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A Guide to Buying Your First Bespoke Suit

June 1st, 2012

Trying custom clothing for the first time? We got you covered, of course.

But in the event you’re going to experiment with a local tailor, here’s a comprehensive guide to making the most of your investment.

If you have any additional questions after reading, please post them in the comments section and I will do my best to respond.

    1st Suit: Navy 4-Season Wool


    Essential Navy Suit by Articles of Style

    The first suit I recommend is a solid navy 4-season (8-10 oz) worsted wool.

    It’s a wardrobe staple and the most versatile suit a man can own. You can wear it to the office, to a wedding, to an evening event, as a blazer with jeans, as a pair of trousers with another jacket, etc.

    Selecting a Clothier

    There are hundreds of “bespoke” shops popping up all over. Here are some questions you should ask to narrow down the list of stores in your area.

    1. What fabrics do you offer?

    The world of quality menswear fabrics is a small one with few major players. A decent bespoke shop should have relationships with vendors who supply a range of fabrics from established English and Italian mills such as Dormeuil, Holland & Sherry, Scabal, Zegna, etc.

    The seasonal books used to display swatches to clients are costly to manufacture and limited in number. For this reason, vendors carefully distribute them only to the shops that do the most business (and thus have the best reputation and highest number of returning clients).

    If you can find a shop that offers ARISTON fabrics, I highly recommend them. A small family owned mill outside of Naples, they create luxury fabrics with the most style-forward and tasteful designs in the game. I use them exclusively for all of my personal orders. As a new feature on the site, going forward I will be including the fabric ID numbers in the clothing credits for my bespoke suits, for your reference and to solve the problem of imagining how a swatch will look as a finished product.

    2. What about trims?

    A shop with good attention to detail (which is crucial in this business) should use top quality trims to go along with their luxury fabric offering. I’m talking about genuine horn buttons, durable bemberg linings (beware of anything with a raised surface, like a jacquard, that can rub and pill over time), RiRi or YKK zippers, etc.

    Other internal inputs like chest and collar canvases, shoulder pads, sleeve heads, collar felts, etc. are difficult to differentiate in a finished garment, until you’ve worn it for a few months and dry cleaned it several times. You’ll have to trust the salesperson on these things, and use your judgement based on the other trims they are using.

    Of course, it’s always a good idea to do your research and read customer reviews online.

    3. Is the jacket canvassed?

    A tailored jacket is either:

    A. Fused: the easiest and cheapest method to construct a jacket where the front panel and lapel facing are backed using iron-on glue called interfacing then sewn together.

    B. Half Canvassed: a better method of construction that takes more time and hand work. A canvas “chest piece” is strategically sewn between the front panel and facing from the shoulder to the lapel roll line, giving the jacket some internal structure over the chest which makes it more durable and body forming over time, without giving it a “stiff” feel.

    C. Fully Canvassed: the most time consuming method to tailor a jacket. A full-sized layer of canvas is inserted between the front panel and facing, giving the jacket the highest level of structure and rigidity. This canvas makes the lower jacket hold a strong sturdy shape and gives the overall a garment a stiffer, more structured drape.

    4. How much handwork is done on the garment?

    Hand sewing vs. machine sewing is kind of like a home cooking vs. microwaving. The end product is similar, but the quality isn’t the same.

    There are major advantages to handwork in certain areas of the garment such as a hand-set canvas, hand-rolled lapels, hand-felled collar, hand-set sleeves, etc. Manipulating the fabric by hand allows for small nuances that ultimately give the garment greater flexibility and dimension.

    If a salesperson tells you the entire suit is sewn by hand, however, I would be skeptical. Very few tailors will spend time hand-sewing straight lines like the outseam of a pant – where the cost would outweigh the benefit and the only real advantage is prestige.

    5. How many fittings will I need? 

    This one varies greatly depending on your body type (ie. how well or poorly a standard off-the-rack garment fits you).

    If you are not far from an off-the-rack size, you should only need a one or two fittings – again, depending on the quality and accuracy of the pattern-making.

    If off-the-rack garments are not even close on you, you could need 3-4 trips to the tailor.

    6. What is your alterations policy? What if I gain or lose weight?

    With regular fluctuations of 5-10 pounds, this weight is typically spread around the body and doesn’t affect the fit of the overall garment much (unless you prefer a super-slim painted-on fit).

    If you lose weight, taking-in (making smaller) is easy, within reason. If you gain weight, a good custom suit should be made with excess seam allowance beneath the sewing lines to allow the garment to be let-out (made bigger), again, within reason.

    7. What if I’m not happy with the finished product?

    In any business where you pay before you play, make sure there is some kind of satisfaction guarantee.


    2nd Suit: Charcoal 4-Season 


    Essential Charcoal Suit by Articles of Style

    After navy, the second suit I recommend is a 4-season (8-10 oz) solid grey worsted wool.

