We could go on and on talking about custom-tailored suits. It’s our profession, it’s our passion – it’s what we love to do. A custom-tailored suit just is something that really complements the wearer and it never goes out of style. A suit has the power to transform an otherwise insecure gentleman to one with confidence and prominence. When gents worldwide don their suits, be it for a wedding, work, a date or just any formal or informal event that you can think of, they will instantly feel like Emperors amongst mankind.
No one ever said though, that becoming an Emperor will happen while you sleep. Nothing comes for anyone that waits for things to happen.
Unique and carefully custom-tailored suits don’t just happen in a heartbeat. You cannot buy one off-the-racks. To get a perfectly tailored suit you and your Tailor do have to work together, as a team. Doing so means so much more than showing up to your good old Tailor. Instead, see your first visit to a Tailor like your first date. You have to do it right the first time., or there won’t be a second.
You just need to know how to talk to your Tailor, so you can help him help you in order to create the perfectly custom-tailored suit. This article is all about that. A rather lengthy one, but all the more important, so you can see eye-to-eye with your Tailor, and ask for exactly what it is you want in your first (or next) suit. As a result you will ultimately get an awesome custom-tailored garment as a result, so this article is well worth to read.
What Kind of Suit Do You Need?
First, ask yourself what the purpose of this suit is. Are you seeking out a bespoke suit for a wedding? A funeral? A court appearance? A new job? Or just because? Tell your tailor.
Study your options in terms of materials
There are a lot of options out there when it comes to suit fabrics. It may sound overwhelming to you, but fear not, you can stick to a few key fabrics in order to not make the wrong choices. Especially that is if this is your first bespoke suit. Your suit should be good for three seasons and be composed of a fabric lightweight enough that you won’t overheat, but sturdy enough that you’ll also be comfortable if it’s a little chilly.
Here are the best fabrics to look for:
Worsted wool is the most popular wool used for suits, as it is highly adaptable to temperature change. It also adds a slight shine to it, that you find in most suits on the market. Worsted wool is extremely versatile and make for a great choice for solid-coloured suits.
This fabric is a bit more of a luxurious lightweight wool on the scale. It’s ideal for use in a three-season suit.
This fabric has a silky look to it and is a bit more textured compared to the first two options.
Flannel is typically made out of worsted wool, and is similar to tweed and herringbone in terms of look, but tends to be softer to the touch. Most tailors will have a wide selection of colors and weights, meaning that you’ll most likely be able to find a nice, breathable flannel that you’ll be comfortable in during the spring and fall months.
2- Or 3-Piece Suit?
Ask yourself this. Do you want a suit jacket and a pair of trousers only, or would you like a matching vest to go with it? Traditionally, 2-piece suits are less formal, and 3-piece suits are more formal.
3-piece suits can be worn to gatherings like weddings and dinner parties. They tend to keep you warmer, and most importantly it can become a 2-piece suit with ease. For that, simply remove the vest. If you don’t need all the formality or live in a warmer climate, a standard 2-piece suit might be a better option. Plus, 2-piece suits are cheaper.
We recommend getting a 3-piece suit simply because it’s more versatile and can be worn with or without the vest. Again, it’s all up to you.
Learn the Lingo
When it comes to crafting a suit from scratch, there are a lot of nuanced details to consider. In these situations, it’s helpful if you know a little bit about your tailor’s profession so you can speak the same language when discussing your suit. Now, the language that a tailor speaks is vast, but here are a few words you should study up on to not only impress your tailor but be able to ask for and describe exactly what it is you’re looking for.
The lapel is the part on each side of your suit jacket immediately below the collar that is folded back on either side. Lapels can be notched (the most common style), peaked (lapels with “peaks” that point upward), or shawl (a continuous lapel without a notch or peak breaking the outer line).
The cuff is the optional bit of material on your suit pants that is folded up and pressed. Though cuffless is more popular nowadays, we personally love the cuff and would recommend getting one that is one and a half inches tall.
The vents are the slits at the back of your jacket. Vents allow for both a tailored fit and easy mobility. Center vents are traditional, whereas two side vents are a bit more modern and ultimately while making a jacket look more fitted.
The Pant Break
This term refers to how much of the bottom of the trousers meet the shoes. A medium/half break is the industry-standard and will result in just a little bit of foldover. If you want to be on the safe side though, ask your tailor for a medium break. A full break offers at least one full fold or “break” over your shoes. A quarter break will just graze over the tops of your shoes. And finally, for the sartorially daring, trousers with no break will just meet the tops of your shoes. For your first suit, opt for a medium or quarter break.
Basically, tapering means narrowing or gradually coming in (think of the opposite of bell bottoms). Having your jacket and trousers tapered slightly to fit your build is both more fashionable and more signature of bespoke.
Single- or Double-Breasted
Single-breasted suits have two or three buttons. Double-breasted jackets on the other hand have an outer row of functional buttons, and an inner row of decorative buttons.
