The suit makes the man, as they say, and there’s nothing that unmakes him faster than an ill-fitting one. Sure, something off the rack at Men’s Warehouse is fine if you’re a 20-year-old kid going to his uncles funerall, but there’ll come a time when you want to move up in the world and a big part of landing that gig or earning that promotion is looking the part. One great way to do so is getting a custom made to measure or even a bespoke suit. But, before you trot off to your local tailor, be warned that ordering a custom suit is one of the most complex and expensive shopping experiences you’re likely to face. That’s why we’ve assembled this little guide to catch you up on the basics.
Made to Measure or Bespoke
A made to measure suit is made by applying your measurements to a base pattern to create a garment well-fitted to your body with your choice of fabric and details. A bespoke suit is a whole other beast, it’s a 100% custom suit made to your exact specifications by a personal tailor. Not only will you probably have to have two to four fittings before the suit is complete, you’ll also need a couple of consultations with the tailor to nail down minute details such as the color, material and size of the buttons. If this is your first rodeo, we suggest you try a made to measure suit first, especially given the steep price of a bespoke creation. A good-quality made to measure suit should set you back at least a thousand. If you still have your heart set on a bespoke suit, we recommend taking a look at Articles of Style’s 12 Commandments on the subject.
Find a Tailor You Can Trust
We’re currently experiencing a renaissance in men’s fashion, thanks in no small part to the veritable suit porn that was Mad Men, with plenty of stores now offering custom suit services. The thing is that not every tailor is equally talentedl, and you don’t want to fork over a month’s salary to a guy at the mall for a so-called “bespoke” suit. If you have friends who are into tailored suits, ask their opinion for who’s the best tailor in town. You can also check out online reviews and even men’s fashion blogs in your area to get a better sense. There are also some reputable online shops that offer made to measure services such as IndoChina.com where you can input your measurements online, though, that comes with its own risks. With a real-life tailor at a real-life store, you can be reasonably assured the measurements they’re taking are accurate and they can answer any questions you might have.
Double (and Triple, and Quadruple) Check Your Measurements
This is absolutely essential. There is no point in getting a custom suit made if any measurement is so much as half an inch off. Even if you do find a decent tailor, you should go in with some idea of your various measurements, if only for your own peace of mind. If you choose to go the online route, it’s absolutely essential your measurements are as accurate as possible. That means not trying to wrap the measuring tape in your toolbox around your stomach and getting an actual tape measure. It also means asking a relative, or a friend who’s confident in his masculinity, to help you out and measure your inseem.
Think About the Details
Give serious consideration to how you want the suit to look and we don’t just mean whether you want it black, blue, or gray. Do you want a single or double breasted suit? Would you prefer a lighter cotton suit or a heavier wool one? Do you want to spring for a cashmere or silk blend to get that extra “wow” factor? Do you want a pattern or pinstripes? Do you want the jacket cut close to the body or do you want a touch of extra space? Remember, this suit is supposed to be an expression of your personal style for all the world to see, something you can wear that is entirely your own.