Men's suiting has reached an all new high. Double breasted, peak lapels, two button, tuxedo - the possibilities seem endless. And with a growing list of available stockists, nearly every town in America now offers a retailer carrying the classic men's staple. Add in the huge well of online shopping, and the fashion waters flow like never before.
There are several options when buying a suit. Of course, you can always buy simply "off the rack", meaning you literally buy a pre-designed, pre-made suit. There's nothing wrong with this at all. I have some great suits from J. Crew, J. Press, Brooks Brothers, and Theory that were off the rack. Hopefully, if you're buying suits off the rack, you're also taking them immediately to your tailor. Having the slightest alterations and customizations to the garment will fit and look so much better!
Next, you can opt for a "made-to-measure" suit. This option gives you much more choice and freedom in the final product. Typically, you'll pick through several fabric swatches, which will then be applied to a basic template or pattern. Depending on the retailer, any number of measurements of your body will be taken, and applied to the pattern during creation. After a few weeks, your suit will be made to your measurements and specifications. No tailoring needed.
Finally, there is the bespoke suit. The term "bespoke" originated in the 17th century. During that time, tailors actually stock piled many, many different types of fabric. When you'd visit to order a suit, you literally would select the fabric you wanted. After the yards of fabric were selected, they would "be spoken for". Today, bespoke suits often require more than 20 different measurements of your body. Once you identify what type of suit you desire, and what purpose it will serve, your tailor will create a custom pattern, based on your likes and measurements. Each suit is completely hand made, with the finest care and detail.
To be well dressed does not require a collection of bespoke suits (though it is divine to dream!). No matter your budget, take care of your clothing. Keep items clean, laundered, and wrinkle free. Your fashion and style should speak gentleman, glamorous, and gracious, rather than screaming delusional, desperate, and downright tacky.