Designing for Men – @Gus0ne

I recently wrote about the dilemma of being keen on dressmaking even when you already have too many clothes.

My son Gus, who reads my blog religiously, took pity on me. He suggested that as he has too few clothes I could make some for him. Starting with a jumper just like the Lorelle. Here is Gus last night, on his return from work.

Young man in business casual
Gus does Business Casual

As we talked a bit more he came up with the idea that my SWAP this year could be a capsule wardrobe for him! Ha ha ha. His generosity knows no bounds.

To be honest I do love this boy very much indeed. He always dresses nicely, although you will quickly see he lacks a few domestic skills in the area of using an iron and shoe polish. He doesn’t earn a lot of money and I am not sure he even has  a winter coat. But a “Sewing with a Plan (SWAP)” Wardrobe?  I am not sure I could make 11 garments for him, especially as it would involve a huge amount of work. I have previously discussed the minefield that is making clothes for loved ones. On the other hand I wouldn’t mind thinking more about menswear.  And I do really enjoy tailoring best of all. And I admit I already have too many clothes for myself. But I found the SWAP for myself a strain this year (especially) and I am not sure I could actually carry it through.

What I agreed to do was create a wardrobe for him to fit the SWAP rules (as yet unannounced), and that I would make him one or two items. And if I enjoyed it I might be tempted to do more, but that a full SWAP wardrobe was probably not going to happen. Below you can see Gus on a typical Saturday morning. If I really was planning to dedicate a whole SWAP effort to someone else I would do it this way.

  1. Body and style analysis. This means we can make clothes that suit the person. Most people work this out for themselves with lots of trial and error. But there is some good theory behind this which means if we know our basic body shape and specific issues we can dress so that our clothes flatter us and make us look our best. Gus is 26, very slim (38″chest), with a long neck and torso. I would need to think about what clothes styles and shapes would flatter his build.
  2. Colour analysis. I know that Gus doesn’t suit black and I am guessing that he may have predominantly cool colouring.  But he has quite a lot of red in his hair and beard. I will do a proper colour analysis of Gus. Obviously once a person knows what shades of red, green, pink, white etc suit them best they will not waste money or time making something in a colour that won’t look great on him. At the moment Gus wears blue, grey and white. He is open to trying other colours.
  3. Discussion of lifestyle and wardrobe. The balance between workwear and casual, and Gus’s wardrobe personality
  4. My advice Suggestions of what might be useful items that would look good
  5. Planning the wardrobe. Looking at styles, patterns, ideas from magazines (I suggested Gus start a Pinterest page of clothes that appeal to him).
  6. Planning the SWAP. Agreeing what the SWAP wardrobe will consist of and then I will decided what items I am prepared to make and what he might need to procure from the high street.

So I committed to the six steps of planning, after which I may make him a few items.

As Gus is very keen on a hand knit we started talking about what sort of jersey he might like. Flicking through my vintage Vogue patterns he quickly ruled out V necks (although he is wearing a V neck above) he prefers a neckline that can reveal the collar and tie, or a polo neck. Here are a few patterns that appealed to him. To be honest I pushed the check jumper as my Dad used to have something very similar when I was little. I think it was maroon and white. I can’t find a photograph of him in it at the moment, but I will have a look next time I am at my Mother’s. (Not sure why men in knitwear always seem to adopt the arms akimbo pose – maybe the photographer’s assistant shouts “show us your cuffs!”)

Also we talked briefly about traditional sweaters as I am always interested in the history and origins of fashion. I thought a 2WW jumper might be just the job in terms of a roll neck. It would be a learning experience for me to understand what it might have been like knitting for a loved one away in the war. And Gus might get a bit of an understanding of how his Grandpa wore his woolies.

And I sent Gus an article about the Gansey jumpers that I find fascinating – here is the article – and asked him if he fancied a gansey and a pair of corduroy trousers as part of his wardrobe.

“Yes, it’s quite nice. Neckline not ideal but I like the chunkiness of it. Interesting story as well. And I do like corduroys”.

What he really wants in a Lorelle like mine, but less feminine. I wrote to the designer Kari-Helene asking if she thought I might be able to adapt the woman’s pattern to create something similar for Gus. She has given me some tips and believes it shouldn’t be too difficult for me. So maybe he will get a “Laurel” or a “Lore” sweater.





14 Responses

  1. Colleen

    I think it’s adorable that your son requested a wardrobe! As a momma to an adolescent boy, I’m rather charmed by the idea of a boy (okay, man…but sons are always ‘our little boys’ to mothers, right? ) still wanting to wear something handmade from his mother. I can’t wait to see updates on how this goes!

  2. sew2pro

    Not just a time-consuming, knitted jumper, he’d also need at least one pair of trousers and a jacket. Trousers are notoriously hard to fit (on women at least) and a jacket requires loads of time. But maybe you can take shortcuts and maybe there are steps that Gus can help with. I can see why it’s so tempting.

  3. Annie B

    I treasure my father’s wartime Royal Navy issue sweater (not sure term they used)…it seems constructed to withstand anything…and 76 years later is still is! Happy for you to inspect. Wonder why Jersey and Guernsey cornered the branding of jumpers? I love Ganseys sooo much…do that if nothing else. Do you think men in particular could use some clarity on types of necklines and collars etc?

  4. Chris

    I think it’s a great idea to make some pieces for your son. I haven’t done much menswer, so will follow with interest. He has muscular sloped shoulders, so I’m wondering if he gets alot of drag lines in rtw shirts? It’s something I always notice on men as most shirts are cut quite square across the shoulders. So a custom fit shirt pattern would be lovely to have.
    As for trousers, one way to save some time/effort would be to trace a pattern from well-fitting pieces he already owns and adapt the style lines.

  5. Cecily Graham

    I’ve just started knitting a new jumper for my eldest and doing what you did – suggesting a few patterns and letting him choose – works wonders, as I enjoy the making and he enjoys the wearing. So does choosing a chunky wool for everyone over six foot tall…

  6. Lynn Mally

    You know Stitcher’s Guild also a has six piece challenge (well, more of a suggestion) every three months called the “6 Pack.” No one cares if you don’t finish all six pieces. It has really helped me change the way I sew. Maybe you could do one for Gus–take a look under “Fashion, Style, and Wardrobe,” and then “Autumn 6pack”

  7. Michele

    Kate, what a fabulous compliment that your son wants you to make something for him too. If you feel that you have too many clothes, why not? And I know that you love a challenge too, what an interesting turn for on your learning path. I laughed about your comment about the shoes, I clean and get mine repaired and have remarked to the lads that I work with about cleaning theirs before now and I still look at the outfit then the shoes, lol.

  8. SJ Kurtz

    Blondini, the teen dapper man, went through my stash and pulled out five things for me to make him shirts from. He swatched and made notes so I would not screw it up.
    I see this project as his entry into learning shirtmaking. We’re negotiating. Gus can furnish the fabrics and yarn.

  9. Annieloveslinen

    How exciting! It’ll be interesting to see how this develops.Thread Theory have some great men’s patterns, very current. A sweater sounds good, and very doable in a chunkier yarn that grows much quickly. Looking forward to the colour analysis.

  10. Sue

    As a person with a ridiculous wardrobe (and nothing to wear!) I can totally relate to this. I love sewing for my men, but my husband is the only one who is prepared to wear a whole wardrobe made by me. I think a SWAP would be awesome, but even a few staple items would be so useful and so thrilling when he wears them. I see that Annieloveslinen suggested thread Theory, which I was going to do. The Finlayson is a great top.

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