in an inconspicuous place on the jacket, then simply sewing it up will work well.

But sometimes, a seam in somewhere obvious, say on the backside of your jacket, isn't very pretty. Look at the following picture of a very new puffer jacket. There's a big cut down the backside:

If we were to sew it up, there would be an obvious vertical seam down the backside of the jacket.

Our seamstress thought of a better idea. Instead of creating a seam that looks out of place, she decided to "blend" the repair into the background.

Putting a piece of triangular fabric to cover the lower half of the rip.

Pinning the triangle in place.

The extra fabric comes from the belt that came with the jacket.
What the seamstress has done is cut a couple pieces of triangular shapes from the original jacket belt and strategically sewed them right over on top of the damaged area.

The result: 

This $500 jacket is saved! Looks almost flawless, right? :)