René Gruau - Yves Saint-Laurent - 1987 via  Luxury & Vintage Madrid

René Gruau – Yves Saint-Laurent – 1987 via Luxury & Vintage Madrid

Two weekends ago I got together with my apparel friend and mentor Professor Katherine Annette Hitchcock from NC State School of Textiles, aka Professor Kate. She generously offered to help me make my long fantasized about, short sleeve summer blouse – made to measure initially for my gorgeous health care researcher and fit model friend Nadya Belenky.  2 things were different about this blouse: Rather than making it out of cotton which, though breathable, wrinkles like crazy and smells like sweat the minute you start to move in it, we made it out of a beautiful, light-weight wool blend that looks like a high-end shirting fabric but doesn’t easily wrinkle, breathes and absorbs and neutralizes odor like any good wool garment. And we were making it from a movement enabling design.
There will be plenty more on this blouse after our next fitting at the end of the month, but the thing that got my brain and creative animal going is something Professor Kate said as we assessed the shoulder fit. Our goals, true to the line, were to balance a beautiful, feminine fit with functionality. At first glace I thought the shoulder seam should line up with the tip of the shoulder as women’s garments usually do. But Professor Kate says: In menswear the shoulder seam comes off the shoulder, which increases the mobility of the arm. I took another glace. The beauty of made to measure shirts is that we could indeed adopt the mobility allowed for by a sort of menswear tailoring while staying true to Nadya’s feminine silhouette. Mind blown. Synapses firing!

Riding Blouse menswear detail @ fitting with Professor Kate and model - Nadya Belenky

Riding Blouse menswear detail @ fitting with Professor Kate and model – Nadya Belenky

So then I was doing my regular search to see if other business are catching on to the oh-so-needed cutting edge idea of made to measure women’s clothes and I came across an article in the London based Tribune extolling the virtues of men’s tailoring for women.

The author, Caroline Issa, also expressed frustration at the lack of tailoring options for women and so found a fascinating, expert men’s tailor in London who had just expanded his offerings to women: Adrien Victor Sauvage.

Adrien Victor Sauvage. Photo by Amber Rowlands

Adrien Victor Sauvage. Photo by Amber Rowlands

“His mantra, “Dress Easy”, encapsulates a philosophy of fuss-free suiting: he tells me women should come into the process thinking: “How can I make my life easier when I’m getting ready in the mornings?” [You are speaking my language M. Sauvage!!!!]

Sauvage (as he likes to be called) only recently added a made-to-measure service for womenswear, responding, I suspect, to demand from stylish women who want the masculine tailoring of his suits, but reshaped for a woman’s body.”

A Sauvage made to measure womenswear. Photo by Amber Rowlands.

A Sauvage made to measure womenswear. Photo by Amber Rowlands.

And maybe this has always the problem with the limited made to measure options for women. With beautiful tailoring you don’t have to have every seam tight and figuring hugging. It can follow the form, flatter your figure without restricting your movement. And that is what menswear has been all about. I remember all the searching I did finding websites that promised to make blouses to your measurements. And I would think–that tight fitting flimsy blouse is just one “that time of the month” size increase away from a boob blowout. I could actually feel the cramped feeling in my shoulders thinking about reaching forward or, God forbid, riding my bike to work. Or there is the usual menswear look outside of the realm of made to measure which looks like the large, boxy shirt your boyfriend let you keep, swallowing your figure. But when we take the benefits of menswear: movement, easy wearing fit and tailor it to a woman’s figure–the results are game changing.

Powerful, sleek, feminine, ready for action.

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