    An important note about grey: a lighter shade, like the one pictured here, is more appropriate for Spring/Summer (or warmer climates) while a darker grey is better for Fall/Winter (or cooler weather).

    For maximum year-round versatility look for something in a medium shade.

    11 Bespoke Commandments

    #1: Fabric comes first

    There are a thousand ways to sew a suit, but the garment is ultimately only as good as it’s most important raw input. The fabric selection is without a doubt the most important decision you will make when putting tougher your new suit. Not only does it determine how your suit will look and feel,but also how it will perform over time.

    Go with the highest quality fabric you can afford (note: this doesn’t mean the highest thread count).

    #2: Trust nobody

    Because this is a business where manufacturing begins after the sale is complete, and most clients aren’t well versed in the nuances of tailoring, the ugly truth is that it’s a very shady industry.

    I’ve seen everything from counterfeit brand name fabrics to “Made in USA” tags being sewn into jackets in SouthEast Asia.

    The most common deception in the business is the location of manufacturing – i.e. shops that say their garments are “Made On Site” when indeed they are not.

    #3: Understand the shop’s “house cut”

    Every shop has their own opinion on how a suit should be a cut to best flatter a man’s body.

    For example, traditional British tailors like the esteemed shops on Savile Row tend to cut with larger allowances (the difference between the client’s body measurements and the measurements of the finished product) for a roomier garment that has greater “drape”. English tailors also prefer heavier cloth, a lower gorge line (the seam where the collar meets the lapel) and more overall structure to the jacket (stiffer chest canvas, thicker shoulder pads, etc).

    By contrast, Italian tailors tend to prefer lighter cloth, smaller allowances (closer to the body), a higher gorge and a more “flexible” construction (softer shoulders, less padding, etc).

    The difference in cutting style can vary greatly from one tailor to the next, even in the same city. For example, tailors in midtown manhattan tend to make a more traditional garment with British accents geared toward an older client base, while downtown shops generally cut a more Italian-influenced, slightly “edgier” garment for a younger crowd.

    Understanding the style and strategy of the shop is very important in order to achieve the fit you are seeking. Ask if you can try-on a sample garment in your closest size, this will give you an idea of how the tailor thinks about a suit.

    #4: Get to a stable body shape

    If you plan on going through a major body transformation, wait until you reach a stable weight that you are happy with before investing in custom clothing. And make sure it’s a weight you can maintain!

    As an added bonus, an expensive custom suit will probably be your best motivation to stay in shape.

    #5: Get the fit right, the first time

    A good shop will keep a paper (or digital) pattern on file for you, and tweak that pattern every time they make you a new garment or alter one of your old ones.

    If you have the option of paying more for a “higher level” that includes additional fittings, do it for your first suit. Once you have your pattern locked down, you shouldn’t have to do it again and your future orders will be a breeze.

    #6: Understand that you’re (probably) not an expert 

    Most shops have employees whose full-time career it is to make their clients look their best. Listen to their advice and conversate with them about your styling decisions rather than assuming you know better.

    #7: Avoid trends like the plague

    You want your new investment(s) to last 5-10 years (depending on how hard you wear your clothing), so keep the proportions classic and avoid anything “of the moment”. I feel bad for guys who ordered cropped jackets with razor thin lapels two years ago who are now afraid to wear them. The same will happen to the guys ordering oversized lapels today.

    The hemline is a different issue as this can be changed in a matter of minutes.

    #8: Don’t get caught up in thread counts

    Some guys think the higher the thread count (or “super” number), the better the cloth. This is not necessarily true. This number, which represents the number of fibers spun into a unit measure of cloth, indicates only the “fineness” of the fibers. It can thus be used to estimate the “hand feel” and sheen of the cloth, but what’s more important is its inverse relationship with durability.

    Most of my suits are in the Super 120-130 range, which I consider the perfect balance between luxury and durability.

    Super 180s and higher becomes very delicate. It’s the opposite of a work horse, and should be reserved for guys who have 20+ suits in their rotation who are looking for something that they bust out once a month to make a statement.

    You should invest in the most durable fabric that feels good in your hand. Truth is, a “super 110s” from a quality mill will feel softer than a “super 180s” from a second rate fabric house anyway.

    #9: Get the basics first, then build on them

    Think of your first visit as the first step in building a new wardrobe. Start with versatile basics and slowly build out to fabrics with more personality. You can wear a solid blue or grey suit to the office three times a week and nobody will notice, but your co-workers will call you out if they keep seeing those purple pinstripes.

    Also, don’t factor in the suits you already have in your closet unless you love them and they fit very well. 90% of guys stop wearing their off-the-rack suits after going custom.

    If you already have a strong base and are looking for something specific, don’t be afraid to bring a picture reference to show your salesperson.

    #10: Have realistic expectations

    Unless you look like George Clooney, a new suit won’t make you look like George Clooney.

