Hello everyone – welcome back to another of my reviews! In today’s article, I’m featuring a brown oblique suit from Esquire’s Atelier, and will be using it as an example of how tailoring and formalwear need not be boring and stuffy.
As I type this, Singapore has gone into yet another mini-lockdown (what the government calls a “stabilisation phase”), with working from home (WFH) now once again the default. In lieu of the WFH climate, formalwear has seemingly been made obsolete – who needs a suit when Zoom calls occur 10 minutes after you wake up, right?
Singaporeans often view tailoring as a functional matter, a necessary process to put their best foot forward in the workplace, for interviews, or their weddings. However, I personally feel that tailoring can and should be fun. Most may find the many sartorial rules of tailoring stifling – always leave the bottom button unbuttoned, pair black shoes with a black suit, wear a tie with a 3-piece suit, etc. But that doesn’t have to be the case. I’m a firm believer that fashion should have no rules. As long as you can rock it with confidence, there’s no right or wrong. After all, clothing is about self-expression.
Esquire’s Atelier – the Style
Esquire’s Atelier has always been my go-to when it comes to fashion-forward outfits at an affordable price point. When I heard that they have shifted their premises from Sultan Plaza to a bigger (and much more accessible) shophouse in Chinatown, I decided to pay them a visit.
Whilst there, I relayed to Aaron (co-owner of Esquire’s Atelier) that I wanted to commission something different, something that I don’t have in my wardrobe yet. Currently, I own around 25 different suits – countless single-breasted suits, as well as several double-breasted ones. After mulling for a bit, Aaron suggested that I consider an oblique suit, a style that’s on-trend at the moment. Made famous by the iconic fashion house Dior, an oblique suit is characterised by its sole off-centred button that results in a sleeker look as compared to the conventional double-breasted suits. In other words, it’s a design that’s as off-kilter an approach to tailoring as they come. After researching the oblique suit, I promptly fell in love with its idiosyncratic nature, and decided to have one done with Esquire’s Atelier.
After deciding on the oblique design, the natural next step is to decide the fabric colour. Once again, I wanted something different – I already have multiple of the usual black/grey/navy suits, and even some of the quirkier colours such as my green suit from Meiko Tailor, and my pink suit jacket from Sors Studio. After flipping through numerous fabric books, I chanced upon a chocolate brown fabric that came across as rich and luscious. The colour reminded me of a look Brian Sacawa once pulled off with aplomb, and I figured that if it worked for him, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work for me as well. At the very least, it’s certainly something new that I’ve yet to try.
Up close, the fabric features a geometric texture that gives it an added visual intrigue. To highlight its subtle lattice texture, Esquire’s Atelier decided to create a pocket square that has similar geometric patterns. Made by Esquire’s Atelier’s team of tailors, the pocket square features hand-rolled edges for a more distinctive look. I quite like its brightly coloured nature as well, which adds a nice pop of colour to the otherwise dark outfit. The pocket square is nestled within a gently curved Barchetta pocket, a sartorial element commonly seen in Italian tailoring.
To complement the Bohemian-esque pocket square, Esquire’s Atelier has kindly gone the extra mile to also provide me with a matching face mask that’s actually hand-sewn by the staff! With cases at an all-time high, masks will undoubtedly remain a daily staple, at least in the near future. However, that doesn’t mean that one has to look boring – masks can be an expression of one’s identity too, and here it becomes the icing on the cake for this outfit.
The key trait of the oblique suit is its singular exterior button. Initially, I wanted the button to be of a contrasting colour – perhaps black or ebony. However, Aaron persuaded me to go with a matching tone-on-tone button. He felt that given the inherent left-field nature of the oblique suit, it would be wiser to rein it and opt for a more understated colour. If not, the outfit can come across as too ostentatious and gaudy. After some deliberation, I decided that nuance was key in tailoring, and thus decided to take up Aaron’s advice. Just like a barber, it’s important that your tailor is unafraid to disagree with you and recommend you alternatives, so that you don’t go (totally) off the rails in your commissions. If your tailor is simply nodding yes and acceding to your every request – well, that’s not a good sign.
In keeping with the Bohemian-inspired theme of the pocket square and face mask, the inner lining of the suit jacket is a navy and orange paisley print. It’s different enough to serve as a nice contrast to the chocolate brown fabric, but still retains enough of the main fabric’s earth tones to not come across as outlandish. Style and tailoring is often a balancing act, and this is a prime example.
While the oblique suit jacket is the star of the show, the trousers are no slouch either. For one, the trousers feature an extended Gurkha waistband, reminiscent of the trousers Gurkha soldiers used to wear. I particularly like the aged aesthetic of the buckle, which looks as though it has genuinely been through battle. Like the oblique suit, the Gurkha trousers is immensely popular in the sartorial world currently, making them a match made in heaven.
