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Image / Fashion

Where are Ireland’s female tailors?


By Niamh ODonoghue
11th Sep 2018
Where are Ireland’s female tailors?

I Googled “bespoke tailoring in Ireland” and in 0.46 seconds I had more than 10 million results. Manlystuff.ie, Joseph Martin Tailoring, Louis Copeland, Magee*…there is literally a ginormous pool of online stores, e-boutiques and independent labels to discover. But as you can probably tell, they’re all for men, made by men. Where are Ireland’s female tailors?

It’s very easy to make a case for female tailors in Ireland. Facebook, Google, Indeed, EY, PWC, Edelman, and JP Morgan, to name a few, all call Dublin home and together employ close to 50,000 people. Smart office wear is essential to performance. Research shows that the clothes you wear actually change the way you perform at work. While there are plenty of high-street options, there is little for women who want to go that extra mile and really up their workwear game. It’s a cyclical suiting nightmare. But good suiting isn’t subject to a conservative environment, “executive lifestyles” or top-tier salary earners: a modern suit can fit both creative and corporate workplaces.

“A well-fitted suit should be the answer to all of your ‘what do I wear today’ moments”

Street style outside shows during NYFW. Source, Jason Llyod Evans

Street style outside shows during NYFW. Source, Jason Llyod Evans

I found some websites that offer suits for women “off the block”, meaning every suit is manufactured from the same pattern and material. The only variable is the sizing, unlike a bespoke suit which is completely customised to fit every curve and line of your body. Also, the offering was a sea of navy, brown and grey, which become very boring very quickly. Where’s the spontaneity, the personality? Even if you are buying off the block as opposed to a customised piece, a splash of colour or a unique check print would transform a regular suit into a ‘wow’ piece. It will give you a boost in your mood, too. From midnight blues and cerulean to unapologetic red and graceful blush pinks, let me help you to reinvent and invigorate your suit repertoire.

At ahandtailoredsuit.ie – one of the few websites offering bespoke suits for men and women – there are more than 3,000 fabric options to choose from and suits are completely customisable. But unless you’re willing to spend close to €1,000 online, the only other option is to visit the e-boutique’s Dublin City centre offices at the Corporate Suite at IFSC by private appointment only. This can deter potential customers from visiting for fear of feeling pressured to buy. However, when I’m investing a large sum of money on something like a suit, I want the whole packaged experience of getting measured, choosing my fabric, the lining, the stitching, the buttons – the attention to details. I’m not just buying a suit, I’m paying for the experience too.

Street style outside shows during Paris Fashion Week. Source, Jason Llyod Evans

Street style outside shows during Paris Fashion Week. Source, Jason Llyod Evans

So if you are buying off the rack, what should you look out for? A well-fitted suit should be the answer to all of your ‘what do I wear today’ moments. Make sure the suit you buy fits well, and have it altered if it doesn’t fit as perfectly as you’d like. It’s simple to have a sleeve length shortened, or a neater fit achieved with a strategic dart here and there.

Think about your suit as potential separates too. Double-breasted jackets have come full circle and are modern again rather than retro. Paired with pleated culottes, this kind of smart two-piece offers a really contemporary take on office wear. Perhaps leave the trainers at home if you’re heading into KPMG. If you’re in a more creative environment, dress your suit with pared-back white sneakers (like these Alexander McQueen’s) or sophisticated slingbacks from Uterque. This checked double-breast blazer from Marks & Spencer, below, is a sleek and stylish option to pair with jeans for casual Friday. Clashing prints, seen at Topshop, below, will satisfy those who lead a more-is-more kind of life while keeping on top of one of this season’s biggest trends.

Checked double-breasted blazer, €82 at marksandspencer.ie

Checked double-breasted blazer, €82 at marksandspencer.ie

Tartan suit, €52 at tophsop.com

Tartan suit, €52 at tophsop.com

Ireland’s fashion accomplishments are known worldwide – from John Rocha and his daughter Simone, and Oprah’s dressmaker Don O’Neill to Anthony Peto’s bespoke collections for Dior and Louise Kennedy’s heritage-rich designs for elegant First Ladies. Our indigenous fabrics are unrivalled – wool, tweed, herringbone – so I ask you, Ireland, NCAD, Limerick School of Art and Design, where are all the female tailors?

*This article was amended on 12 September