While the well-turned ankle of a lady is a pleasure for all eternity, the nude leg of a Chap has more in common with pulled pork than the shimmering delight of a Michelangelo sculpture. The unsheathed shank is a reckless fellow, falling upon the chattering classes like an Assyrian horde, scattering children, disheveling ladies and confusing pets.
But this anarchic activity can be mastered. All that is required are trousers. With a modicum of thought and a peck of effort, one can reach an outcome that marries both utilitarian necessity and the demands of good taste. But simply stretching your legs in the direction of the local High Street and hoping for the best is certain to return you home with a face full of sorrow and a bag full of regret. Such is the nature of ‘off-the-peg’ clothing: built for an industry average that isn’t you, they trail compromise in their wake.
Yet the road to well-trousered salvation is neither so rocky to travel nor difficult to uncover. Cupped in the calloused hands of the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire are Spencers Trousers. For almost a century, Spencers have been offering a solution to a Chap’s sartorial woes in the form of made-to-measure trews, hand-cut, built to last, and at a price that would draw a blush from your average pair of fashion kecks. When Reggie Spencer first set up the company, as the dust was beginning to settle on the ruins of the First World War, he had a mind to produce cloth for a newly minted aeronautical industry. But this moment had passed almost before his idea took shape, for plane design and power had moved on apace, with aluminium becoming the aircraft covering of choice. One dream crushed, but another, slightly more prosaic ambition, took its place. Trousers.
If you stroll along to the Spencers factory, at the Friendly Works in the hamlet of Friendly, you’ll be met by Nigel, the pantaloon king, who will talk you through the process, record your dimensions, then set you free on the cutting room floor to pick your material and choose your style. You can even take in a pair of ‘old faithfuls’ which, having coughed up their last, Spencers will endeavor to recreate. However, should a day out in an area once known as Fustianopolis – due to the volume of fustian cloths, like corduroy and moleskin, produced – prove a little distant, you can, like many others, send or phone in your measurements, choose your cloth, and a week later a pair of slacks, built only for you, will be sent out.