Wednesday 5 January 2011

A Splendid Dinner Jacket.

So having been propmted by Tea and Crumpets fab and fascinating post on her new skirt, I decided to do this one about my almost antique dinner jacket.

Please excuse the dry cleaning label and the camera flash flare in the picture, or shall I go all 'Most Haunted' and say it is an orb and the spirits are with me or my jacket at the very least? lol

So once upon a time, many years ago, my mum used to help at this annual fete for a local care home. As I was an unemployed moody teenager at the time, slouching around the house getting under her feet she frogmarched me along to help out one year. I have to say once I got there I LOVED it. We spent one day sorting through all the donations and arranging them in this huge tent and the next day selling. Now the best bit about it was that this was a care home for 'distressed gentle folk' so you did get some incredible donations! Oh how I wish I could go back there now, now that I know what vintage clothes are...... *SIGH*

But I digress. Obviously those who helped got first pick of the booty and of various jackets, dinner jackets and waistcoats I chose this one. I think it was because it was a slim fit men's jacket so more my size, though I don't actually recall trying it on, AND it had it's matching waistcoat with it.
I'm not even sure why I have kept it all this time as I have actually never worn it. When I think about all the other lovely things I have got rid of over the years it's amazing I didn't junk it along the way too. *SHAMEFACED BLUSHING*
I can only think it is because it came as a 'set' with the waistcoat and I like to keep sets together, because I have worn and worn and worn that waistcoat. My god the stories it could tell you about me if it could speak!

All these years later I can really appreciate them both. The workmanship and detail as you can see is top quality. I seriously have worn the waistcoat tons and yet it still looks as good as new.

Not surprising when you see that it came from a qualityLondon Tailor.

It was a few years ago now when I was having a periodic wardrobe clearout that I rediscovered it. After checking it over I noticed the makers label in the pocket. I was blown away when I realised how old it was. It is in immaculate condition and I wanted to keep it that way so I got some expert advice on how to care for it which I have followed to the letter ever since.

I also decided to do a little research on the company.

Firstly I contacted the current occupiers of 22 Bury Street to see if they knew anything about the history of the shop. It is now a fab little galllery and whilst sadly they couldn't help they were about as excited to know more about the company of Cooper,Gardner as I was. They gave me some great suggestions and tips, like their landlord's address etc but sadly I drew a complete blank. Amazingly enough the holders of the London archives for that area never even got back to me. Typically they were the only ones who didn't, and they look to have any possible information, very frustrating!
I also drew a blank at other sources like the records office, so I took advantage of the fact I work at one of the worlds biggest research libraries and ordered up a tranch of London buisness directories. From these I was able to establish the company existed from 1912 until 1974 and were Civil and Sporting Tailors. They moved premises 6 times but always stayed in the St. James and Mayfair area and even had a shop in Saville Row at one point.
Other than that I know nothing :-(
I have a few other avenues I can go down but I must confess a million and one other things have been taking up my time and research is a very time consuming thing.......
I must get back round to it one day.

It did make me think that it would be great if they did a programme similar to 'Who Do You Think You Are' but about companies/shops. Maybe in a similar way to this, taking an item and looking back at where it came from, who made it, how they ran their company. I actually have not really had an interest in looking up the person whose suit it was I am more fascinated by the maker.


  1. Oh what library do you work at? I used to work in a court library, and though I do research now in a company I still think I would like to go back to a 'proper' library one day. Shame the job market is so competitive.

    Anyway, thank you for posting this, what a great story. Thank goodness you held onto the jacket, especially considering its age. You really must wear it now!

  2. I work at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
    I drifted into it after getting disillusioned with art and design. I have always loved books and LOVE my job. Good job really because the money is terrible!

  3. What an awesome job, and a great post! Glad to have inspired this :)
    Also very glasd it's not just me who googles defunct brands out of curiosity! I'm quite into genealogy and I feel the same way about shops. I thought it was very nerdy but I'm pleased to see I'm not the only one interested!

  4. That is a fab job to have!

    The jacket and waistcoat are lovely. Some things are worth keeping just because they're wonderful things - not everything has to have a purpose. (Pokes tongue out at William Morris...)