The Ultimate Guide to Custom Tailored Suits
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A good custom-tailored suit is an investment and should be approached as such. Knowing the do's and don'ts beforehand can save you time and money when you're at the tailors.
Bespoke or Made-to-Measure? Know the Difference.
Bespoke is a word that gets thrown around all too often in the custom-tailoring world, so much so that some tailors (see: Saville Row Bespoke Association) have called for regulation of the term. Traditional bespoke tailoring consists almost entirely of hand-worked fabric, and requires several fittings throughout the process. This is in contrast to made-to-measure, in which the measurements are taken beforehand, and then the suit is constructed according to those specifications, with very few or no fitting sessions. Most made-to-measure suit vendors will offer a pre-determined dollar value of alterations if they are needed once the suit is finished.
A good tailor will typically charge upwards of $1500 for a quality bespoke suit, while made-to-measure can cost as little as a few hundred dollars.
Be Honest About Your Body Type.
Whether you're 6'5" or 5'6", have the body of a professional athlete or that of King Henry VII, a well-tailored suit can only make you look better. Be sure to know the specifics of dressing for your body type, as different proportions require different sartorial dimensions to properly accentuate a frame. Larger gentlemen often make the mistake of buying even larger suits, so as to hide their bulk under a pile of fabric. Extra and unnecessary fabric not only costs more, but gives the appearance of a sloppy dresser. Leave your insecurities at the door, and go for a fit that hugs your body. Thinks like wearing a pocket square to draw attention away from your gut, and always leaving your jacket done up (unless sitting of course), will keep you looking your sharpest.
Don't Take Your Own Measurements.
Play it safe. Get a tailor to take your measurements for you (they usually charge around ten dollars), and while you're there. . .
Talk To Your Tailor!
When a tailor hands you a list of your measurements, it won't be the blueprints to build an anatomically correct statue of yourself; it will be the specifications for a garment of some sort. This is why it's important to have a conversation with your tailor about what kind of fit you want the suit to have. You may decide that showing the standard half-inch of shirt cuff visually lengthens your already considerably long arms, and that maybe a quarter-inch would be more appropriate. Maybe you're going to stick to your New Year's resolution and put an extra few inches on your biceps at the gym, and want the tailor to leave room for them in the arms of the jacket.
Good tailors will ask you the right questions about the fit of your suit, and the most experienced ones won't need to. In any case, make the effort to have a dialogue with your tailor when you're getting measured, as the measurements are the most important part of any suit-tailoring process.
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