5. Don’t forget about the Weekend
To get the most out of your investment, think about pieces that can double as office wear and weekend wear.
Here are some styling tips to give your bespoke tailored garments a slightly more casual feel:
- A suit jacket in a seasonal textured fabric, like a loosely woven hopsack, looks much more natural as a blazer with jeans than a slick worsted.
- Similarly, a fabric with a check or plaid pattern (like the gingham check pictured here) will read more casual than a solid. Traditional glenplaids, however, are like pinstripes: all business.
- Patch pockets are perfect for the weekend and don’t detract from a sharp business blazer.
- Go with soft shoulders (minimal or no padding) for a more comfortable jacket that has less “corporate stiffness”.
- A single vent makes a jacket look more like a “blazer” while double vents give a more strict business vibe.
- A non-traditional button, like the gunmetal ones on the navy suit in look #1 above, can add a subtle laid back touch that will make it easier to crossover to casual times.
- A machine top-stitch around the lapels and pockets give the jacket a slightly more casual dimension, as opposed to a more delicate pic stitch done by hand. The most obvious example here is the khaki suit in look #3.
- Brown/Navy mini-check blazer by Michael Andrews Bespoke
- “The Perfect Dressy T-Shirt” by Rich in Clothing x Dan Trepanier
- Polka dot pocket square Vintage
- Black pastic frames by Archie Brower
- Brown alligator belt by Ralph Lauren Purple Label
- Silver belt buckle by Ralph Lauren Purple Label
- Brown leather loafers by Scarpe di Bianco
- Watch by Montblanc Timewalker
- Brown alligator watch band by Montblanc
Other Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between “custom”, “made-to-measure” and “bespoke”?
“Custom” can mean anything. Choosing a colored lining and fancy button gives a suit maker the right to call it “custom”, just like a pair of Nike sneakers designed online in your own colorway.
“Made-to-Measure” shops make a limited number of symmetrical adjustments (+/- in girth(s) and length(s)) to a pre-existing pattern. They will typically not make any adjustment for your shoulder slope, posture, are any asymmetrical irregularities in your body.
“Bespoke” refers to the process of creating a unique, original pattern specific to a clients body structure. Traditionalists will say that in order for a suit to be labeled “bespoke” it should be measured, cut and fit all by one master tailor, but very few shops function profitably in this manner anymore.
How can I imagine the suit from the swatch?
This takes a little imagination at first, and your salesperson should be able to help with this.
Ask to see a finished garment next to the matching swatch to get an idea. Keep in mind that the finished garment usually looks a half shade lighter than the swatch as more light reflects off of it.
What lapel width should I go with?
It really depends on your body type, but here is a rough guide that I find works well.
Notch: Size 38: 2.75″, Size 40: 3″, Size 42: 3.25″, Size 44: 3.5″, Size 46: 3.75″…
Peak: Size 38: 3″, Size 40: 3.25″, Size 42: 3.5″, Size 44: 3.75″. Size 46: 4″…
Shawl: Size 38: 2″, Size 40: 2.25″, Size 42: 2.5″, Size 44: 2.75″, Size 46: 3″…
Single vent or double vent?
In my opinion: double for a suit or tuxedo, single for a blazer or casual jacket.
Brown or black buttons with navy/grey? Do they have to match your shoes/belts?
If you wear both black and brown shoes with navy or grey suits, don’t worry about matching your buttons to your shoe color.
If you wear only black or only brown shoes with either suit color, or one much more often than the other, it’s a good idea to choose buttons that will match most of the time.
What’s the deal with online custom? Is there a way to do it right?
Online custom (which is always “made-to-measure”, never “bespoke”) is a bargain play in an arena where you ultimately get what you pay for.
The biggest problem is the self-measuring process and the variation and inaccuracy that comes along with it. The only way to really get close is to use your first purchase as a sample and a learning experience. Save the initial measurements you entered and assess the fit of the suit when it comes in. Now that you have an idea of the allowances the shop is using, you can make any necessary changes to your initial measurements for your second order.
In the end be ready to take it to your local tailor for some tweaks.
What are your thoughts on “fast turnaround” suits in touristy Asian locations like Hong Kong, Thailand, etc?
Beware of any suit with an overly quick turn-around time. They’re slapping that thing together with glue and skipping countless steps in the manufacturing process.
When I was in Hong Kong (the capital city of cheaply made suits) I sampled a $150 custom suit from one of the more esteemed overnight shops in town. The price was great, the fit was decent, the fabric was mediocre and the finishing was terrible.
After a couple dry-cleanings it grew unsightly bubbles through the chest and shoulders (similar to a poorly done do-it-yourself window tint on a car).
Again, you get what you pay for. With that said, though, if you’re a difficult fit on a budget it can be far better than anything you may find off the rack.
What about traveling suit guys who come to your office?
From my experience: they show you some cheap fabrics, take a few measurements, accept your payment, and ship you a suit in the next few weeks.
You’ll be lucky if you ever see them again.
Shop at your own risk.
Again, if you have any additional questions, please post them in the comment section and I will do my best to respond.
Thanks for reading.
Yours in style,
Photography by Alex Crawford.