tailoring / fashion in 1895

Hello all,

just wondering if anyone can help (it's 2 am and too tired to research myself)

Was Saville Row up and running by 1895, in the sense that a well to do business owner might go there for a suit in order to wear some of the the prestige on his wirey shoulders? Or was tailoring a common trade across London and so Saville Row wouldn't be exceptional and it's only seen as now because it has survived into our modern day, factory farmed suiting industry?

My character needs to buy a suit, and I don't know where to send him.

Cheers all!


Forum Staff
Mar 2008
On a mountain top in Costa Rica. yeah...I win!!
If your character is rich, a captain of industry, he is much to busy to go to a shop, the tailor comes to him.


Forum Staff
Jun 2006
Savile Row was well established as a centre of excellence for bespoke tailoring by 1895 [first tailor set up in 1785], and although Pedro is correct, lesser mortals could go there for fittings [if they could afford the prices]. These were hand made clothes, made to order. If your character needs a suit in a hurry he'd have to 'buy off the peg' in any of the emporiae readily available in London. Marks & Spencer, for example had been in business since 1885
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thankyou all,

The character is a bit of a grasping social climber. A small to medium business owner who is hatching a plan to wipe out the competition. So I don't think the tailor would come to him (yet anyway, maybe if he pulls of his plan, or maybe he will begrudge the fact that he has to go to the tailor at this point) and he will make out that going for this suit is nothing special but it represents quite an investment in his social career.

cheers again!
Mar 2007
Oxford, England
You might want to have your character make a visit to Ede & Ravenscroft, est. 1689, which was famous even during the nineteenth century (and still exists today).


Ad Honorem
Jul 2007
Your man doesn't seem to be that well-to-do or he wouldn't have to pause to think about going to see a tailor. I'm not entirely certain what you mean by "businessman". Are we talking about a shopkeeper, a company factor, or a major industrialist?

In the 1890s, his options are very much the same as they are today. Basically there are four options.

The first, and most likely if this is just for a single occasion, is to rent a suit and have it fitted.

The second is a ready-to-wear suit, factory produced to match a standardized size.

The third is a made-to-measure suit. His measurements will be taken, and a suit will be made by the tailor from a pattern.

Finally, he can go to Saville Row. These are special tailors, called bespoke tailors. Here, his suit will be designed to measure, completely from scratch, no pattern. Needless to say this is the most expensive and most time-consuming option.


Historum Emeritas
Jul 2006
He would also probably buy a new silk top hat (by Christy's or Dunn & Co) to display his wealth and replace his old fur felt one which was going out of style in the late 19th century.