Fred Astaire and the Anderson & Sheppard Cut

Suits Made for Dancing

At Anderson & Sheppard of Savile Row, as Managing Director John Hitchcock kindly explains in this video, eighteen measurements are taken to cut a pattern. The measurements are marked in freehand on paper, like a drawing —with templates for single and double-breasted suits.

Fred Astaire was insistent that his jacket didn't budge from his neck when dancing, so the key, says John, is to incorporate a small armhole with bigger sleeve in the cut; and to sew the sleeves by hand so they have sufficient give and movement.

Fancy the idea of becoming a tailor's cutter? Well it can take as long as ten years to master, which is longer than training to be a GP or a dentist. I have utmost respect for the tailoring profession — or any master craftsmen for that matter — but even more so when considering the level of commitment undertaken.

Pursuing such a lifelong vocation is akin to entering a monastery. You need to think long and hard about whether it is the life for you. (For a postulant of the English Benedictine tradition, it might be four years plus before making the solemn vows and becoming a fully-fledged monk.)

If it is your calling, then patience is the greatest of all virtues.


  1. 1. Would you comment about within all the variations, this particular model photographed of six buttons on Fred's double-breasted jacket, why this positioning in constellation where it seems only the lowest button can be buttoned?
    2. I don't get Fred's problem about the jacket collar on the neck which Mr Hitchcock generalizes without mention of dance movement?
    3. Mr Hitchcock takes for granted why it takes five years for that and five years for this without bothering to explain why the training cannot be accelerated. Sounds to me like exploitation of the trainee-employee by his or her employer master.

    1. Thanks for the perspective. Best wishes, Tweedy


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