Image: Chelsea Lin

When it comes to sartorial choices, men generally get short shrift. But they hit center stage at Harris and Tailor, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it slip of a shop across from Pike Place Market that specializes in made-to-order menswear, from casual to couture.

Co-owners Dawn Greenwell and JR Harris launched Harris and Tailor in both Portland and Seattle a year ago, after breaking off from franchise Klein Epstein and Parker. They built the business they'd dreamed of: equal parts modern tailor, art gallery, and community hangout. Though that last piece is on hiatus for pandemic reasons, shopping is very much still happening. 

There are racks of ready-to-wear jeans, sweaters, accessories, and athletic wear, but what sets the store apart is custom styling and fitting, particularly for suits. Books lining the south wall hold hundreds of fabric samples, elaborate buttons, and even thread. "There's pretty much carte blanche," Greenwell says. "If you bring in a picture, we can get it made for you," whether you want a navy three-piece you can wear anywhere, a retro Peaky Blinders number for your wedding, or a diamond-encrusted Elton John costume.

Greenwell, who spends most of her time managing the Portland location, and Harris, who manages the Seattle store, enjoy helping someone showcase their personality through style. But the obvious question remains: Why invest in bespoke suits when we have all been living in a pair of sweatpants since last March? Greenwell brings up a valid argument. "There's a common misnomer that baggy clothes are more comfortable," she says. "But that's just not true." She points out that clothing doesn't have to be too big or too small; just like Goldilocks learned, it can be just right. A well-fitting garment, she says, moves with you.

The shop also offers custom treatment on its more casual items (athletic wear, corduroys, button-down shirts, etc.), and Greenwell says it's usually only $20 to $30 more to tailor to your body rather than purchase off the rack. Fashion, after all, is not an all-or-nothing sport, says Harris. Even before the pandemic moved the style needle towards more casual, "A lot of people are doing this high-low thing: Casual on the top and luxury on the bottom, or luxury on the top and casual on the bottom," he says. After all, dressed down on the bottom is the Zoom-approved look of the year. Greenwell adds, “You just need a few nice pieces. If you’re going to buy something, why not buy something really special?”

For now it's best to make an appointment to shop: With only 25 percent capacity, the tiny space is limited to one customer at a time. But Harris is hopeful that down the road the shop will again be full of customers shopping, naturally, but also just coming by to say hello, have a whiskey, and check out what's new—a third place for style icons, or anyone who fancies themselves one.

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