    Also, don’t be a wrinkle chaser. The suit is designed to look pristine on a still, standing body. As you start moving all bets are off and the suit will crease and wrinkle in areas of motion. It’s fabric, not magic.

    If you want a very slim look, there are trade-offs when it comes to comfort. You will feel the suit and lose a little range of motion. If you are not accustomed to slim tailoring, there may be a short adjustment period here. Keep in mind the only way to make it “roomier” is to make it bigger, thus losing some shape. In my case, I like to feel my jackets against my body a little.

    #11: Take care of your investments

    Ask your tailor for proper care instructions.

    Generally speaking, dry clean your suits as infrequently as possible (only when their physically dirty from spills or sweating). Dry cleaning is a chemical wash that damages fabric – essentially scraping away the surface layer.

    Otherwise, if the garment simply needs a “refresher”, have it steamed or pressed (which is much cheaper than dry cleaning and effectively cleans it using heat and steam anyway).

    Other care tips:

    – If possible, take your jacket off when eating, flying or doing anything active.

    – Invest in quality wooden hangers with large shoulders that fit your jacket properly. A good tailor should provide these.

    – Hang the suit on a proper hanger in an airy place immediately after taking it off.

    – Try not to wear the same suit on back to back days, especially in warm weather or precipitation.

    – The trousers will inevitably wear out faster than the jacket. If you’re hard on them, most tailors give you the option of adding second pair.

    And don’t forget the custom touches

    It’s custom made, so feel free to splurge on details that fit your lifestyle and aren’t generally available off-the-rack.

    I tend to run hot (and hate sweating when I’m wearing a suit) so I get most of my jackets unlined (see the picture above). Most worsted wools breathe quite well, it’s the bemberg/silk/polyester lining that traps heat in the jacket. Not only does it keep me cool, but also feels lighter and less restrictive on my back. It can also be cut a hair slimmer because of the missing layer.


    3rd Suit: Seasonal Separates


    Khaki Cotton Suit by Articles of Style

    For your third suit, think about something seasonal with a little texture or subtle pattern that is versatile and can be easily broken up and worn as a blazer or a seperate pant.

    My favorites are khaki cotton for the spring/summer and tweed for the fall/winter. The one pictured here is a great weekend blazer, combined with the perfect pair of khakis.

    Flatter Your body type

    Tall & Skinny

    – Avoid pinstripes but don’t be afraid of a subtle check or glenplaid fabric. Patterns will add girth, as will lighter colors.

    – If a double breasted jacket isn’t too style-forward for you, it will effectively widen your frame.

    – Don’t go too slim, a little room will add some weight and balance out your proportions.

    – Go with a medium to full break and cuffs on the trousers to break up your linear shape.

    – A slightly wider notch lapel with a lower gorge line is your best bet.

    – Don’t be afraid of a little padding in the shoulders to add some presence (this does not mean a wider shoulder).

    – Keep the pockets straight, not slanted, and use a ticket pocket to fill some empty space.

    – A longer jacket is slimming, a shorter jacket is lengthening…shoot for the middle ground, just past the cup of the seat.

    – Use horizontal accents like a belt, folded pocket square and tie bar to add some east-west visual cues.

    – A slightly higher button stance can offset your length (but you don’t need a three button jacket…nobody does).

    – Go three piece, a vest can add some heft.

    – Straight shirt collars will suit your frame and fill vertical space.

    Tall & Heavy

    – A longer jacket will visually elongate the body.

    – Darker colors are sliming, as are pinstripes.

    – A deep button stance will create a stronger “V” shape, accentuating the chest and masking the belly.

    – Yes you can wear a slim fit…this does not mean “tight” or “restrictive”.

    – Sit the pants across the belly, not under it, and use braces/suspenders to “float” your waistline.

    – Go with a wider peak lapel to draw the eye upward and proportionally cover your broad shoulders.

    – Leave some room in the trousers so you’re not accentuating the girth of your upper body, but you don’t need a big sloppy break at the bottom.

    – Slanted pockets, in theory, draw the eye downward and are slimming on the physique.

    – Use a ticket pocket to fill some space in the midsection.

    – Go with double vents. The jacket can be cut a little slimmer in the hips since side vents pulling open are much less obvious than a center one splitting.

    – Odds are, you’re tough on your clothing. Opt for a heavier, more durable cloth but lose the lining to avoid overheating. A second pair of trousers may also be a good idea.

    – Spread collar shirts should be matched with larger tie knots (like a windsor or double windsor), and both are ideal for a large neck.

    Short & Skinny

    – Crop that jacket a little, it will lengthen the leg line and add some height (just make sure your seat is mostly covered).

    – Go with slim (not skinny) peak lapels, in proportion with your shoulders.

    – A one button jacket keeps the suit in proper proportions and allows you to have deeper stance, creating the illusion of height.

    – Keep the legs slim and tapered with very minimal break.

    – The jacket sleeves should be cut short enough that you show at least 1/2″ of  shirt cuff – this will make your arms look longer.

