However, there have been a few comments recently that readers appreciate articles on new commissions, even if I’ve used the tailor before and effectively reviewed their work.
I can see how it serves as a focus for current thoughts on a category of bespoke tailoring, such as overcoats today. I might make one a year, for example, and covering it is a useful jumping-off point for discussions of how one’s wardrobe evolves, or changing views on value – or simply a place where readers can ask all the questions they have right now about coats.
So here’s a little review of this new coat from Ettore, followed by more general points.
Ettore de Cesare is a solid technician. All the pieces I’ve had from him have fit well from the start, and this coat was no exception.
The main things I look for at the first fitting are inevitably the ones where I know tailors have difficulties. They include a clean drop at the top of the sleeve, which isn’t always easy with my rounded shoulders; the right side of the garment (my right) as my lower right shoulder can make the balance hard; and a close fit on the collar, which makes a big difference on my slightly long neck.
Ettore nailed all these things. Of course, he has an established pattern for me now, but that was true with the first coat six years ago too.
I’ve included some straight-on photos below to illustrate. The only thing I’d want to improve would be lifting up the shoulders at the back, although bear in mind I like a lot of fullness in the back of a coat: there’s nothing worse than trying to get on a coat over a jacket when the fit is just a bit too tight.
Of course, this style of Ulster coat also deliberately has fullness visibly gathered into the waist, whatever form of pleat or fold it’s done with.
Where Ettore and I often differ is style. His default with a jacket with a high gorge, a shorter length and a close fit. The more contemporary end of the Neapolitan style spectrum.
Fortunately we’ve established that this isn’t my style now, and again, fittings run well as a result. The amount of comfort I like has been noted – not just mentally, but I’m sure somewhere physically on the patterns.
Style issues did rear their head again with this coat, however, due in part to a lack of communication, and in part the lack of examples to try on.
I could see most aspects of the style of the coat at the fitting – the height of the waist button, the amount of overlap, the line of the lapel. But as is often the case, we were drawing on the position and angle of the gorge – and therefore the shape of the collar.
When the collar is up, this just means there is a slightly smaller, slightly more pointed shape around the chin. But when it’s down I think the shape of the collar rather stands out, and I do wear coats more with the collar down these days – usually with a scarf, with a smarter outfit.
Unlike other overcoats, Ettore also included a button on the cuff of the coat. It’s not a big thing, but had I known it was going to be there I would have gone without. I think it looks a little lost next to the big turn-back cuff.
The top set of buttons on the front were also set quite far apart, but that of course can be changed.
Overall, while I like the coat, it’s a reminder of the point I made in my first piece on my favourite tailors: whenever possible see an example of the thing you’re going to commission, especially if it’s a DB or overcoat, where design choices make such a difference.
The material, on the other hand, was absolutely perfect: a Fox Brothers 20oz merino in a midnight herringbone (CT12). Deliberately a little lighter in weight than some of my others, but dense and with a lovely drape.
My other navy DB coat, a cashmere from Cifonelli, is still great but isn’t quite as versatile this will be. Not just because of the visible finishing on the Cifonelli, but because that cashmere makes it too formal (for me) to look good with jeans.
Although I’ve never worn that Cifonelli heavily – given it’s never been my only coat – I still think the cashmere has aged pretty well. But this wool will be better, and have that versatility of style.
That’s illustrated by the outfit here. Even thought it’s fairly smart (the navy jacket and trousers detailed previously here) the old Ralph Lauren cap sits better with this coat than with the luxe Cifonelli. Contrast is intended, but not quite that much.
Other things to note are the suede that Ettore often uses on his clothing, and I have here in black on my undercollar.
And on the flip side, I think it’s fair to say Ettore’s finishing is not quite as good as some Neapolitans, and certainly not at the level of the English, French or Milanese. That lapel buttonhole is about average for Naples, with some finer and longer.
We took these shots one evening in Naples, by the way, on the waterfront after a busy day visiting factories. I think the details come out enough, but if anything isn’t clear please do ask.
Seeing them again reminds me how great a DB overcoat like this looks in use, in motion, with hands in pockets and even in trouser pockets. Static poses just never do it justice.
Ettore de Cesare travels to London regularly, usually using the Holland & Sherry showrooms, now in a bigger space on Savile Row.
The overcoat cost £3500, which is Ettore’s starting price for all wool coats. Jackets start at £2500. You can see where they’re made, in Ettore’s Neapolitan workshop, from our visit here.