In 1640, tailors gathered on London’s Savile Row to begin handcrafting the world's finest suits. Their stretch of shops known today as the “golden mile of tailoring” serves the essential masculine attire dressing storied figures like Lord Nelson, Winston Churchill and even Jude Law.
The suits stitched with finest fabrics like hand sheared wool and soft eastern silk require a customer to be custom fitted at the tailor’s hands. Each piece is a payment in time (100 hours), coinage (£5000-£10000) and trust (immeasurable) between the tailor and the customer as each acknowledges without the other they can cannot create something akin to a work of art.
This post isn’t about clothes. Rather it is a tailored image of favor and its impact on a person.
Arthur Ashe, the American athlete once said,
"Clothes and manners do not make the man; but when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance."
A new suit highlights a favored man. They reflect his status and how he is presented to the world. It changes how people perceive you and ultimately how you are received. But the exterior refinement for all its beauty does little for one’s soul.
A man cannot be a good without a garment of praise. It is the very article that distinguishes.
But it is easy to forget that, to sink into despair looking at what is happening in our world. It is easy to watch the worst of humanity’s cruelty and nature’s power and become changed ourselves. If we are honest, each passing day, our minds are easily becoming stained by the sorrow around us.
London famous for Savile Row was also notorious for it coal filled air. Brick homes, majestic statues, swift carriages and living men and women would perpetually be bathed in a darkness that Charles Dickens once described in Bleak House as:
“Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes — gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun….”
“Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards...”.
The fog that covers every thought and every action we take and without some outside influence, the fog that eventually blinds us to the Sun.
It’s easy to adapt the vision of those around us, to give in to the pull of gravity and accept “the reality” of what we see.
It requires no effort to embrace darkness and calling it light.
After all, isn’t the finest marketing to display and declare What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG)? Yet great leaders are not driven by what they see with their eyes. As St. Paul wrote of the patriarch of Israel Moses as someone who “persevered because he saw him who is invisible”.
What You See Is What You Get by persevering and seeing a vision that is larger than yourself.
But does a clear vision actually alter dire circumstances? What does a garment of praise beyond serving as an illustration change anything?
It changes the wearer. It’s important to remember that what one wears needs to outlast and outshine the environment they are in. It easy to mistake the clothes for the man.
The Tailor of heaven’s row has long since hand-crafted moments of praise for each of us. It up to us to don what has been stitched for us, to change our street clothes and finally wear the garments that displays who we truly are.