    – A shoulder pad can give you some presence, and a little rope on the shoulder to.

    – as can a check, glenplaid or textured fabric.

    – Keep your shirt collars narrow and your ties slim and on the short side (if  they’re always coming out too long, have them shortened at the backside by your tailor).

    Short & Heavy

    – Dark colors are sliming.

    – Pinstripes are your best friend.

    – A deep button stance will visually lengthen your physique.

    – Go with peak lapels to draw the eye upward and keep them in proportion with your broad shoulders.

    – Choose side adjusters over belt loops to keep things streamlined. You can also use the same braces trick described above in the “Tall & Heavy” tips.

    – Hem the trousers with a very light break, but leave a little room through the leg – too slim can make you look top-heavy.

    – Go with a heavy fabric for durability, but an unlined jacket for breathability. A second pair of trousers may be a good idea as well.

    – Try shorter spread collars (and larger tie knots) to correspond with your shorter, wider neck.


    – The bigger your muscles, the more strain you will put on the suit. Use a durable cloth and ask the tailor if they can reinforce the seams where you typically have problems.

    – Use the smallest possible shoulder pad, or none at all, and minimal rope. You don’t need to accent your already muscular shoulders.

    – Avoid anything too short or cropped – it will look boxy. A longer jacket with a lower button stance will stretch out your bulky physique.

    – Keep the lapels wide enough to balance out your broad frame.

    – Slanted pockets will lean out the physique a little, as will a beltless look with side adjusters on the trousers.

    – Darker solid colors are slimming and will look less bulky than lighter ones. Pinstripes are a good idea, but not checks or plaids.

    – You’ll likely need the “top level” with the most fittings. Overly muscular body types with volume and dimension are the most challenging for tailors and pattern-makers.


    The Tuxedo


    The Essential Tuxedo by Articles of Style

    If there is one thing a man should have custom made, it’s a classic tuxedo. Formal occasions are when a man should look his best, and you know those rentals (which add up over time) are not cutting it.

    Odds are you’re only going to wear it once or twice a year, so invest in a tuxedo that’s going to last you a lifetime (provided you stay relatively consistent in shape over time). Here’s some tips:

    – Don’t be afraid of midnight blue. It gives the garment more depth due to the contrast of the black trim, and most people can’t even tell it’s blue – they can just tell it’s sharp.

    – One button, no question. (Or double breasted if you have the swagger).

    – The lapels, pocket trims, button coverings and pant stripes should be satin (a smooth shiny fabric that is most traditional) or grosgrain (a twill weave with less shine that is slightly more modern).

    – Peak lapel or shawl collar. Leave the notch for the office.

    – Traditionalists would say it should be ventless, but I prefer double vents – the silhouette is more rakish and you don’t have to sit on the tail of your jacket.

    – The front of the jacket, like the back of the trousers, should have double besom pockets (no flaps or buttons) and they should remain neatly sewn shut at all times.

    – Have the pants hemmed with minimal break and the jacket sleeves cut short enough to show at least a 1/2″ of the shirt’s french cuffs.

    – Don’t ruin a perfectly fitted tuxedo with an ill-fitting shirt. Complete the order with a formal shirt that can keep up.

    – For the shirt, use a heavily textured white cloth and chose from three classic styles: hidden placket (which has the benefit of doubling as a business shirt), bib front, or pleated front. Each should come with the option of a 4-button removable placket should you want to wear studs.


    Other Frequently Asked Questions

    What’s the difference between “custom”, “made-to-measure” and “bespoke”?

    “Custom” can mean anything. Choosing a colored lining and fancy button gives a suit maker the right to call it “custom”, just like a pair of Nike sneakers designed online in your own colorway.

    “Made-to-Measure” shops make a limited number of symmetrical adjustments (+/- in girth(s) and length(s)) to a pre-existing pattern. They will typically not make any adjustment for your shoulder slope, posture, are any asymmetrical irregularities in your body.

    “Bespoke” refers to the process of creating a unique, original pattern specific to a clients body structure. Traditionalists will say that in order for a suit to be labeled “bespoke” it should be measured, cut and fit all by one master tailor, but very few shops function profitably in this manner anymore.

    How can I imagine the suit from the swatch?

    This takes a little imagination at first, and your salesperson should be able to help with this.

    Ask to see a finished garment next to the matching swatch to get an idea. Keep in mind that the finished garment usually looks a half shade lighter than the swatch as more light reflects off of it.

    What are your thoughts on “fast turnaround” suits in touristy Asian locations like Hong Kong, Thailand, etc?

    Beware of any suit with an overly quick turn-around time. They’re slapping that thing together with glue and skipping countless steps in the manufacturing process.

    When I was in Hong Kong (the capital city of cheaply made suits) I sampled a $150 custom suit from one of the more esteemed overnight shops in town. The price was great, the fit was decent, the fabric was mediocre and the finishing was terrible.

