Tuesday, August 19, 2008

without opening the mouth, the suit bespoke

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.

1 comment:

Jeff Collins, Professional Haberdasher said...


Thank you for spelling it out so clearly. I wanted to add a couple things if I could. The ready-made or off the rack suit is perfectly fine and sometimes a gentlemen's best value if it already fits him well. That means he has to fit the mold somewhat closely. They take into account chest size, pant waist as well as three lengths noted in the size 'short, regular, long & extra long.' Those dictate the fit of the pant rise, coat length and sleeve length. If all these things are right for him then he has instant gratification because the suit only takes a couple days for minor alterations.

I have been creating custom (made to measure) suits for 10 years now. I take 25 measurements to the eighth of an inch to build a suit for an individual. In my opinion this gets very close to bespoke but of course is not the same thing because they can split the 1/8" if they choose to. Like you said, there are countless details which can go into a suit, even fit details such as raising armholes, narrowing lapels and tapering a coat waist.

My customers also appreciate the time savings compared to bespoke because my garments take 5 to 6 weeks with one fitting as opossed to 2 to 6 months and 3 to 6 fittings.

My Best,

Jeff Collins
Professional Haberdasher