By Douglas Nivens II, For The Baltimore Sun
4:58 PM EDT, September 17, 2013
Earlier in the summer, I met the gentleman who will craft my wedding day attire, Derrick C. King. He is one of the tailors at Christopher Schafer Clothier and was recently named Best Tailor by Fashion Awards MD. I first met King last year at a Capital Area Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce expo, where he helped me pick out an awesome pink and blue tie. We’ve kept in contact ever since, and after seeing his designs on Facebook, I thought he would be the right tailor to design my suit.
While I’m opting for a custom suit, my fiancé is shopping around to find his attire. He is searching for that perfect suit to magically appear in a store, begging to be picked up. It’s not just fanciful thinking; a few years ago, his friend was lucky enough to find a Dolce & Gabbana tuxedo at Nordstrom Rack. Will it happen again? Not sure, but he’s driving all around the DMV and perusing online for that auspicious moment.
Because we aren’t sharing the same designer, my fiancé and I won’t look alike as we walk down the aisle. We did, however, set parameters on what we can wear – black suit or tuxedo, suspenders and bow ties (his red, mine blue). No garter, cummerbunds or ruffles of any kind. We are also not wearing brightly colored satin vests – too reminiscent of high school prom.
After my fiancé and I negotiated the terms of our apparel, I made an appointment with King. We met at a tea shop across the street from his studio, where he showed me the choices available. He brought small boxes of fabrics for the suit so I could browse through the differences in quality, design and hue. He also had a large binder of shirt fabrics where I could pick out whatever pattern I wanted to wear. Then, there were the options in the cut of the waist, vents, pockets, collar, buttons and cuffs. Basically, whatever I wanted, King could design it.
After our tea, King gave me a tour of Christopher Schafer Clothiers. Located in a brick warehouse in Harbor East, the 1,700-square-foot studio had mannequins wearing their latest suit jackets, dress shirts and ties (including a gray, black and purple set for the Ravens fanatic). In the middle, there stood a large work table with rulers, worksheets and more fabrics. King gave me a couple blazers to try on in front of their tri-fold dressing room mirror. True to design, they showed off my broad shoulders and emphasized my waist, giving me an hour-glass look.
I narrowed my choices in design and we discussed payment. King will design my suit jacket, pants and dress shirt (I’m still debating whether I want a vest to complete my suit; it’s easier to wear while dancing). I will make my first deposit in September and do my fitting early next year. In the meantime, I’m going to the gym to add some muscle to my frame. I want to fill my suit nicely, and I have eight months to make it happen.
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