South of the River Thames in London is an area I seldom venture into. Nothing personal against it geographically speaking, but it does seem like all the good stuff is on the other side of the river. Well, apart from the Imperial War Museum, which is a truly great museum and well worth the trip. It’s even good from a menswear perspective, given how most of the designs we like are rehashed military designs from WW1 and up. Have a look if you don’t believe me.
This time though my destination wasn’t the War Museum, but Bethlem. The infamous psychiatric hospital of which nickname gave rise to the word “bedlam”, meaning uproar and confusion. I wasn’t there to have my mind looked at or electroshocks administered though, but rather to visit the Earl of Bedlam, handily situated next door to the mentalists.
The Earl of Bedlam is a bespoke taylor, and a fairly small one, but they must have some of the most high-profile clients around since becoming the go-to guys for celebrities and musicians. The sort of clients who might think Savile Row a touch stuffy and traditional, who might like to go somewhere a bit more down to earth, and dare I say a bit cooler? Where you get to play with Brian, the keen little Jack Russell puppy as well?
And given how I’m investigating the bespoke side of things at the moment, this was a good place to go. Investigating lightly, I’ll point out, as having things made for you is an entirely different game than the world bargain hunting, bartering and second-hand swaps. It’s a world where you can get just what you want, but you also pay what it costs. For many of us this is quite a strange concept!
And this is the result of the deliberations. A little of the same, but at the same time quite different. Gone are the lapels that so define the Mallory waistcoat, gone is the V-shaped front that waistcoats usually have, and reduced are the pockets. So at the same time much of a classic look, but cleaner and with the higher front with the rounded neck.
The thinking here is that this will make it even more useful as a layer in the cold, with it covering more body and also with no bulging lapel. Plus it is a bit different, which is usually a good thing.
And of course, it’s in a lovely variant of Harris Tweed. As I already had a blue herringbone waistcoat I felt it was appropriate to go for a greener pattern on this one. Though, how much green is there really in it? As with all the best Harris Tweeds you keep noticing new colours in the mix. Wonderful stuff.
A quality Harris Tweed garment should always have the label inside. And a label that includes the code you see on the right hand side. Why the code? It’s the code for the pattern used, to if you ever want to order some more fabric you can contact the Harris Tweed Authority and they’ll find it in their books. Hey, it could happen!
The lining is the Earl of Bedlam trademark handcuff print on a silky fabric. Really a light blue, but for some insane reason it came out as a light grey here. Nice to have that personal touch, even if no one will ever see it.
Seven buttons on the front give it a nice even pull to ensure it sits well. An important detail and an error that is quite often made. Why? Could it be to save buttons and buttonholes? A decent number of buttons and a short spacing between them will always look better when worn.
A useful rear cinch on this one as well. I wanted a waistcoat that had a bit of room, but could be tightened up so it is suitably tight on the front. Not big, but room for a warm shirt underneath. I think this has worked out well. And notice how Early of Bedlam is “Made in London”? I think that is even a nicer than “Made in Britain“.
Oh, and in case you were wondering (and I know you were…), this is Brian: