Suits you, sir!

Neil Hannon, the Irish crooner from orchestral pop group the Divine Comedy, is 5ft 4in and has problems finding clothes to fit. Jessica Stein took him on a shopping spree to three bespoke tailors and a vintage clothing emporium. Their mission: to find the perfect suit for a short, lean manVital Statistics: Height 5'4" Chest 34" Waist 29" Seat 35.5" Inside leg 29"
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Timothy Everest, 32 Elder Street, Spitalfields, London E1 (0171- 377 5770)

Hannon's sense of style can only be described as New Fogey. On the day of our spree, he wears a grey Sixties suit and a black polo-neck. "I look awful in all kinds of leisure-wear," he says.

Neil's impossible dressing mission begins at Timothy Everest, the tailor known for combining traditional tailoring with modern wit. He made the suits for Tom Cruise and the cast of Mission: Impossible. "You're one size smaller than my smallest size," Timothy says, showing Neil the problem by putting him in his smallest off-the-peg size 36. "By having a suit made you can get around the problem that you are not Mr Average. Then again not many people are. That's why there's such a demand for bespoke."

They decide on a Shetland tweed with a light green muted check. "It's small and neat," says Everest. "You should keep it simple, and you can mix it with a check shirt and tie if you want."

Neil tries on a three-piece suit in the same fabric made up for Richard Jobson. "All I need now is a little Cairn dog," says Neil.

The verdict (Hannon): "If I could only buy one expensive suit, it'd have to be from Mr Everest. But I could buy a spectacularly cool guitar for the price of that tweed."

The verdict (Everest): "Stick to single-breasted jackets and keep colours light because they give the impression of height. Where possible bespoke should be chosen over off-the-peg designs to enable the perfect fit. It's the most reliable way to create the most flattering shape."

Two-piece bespoke suits start at pounds 800.

David London, 340 Hackney Road, London E2 (0171-739 8892)

David London is the old-school tailor who makes Gilbert & George's three- button suits. With Neil's penchant for tweed in mind, David London shows us a bespoke suit ready to be collected by George. Not dissimilar to the one Neil tried at Timothy Everest.

"If you're going for the country look, I'd keep it fairly traditional," says Barry London. "Wear it with a plain shirt and a bit of colour in the tie - the pattern in the suit is what's making the statement."

The verdict (Hannon): "The London boys are perfect for Gilbert & George but the suits are a little too traditional for me."

The verdict (London): "From a tailoring point of view, someone like Neil needs a suit that actually fits, but there are golden rules: he should stick with single-breasted jackets only, and go for light colours, but never pastels. Trousers should be flat-fronted with a slightly tapered leg to offer the option of wearing either boots, for extra height, or shoes."

Two-piece suits start at pounds 450.

Emporium, 330-332 Creek Road, Greenwich, London SE10 (0181-305 1670), second-hand clothing

Emporium is the only shop where Neil finds off-the-peg suits that fit. It is also a hunting ground for designers, from Donna Karan to Giorgio Armani. Rummaging through the racks, Neil immediately finds a rust-coloured suit he likes, a late-Sixties cut, "a skinhead suit". It fits like a glove. Neil has it put aside.

The verdict (Hannon): "I always know I can find a second-hand suit to fit me at Emporium. And they're affordable too."

The verdict (Emporium): "Neil has been in a few times, and usually finds a jacket that fits, but when it comes to trousers he finds they are either too long, too big on the waist, or simply the wrong cut. But this time he was lucky, he found a suit by John Wood, the Oxford Street tailor. The reason it suits him so well is because of the contoured waist on the jacket, and the slight boot-cut of the trouser also helped."

Suits to take away, pounds 50-pounds 75.

Ozwald Boateng 9 Vigo Street, London, W1X (0171-734 6868)

Our final destination is the sharp-cut, electric-coloured showbiz spaceship of Ozwald Boateng.

"If you want to get really modern and on the edge, I've done a three- button jacket with sharp lines where you don't see the buttons. I've just made a suit for Mick Jagger on this vibe, and it would look really good on you."

The Jagger suit is shown to Neil who excitedly starts re-appraising The Divine Comedy's image. His appetite whetted, we go back to the shop floor where he tries on a bright purple off-the-peg suit.

The verdict (Hannon): "Top Of The Pops here we come ..."

The verdict (Boateng): "You can wear any colour suit you like, the way it fits is all in the cut. Two buttons, or even invisible buttons on a single-breasted jacket are good for flattering the form. I also recommend narrow flat-fronted trousers which are offered in both the off-the-peg and bespoke services."

Off-the-peg suits from pounds 700; bespoke suits start at pounds 1,500n

The Divine Comedy's single, `Everybody Knows', is out now on Setanta. Neil and his suits are currently on a sold-out UK tour.

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