Young peoples' desire to dress up revives Taylor's biz
Jack Taylor has the unique distinction of having dressed both Cary Grant and David Arquette — two men at polar opposite ends of the style spectrum. That is, until the sartorially challenged Arquette became a regular customer of the master tailor.
To the man who once counted Frank Sinatra, Jack Lemmon and Charles Bronson among his best clients, it was a move that began a new chapter in his decades-spanning business. “I was ready to give up because all my customers were dying off,” says Taylor, who opened his eponymous Beverly Hills shop in 1957. “But things have changed. Young people want to dress up again.”
Yet Taylor hasn’t changed one iota to keep up with the times, opting instead to stick to making bespoke suits just the way he did during Grant’s heyday. “We’ve never changed the way we make jackets and slacks,” he says. “Everything is still done by hand.”
While the 80-something Taylor has never sewn a stitch during his legendary career, he supervises a staff of tailors as they create his signature suits ($3,750 and up) with their square-shouldered, fitted jackets and permanently creased trousers from the finest Italian wools, Holland & Sherry cashmere and Harris tweed.
While Taylor still dresses Hollywood types from “the old school,” such as Art Linkletter and Dennis Farina (“He will not go out unless he’s dressed up. He’s the handsomest, nicest guy in the world,” Taylor says), it’s his new, younger clients who are keeping business brisk.
“A couple of young guys came in terribly dressed, and I was ready to tell them to take a walk,” recalls Taylor. When Arquette first visited his haberdashery, Taylor’s first impression was, “What the hell is this?” When the actor confided he wanted to rehab his style, Taylor happily took on the job. His first order was for 10 suits.
“There are a lot of young people in Hollywood who don’t want to look like the people that work for them,” Taylor explains.
Taylor, who says biz “is great,” opines there’s no one today who comes close to the perennially best-dressed Grant (“He was perfect”), and he won’t single out any menswear designers for praise (“Please don’t ask me that question”).
But he does have a theory as to why so many men no longer dress to impress: “I’m sorry, but I blame it 90% on the women,” he says. “The girls are dressed worse than their men. A woman who has a great body should be wearing great things. Today, they expose everything. That’s too bad.”