Your First Bespoke Suit

Your First Bespoke SuitHow to Tell Your Tailor Exactly What You Need

There is something–no, many things–to be said about a bespoke suit. A bespoke suit flatters every wearer, never goes out of style, and has the power all on its own to imbue a sense of confidence and prominence in even the meekest of gentlemen. When you don a bespoke suit, you will instantly feel like a king amongst men.

But no one ever said becoming king would be easy.

A unique, perfectly tailored suit is not an immediate thing. You cannot buy one off the racks. No, to get a perfect bespoke suit, you will have to work (with your tailor, of course) for it. And doing so means much more than just showing up to any old tailor down the street. Ask any sartorial pro, and he will tell you that your first visit to a tailor is akin to a rite of passage, much like your first date or your first car, so you’ll have to do it right. And by that, we mean, you’re gonna have to know how to talk to your tailor so you can create the perfect suit. Read on for advice on everything you’ll need to know so you can see eye-to-eye with your tailor, ask for exactly what it is that you want, and ultimately, get an awesome garment as a result.

Your First Bespoke Suit: How to Talk to Your Tailor

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 Up on Fabric

There are a lot of veritable suit fabrics out there waiting to be discovered. As overwhelming as that may sound, there are a few key fabrics you’ll want to stick to, especially for your first bespoke suit (which makes things a little easier). 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

Worsted wool is the most popular wool used for suits, as it is highly adaptable to temperature change, wears well, and gives off that slight shine that you find in most suits on the market. It is extremely versatile and great for solid-colored suits.Super

120s

This fabric is a bit more of a luxurious lightweight wool. It’s ideal for use in a three-season suit.

Mohair

This fabric is silky and a bit more textured than the first two options.

Flannel

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.

Your First Bespoke Suit: How to Talk to Your Tailor

Two- Or Three-Piece?

Do you just care for the suit jacket and trousers, or would you like a matching vest to go with it? Traditionally, 2-piece suits are less formal (pictured above right), and 3-piece suits are more formal (pictured above left). 3-piece suits can be worn to high brow gatherings like weddings and dinner parties, will keep you warmer, and most importantly can become a 2-piece suit with ease (just 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 making 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.

Lapel

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).

Your First Bespoke Suit: How to Talk to Your Tailor

 

Cuff

The cuff is the optional bit of material on your suit pants that is folded up and pressed. Though cuffless is more popular, we love the cuff and would recommend getting one that is one and a half inches tall.

Vent

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.

Your First Bespoke Suit: How to Talk to Your Tailor

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 err on the safe side, 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.

Shoulders

Padding or spalla camicia? Do you want padded shoulders or shoulders without padding (spalla camicia). The former will create a broad appearance, while the latter will create a soft and natural transition from shoulder to arm. The latter is also more fashion-forward.

Taper

Basically, this 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 (pictured above left). Double-breasted jackets (pictured above right) have an outer row of functional buttons and an inner row of decorative buttons.

Your First Bespoke Suit: How to Talk to Your Tailor

 

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.

Side Tabs

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.

Your First Bespoke Suit: How to Talk to Your Tailor

Interior Buttons

If you enjoy the nostalgia and old-school elegance of suspenders, consider getting interior buttons sewn into your trousers.

Inner Pockets

There are a plethora of inner pockets 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 customize the pocket size.). 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.

Now Find a Great Tailor

Your First Bespoke Suit: How to Talk to Your 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 Tips

Bring 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 the Best Policy

Don’t lie to your tailor. He isn’t there to judge you, he just wants to make a suit to fit your 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 Your Fittings

Your First Bespoke Suit: How to Talk to Your Tailor

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.

Speak Up

As you are doing your fittings, do not be afraid to speak up. If something isn’t fitting 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 big bucks (we’re talking thousands, here) 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.

Be Patient

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.

Cuffs, Lapels, and Fits: The Basic Anatomy of a Suit

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Every man need s a good suit. But if you’re new to wearing a suit, you might not know exactly howto craft the right suit for your needs. In this blog, we outline several elements of a suit and discuss your options for suit-wearing success.

Cuffs

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The cuff of your suit actually refers to the wrist closures of the shirt you wear under it. You have three main cuff options.

French Cuff

If you want to wear cufflinks, you need the French cuff. French cuffs fold back and have holes for cufflinks. The cufflinks you choose can dress this suit up or down, though typically French cuffs are reserved for more formal occasions.

Barrel Cuff

Barrel cuffs, also known as button cuffs, are the most common type of cuffs. Barrel cuffs are spectacularly easy and don’t require any extra thought from you when you’re getting ready for the day. Any shirt you buy at the store will typically have single buttons on each cuff. Custom suits, however, give you the option of having two or three buttons.

Turnback Cuff

The turnback cuff, sometimes referred to as the James Bond cuff or cocktail cuff, is a mix of a barrel cuff and a French cuff. It folds back just like a French cuff, but instead of requiring cufflinks, this cuff buttons. As its nick name suggests, this type of cuff was popularized by Sean Connery’s James Bond, so if you’re feeling a little more daring than usual,choose this cuff.

Lapels

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Lapels are the folded flaps on the front of your suit jacket. There are three basic shapes of lapels, all fit for different occasions.

Notch Lapel

The notch lapel is the most common variety of lapel. It’s named for the notch made when the bottom of the collar meets the top of the lapel. You may find slimmer or wider notches, but they’re all based on the same principle. This lapel is versatile, perfect for anything from job interviews to a typical day of work.

Peak Lapel

Peak lapels can be found on formal suit jackets like tailcoats or morning coats. The edges of the lapels point upwards to your shoulders, which makes you look slightly taller. These cuffs are difficult to put together correctly, so they’re a bit more expensive. Weddings and formal dinners are common sites to see peak lapels.

Shawl Lapel

The shawl lapel, unlike the notch or peak, has one long continuous curve, instead of any breaks or points. You’ll usually only find this lapel on a tuxedo or smoking jacket. The shawl lapel represents a classy choice that works for red-carpet galas or black-tie events.

Fits

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The fit is how your suit conforms to your entire body. When choosing a fit, take your body type into consideration.

Classic Fit

A classic fit, or traditional fit, is good for movement and growth. While it’s clean cut, it’s not fitted tightly enough to make any person who’s not used to wearing a suit uncomfortable.

Slim Fit

You may also hear slim fit suits referred to as Italian fits. As the name suggests, this suit is fitted closely to the body in the arms, the chest,and the legs. This doesn’t mean only skinny people can wear it; it just means the suits its closer to the skin.

Modern Fit

Modern fits aren’t as relaxed as a classic fit or as trimmed as a slim fit. Choose this fit if you want to look sharp but are uncomfortable or unsure about a slim fit. Modern fitted suits are also easy to dress up or down depending on your needs. Once you decide which of these options you like best, you can start making more detailed decisions and taking measurements. Use this general guide as a starting point,and get in touch with a custom suit maker to build the most comfortable,classiest suit for your body type.

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