In the United States, we tend to call the best business and formal
looks and fits “European” or “Italian” or “British,”–

Edwardian Cut Brown Flannel Sport Suit

sometimes for good reason, and sometimes merely as a shorthand for saying that a look is “good” or “exciting” or somehow intangibly different from the basic relaxed New England look that we are used to seeing in the shops.
But if there is one area of tailoring that is truly American, it is sportswear.

To a certain extent, we inherited our love and notions of “sports” from the British. But sport always meant something a bit different to Americans than it did to the Brits.

Crown Shape Pockets and 1920s Style Cuffs

To the Brits “sport” centered around the country estate and the hunt—activities that one would do as a gentleman of leisure when outside of the city.

For Americans, this idea of sport was quickly eclipsed by the idea of strenuous activities that one did often for the sake of health and entertainment.

Crown Shaped Breast Pocket with Embroidered Crowsfoot Tacks

The tennis court, the golf course, the beach. Sailing, skiing, riding, fishing and even flying.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries men wore sport jackets for all of these activities.

Slim Fit Box Pleated Pant

Jackets with “action backs” to allow for a freedom of movement.

Jackets with throat latches to keep out the cold.

Shawl Collar Hand-Stitched Vest

Jackets from linen for the heat and sweat or from waxed cotton to keep out the rain.

The ideal man was not a man of leisure but a man of activity who needed to be ready for anything!

Suits made from matched cloth were replaced by separates.

Plaid Seersucker Sport Jacket

A jacket in one fabric, and a pant in another. Plaids, houndstooths, herringbones.

Eventually sportswear evolved into our basic everyday casual clothing. And in the late 20th Century came to mean nothing more than  jeans and a t-shirt.

Linen Moto Vest

But now, when more and more men are trying to dress up and look good, an older, more authentic vision of sportswear has become relevant again.

Linen Back on Tweed Vest

We want to dress better.  But we don’t want to be limited by the way that we dress.

We want durable fabrics that we can wear anywhere.

We want a full range of movement so that we can drive, throw a ball, or put away a bottle on the top shelf.

Most of all, an American aesthetic is about not being constrained.

Shawl Collar Donegal Tweed Vest

We buy big trucks instead of little cars, so that we can (at least in our imaginations) drive a rocky road to a forlorn mountain cabin or pack up all of our belongings to move to a new town.Vest and Pant In Japanese Wool
Part of what Denver Bespoke and AJ Machete and Sons are about is a striving after an authentically American vision of tailoring.

We aren’t interested in recycling English and European fashions, either as a vision of James Bond or a British gent, or that perfectly spontaneous and romantic looking fellow at the Italian cafe.

1920s Style American "Swoosh" Breastpocket

We want something a bit more rugged.  Maybe a bit more rustic.

Copper Stitching and Buttons with Herringbone Shirt

Something that fits in with the Rocky Mountains and the American West instead of the postcard version of a European capital.

Retro Tweed Pant with Wide Waistband

Retro Tweed Pant with Wide Waistband

So we call our suits “American Suits”.  But basically they are just suits for men who do things and who want to look good doing them.

All of our pieces our completely custom made.  And we are one of the few tailors anywhere who work in a sportswear aesthetic and can make any detail that you have seen anywhere.

So contact us with all of your questions and ideas. We would love to make something for you.

1920s Tweed VestWe are famous for our 1920s style vests.
The 1920s were a high point for waistcoats.1920s Tweed Vest
The vests of the period contain all of the classic details that would become more codified in the 1930s.
Linen Back Tweed VestBut in this earlier period there is still a wonderful flexibility and richness in style.
The images show some of our favorite 1920s style vests with emphasis on the “Workingman’s Style” pieces.  
Scottish Tweed Vest

Tweed Workingman's Vest

These pieces—that we make from heavy weight tweeds and melton wools—are perfect for an active lifestyle.Tweed Workingman's Vest

The pockets hold your tools (or memory sticks), the fabrics don’t rumple or crease, and the styles can be cut with linen backs for the ultimate breathability and comfort.
Moreover, each of our bespoke suits and vests is made one-at-a-time here in our studio in Denver, Colorado.
Not only do we take care to make sure that each piece is a work of art, but we can work with you to cut the vest exactly to your measurements and to pick the perfect style and fabric for you.
1920s Style Herringbone VestThe classic fabrics we use—which are often woven by hand in Scotland and Ireland–are built the way that fabrics were meant to be and make up into garments that weigh twice as much as made-in-Asia pieces where the only concern is making sure that the garments pack flat and weigh as little as possible for overseas shipping.
The process of making one of our classic “Denver Bespoke” vests, begins when you contact us by email (aj@denverbespoke.com) or through our Etsy shop (www.machetensons.etsy.com) to tell us a little bit about your sense of style and how you will be wearing the waistcoat.
Green Melton Workingman's VestThen we sketch up a vest just for you.