Let’s get one thing straight – pair the oblique suit with a conventional white shirt and black oxfords, and it will look stunning. There will certainly be no issues dressing the oblique suit up, but I wanted to experiment and see just how far I could dress it down. Taking some inspiration from streetwear, I decided to pair the oblique suit with a black turtleneck (once again inspired by He Spoke Style), with matching black Asics Gel-Lyte III sneakers. Sneakers and suits have long been a trend, and frankly speaking it’s one that I’m a fan of. I love my dress shoes, but sneakers are undeniably more comfortable. Just to push boundaries even further, I decided to pull a Maradona and double-wrist (i.e wearing a watch on both wrists) because, why not? In these bleak pandemic times, I think we can all afford to have some fun with our dressing.
Esquire’s Atelier – the Fit
While style is undeniably important, fit still comes first. A suit can be beautifully designed, but if it doesn’t fit you well then it’s all for nought.
Although not perfect, I would say that the fit of my Esquire’s Atelier suit is decent, and generally punches above its price point. For one, the shoulders lie neatly, without any visible wrinkling or bunching. This is paramount since the fit of the shoulders is probably the most important component of the jacket as bad fitting shoulders are almost impossible to alter. Secondly, one can see some slight tapering around the waist, giving the jacket a bit of a slimming effect. Thirdly, the jacket is of just the right length too, with it ending near the middle of my palm, or about the mid-section of my crotch. My only knock is the unsightly wrinkles emanating from the sole exterior button, which indicates that either the button positioning is not ideal, or that the jacket is simply a tad too tight.
The sleeve pitch is good, draping naturally without much wrinkling throughout. Once again, it’s not perfect, but it’s good enough. We also don’t see the presence of the dreaded shoulder divots here – one of the cardinal sins of tailoring, in my opinion.
The fit of the back impressed me as well, with a generally clean fit. I’ve stated in numerous of my tailoring reviews that the back is often where I faced the most trouble – I have a severely arched back, and thus fabric often gets bunched up there. It’s certainly a marked improvement from my previous Esquire’s Atelier suit.
The trousers also drape cleanly, without much wrinkling throughout. As I’ve pre-emptively stated to Aaron that I was going to pair the outfit with a pair of sneakers, the trousers are cuffed for a more casual look, and cut a tad shorter than usual, resulting in the ends of the cuffs just brushing against the tip of my sneakers.
Conclusion – so Esquire’s Atelier “shiok” or not?
Esquire’s Atelier is an anomaly in the affordable tailoring segment for a simple reason – they don’t shy away from being stylistically bold. Even for such an unusual look, the sticker price for this specific suit is a mere $494 (after promo code below). Other tailors will usually charge you more for a “complicated” design, citing additional labour costs, if they even choose to do it at all. That’s not the case with Esquire’s Atelier, where you can get a red carpet look without breaking the bank. If you want to stand out and be different – especially if it’s your wedding – then Esquire’s Atelier is a no brainer option at under $500.
Interested readers can enjoy an exclusive 10% discount off suits at Esquire’s Atelier. After the discount, a 2-piece half-canvassed suit from Esquire’s Atelier would start at just $399, while a fully canvassed VBC suit would cost a mere $989. Simply quote “WAHSOSHIOK” whilst booking the appointment or flash this post when at the showroom to enjoy the discount. In addition, readers also get to enjoy special pricing on shirts (starting $79), pants (starting $89), and vests (starting $120) when they purchase a suit.
I hope this article has shown that there’s nothing wrong with taking liberties with dressing, even when it comes to a suit. Tailoring need not be strictly for work or weddings – sometimes, it can simply be an expression of your self-identity.
Book an appointment with Esquire’s Atelier here.
Esquire’s Atelier Location:
64A Pagoda St, Singapore 059223
Photography – TLGraphy
Longtime readers might notice that the photography in this article is substantially different in style from my previous tailoring reviews – that’s because I’ve tied up with wedding photographer TLGraphy for this shoot. With many readers commissioning tailored suits for their weddings, I sometimes get the question: “Do you know of any wedding photographers that you would recommend?” To me, that would be TLGraphy, which currently has a perfect 5-star rating on Google. I think the photos in this article turned out terrifically, and if TLGraphy can make me look good, they can definitely make you and your fiance shine as well.
Readers can enjoy a 5% discount on actual day wedding shoots with TLGraphy. After the discount, a 10-hour wedding shoot would cost roughly $1500, which is well under the market rate of $2000-4000. Like Perfect Attire, I find TLGraphy to be a great value proposition, and would wholeheartedly recommend them.
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wah so Shiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.