    After a couple dry-cleanings it grew unsightly bubbles through the chest and shoulders (similar to a poorly done do-it-yourself window tint on a car).

    Again, you get what you pay for. With that said, though, if you’re a difficult fit on a budget it can be far better than anything you may find off the rack.

    What about traveling suit guys who come to your office?

    From my experience: they show you some cheap fabrics, take a few measurements, accept your payment, and ship you a suit in the next few weeks. You’ll be lucky if you ever see them again.

    Shop at your own risk, don’t expect greatness.


    Again, if you have any additional questions, please post them in the comment section and I will do my best to respond.

    Thanks, as always, for reading. If you have any questions about our online custom menswear, feel free to contact us anytime. We look forward to serving as your personal tailor and stylist. 

    Yours in style,

    Dan Trepanier

    Photography by Alex Crawford.

    Shop Custom Menswear Made in America


    Click Here, We’ll do the Rest

    • http://www.treoholdings.com dalancroft

      “– Dark colors are sliming.” I will never again wear them then, even though I’m burly — 5’9″, 195 lbs, 46 jacket and 34″ waist which given the 12″ drop makes off-the-shelf purchasing very difficult.

    • Arend

      About the “fast turnaround” suits in touristy Asian locations like Hong Kong, Thailand, etc? I have some recommendation there. I actually was in South East Asia a year ago, and when I was in Bangkok, Thailand, there were all these shops selling suits and guys promoting etc, and one time I was at the busiest shopping/drinking street; Khao San Road, and I was somewhere between some stalls (nearly everything is on the street itself) and I saw this little tailor shop. So I went in, mostly for jokes, but started looking, and feeling the fabric, and I was actually quite impressed. So a while later I came back and decided I should at least have them get my measurements and get a fitting with cheap fabric. So about three days later I went back, and it fit perfectly, so I decided; what the hell, it’s cheap here, I’ll only end up paying about 125 euros for a suit and a shirt. And I’ve got to be honest, it was near perfection for that price. I ended up with 2 cashmere blend suits, 3 cotton shirts and 5 silk ties for 250 euros (Yes, I checked the validity) and it took a total of three weeks, with a fitting once every week, but it was amazing. So yes, obviously the ‘fast turnaround’ never works, but if you can find a shop that has decent fabric, take a look, have a talk, check how it is made etc, get some example pictures and suits they have lying around for other people, check for full canvas, double stitching, whatever you want, there really is quality out there! The girl I was traveling with ended up with two beautiful dresses, drawn by her, recreated by them. And I hear from fellow stylish travelers that Vietnam has even better quality to offer!
      Sorry for the long read, but really felt like it was something that needed to be said.
      TL;DR: if you don’t want to spend 2k+ on a bespoke suit somewhere here, and you happen to be traveling in the more eastern parts of the world, take some time, and you can find quality that’s nearly the same (obviously not exactly the same, there is still a significant difference), but about 80-90% the same, for just a fragment of the price… Enjoy!

      • Kallan

        Cashmere blend for that price? No chance sir!

    • Christine Bravo

      Great tips. We all know that there are a lot of bespoke shops readily available. Making the best bespoke suit is not easy. It requires time, energy and knowledge to be able to make one.

    • Jimmy Wilson

      Its quite useful guide, it helpful for the people like me who has not enough idea to purchase a well tailored suit. It is my first visit to your site through this blog and i am officially your blog visitor now! Thanks again buddy
      James Bond Suits

    • http://www.henryherbert.com Charlie

      Superb article and very measured, excuse the pun. If you are ever passing through London, please do come and say hello! http://www.henryherbert.com/

    • brokss

      Adding up to what numeorous readers have already mentioned in their comments, I too consider this post to be the best on the given subject that I have ever read. Thanks the author.

    • http://twitter.com/style_mvp StyleMVP

      This post is absolutely brilliant! Thanks for sharing. Well constructed piece with excellent examples.

      We are now a loyal follower.


    • Steve

      THIS is by far the best and most comprehensive guide I have yet to see. I now feel comfortable walking into a few tailors and shopping around, thank you for this thorough advice.

    • Cody

      If you don’t mind me asking, which out of the three Micheal Andrews lines did you tux come from? It looks flawless!!!

    • Anonymous

      Really great article. thanks

    • James Marce

      I see that you go unlined here… does this affect the long term durability of the suit? i have gone to made to measure for everything and have recently bought a 7.5 oz unlined one for the summer. i love the way it drapes and fits over the shoulder, and i was considering going that way for the rest of them. however, i am unsure as to wether or not they will break down easier, as i wear my suits all day everyday (every day to work and a lot of weekends) What has been your experience with that?

    • Rob D

      Great website and great advice here.

    • kayvaan

      For someone like myself with more non-standard proportions (extra long monkey arms, short-waist, long legs, large overarm to chest) even a halfway decent custom garment looks so much better than most ready to wear.

