Last weekend I hopped into the car, feeling admittedly a little muzzy-headed after date night and some vino with Anna, and headed down to Herfordshire to the lovely town of Bishops Storford. There I would find, taking pride of place in a wonderful old building (which, incidentally, used to be an undertakers), Alexandra Wood and her fantastic shop.
I didn’t know what to expect, I realised, as I was driving down. Alex and I had exchanged emails, tweets and Instagram comments… but I was suddenly extremely aware (and worried) about what I was going to wear. She is, after all, a tailor and style consultant. Such pressure.
My fear, however, was completely unfounded. Alex is absolutely lovely – and I left thinking that she would probably be really good fun to share a bottle (or two) of prosecco with. She’s clearly extremely driven, too. The shop is her pride and joy, and it shows. She was on top of everything; simultaneously talking to me and taking measurements, while relaying deposit requirements and lead times to her (again, absolutely lovely) tailor Dennis.
So, what makes Alexandra Wood different to other tailors? I asked her this same question. Well, firstly, she’s young, and not a man, so she brings an altogether different perspective. Fundamentally, her ethos is to make men look sexy (her words, not mine), while breaking the old stuffy tailoring image, replacing it with extra sass (again – her words!).
Made to Measure vs. Bespoke
It’s worth pointing out here that there’s a bit of a sliding scale when it comes to tailoring – for those who don’t know. You’ve got your off-the-rack standard suits that are design and cut to fit most people OK, but only a rare few really well. Then you’ve got made to measure: not full bespoke, but made up from modified standard patterns to suit your measurements.
Then you’ve got the holy grail – bespoke. At which point, you may as well forget about asking how much (as they say, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it), because in reality the sky is the limit. A bespoke suit is a completely blank canvas. It starts with your measurements, which are then converted into paper patterns as unique as your fingerprint. Any material, lining and stitching you like.
Funnily enough, Alex tells me, not everyone will look their best in a bespoke suit. The trouble is, they fit so well, and are contoured exactly to your body, that they’re not necessarily that flattering for the more err – cuddly – gentleman. Actually, if you’ve eaten one too many pies, you may look your best in a made to measure. They’re a better balance between forgiving and flattering.
Whilst I would like nothing more than a bespoke suit, my bank balance has other ideas. For the time being, I’ll have to settle for the bog standard. C’est la vie.
But wait! All is not lost. Alex is now also making her own shirts, and was kind enough to measure me up for one just for me. I can’t wait to see the finished product.
All in all, a really great trip down to meet the fantastic Alexandra Wood, a tailor with sass, who you’d just generally like to have a drink with. Every single person I saw walk into the shop was treated like an old friend, and was made to feel like they were the centre of the universe. I’m actually a little bit glad that I didn’t spend longer there, mainly because I’m fairly sure it would have led to some questionable buying decisions involving a credit card and a bespoke suit.
She should probably put a warning on the door or something.
10 High Street