Biting the bullet – Master’s bespoke suit

It took a while – 3 years to be exact – for Master to bite the bullet and agree to get measured for another custom suit. He’s attending an event in the UK and needs to look “spot on”.

dievca will be reviewing her own advice (above link) and checking out what is currently in fashion for suits. she does know that the “Thom Browne” look isn’t going to fly for Master.

Charcoal grey is in the initial plans, excellent fabric quality and a slimmer cut (but not shrunken) for Master’s solid physique. He’s been working hard on it.

A well-informed dievca is a “prepped and ready” dievca.!

Master just passed on a note. He only has to wear a suit jacket and pants. An easier option from the closet. All of dievca’s research is null and void.
Ah, well.


Tailor-Made Suit: the essentials

Master looks amazing in a suit.

But the suits He currently owns are too large for him. Master had that suit made in England before he got sick.  All of His suits and jackets need a re-vamp because you can only take them in so much.  Understandably, He has dragged His feet to get a new suit made….and He hasn’t needed a suit lately, just a jacket…

There are some events coming up where Master will need a well-fitting suit and dievca is gently suggesting that Master get on the tailoring, so that He is not caught out….Wish her luck (price estimate below).

When it comes to that all round suit that you can wear to pretty much any event (except a funeral), then you can’t go past a quality navy blue knit.  It goes with everything, too – and is essential to any man’s wardrobe.

The process of buying a bespoke suit:

Find a reputable tailor

Good tailors are usually found in major department stores or in the high-end shopping districts. Friends, family and influential colleagues might also refer you to a trustworthy tailor. Ask around and ask about references.

Fabrics

Avoid a synthetic blend.

High-quality menswear fabric is a niche market when it comes to suppliers, so be sure to establish where and what type of fabric is sourced. The suit’s fabric will make the difference between a $1,500 suit and a $6,000 one.

If your store offers a range of quality fabrics, then this will show a solid and established relationship between store and vendor. Generally, English and Italian mills should also be in the equation here. Grades range from low 80s to high-end super 180s.  Aiming for 110 and above should be a good option. 180’s are expensive and delicate.

Determine the style

Two-button or three-button? Double-breasted or single? It all depends on the current styles at the time of your purchase. If you are more conservative and don’t follow fashion trends, opt for a classic suit. You can discuss your options with your tailor, as he has probably seen every suit style and knows all the tricks in the book.

The Trim

In the tailor-made suit business, it’s the little things that count the most; those nuances that stand out and provide real, long-lasting value. Personalizing your suit makes it your own.

Quality trims are essential and need to coincide with the fabric on offer. This includes buttons, internal linings and zippers. Other internal trim offerings also include chest and collar canvases, collar felts, sleeve heads and shoulder pads.

Handmade

Nothing beats a handmade suit, particularly in areas like the lapel, canvas, sleeves and collar.

When a tailor adds their handmade touches to these specific areas, it adds another layer of dimension to the suit and allows for greater flexibility.

Like mentioned before, it’s those little nuances that will stand out and separate a good tailor-made suit from an average one.

Measure for fitting

At this stage, your tailor will take all the required measurements to make your suit fit like a glove. It’s important to keep up open communication at all stages of your suit’s fabrication. Chances are your tailor has made thousands of suits and he knows what he’s doing; nevertheless, ask questions and give feedback.

Tell him how you’d like your suit to fall on your shoulders, waist and shoes. That’s the beauty of a tailor-made suit: You won’t need to have it altered several times before it fits perfectly.

Customization is especially attractive to those with distinctive body types. Master has really broad shoulders and shorter arms, so getting the upper body right is imperative for fit.

Number of Fittings

Some tailors will have a policy for how many fittings they will offer you as part of the tailored experience. Once that number is up, though, you will begin to incur added costs.

Post-Purchase

Alterations and guarantee are key. It’s super important that your tailor has some policies in place that ensure your tailor-made suit provides long-term value.

With alterations, a good tailor should allow for natural body fluctuations that occur. If you lose or gain a couple of pounds then you should be covered. This is all within a reason, of course.

Lastly, a guarantee of some sort, either money back or 100% satisfied to ensure peace of mind is essential in the tailoring process. Experienced, skilled and customer focused bespoke tailors will usually have these post-purchase offers, however, it’s always worth checking out before committing to buying from them.

Take care of your Investment

Ask your tailor for proper care instructions.

Generally speaking, dry clean your suits as infrequently as possible (only when their physically dirty from spills or sweat). Dry cleaning is a chemical wash that slowly erodes fabric – essentially scraping away the surface layer.

Otherwise, if the garment simply needs a “refresher”, have it steamed or pressed (which is much cheaper than dry cleaning and effectively cleans it using heat and steam anyway).

Costs:

A well made hand-tailored suit takes an average of 40 hours to complete. The average master tailor working in America doesn’t pick up his shears for less than $30-40 an hour…let’s call it an average of $35/hour. That’s $1,600 in labor alone.

Decent cloth from a respected mill, purchased at wholesale, runs roughly $50-$100 per yard…let’s call it an average of $75/yard. It takes about 3 yards of cloth to make a suit (2.5 for solids, 3 for pinstripes, 3.5-4 for check patterns). That comes out to an average of $225 for the cloth. Add roughly $25 for the buttons, trims, lining, etc. That’s $250 in cost of tangible inputs, making a rough total of $1,850 for overall cost of production.

Therefore, an American made suit (with a typical 65% profit markup) will retail for at least $3,050. Translate this to Euros in Italy and pounds in England.

If a shop located in an area with similar cost of labor is offering a suit “made on site” at a price notably lower than this, they are likely pulling the wool over your eyes (pun intended) by using counterfeit cloth or overseas production where the hourly cost of skilled labour is much cheaper.

Thank you to askmen.com, articlesofstyle.com, and The Eye of Faith: Essentials to a Tailor-Made Suit