Over its centuries of history, Savile Row has developed a colourful language of its own – here are a selection of words and phrases still mostly in use:
Baby - stuffed cloth pad on which the tailor works his cloth.
Banger - piece of wood with handle, used to draw out steam and smooth cloth during ironing.
Balance - adjustment of back and front lengths of a jacket to harmonise with the posture of a particular figure
Balloon...having a balloon - a week without work or pay.
Baste - garment roughly assembled for first fitting.
Basting - tacking with long stitches to hold garment parts together.
Bespoke - a suit made on or around Savile Row, bespoken to the customer's specifications. A bespoke suit is cut by an individual and made by highly skilled individual craftsmen. The pattern is made specifically for the customer and the finished suit will take a minimum of 50 hours of hand work and require a series of fittings.
Board - tailor's workbench.
Bodger - crude worker. Common to other trades.
Boot - loan until payday. Can you spare the boot? Can you give me a loan? Dates from crossed-leg days, when a tailor recorded the loan by chalking it on the sole of his boot.
Bunce - a trade perk, like mungo and a crib (see below).
Bundle - components of jacket or trousers bundled together for making-up.
Bushelman - journeyman who alters or repairs.
Canvas - a cloth usually made from cotton, flax, hemp or jute and used for providing strength or firmness.
Cat's face - a small shop opened by a cutter starting out on his own.
Chuck a dummy - to faint. Allusion is to a tailor's dummy tumbling over.
Clapham Junction - a paper design draft with numerous alterations or additions.
Coat - jacket. (Only potatoes have jackets, it used to be said)
Codger - tailor who does up old suits.
Cork - the boss.
Crib - large scrap of cloth left over from a job, usually enough to make a pair of trousers or a skirt.
Crushed beetles - badly made button holes.
Cutting turf - clumsy, unskilled working.
Cutting system - method of pattern preparation using a particular process of measurement and figure evaluation. Scores have been devised since methods of working out the proportions of the figure were first explored in the late eighteenth century
Doctor - alteration tailor.
Dolly - roll of wet material used as a sponge to dampen cloth
Draft - sketch or measure plan of a garment
Drag...in the drag - working behind time.
Drummer - trouser-maker.
Goose iron - hand iron heated on a naked flame
Gorge - where the collar is attached
Have you been on the board? - are you experienced?
Hip stay - old-time name for wife.
Interlining - material positioned between lining and outer fabric to provide bulk or warmth
Jeff - a small master: one who cuts out his garments and also makes them up.
Kicking - looking for another job.
Kicking your heels - no work to do.
Kill - a spoiled job that has to be thrown away.
Kipper - a tailoress. So called because they sought work in pairs to avoid unwelcome advances.
Log...on the log - piecework: the traditional and complex system of paying out-workers.
Made-to-measure - garment made to a customer's individual requirements, to some extent, but not necessarily by hand
Mangle - sewing machine
Mungo - cloth cuttings, which by custom the tailor used to retain to sell to a rag merchant for a little extra income.
On the cod - gone drinking.
Pattern - a template model used for cutting garments
Pig - an unclaimed garment.
Pigged - a lapel which turns up after some wear.
Pinked...pink a job - making with extra care.
Rock of eye - rule of thumb: using instinct born of experience, rather than a scientific cutting system
Skiffle - a job needed in a hurry.
Skipping it - making the stitches too big
Small seams - warning call when someone being discussed enters workroom.
Soft sew - an easily worked cloth.
Scye - the armhole: from 'arm's eye'
Skirt - part of a jacket that hangs below the waist
Striker - assistant to a cutter
Tab - fussy, difficult customer.
Trotter - fetcher and carrier: messenger.
Tweed merchant - tailor who does the easy work: a poor workman.
Whipping the cat - travelling round and working in private houses: common practice in old days when a tailor would be given board and lodging while he made clothes for a family and their servants.