Your First Bespoke Suit
There are many things to be said about a bespoke suit. A bespoke suit flatters every wearer, never goes out of style and has the power on its own to instill a sense of confidence and prominence in even the meekest of gentlemen. When you put on a bespoke suit, you will instantly feel like a king, which does not come easy.
A unique, perfectly tailored suit is not an immediate thing and cannot be found off the racks. You will have to work with your tailor to get the perfect suit; and it means more than just showing up at 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 the perfect bespoke as a result.
What Kind of Suit Do You Need?
First and foremost, consider what the purpose of the suit is. Whether you are seeking out a bespoke suit for a wedding, funeral, a court appearance or a new job, tell your tailor about the occasion.
Know Your Fabrics
You will most likely be asked for your preference in fabric. There are a variety of different ones to pick from. As overwhelming as this sounds, there are a few fabrics that you will want to stick with, especially for your first bespoke suit, and you can’t go wrong. Your suit should be composed of a light enough fabric to be good for three seasons; lightweight enough that you won’t overheat but sturdy so that you’re warm enough if it gets a little chilly. Here are some fabrics to look for:
This is the most popular wool used for suits because it is highly adaptable to temperature change, wears well and gives off the slight shine you find in most suits on the market. It’s extremely versatile for solid-colored suits.
This fabric is a bit more of a luxurious, lightweight wool. It’s ideal for use in a three-season suit.
This fabric is a bit more textured and silkier than the first two options.
Flannel is typically made out of worsted wool but is similar to tweed and herringbone in terms of look, and 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.
Talk Like A Tailor
Learn the Lingo
It is very helpful to know a little but about your tailor’s profession and the words and processes that go into it so you can speak the same language while discussing your suit, even if it is just a few words here and there to be able to describe exactly what you’re looking for. When the tailor speaks to you about certains concepts, you will be more aware of them and what they are.
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 and 3-piece suits are more formal. 3-piece suits can be worn to more high-class gatherings like weddings and dinner parties, it will keep you warmer, and most importantly can become a 2-piece suit with ease if you 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, cheaper option. It is recommended to get a 3-piece suit simply because it’s more versatile and can be worn with or without the vest, but it is all truly up to you.
The lapel is the part on each side of your suit below the collar that is folded back on both sides. Lapels can be notched, peaked or shawl. Notched is the most common style, where they are regularly folded. Whereas peaked is when the lapels point upward at their peaks and lastly, shawl is a continuous lapel without a notch or a 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, if you decide to get it, we recommend getting one that is one and a half inches tall.
The slits at the back of your jacket and allow for both a tailored fit and easy mobility. Center vents are traditional, whereas two side vents are a bit more modern while making a jacket look more fitted.
This term refers to the end of the trousers and how much they meet the shoes. A medium or half break is the standard and will result in a little bit of a foldover. If you want to be on the safe side, ask your tailor for this break. A full break is at least one full fold over your shoes, whereas a quarter break will just graze over the tops of your shoes. For the more daring, trousers with no break will meet just the tops of your shoes. For your first suit, a medium or quarter break is more suitable.
Shoulder padding is optional and in tailor terms, the latter is called spalla camicia. Padding will create a broad appearance, while spalla camicia will create a soft and natural transition from shoulder to arm, which is also more fashion-forward.
Having your jacket and trousers tapered slightly to fit your build is both more fashionable and a signature of bespoke. Basically, this means narrowing or gradually coming in.
Single- or Double-Breasted
Single-breasted suits have two or three buttons. Double-breasted jackets have an outer row of functional buttons and an inner row of decorative buttons.
Besom or Flap Pockets
Besom pockets are jacket pockets that are essentially a slit with a plain opening, whereas flap pockets are the same thing, except with 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.
Rather than having a belt, opt for side tabs with a few buttons that will allow you to adjust the waist. This is a convenient, retro look.
If you do enjoy the old-school elegance of suspenders, consider getting interior buttons sewn into your trousers.
Inner pockets can be useful for tickets, money clips and your keys. You might want to speak to your tailor about which side you want the inner pockets to be, whether it be both sides or even positioned inside more than normal to hide more private documents like a passport. Once you decide, 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 stitch.
Now Find a Great Tailor
First thing you should search for is a tailor that uses the term ‘bespoke’. Custom suits are great, but bespoke signifies a suit is particularly for and owned by one person. It was customly crafted on exact specifications from the wearer’s body. If a tailor does bespoke suits, you’ll know they are an expert at taking care and consideration to hand-draw the suit based on your body type. A bespoke suit will fit and be comfortable for you, will have as many pockets as you desire and will be made based on your personal needs and wants from start to finish. Undoubtedly, this is the way to go.
Another thing to do when finding a tailor, you can also consult Google to check their reviews and services on their site or online shop to ultimately ask yourself if this person makes you feel comfortable.
Once you have gone through the necessary steps, you can further assess your potential tailor by first having alterations made on another garment before buying your suit from them to get a bit of an idea if the person will do it correctly and exactly the way you want it.
Other Noteworthy Tips
Visuals always help. If you’re a fan of a certain person’s fashion sense or just appreciate the classy style 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 that you like so they can get an idea of what you’re looking for and might even be able to alter and recommend things.
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 good relationship with your tailor is nice.
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.
Dress Up For Your 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.
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 your money and time 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.
Getting your first suit does take a decent amount of time and might be a few fittings but it is a process and shouldn’t be rushed. On the upside, when you go to buy another suit, the tailor will already have all your measurements.
Now that you’ve read up on everything you’d ever need to know about getting your first bespoke suit made, you are well-equipped with the knowledge and understanding on what to tell your tailor and what to expect to have a stress-free and smooth experience.