For the last couple of months, I’m pretty sure I’ve recommended this book to everyone I know. The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit is Vancouver-based author JJ Lee’s debut book, and it is an incredible read.
Lee’s decision to alter his father’s suit for himself is a starting point for a number of narratives, from his evolving relationship with his father while growing up in Quebec, to his experience as a tailor’s apprentice in his thirties, to a history of modern menswear and tailoring. The power of clothing to make a statement about status and self-identity, as well as to evoke memories, is a theme Lee uses to weave a narrative between all of these topics, and it’s done in a way that feels natural and effortless — he just takes the reader along for a fascinating ride.
More than anything, the honesty in Lee’s account of his family life is very moving and it really is the heart of the book. As someone who sews, the overview of men’s clothing over the years and the art of tailoring was super informative and fun to read. And, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Lee’s year practicing sewing straight lines and getting to know the masters at Modernize Tailors in Vancouver. (I think someone needs to turn that bit into a sitcom!)
In conclusion, read the book!
You can also check out JJ Lee’s website for more of his writing on menswear and fashion, including his fashion columns for the Vancouver Sun.