    • alexander

      Being in the custom suit biz, a point worth adding to your myriad good (rather; great) points is as follows: the prevailing myth, propagated by way too many suit makers out there is that once a pattern has been finished for an initial suit that the ‘bespoke expert’ will now be able to bang out suits 2, 3, 4, etc. and deliver them because they, “have your pattern perfected and there’s no need for anymore time-consuming fittings.” No no no no no.
      Clients should understand that the tailor normally will do the least amount of work necessary to make sure the fit is superb- and basic to that is giving you the least amount of knowledge about fit as possible, which is EXACTLY why this posting works abundantly well. All suits will likely NOT fit the same; most fabrics will drape differently which ought to be a huge consideration. Custom craftsmanship is such that there must be allowances for what might even be minute variations in the cutting, prep for the canvas and the stitching of the garment. Legendary NYC tailor Rocco Ciccarelli told me something 10 years ago which was brilliant in its poignancy: “Alex, if I ask you to sign your name 10 times there will be detectable variations in each signature, be they minute or large and one must not expect that a tailor will duplicate a clients garment precisely each time. There must be an allowance or consideration for this fact as well as the inherent differences in the drape of different fabrics.”
      Anywho, clients ought to be forewarned as to this fact and when you ask to try on all 2, 3 or 4 suits at your final fitting and the tailor says, “oh, no need; they’re all the same fit,” don’t believe the hype! Tell him (or her) that you’re in no rush and will be trying them all on. Knowledge is power and you (the client) must understand these things so that whether you are buying a suit for $5K or 5% of that in some far-off country, you KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR AND DEMAND THOSE THINGS FROM YOUR CLOTHIER.
      Thanks again for the piece and keep on educating them masses, good Sir!
      -Alex http://www.alexandernash.com

    • Derek

      Great post! I just have a question here: I myself is a new grad and is looking for a suit for work. Since I am kind of a skinny guy (173 cm but weight only 117 lbs), buying a off-the-rack suit seems impossible to me. I am pretty sure custom suit is what I will go with and right now I am just exploring options. A friend of mine told me a website indochino.com. I checked it out, the suit is relatively cheap (it makes sense to me as they were made in china, which saved up labour cost) but I need to measure myself at home. I want to hear what you think about those online custom suits. Thanks a lot.


      • Rob D

        Derek, have you been to Europe or UK. Lots of slim fit suits available and alos Super Slim as well.

        • Derek

          Rob, haven’t been to europe so far, and I checked some european labels like paul smith, dunhill, zegna, etc. Even their smallest one is big on chest.

    • TTG

      Thanks for taking out the time to give such a detailed post. Great stuff!

    • Young yak

      Thanks for this great post, a real comprehensive style guide!

    • Wow

      Best menswear article I’ve ever seen. You are a fantastic writer! That Ivy league education shines through :)

    • gian

      Now this is what I call comprehensive!

      Very well made indeed, I like it a lot!!


      Consultant Style Advisor

    • Kris

      Great post…keeping this for future reference. Thanks!

    • BA

      Thanks for the great post. What’s your advice on how slim the trousers should be?

    • TO

      This post is simply brilliant Dan! Your bags compliment the looks really well here too. When are they coming out?? I want to put in an advance order, if possible:)

      When you recommend an 8-10oz. worsted wool as a year-round suiting fabric, what is typical, or what you recommend for a typical “10 month” suit?

    • Sofie

      This is just amazing. I can not say otherwise. Supper funky outfits. Struck me as really fancy. I’m waiting on fine summer days and bright costumes.


    • MrJBeee

      Excellent post. True gentleman and a scholar!

    • Mark

      While not wanting to waste space, I feel compelled to honor the effort underlying this and other recent posts. I’m with CAS: “Serious kudos. Good job, sir.”

    • Dave

      Great article SB!
      I love the fit of the poplin blue shirt by Michael Andrews Bespoke – suit 2 (perfect fit!).
      As a European I am a supporter of the slimmest cut possible ‘Cut To The Bone’. A good suit is your second skin and should look it.
      It must be a challenge to be a Muscular/Athletic man, hehehe :)
      What is your take on Suitsupply? Their suits look decently canvassed, super 120’s and with working cuff buttons, also with a decent price?

      • Vali

        I have switched over the past year or so from hugo boss suits to suitsupply and I am very happy.I have 2 suits from their sienna line and 5 from their washington line. The construction and fabric are much better than boss black. Most of their lines are cut rather slim. I don’t know anything yet about their mtm stuff. I think that you get a great vallue for your buck, but don’t be fooled by that article that rates suitsupply as on par with 3000usd suits, they are not.

