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Tailor-made style


Stitched Up

Benjamen Judd looks at how clothes can make or break the modern day man.

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If you can afford to splash out on high-quality made-to-measure suits then it's worthwhile looking into the old-school luxury afforded by bespoke tailoring.

If you can afford to splash out on high-quality made-to-measure suits then it's worthwhile looking into the old-school luxury afforded by bespoke tailoring. Photo: Jessica Shapiro

Your guide to buying bespoke suits.

Money may not be able to buy you class or happiness, but it can buy you style – if you know where to look, that is.

I’m not talking about getting hoodwinked by the sales staff of designer stores or having access to a good stylist, no, all you need to get ahead in the corporate world, in a sartorial sense, is the number of a bespoke tailor.

Just because you’ve gotten to the point in your life where you can afford to indulge in the finer things doesn’t mean you automatically know where to start. And, if you can afford to splash out on high-quality off-the-rack or made-to-measure suits then it’s worthwhile looking into the old-school luxury afforded by bespoke tailoring.

Put simply, bespoke puts the buyer in the driver’s seat in terms of fabric and fit, and allows you to dictate what you want in a dream suit. All provided under the watchful eye of a tailor with years of experience under their Savile Row belt.

Here are some simple steps to follow if you’re in the market for the best suit you’ll ever own.

Step one: Research
In keeping with the understated tradition of bespoke tailoring, most of the reputable providers rely on word of mouth when it comes to advertising. With numbers steadily decreasing as the years roll on, it can be tricky to find a genuine craftsperson.

Here you must rely on the advice of colleagues, or visit a couple of the iconic firms in person to get a feel for them. You’ll be paying a pretty penny so you want to find a trustworthy tailor.

Step two: Fabric
Now, this is the stage that will dictate the overall cost of the garment. Starting from around $1,500 and heading upwards of $27,000, a large part of the final price tag depends on the grade of the fabric.

With a range between a low-quality 80 and a high-end 180, most designers of decent off-the-rack suits settle at about 100-110. For a bespoke number you’re going to want to start at 110 and then climb as high as your budget will allow.

Step three: Style
While your tailor can make suggestions about what he or she thinks will be the best long-lasting option for you new suit, the choice is ultimately up to you.

There’s single versus double breast, two or three piece, single or double vent, natural or padded shoulders, peaked or notched lapels, the list goes on. Don’t be afraid to ask your craftsperson to explain anything you don’t understand and feel free to suggest any personal touches you think might work. Though, at the end of the day, listen to them as chances are high they know what they’re talking about.

Step four: Fit
If you’ve gotten the first step right then this next stage should be a cinch – an experienced tailor should know exactly what’s going to work well and what’s not when it comes to your body type.

Again, don’t be afraid to speak up. If it feels uncomfortable then let your tailor know. Also voice your preferences when it comes to the fall on your waist, shoulders and shoes. The best thing about going bespoke is that a quality tailor has a few tricks up their expert sleeves that can make you look taller or slimmer.

Step five: Final touches
The final fitting is crucial. If you’re the kind of person who smiles and nods after receiving a bad haircut and then rushes home to try and fix it in the bathroom mirror you need to snap out of it – this is a far more expensive endeavour.

As long as you’re as polite as you are firm your tailor won’t mind if you ask for small adjustments. Lastly, pay cash if possible. In this gentlemanly world you never know what last-minute bargain you can bag.

Do you have any other tips for men considering going bespoke?


23 comments so far

  • T M Lewin, King Street, Sydney. Beautiful suits, shirts and ties, and a tailor on site to make any adjustments/alterations (at no charge). Bought a suit from there last week and it's a knock out. Slim-fit, sharp and light. Way better than the bespoke suits I've had made in the past.

    Date and time
    September 03, 2012, 9:46AM
    • I wear their shirts exclusively now. They do $160 for 4 shirts online.

      Thinking about getting a suit soon.

      Date and time
      September 04, 2012, 9:36AM
  • I'd just point out that higher super counts for fabrics are not necessarily a indicator of a better quality fabric. Yes they are softer and more luxurious but also generally lower weight, wrinkle a lot more and wear out quicker than lower super count fabrics. What most people don't know is that most Savile Row tailors use around Super 90's fabrics. For longevity, better drape and less wrinkling, you are better off with an 11-12 oz open weaved fabric like a fresco, with an un-lined or quarter lined coat rather than a tighly woven 8oz super 150's with a lined jacket.
    Regards, Jason @ Henry Carter Neckwear & Accessories

    Henry Carter
    Date and time
    September 03, 2012, 10:44AM
    • Think of what you carry on you daily or when you wear suits. Can a pocket be created for that item in the jacket so that you trousers dont look puffed out? e.g iphone

      Also think about your stitching, are there areas on previous suits that are prone to tearing (trouser pockets) maybe look to get double stitching on those areas.

      Lastly, have fun with the lining. You are paying for a premium product that is different. Dont be boring, think of customising the jacket lining with your favourite colours - not boring grey or black.

      Date and time
      September 03, 2012, 11:39AM
      • I just bought a bespoke suit from Skin Deep Clothing in Elizabeth Street Sydney, last week for an interview. I told them I didn't want to look like a banker but wanted something that was stylin,and sharp that I could also wear out . Well it took about 1.5 hrs to pick the fabric that was the hard part, then measure up, back in 1 week for a fit and adjustments. These guys are so good (couple of english guys) that no adjustments were needed. Cost was $1800 but compared to off the rack which is around $!200-$1400 and made in China or india, no comparison, It makes my other suit which is off the rack look like a sac of potatoes.

        Date and time
        September 03, 2012, 11:58AM
        • This might seem a little bizarre but anyone thinking they've arrived at the level of tailored suits, or think they will, should really practice and play a bit before that.

          Specifically, there are a couple of locally based business that outsource the actual tailoring part to various South East Asian countries for well under $600. Don't get me wrong, you get what you pay for in some ways, but you gain an inexpensive insight in to designing a look, fell and fit just for you so that when it comes to designing your $27,000 three piece, your instructions roll off the tongue as smoothly as someone wearing that suit should be.

          Date and time
          September 03, 2012, 1:13PM
          • Good tips! I've been wearing tailored suits for a while now. Never been keen on the high price tags so I only had a few tailored suits with most of my wardrobe being filled with off the rack stuff from Rhodes and Beckett etc.

            It didn't get a mention on the article, but I actually tried using some of the online tailoring services. I found one called Vinspi ( Really helpful team, suits fit well looked great and it worked for my budget. They're based in Melbourne I think, cause they have a local phone number.

            Definitely a worthwhile option if you wear suits and shirts often.

            p.s Lining up a double breasted suit purchase next. It's coming back in a big way!

            Date and time
            September 03, 2012, 1:21PM
            • 'Step one: Research' - how ironic
              Luke, you really need to stick to all things 'Deep V neck'. Tailoring is obviously not your strong point.

              Date and time
              September 03, 2012, 1:34PM
              • Worked in London and found amazing suits secondhand. You would pay anything from gbp 15 to gbp 100. And at the Sales suit would be reduced from 1000 to a couple of hundred.

                Date and time
                September 03, 2012, 2:36PM
                • Advice on suits from someone wearing a T shirt. Love it!

                  Date and time
                  September 03, 2012, 2:46PM

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