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.

Wool and Silk Morning SwallowtailEvery year, many of our clients choose to get married in tails.

Sometimes in classic white tie, sometimes in a swallowtail look or in one of our military or steampunk styles.

Tailcoats and morning coats have deep roots in tradition, but in the modern era can be some of the most unique and expressive pieces in menswear.

In recent decades, women would show up in wedding gowns and flamboyant ball gowns and men would show up in rented black suits.

Such is a poor way to honor the special events in one’s life.

But recently, we have seen more and more tailcoats at red carpet events as men have become more interested in dressing well.

Traditionally, the black tailcoat with a black double striped trouser and a matching white pique vest, shirt bib, and bowtie was the ultimate evening formalwear.

Morning Coat for WeddingFor the daytime, a black or charcoal morning coat—a frock coat that sometimes has a pronounced swallowtail or cutaway shape—with a charcoal striped pant, and a contrast vest, with either with a contrast formal cravat or bowtie was the way to go.

But dressing well is not so much about following the rules as it is about using tradition to express your individuality.

The pics show one of our most recent morning suits.

The cut of the coat is a hybrid of a swallowtail coat with the sharper, more angled shape of classic tailcoats.

The front shape is continuous along the placket, but then cuts away sharply back into a square tail.  It is my feeling that this shape feels more modern than a classic swallowtail.square tails tailcoat

All of the pieces tie in various shades of purple.
Victorian Peak Lapel Tailcoat

The tailcoat is cut from a black wool, but with silk lapel facings that wrap around to the wool edge which features rows of decorative buttonholes.  The silk is iridescent—charcoal grey woven with subtle purple.Purple Morning Coat with Awesome Cuff

The vest––cut from pale purple silk––features classic peak lapels and a low neck.

And the pant is made from a traditional morning stripe charcoal wool––but here the stripes are purple as well this time, a bold purple that is only visible when close.  Classic Morning Coat

The cut of the pants is a classic wide-leg pleated style with wide cuffs.Classic Morning Coat for Weddings

Finally, the 6″ top hat is cut from a subtle purple heather flannel that reads as charcoal grey at first glance with trim to match the morning coat.

We made everything in the pics except the shoes and the ivory handled walking stick (which belonged to my great great grandfather!).Colorado Bespoke Suits

So if you are considering a tailcoat, a morning coat, a top hat, or a vest definitely Contact Us so that we can talk more.

All of our pieces are custom made to your measurements, and with the full suits, we actually cut and sew mock-ups of the pieces to mail to you to try on, ensuring a perfect fit in the final garments.

Last year, we made suits for events all across the world.

So where ever you are located, we can make a suit for you.

Each piece is handmade one-at-a-time here in our studio in Denver, Colorado.

Wedding Tuxedos---The Godfather

Gangland Wedding---From The Godfather

Ten years ago more than 2/3 of pictures we would see from weddings would show the groom and the groomsmen, often outdoors and during the day, wearing black tuxedos.

Not that there is anything wrong with this!

“Class,” “Sophistication,” “Snobbery,” however—whatever you want to call it—generally decrees against wearing a black suit during the daytime and is especially against the tuxedo or dinner jacket during the day.

Instead, if one wishes to look quite formal, one should wear a morning coat with charcoal striped pants in place of the matched tuxedo, or a classic suit in a stripe, check, or color.

The Godfather II

Fredo in Search of the Inner WASP

To a large degree, in the United States, this belongs to the history of New England WASPs versus urban Catholics, particularly Italians.

Colorado Bespoke Suits

A Piped Swallowtail Morning Coat

To wear a tuxedo during the day would be to look like an “immigrant” at best or like one of the wedding party at Don Corleone’s in the Godfather at worst.  This type of attire, declared the experts, was quite simply improper and showed a lack of “class.”

In fact, for Godfather II, when the family is trying to take the business in a legitimate direction, costume designer Theodora Van Runkle argued with Francis Ford Coppola to get the family out of black as an expression of their WASPish ambitions.

A Grey Prince of Wales Plaid for the Summer

I personally am all for “class,” sophistication and consciousness.  And for manners as well.

That said, the Corleones do look pretty sharp in their tuxes and I see no reason that this look is to be avoided at all costs.  I certainly like the look better than most Brooks Brothers suits with the slouchy and boxy fit, and am no fan of American Trad in that sense.

A Window Pane Vest We Tailored

Although I attended Harvard myself, there is a small (or even large?) part of me that would prefer looking like a mobster to looking like a New England upper cruster.

Nonetheless, I am happy to see that, in today’s weddings, the black tuxedo is becoming more and more rare.

Colors and patterns are back.  Morning coats are back.  Eclectic is back.

We make suits for summer weddings in natural colored linens and raw silks or plaid jackets for fall weddings in colors that coordinate with the falling leaves.

A Bold Morning Frock

For those more formally inclined, we make gorgeous morning coats with charcoal striped trousers, picking up, perhaps, one of the wedding colors in the pant stripe.

Classic Silk Herringbone Suit

None of this is necessarily better.

But it is a much better chance to exercise some of the sophistication that is possible in menswear.

Back in the 1990s, for example, you went to a “fancy” restaurant to dine on steaks or perhaps surf’n'turf or warmed over French-style cuisine.  There were only a small handful of expensive tastes available to the American diner.

Today, however, everyone is a sophisticate.  Friends sit around and discuss balsamic reductions and how to cook kohlrabi. Fine dining can include flavors from Korea or South America just as easily as from France.

And all of this makes life richer, more reflective—-Even if snobbery can leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Here at Denver Bespoke, building the perfect wedding suit starts with the tastes and interests of the bride and groom and the setting of the wedding.

From this starting point, we sketch ideas and search out the perfect fabrics to build a totally unique look that is styled to your individuality.  We love black—but often for a touch of the Victorian, goth or punk rock look.

Every suit that we make is custom tailored here in our studio in Denver, Colorado for clients around the world.