        • Sosa

          Maybe not their Sienna lines but their Jort lines are.. I own one and they are on par.. An Armani jacket typically has about 300 hand stitches in it.. (Collezioni and gorgio line) I had my tailor take a look inside when I purchased the jacket just for the simple fact that I was interested.. the Jort had 293.. def comparable.. as in fabric.. beautiful fabric from Luigi Borto.. light weight and luxurious to the touch.. the fit is awesome.. natural shoulders that actual handwork evident.. high armholes..beatiful drape.. I own a couple of Zegna’s and one Collezioni gray suit.. and I would say it’s on par. I dont have a sienna suit so I can’t speak to that. I have a couple of Napoli’s that fit awesomely as well. But I will attest to the fact that My jort jacket seems to be on par with Collezioni and Zegna jackets

          • Vali

            Nice to hear, I’ve been meaning to try the Jort…

    • Sam

      Do you happen to have any tips for girls who want bespoke suits? (Not a pantsuit, but a fine gentleman’s garment).

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for this excellent post. I feel like I’ve been given a side door entrance into a very exclusive club.

    • Santiago

      Gracias Dan, una vez más.
      Hace mucho tiempo que leo tu blog y me ha servido muchísimo. Pero esta vez te pasaste. El informe está muy completo e interesante. Felicitaciones!

      Podría escribirte perfectamente en inglés, pero prefiero que leas mi idioma de origen. Espero no te moleste.

      Mil gracias,

      • http://www.thestyleblogger.com SB

        Gracias Santiago!

    • Desmond K

      Well done sir. I applaud you for your attention to detait with this post. Very informative for the novice and even for the experienced as well. This will be “favorited” and kept as a reference for my clients.


    • Hector

      Why is everybody so weary of a black suit?

      • Sergio

        Black is usually reserved for formal events and other misfortunes such as funerals and weddings…

        • Dave

          Black is usually worn by servants and waiters during the day – so goes one saying.
          Another is that America’s oldest suit maker Brooks Brothers did not make a ready to wear black suit between 1865 to 1998 (Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed wearing one)

    • Gray

      Howdy, I live in Thailand and so have no choice but to get a suit made in Bangkok, which is known for having ripoffs, but i know their are some good quality places. This should help me find one. thank you.

      • Estelle

        jeg elsker den jakke !

    • UrsTruli

      Game changing post,… for both Dan and I. Incredible.

    • Adyna

      I`m out of town with work, coffee time with the team but I told them:silent pls, I read something important.haha. Very informative. I love it! Some of the things, I must admit, I didn`t know..this is great reading it not only if you decide on going bespoke..but for your own knowledge as well. “Great Colombia paper work“ :D

    • Mehmet

      Incredible article. This is the kind of thing which keeps me coming back to Styleblogger. When it comes to the production side of clothing, there is no such thing as too much detail or information. With all but the small independent brands hiding their fabric and labour sourcing, it’s difficult to tell if you are investing in a quality product, which was designed with function as well as form in mind.

      I would love to see more articles like this in the future, which delve into the nitty gritty of fabrics, construction, and finishes — not just for suiting, but for shoes, leathers, casual wear, etc. How do you determine fabric and construction quality? What are telltale signs of good/poor production? It’s rare to find people who are both knowledgeable and willing to share in these fields. I hope to see more like this in the future!

      • CAS

        100% Agreed.


        Haven’t commented on here in a while but this deserves some serious kudos. Good Job Sir. I see all those years at MAB and FIT are certainly not going to waste.

        You should do a post of this nature on shoes next since soo many men skimp on footwear and it would behoove them to be knowledgeable on the anatomy of a quality piece of footwear.

        My only gripe is your recommendation on knot size for bigger guys. I see so many athletes and sportscasters on TV with giant windsor knots and it looks atrocious! I agree with GQ on the merits of a four-in-hand:


        • http://www.thestyleblogger.com SB

          Thanks brother.

          For the record, by no means would I ever use ESPN as a reference for clothing or fit advice. I’m not sure how some of those guys even tie the enormous boulder knots in question.

          The four-in-hand is the only knot I wear, but it can look small and out of proportion (especially using a thinner silk tie) on a guy with a neck larger than 17.5″.


          • Joe

            For what it’s worth, I’m right at a 17.5 and like to use a half-windsor for silk ties and four-in-hand for thicker wool ties.

    • Tim

      I am looking for my first tailor suit and this is really useful!!! Thanks!!!

    • cam

      holy hell dan what a post! how long have you been working on this one?? don’t you think a slimmer and much more formal watch should be worn with a tux (if one at all)?

    • Sergio

      As a customer of Michael Andrews Bespoke and someone who fits the heavy side of the spectrum and not necessarily short nor tall, I can say that they definitely do everything that Dan has said and more. The process can be long but I can definitely tell all of you that it is completely worth it. I’ll be hopefully picking up my 1st Bespoke suit (in gray) in the next week and a half. They definitely go out of their way to help you look your very best.

    • Iain

      Excellent post! I’ve been managing a tailor shop for a couple of years now, and I can’t say I disagree with any of the suggestions posted. Much of this information is what my salesmen explain everyday! In addition, any reference to personal preference is clearly highlighted, which only further illustrates your knowledge and expertise. Well done!

