To me anything vintage has to be pre-1980, so 70s is vintage, however, the real deal when it comes to vintage is anything that was made before I was born. So before 1978, then I consider it to be vintage. Given my definition it's only right that this custom made blazer is not vintage because it was made in 1981. I have had it in my possession for close on five years and how it managed to make its way across the pond to South Africa from New Haven, New York, is as mysterious as a message in a bottle. It's no doubt that a blue jacket/ blazer is an undisputed essential in a gent's wardrobe. However to have a blue blazer custom made for you, that's something special. My aim with this post is to break down the specifics and nuances of a custom made piece of clothing. And this blazer evinces all that.
Let's start with the fabric. It's smooth, soft fabric is very much a wool. And over the years it has served me well during cold, windy and rainy spring. Since I don't wear a scarf popping the collar was rather useful. It features slanted pockets, and a ticket pocket. From the first image, it's not very clear, however it has two buttons, and features a rolled lapel. The low button stance, reminiscent of 80s tailoring, creates a deep V which necessitates a tie bar when wearing a necktie.
Apart from well proportioned sleeves-the length of the blazer shows it was made for a tall man-more aspects of tailoring are seen in the functional sleeve buttons. A feature that is somewhat of an anomaly in South African tailoring because this is something you don't find on men's jackets at all. By functional sleeve buttons I mean that the buttons on the blazer's cuff can be buttoned and unbuttoned. This feature is also known as working cuffs.
This blazer has seen little wear over the past two years simply because it just doesn't fit me anymore. My body has atrophied to an extent. I surmise that the blazer was made for a gent who was tall but with disproportionate arms. The wool has all the warm qualities of a winter fabric and it insulates really well against the cold.
A garment that is custom made is special in that it is unique and the uniqueness is in the details. This blazer has two vents and what appeals to me is the fact that the custom process goes as far as the vents. Notice how the vent(s) is not cut stright instead it is slanted. I think it was designed this way in order to accommodate the hips as well as the contours of the body. It's quite a long vent and skirt as well.
Another feature of custom tailoring is the collar. First of all the contrast in fabric colour on the underside of the collar means that the collar was constructed to give it more shape and form. The curved stitching also means that it was hand sewn as opposed machine sewn. The curve is a challenge to effect with a machine. By hand it is much easier.
The most interesting feature of this blazer are the shoulders. This is not something I noticed before but the shoulder construction is truly a work of art. It's a natural shoulder, there's absolutely no padding and this adds to the slope. This is also a sign indicative of European tailoring influencing American tailoring because natural shoulders are chiefly Italian. If you're wondering which brand this blazer was made by; it's undoubtedly American tailoring tradition and menswear lore.
And the label says it all. Chipp was a New Haven and New York based men's clothier esteemed for outfitting Pres. John F. Kennedy. Now defunct, it is well known for introducing and inventing patch madras and tweed, as well as bold coat and suit linings, which is evinced in this very jacket. The company enjoyed its peak in the 1960s and 1970s, and saw its demise in the 1980s. This is a great piece of history and I have also enjoyed delving its provenance. I even tried googling the name of the gentleman it was made for, but that search turned up nothing. Nevertheless, it's a work of art. I hope that if someone is looking to commission a blazer then this can be start or a guide on what to look for.
Here is a picture of the blazer in action taken in 2011.