Luke Blackall: Suits you, sir - but only at the weekend

Man About Town: Some suits are best worn on a night out, in leisure time – friends' weddings, the Baftas, whippet racing...
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The Independent Online

I own a few suits, but most of them I rarely wear. It's not that I find them uncomfortable (quite the contrary) nor is it that the i office is a scruffy one (well, perhaps in parts), but they don't always feel right to wear every day.

I subscribe, I discovered this week, to the concept of the weekend suit. The weekend suit wearer feels that his suits are almost too good for work. Not that they're expensive, but they feel like they're best worn when on a night out, in leisure time – friends' weddings, the Baftas, whippet racing, that sort of thing.

This discovery was made when I went to the opening of tailor Gresham Blake's new shop in Shoreditch in London. Blake's suits run the gamut from the very classic Prince of Wales check to jackets with the Modern Toss Periodic Table of Swearing (if you're an adult, look it up), and despite his new proximity to the City, he finds that a lot of his customers are people who choose to wear suits rather than being forced to squeeze into them every day.

"There's no typical customer," he told me. "I might fit a scaffolder or a tradesman, who don't wear suits at all, but want one for the weekend."

Hosting the party was Ray Winstone, one of Blake's high-profile customers. His love of suits dates from when his dad took him out as a teenager to buy a mohair jacket. Winstone asked the tailor to stitch his initials onto the chest pocket.

Another guest (and another client) at the party was comic Steve Coogan, who believes that although we may lag behind our European neighbours for sartorial nous, there can be a flourish and a creativity to British tailoring that you don't always find elsewhere. And as the man who created the awfully, yet believably dressed Alan Partridge, he should know. "There can be a self-deprecating quality to an English suit, that in America they just wouldn't understand," he said.

He then recounted the tale of a young agent in Hollywood, who was taken to one side and warned about his suit-wearing (none of the other agents wore one), and told his job was on the line. Apparently people had taken his choice of attire to be a sort of "Machiavellian" career power-play.

He would have been better off keeping them for the weekend.