Besom or Flap
Besom pockets are jacket pockets that are set into the jacket like a slit with a plain opening. Flap pockets are the exact same thing, except covered by flaps.
Working or Show Buttons
Show buttons are exactly as they sound–cuff buttons that are “just for show” and have no real functionality. Working buttons are functional, allow you to roll up your sleeves, and are indicative of a bespoke suit.
Ditch the belt loops and opt for side tabs with a few buttons on the sides of your pants that will allow you to adjust your waist without needing to ever wear a belt. We like this look but keep in mind that to some it may carry some retro connotations.
If you enjoy the nostalgia and old-school elegance of suspenders, consider getting interior buttons sewn into your trousers.
There are a heaps of inner pockets available that you can trick your suit out with. Ticket pockets are literally for tickets, and come in handy for never misplacing them when you’re seeing a show. Left and right inside pockets can be used for everything from money clips to iPads (however, if you’re gonna use them for an iPad, tell your tailor. He’ll customise the pocket size to your exact requirements). Finally, you’ll want to add a secret inner pocket somewhere for all those classified CIA files you’re carrying around (or, you know, like a passport or something).
Once you know these terms, you can make decisions such as besom or flap, medium break or none, and tapered or straight, and so on. All these little details will help your tailor understand what exactly it is that you’re looking for, down to the last button.
Last, but not least -find a good Tailor
Look for a tailor that, first and foremost, uses the term bespoke. Custom suits are great and all, but bespoke is better because the term signifies that that particular suit is made for and owned by exactly one man, and that the suit was hand-drawn and crafted based on exact specifications from the wearer’s body. If a tailor does bespoke suits, you’ll know that he or she is an expert at taking care and consideration to craft suits based on your body type, as opposed to altering a pre-made pattern to accommodate your size (also known as made-to-measure, or MTM). A bespoke suit will fit and be comfortable for you, will have as few or as many pockets and buttons as you desire, and will be crafted based on your wants and needs from start to finish. Bespoke, undoubtedly, is the way to go.
Other considerations to keep in mind when looking for the right tailor include consulting Google (Does he have good reviews? Bad reviews? No reviews?) and ultimately asking yourself if this person makes you feel comfortable.
Once you have gone through all of the above, you should further assess your potential tailor by first having alterations made on another garment of yours. Say, a pair of trousers or a blazer. Have an idea of what you’d like done, and if it’s done correctly, it should be a safe bet that you can move on to discussing a suit.
Other noteworthy suggestions to take with you
Bring your own pictures
Visuals always help. If you’re a fan of the Savile Row style of Fred Astaire or appreciate the classy duds of George Clooney, find a picture of their suits that you wouldn’t mind emulating, and bring it in as inspiration for your tailor. If possible, try to explain what about this particular suit you like.
Honesty is always the best option
Don’t ever lie to your tailor. He isn’t there to judge you, he just wants to make a suit to fit your exact needs, whatever they may be. What occasion is this suit for? Be upfront about where the suit will be worn, and the frequency with which it will be worn. It may seem minor to you, but every little detail can be helpful in painting the big picture for him. So, tell him the circumstances, explain the kinds of people you work with, the temperature in your office, anything. At the very least, you’ll be building rapport with him, and a nice relationship with your tailor is tantamount.
Along the same lines, don’t feel pressure to act differently during your visit to the tailor. Just because you’re getting a suit does not mean you need to affect a certain degree of formality that you otherwise wouldn’t. If you don’t enjoy suits, or if this is your first time ever needing one, don’t be afraid to let him know.
Finally, don’t try to lie to the tape measure, either. Sucking in won’t fool anyone.
Get the most out of tour fittings
When you finally do go in for your fittings, dress up!
Wear the shoes you would normally wear with a suit, as well as a dress shirt. You’ll want to see exactly how your trousers break on your shoes, and how the sleeves and collar look under your jacket.
Remember to speak Up
As you are doing your fittings, do not be afraid to speak up. If something isn’t fitting exactly the way you imagined, tell your tailor immediately, so that he can address the problem. Don’t just be passive and assume that that’s the way it’s supposed to look or feel. Remember, you’re spending reputable portions of your own money on this garment. If you don’t speak up, ask questions, or voice your concerns, the only person to blame if you’re not happy with the end result is yourself.
Patience is key
Getting your first suit made will take a decent amount of time and a nice handful of fittings (at least 2). Accept that you can’t rush this process, and look at the bright side: next time you go in for a bespoke suit, your tailor will have all your measurements and details on file so he can get to work right away.
And there you have it. Now that you’ve read up on all you need to know, you’re well-equipped with the knowledge required for obtaining a bespoke suit. Understanding how to talk to your tailor and knowing a little about all the nuances and details that go into the process of making a bespoke suit are essential for having a good experience. Take this newfound knowledge, go out there, and be the dapper king that you are.
Oh, and remember: behind every great man is a great tailor. Don’t forget to thank yours for helping you put your best foot forward.