What Joan Rivers did for comedy Kathryn Sargent seems to be doing for bespoke tailoring in a decidedly male-dominated universe. A few weeks ago, the 41-year-old master tailor became the first woman to open her own eponymous bespoke shop on Savile Row. While women have been behind the scenes for a long time as cutters, finishers, and the like, Sargent is breaking new ground, cracking what she calls the “windowpane check ceiling” of Savile Row’s boys’ club.
In an article in The Telegraph, she explains:
“There’s an incredibly long history to Savile Row. But I have been trained here and I’ve been part of this tailoring community my whole working life. If I hadn’t had that background, opening a shop with a woman’s name above the door might not have been as warmly received as it has.”
In the same article, Sargent shares her five secrets of the perfect suit.
1. A suit has to sit comfortably around the neck. “A good tailored jacket should frame the face. If it doesn’t fit properly there, it won’t anywhere else.”
2. Pay attention to color. “See what the cloth does for your complexion. If you opt for a bold statement shade or check, think about how it will fit in your wardrobe day to day.”
3. Make sure you get the right sleeve length. “Consider the shirt you’re going to wear with it, whether a single or double cuff, and allow for that in the length.”
4. Avoid extreme trends. “If you’re having something made bespoke, it must have longevity.”
5. Accessorize with contemporary pieces. “The suit itself should always err on the side of classic.”
I couldn’t agree with her more.
More and more women are making the scene on Savile Row, and Sargent proudly takes care of them as well as the men. “I cater to women who have worked hard to get to where they are and need high performance tailoring to help them look professional,” she said. (As someone who used to work for Joan Rivers – a woman of exquisite taste who loved tailored clothing and all things British – I can easily imagine Joan having a gorgeous bespoke tuxedo made by Sargent.)
And just for fun, here’s a radio interview with Kathryn Sargent on the BBC from April 6th: