Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Trimmings for dinner jackets

I have successfully concluded my recent search for what English tailors call "corded silk" for facings or lapels of dinner jackets or tuxedos. This is the less common alternative to silk satin, which has a bit of a sheen and less elegant in my view. Corded silk has more pronounced cross-grain ribbing, which absorbs and disperses light, lending a matte look.

I became curious about sourcing this particular type of trimming after learning from my tailor in Los Angeles that his sources for such silk had dried up. The corded silk used for facings typically come in 18 or 24 inches, which are "bastard" or unusual widths, at least for silk trimmings and ribbons. Below is a photo of the facing used in my Kilgour dinner jacket.



After asking around, I finally found a source for corded silk in London and one in New York City. The stuff is actually woven in France (next time I'll have to ask the name of the French weaver) and is fairly expensive.

First, London. Last month I visited London and stopped by Savile Row to visit a particular tailor which sells fabrics by the length to customers. That tailor is Davies and Sons.


I chatted with Robert Bailey and learned that Davies sells the 18 inch variety which is made in France. One meter is typically needed for peak or notch lapels, 1.1 meter for a shawl collar. Price is 120 GBP per meter. Davies (as well as the other tailors like Kilgour) source this silk and other specialty wovens from their trimmings merchants.


The other source is B&J Fabrics in NYC's Garment District. The equivalent American term for corded silk is "silk faille back satin" which is a literal description of the two weaves found respectively on the face and technical side. The width is 45 inches and is priced at $180 per yard. The merchant carries this in two colors - black and cream.


Below is a photo comparing all three examples (from left to right, Kilgour, Davies and B&J Fabrics):


As you can perhaps see, both the Kilgour and Davies corded silk feature slightly wider ribbing compared to B&J's version.

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