I remember the story, which is as follows:

A humble tailor (with his disabled wife as help) on the outskirts of London was suddenly visited by a couple of men in suits who closed his shop and told him he has a special assignment. They introduced him to a centaur type alien, who speaks English just fine with a translator, and they need him to whip up something so the alien can be presented to Her Majesty at a formal function.

The tailor refused to make a "glorified horse blanket" and ended up spending two weeks making jackets, pantaloons, shirts, even undies, after having a fit with the MI5 guy. But the end result was remarkable, even though the wife thought the tailor was just joking about the alien (you're making it for a stage play, right?)

I am reasonably sure it was one of Jerry Pournelle's collections "There Will Be War" or "Star Empire" but I can't remember which one.

A little help?

  • It's definitely in one of Pournelle's Empire collections. If no one runs it down before I get back to my library I should be able to help. Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 23:01
  • I am seeing a similar sounding story reported as "Custom Fitting" by James White, appearing in Stellar #2. cannot find a good summary though. see isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?33185
    – Seeds
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 23:08
  • Valorum gets the win. It's in volume two of Imperial Stars if you are still interested. That's the "Republic and Empire" one. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 4:15

1 Answer 1


Per AbeBooks BookSleuth

I am looking for a book of sci-fi short stories. The one story I remember out of it is where a tiny tailorshop in London is approached by a govenment representative to make a sort of "horse blanket" for what turns out to be Earth's first visiting alien.

The alien very much resembles a centaur. In the course of measuring the equinid for his glorified horse blanket, the tailor asks, as good tailors do, the intended purpose of the garment. The which the visitor replies, that he will be wearing it to present his credentials as Ambassador of the Intergalactic Federation to the Court of St. James.

The tailors relationship with the govenment rep went downhill from there.

The short story is "Custom Fitting" by James White. I have it in a short story collection called "Futures Past" which is available from various stores here on abe. I don't know about the copy with the ambassador on the front but "Futures Past" contains the short story you have mentioned.


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