    • Bryan

      Thoughts on Proper Suit?

      • Grant

        Bryan – First, I say well done to Dan. Its been a long time since I’ve seen someone go into this much detail. Having worked in the luxury/tailoring space and being a consultant myself its great to see this information provided readily.

        I have personal experience with Proper Suit. I had a navy wool/mohair piece made. SB, notch lapel, two button, 2 vent, flat front trousers with side tabs, cuffs Overall it’s held up very well and I’m pleased with the fabric, construction, and most of the fit. this is an MTM shop making their product overseas but cutting out the middle man so all you’re paying for is fabric and production.

        The name/mill of the fabric maker escapes me but it has held up well. A bit darker than midnight blue with a solid weave but a bit if visual texture. the mohair mix gives it a sharp look and holds the creases well.

        The shoulder line is natural with AMF stitching. Fully canvassed with a narrow lapel (a bit more narrow than I usually take, but this is MTM) with a jaquard lining. Dan is right in his warnings about linings as mine has begun pilling a bit.

        The trousers are cut well with side tabs and a “fish back” waist meaning a notch is cut out in the back for easy alterations. Trouser hems also come with heel protectors. I had to shorten the trousers a bit but this was nothing major.

        My biggest problem is the sleeves. They are too slim for my taste. The two guys who run the shop will try to get you in the slimmest thing possible which I disagree with. they are young and laid back and into he slim look. I like my clothes fitted but not tight and the sleeves are dangerously close to too tight. I’m also a former athlete so I have a bit more muscle than the average customer.

        The sleeve length is also on the short side. I have not taken the time to get them lengthened but will do so. I originally order surgeon’s cuffs but the jacket came without them. this is actually a good thing since they can be altered. I’ve ordered suits since this one with functional buttonholes and the sleeve length was off and can’t be adjusted.

        Overall the suit fits very well save the sleeves in the arm area. I get compliments every time I wear it and it has held up well. This is a classic case of having to tweak some small things in the next suit to make it the best fit possible.

        If you’re interested in trying them out let me know and I’ll put you in touch directly.

    • Dan

      Great post!

      Do you have an opinion on suitsupply.com suits? What category do they fall into? I’m in Australia so it’s a big risk buying one online without trying it on.

      I fit a 38R off the rack so I can get it tailored here afterwards.

      • Steven

        Hey Dan.. Ive bought a couple of their suits online and am very pleased with the results..It is half canvassed suit from the Napoli line with soft shoulders a slight roped shoulder with a beautiful roll on the Lapel. They have different lines and the Napoli fits me well. This is due to the fact that I have broad shoulders and a more than average drop (8 inch drop). It fit me pretty well off the rack where all I had to do was lengthen the sleeve a little bit. They do come with surgeons cuff’s which limits how far you can shorten or lengthen the sleeves. If you have smaller shoulders then the other lines like the sienna will be a good look. The Washington line is more of that British look with the strong shoulders and the ticket pocket. So, if thats more your thing then go for it. Overall Its a good line for its price point. I have a couple of ck collections suits (that are half canvassed)and some brooks brothers 1818 and suit supply fits me best within the half Canvassed range. I also have some higher quality suits like Zegna’s and Canali’s and I will say fabric wise its not as good but not too far down. Ive seen suits not made as well (very few hand stitches in the canvass) and they sell for three times more. I have two suit supplies from the napoli lines (charcoal gray and navy) and they get a lot of play in my closet. Great work horse suits. And the fit and drape is really nice (slim without being skinny). My two cents anyways

        • Dan

          That’s great info – cheers!

          I was looking at the Washington in Navy or Grey for exactly what you describe, a workhorse suit.

    • Joe

      Very informative and helpful. The point about getting to a stable weight is important. I’ve lost about 70 lbs in the past year, gradually by making certain lifestyle changes. I’ve got another 50 before I’m happy with my weight. A lot of my clothes that I really liked and looked good in, in spite of my size, are now way too big on me, but I don’t want to invest too much since I’m still in transition. Now, on the other hand I have invested in some bespoke footwear (boots by a maker in Texas), and there’s really no comparison to anything off the rack. And the process seems to be just as involved.

      • cuponoodles

        One should be careful, though, Chris. Often, weight loss leads to less inches everywhere, including in your feet. Don’t be surprised if you drop a shoe size or two after those last 50 come off…

        • Joe

          That’s a very good point and very true for most. However I gained all the weight after high school ( I was an athlete in high school) and my shoe size has stayed constant (though these are not an off the shelf size, they’re made for my foot, which very well may change a bit while staying the same “shoe size”). Now these are boots, so I am a bit concerned about the circumference on the top. But I don’t regret them for a second, they were my gift to me for finishing grad school. If ever they don’t fit, I’ll put them on a shelf. The craftsmanship that went into them are worth displaying.