Dress-down Fridays? For many a male professional, the only way to dress for work is suit, collar and tie.
City barrister Andrew Wynne, who specialises in family law and court protection cases, has just two wardrobe choices.
When the occasion calls for it, he must wear full barrister’s regalia of wig and gown. But most often he’s working in Sheffield’s Family Courts and it has to be smart, traditional office attire which looks professional yet approachable.
Classic suiting requires classic shirting, but this is often where Andrew’s working wardrobe comes undone. Quite literally.
So difficult is it for him to find a shirt that fits, he once had a top button fly off one of his shirts across the courtroom. If he can get away with it, he leaves the pesky, too-tight top button undone and disguises it with the knot of his tie, much to the disdain of eagle-eyed judges.
Andrew’s problem is he is not the average size 16 collar. Worse still, he falls between collar sizes. A 17.5 can be too tight and he’s not quite an 18. “Those sizes are hard to find. There’s little choice in pattern and style. Also I’m relatively slim in build so the shirts that have a large collar size are usually too wide and too long in the arm,” said. Andrew, who works out of the St John’s Buildings in Leopold Street.
Business Monthly sent him to Manoj Bespoke Tailors in Broomhill, which dresses QCs and business people with handmade, Savile Row-quality clothing, to be measured for a shirt that would fit perfectly.
The owner, Mauritian Manoj Beekharry, began his tailoring training at the age of 13 and grew up making bespoke shirts, high quality suits, trousers and underwear for the European market.
He moved to Sheffield in 2005 when his partner took a nursing job at the Northern General and the story of how he rose to become owner of his own business is remarkable. He got a part time job with an alteration service but one day took the wrong bus to work and ended up in Broomhill, where he spotted the boutique of city fashion designer Kelly Clarke, went in and asked for a job.
Despite speaking no English, his skills were so good he was taken on as a tailor. Kelly trained him how to make evening, bridal and leatherwear and turned the shop over to him in 2009 when she became a mother and chose to work from home.
Despite Manoj having numerous clients in the legal profession – several letters of thanks from judges hang on the walls – Andrew hadn’t considered bespoke an option. “I imagined the process taking weeks and being much more complicated than simply picking shirts off a shelf,” he said. “In fact it took just three visits. I thought the first, to pick the fabric, would take ages as there was a vast choice. there must have been hundreds of fabric samples but I found what I wanted straight away.”
Manoj ordered the turquoise and yellow-striped pure cotton – four metres for one shirt – and on Andrew’s second visit, took the eight measurements needed for the perfect fit.
The tailor, who last autumn launched his first range of custom-made suits and a second shop in Harrogate, is so skilled he cuts all 11 shirt pieces without a pattern.
He made Andrew’s collar once centimetre bigger than the 44cm 17.5 collar and did away with pockets and plackets that would have lent a less formal look.
The £250 result was, said Andrew, “the best shirt I have ever had. The fit is incredibly comfortable and I’m assured by Manoj that it will last a lot longer than off-the-shelf shirts – as I have to buy a good half dozen every year.”