LaPlace man’s tailor-made talent keeps him busy and looking sharp

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 23, 2010


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – In an effort to stay active following retirement from the daily grind, LaPlace resident Clayton Jordan developed a tailor-made talent that not only keeps him busy, but also makes him look sharp.

Jordan, 82, describes himself as a man who loves a good suit. When he started having trouble finding properly fitting jacket and slack combinations in patterns that appealed to him, he took it upon himself to make his own. He now has 12 suits that were designed, cut, sewn and tailored right from his own home.

“I have been sewing for as long as I can remember,” Jordan said. “I used to watch my mother tap away at a machine to make clothes for me and my siblings. Over time I just picked up the trade.”

Jordan said his passion for suit making stems from time spent as a tailor in the 1980s. After ending a 37-year stint at the old Godchaux-Henderson sugar refinery in 1985, when the Reserve plant closed, Jordan said he often spent time doing alterations for people from an old sewing machine at his home.

“I got my sewing machine in 1959,” Jordan said pointing at an old Singer unit. “And it has never been in the shop one time. It has served me very well, and I still use it today.”

Jordan said his materials — corduroy, linen, and polyester — come from fabric stores, hand-me-downs and even older suits. He said it typically takes him about a day or two to complete one suit, depending on his mood and state of mind while he is working.

“I always say that you’ve got to have your mind made up to do the work or it won’t come out right,” Jordan said. “You never do good work if you are not in the mood.”

One stipulation he has with every suit he makes is that each must include some sort of flower tacked to the lapel. Jordan said he has never worn a suit without first putting a flower on the breast over his heart.

In addition to the suits, Jordan has also sewn about a dozen button-down dress shirts with his own unique design flair.

“The buttons are diagonal,” Jordan said. “It’s not a mistake. It was something I tried one afternoon, and I liked the way it turned out.”

Jordan was born in Baton Rouge but lived in Reserve most of his life. In 1950, at the age of 22, he was drafted into the Army and spent two years overseas fighting in the Korean War.

During his time in Korea, Jordan said he was awarded with the Bronze Star for service in a battle zone. He said the award came from his work hauling ammo to the front lines of the combat area.

In addition to the clothes making, Jordan said he is an avid fisherman who always makes sure to carry at least three rods in the trunk of the car.

“You never know when that opportunity will come,” Jordan said. “You gotta keep moving and stay active at my age because once you sit down, you are down for the count.”