With A Custom Cap

The piece can be identical to something we already offer, or something totally and completely new.
Add or remove pockets, change the shape of the lapels, the fabric of the back or belts, the number of buttons—-work with us to get the design that is perfect for the way that you dress.

Next we send you a selection of fabrics and we keep looking until we find the fabric that is right for you.  

We can get thousands of fabrics for the vests.  So if you know that you want a flecked herringbone tweed in a cranberry color, for example, just let us know and we can likely find this for you.
We can also make many other garments.  So if you want a matching pant, fedora, or workingman’s cap, just let us know and these pieces can be created in virtually any style to match your vest.
Contact me (aj@denverbespoke.com) to talk more.

Victorian Seersucker Vest

Waistcoats (or “vests” in good American English) haven’t been this in style for decades. Seersucker linen vest
Perhaps the recession made us all a bit more serious, and many of the guys out there who hoped to be boys forever decided to grow up.
Or perhaps we all just decided to think a bit more about history and a bit less about what was new, when future prospects seemed to dim.
But while vests have come back in style, attractive, interesting, and idiosyncratic vests are still absent from the stores.

1920s Style Vest

You can find a basic vest, but can you find a vest that someone spent some time designing?
We can design and make a one-of-a-kind vest that is completely designed to fit your body and your life.1920s Boardwalk Empire Vest
Victorian Melton VestOur waistcoats are drawn from the history of fine men’s dress but propelled forward into modern life through taste, judgement, and a selection of the best modern materials.
Our goal when we design is to take details from greatest pieces crafted over the past centuries and renew them by placing them in the context of contemporary life.Navy Victorian Vest
The white seersucker vest with the stand-up collar, wide lapels, and silver buttons, for example, is almost identical in style to a vest from the 1700’s that is in the V&A museum.
But when made up in the right fabric, with just the right proportions it does not look out of place at a summer picnic or garden party.
The most distinct detail on this vest is the forward sloped shoulder seams, that wrap the linen backs of the vest over onto the front.
Western VestThe grey pinstripe vest is cut extra long for a slim early 1920’s look and is inspired by the same period in which the show Boardwalk Empire is set.Pinstripe Western Vest
The heavy navy blue melton vest was inspired by a book on Victorian explorers of the Nile region that I had been reading and all of the wonderful paintings of the explorers.
I wanted a vest that I would be able to wear for work without getting destroyed with pockets that could hold all of my gear, and this was the result.

Photo By welovepictures.co.za

The vest is lined in cotton twill and is self-backed  —the perfect vest for working with your hands or repairing machinery.

The two Western style vests in the listing were designed in a similar frame of mind.  It is easy enough to find a Western style vest, but hard to find one that doesn’t seem like a costume.

With Austro-Hungarian Military Buttons

The heathered brown wool vest was designed for a 1950s style wedding in Hawaii, and I wanted something that would be both retro and Western but with a completely different sensibility than you would find if you were going line dancing.  
The grey pinstripe vest is almost identical.  Here, the Western yoke almost disappears into the pattern of the stripes.
This vest was also made for a wedding, but this one here in Colorado.  The fabric is an extremely breathable, open weave, tropical wool.
The dark grey vest with silver buttons has an early 20th century cast.  The buttons are vintage Austro-Hungarian military buttons and the front fabric is a mix-stripe flannel wool.  The result is a hip and youthful vest that draws on the well of history.
The wool windowpane vest pictured was made for a wedding in South Africa and is paired with a pair of trendy low-rise pants that we crafted and a Liberty print skinny tie that we made.  A beautiful plaid is ideal for an outdoor summer wedding (where black should generally be avoided).
The last few pics show some shots from my own wedding (and you can expect to see more of these pics soon).  When we design and make all of the pieces for a wedding (vests, shirts, hats, jackets, pants, dresses, ties, etc), the results are amazing.  Handmade Vests and Waistcoats
(Feel free to check out our women’s store for more pictures of our dresses: www.DenverDressmakers.com)
The picture of the bride and her father shows a brown gabardine vest with a green embroidered collar.  The groom’s father is shown in an off black vest with brown pinstripes (made from superfine wool) with brown wool pants, and a green cotton sateen shirt.  His vest is cut with a breast pocket that sports a cotton print pocket square.
The groomsman (in white) sports a silk matka vest with duppioni on the collar, welts, and back.  And the groom (in greens and browns) is wearing a suit that is cut from an Italian wool sateen.
All of these vests are just samples of our work.
Contact us by email (aj@denverbespoke.com) and we will get to work designing a vest just for you.  You tell us a bit about yourself, and we will send you sketches and swatches until we find the perfect fabrics and style for your events and the life that you lead.
We make vests for customers all over the world.  So wherever you are we can deliver to you.

The initial set of engagement photographs and the final set of wedding photos are by amazing Denver and Fort Collins Colorado area photographer Sarah Christine Photography (http://www.sarahchristinephotography.com/) be sure to check out her work and to choose her to photograph your wedding.