Wall Street: Welcome to Summer! Now that the weather is warming up, street fashion is becoming alive with pops of color. I had lunch with menswear designer David Hart the other day on historical Stone Street, and we spent a couple hours people watching and talking about new trends in menswear. In particular, there is a huge trend in going custom. What was once a service reserved for the very wealthy, is now officially mainstream. Long past are the days of boxy, oversized suits and shirts. Now everything is very fitted and streamlined. There is no room for error, making buying a custom suit the most economical option. Rather than pay thousands of dollars for a suit off the rack, and then having to take it to a tailor anyway, you can get a suit made exactly to your measurements for less than half the price. On top of that, you can choose EVERYTHING about it – from the fabric, to the cut, to the lapels, to the buttons, to the vents, to the color of lining and stitching…………and even customize pockets depending on your needs. With all of these customizable options, AND a perfect fit, there is absolutely no reason to buy off the rack (unless your lack of planning has you in a pinch and you need a suit for an event this week). Short of that, go custom.
CHOOSING A TAILOR FOR YOUR CUSTOM SUIT
Now that you see the HUGE value proposition of taking the step of getting a custom suit made, let me walk you through some of the things to think about before you start diving into the details. For starters, there are a million tailors and online sites offering custom suits, so much so that even deciding where to go can be a bit overwhelming. Choosing the right tailor is incredibly important. I DO NOT recommend taking your own measurements and just ordering a custom suit online, although there are plenty of companies offering this as an option. If you are going to get a custom suit made, you want it done right. Not to say that these places aren’t good (most of them are probably still better than off the rack), but you will most certainly be compromising in quality and fit. A tailor will not only be able to take your measurements, but also assess the nuances of your body and posture, which is incredibly important. Anybody can take measurements, but the true art is in the translation of the measurements. Also, unless you are a designer or mens fashion guru, you will definitely benefit from having the opinion of a professional to guide you through the process. Finding a tailor that has a bit of fashion sense is very important, as you want to walk out with a custom, modern, fashion forward suit, not a suit that looks like it belongs in the 80’s. For example, a British tailored suit is VERY different than an Italian tailored suit (British (Saville Row) is much more tailored and fitted, whereas Italian tends to be a bit more relaxed). There is no right or wrong, they are just different, and it comes down to a matter of preference. Find a tailor that fits your style sensibilities, has good customer service, and has good ratings and customer feedback. A good tailor will be a perfectionist, and will place the utmost of importance on you being 100% satisfied.
THERE ARE A MILLION CUSTOMIZABLE OPTIONS: WHERE TO BEGIN
Now that you have selected your tailor, and they have taken your measurements, it’s time to dive into the design of your custom suit. First, you will want to begin with fabric selection. Most tailors will have several price tiers of fabric, with the finer fabrics usually being the most expensive. As a general rule, if you are looking for a sturdy everyday suit, stay away from the fine fabrics. These fabrics will not only wear out faster, they will also wrinkle more. These are more for special occasions. Once you have selected your fabric, you will select the lapel type and width, jacket style (one, two, three button, double breasted), middle or side vents, pockets, buttons, and button holes. I never recommend the 3 button style, as in my opinion it is outdated and stuffy. My advice to you is to not go crazy. You want to add a bit of style, but not have it be so trendy that you won’t be able to wear it next season. I absolutely LOVE adding a contrast color button hole to 1 or 2 of the sleeve buttons, as well as a contrast under collar. This is enough to add style and say that it is custom, without being ostentatious. Next you will select your lining fabric (I LOVE contrast linings), as well as pockets. With a good tailor, the sky is the limit when it comes to interior pockets. You will also be able to select a monogram to put into the lining of your jacket, which is a nice added touch.
Once you have selected all of the options for your jacket, you will have a few decisions to make regarding the pants. The waistband can have side tab or standard belt loops, and you will be able to select pocket types for both the side pockets and the back pockets. You will also be able to select different types of fit and pleats (I’m NOT a fan of pleats), as well as whether you want a standard or cuffed hem (go standard for a more modern look).
OK, the hard work is done! You’ve selected your tailor, had your measurements taken, and selected all of the options for your perfectly tailored custom suit. Now, let’s talk about how much all of this should cost. Your fabric choice will determine your base cost, but most of the options come at no additional charge. Some of the options that MIGHT be an additional charge (depending on your tailor), will be things like elbow patches, special buttons, adding a different fabric lapel, and adding special interior pockets (other than the styles offered). A good custom suit will cost you between $700-$2,500. Most of my clients have AMAZING custom suits made for between $700-$900, with the experience of having a tailor AND a fashion stylist accompany them through this process (sometimes even in the convenience of their home or office). For that price, and for that service, it is a no brainer that having a custom suit made is the way to go. If you are in the NYC area, myself and my tailor will be happy to walk you through this process.