Getting Measured Up For A Bespoke Suit Guide
Bespoke suits are the final say when it comes to luxury in menswear, nothing else even comes close to the second skin your tailor will craft for you. Bespoke suits are built from the ground up, assuring every bump, curiosity and love handle is accounted for, ensuring you will look the best you can be, not to mention you will be safe in the knowledge that what you are wearing is one of a kind (no danger of a contemporary sporting the same suit at an event!). For my latest fashion blog post, I am excited to share with you the whole process of getting measured up for a bespoke suit from the consultation to the measuring and finally choosing the fabrics. Read on to find out more!
*Update – Due to unforeseen and unknown circumstances, the completion of the bespoke suit never happened due to a lack of contact from the tailor, which is disappointing. Because of this, I can not follow up with a review of the finished product, nor can I recommend the company without its evaluation. Just use this post as information regarding the measuring up process. I have also removed the company link.
In my youth, my love of fashion started to blossom, along with my admiration for premium clothing, even back then, I could appreciate the difference in quality, so a bespoke suit was something I had always dreamed of owning. Because of my young age I didn’t fully understand why I needed a tailored suit; instead I was attracted to the overall exclusivity of the process more than anything, in retrospect it was probably for the best I never went ahead with it at that age, the full benefits would have undoubtedly lost meaning on my younger self. With age comes wisdom, so finally, I will be able to appreciate the look and fit much more (back then, the trend for men was more loose and baggy, rather than the more flattering close cutting fits which thankfully dominate the fashion world over the last few years).
As I have grown up and my styles have adapted to smarter clothing, I can understand with more confidence why many men go all out and acquire a suit designed to their exact specification. Off the peg suits which are so prevalent in the world are unquestionably a great invention, allowing men in a hurry or on a budget to purchase formal wear with ease. Unfortunately, these types of suit feature a cut which is a standard to whatever that particular company uses as a base model; this fluctuates significantly from brand to brand, causing a vast amount of inconsistencies for the consumer. Take this scenario for example, which may be familiar – you purchase a suit from a high street store, and you find that it accommodates you almost perfectly (prior to the education of wearing a bespoke suit will provide), so you decide to grab another from their collection (mistakenly believing all of their items of clothing will fit your exact frame) in a different colour, style or fabric and you discover it’s not even close to that previous success. More often than not, suits purchased straight off the rack will feature numerous issues – sleeves which are too long or short, bagginess in the arms and legs, jacket too loose or too tight when buttoned are some of the common problems with mass-produced formal wear. If you are firmly into your fashion, this can be a body blow (devastating, is perhaps too strong a word, but it can almost reach those heights), so the many advantages of custom clothing are evident.
So what do you do in this situation, foolishly believe that paying a higher price for an off the peg will fix this problem? Of course, it does help somewhat, in my experience, Italian or French fashion house suits do fit me better than a budget price suit from a UK store, but this is more to do with my frame and size, other men’s mileage may vary depending on their body shape.
So your next level up after some research will be a made to measure suit, which is where the fun begins. Many brands and tailors will offer this personalised service; you find an outfit that you love – great fabric, beautiful colour and a fit which is close to what you desire, following this up with a tailoring request for your body shape. They will take measurements from you, then nip, cut and tuck to get a suit which fits you much closer than off the peg ever will. There is no question that the ensemble will look very good, it won’t be exactly spot on, but you are getting close to that holy grail. As good as made to measure suits are, it is still just a stepping stone on your journey to the end of the rainbow goal of a bespoke suit.
Finally, we come to the bespoke suit; this is the top tier when it comes to wearing a suit. You will start with a consultation with a tailor, discussing your needs and expectations and how exactly you want it to fit (from traditional to skinny). Moving on to getting measured up, depending on who you visit, the number of different measurements will vary greatly, this process itself can take some considerable time but is worth it in the long run. Once measured from head to toe, you can move onto the exciting part – choosing your lining and fabric! Once all of this is complete, you will have to wait (and re-visit for a few re-sizes to ensure the fit is correct) and within a few weeks, you will receive your perfectly fitted suit and find out first hand the benefits of a bespoke suit – click here.
When I finally decided to add a bespoke suit to my wardrobe, I did a lot of research before I found the best company for my needs; fortunately, I came across an expert tailoring service which owns a number of showrooms across the UK, with their main base of operations situated close to my home in Birmingham. The company is ‘A Hand Tailored Suit’ and Jonathan (who owns the company with his brother) is the perfect gent, greeting me at his office dressed to impress in his very own bespoke suit (as you would expect). The consultation was a joy, at once you are put at ease with the whole process as Jonathan shares with you his thoughts, along with amazing stories from his 20 years experience in the industry (particularly fun to listen to if you are into fashion as much as I am!). One of the most critical factors for me was getting a skinny fit suit (which matches my personal style and is also the current popular trend), during my research of a bespoke tailoring company I was shocked to discover that many of them will not even entertain the idea of a skinnier fit with their suits, stating that it portrays an incorrect appearance (as with any niche, some businesses refuse to acknowledge the popular trends and refuse to adapt – often this will be the eventual death knell for these companies with their archaic beliefs). Fortunately ‘A Hand Tailored Suit’ are under no illusions and regularly kit out fashionistas in skinny suits (one of their current ambassadors is always seen sporting one of their close-fitted three-piece suits), something which put my mind at ease immediately.
During our informal chat, Jonathan showed me all the different cuts and fits which I can select for my final three-piece suit. Everything can be chosen precisely how I want, from the lapel size to the number of buttons on each sleeve (exciting fact time – only the president of the US is allowed to have a suit with 5 buttons on the cuff! Cool little snippet of information directly from Jonathan), the same amount of individuality carries over to the waistcoat (amount of buttons, including a lapel or not are two examples). As already mentioned, I naturally wanted a skinny fit suit, so we spent some time browsing through different pre-existing looks to get an idea how just how slim I required the suit, using that as the basis for the fit I wanted. For reference, even though I love super tight skinny jeans, for formal wear, I always prefer something which is close-fitting but still allows some movement, especially in the legs.
For my finished suit, I chose –
- Three-Piece Suit.
- Two Button Jacket.
- Prince Of Wales Mid Grey Check Fabric.
- Wool and cashmere-blend.
- Four-button cuff.
- Skinny / slim fit.
Here is a complete list of all the options available during the initial consultation –
- Cloth type for suit (additional contrast fabric for trousers or the waistcoat if desired).
- Two or three-piece design.
- Linings, buttonhole details and contrast piping choices.
- Button selection.
- What style of sleeve cuff – flash with lining, working or show design.
- Choose your lapel – peaked, notched, shawl or Nehru collar.
- How many buttons on the jacket and waistcoat.
- Vents on jacket reverse – double, single or plain.
- Which breast pocket style on the jacket.
- Decide on the jacket front pocket style – slanted or straight, flap or no flap.
- Waistcoat style – low scoop, high cut, single or double-breasted.
- Do you want the base of the waistcoat notched or straight.
- Waistcoat reverse – cloth or lined.
- Do you want plain front or pleated trousers.
- Trouser waistband with belt loops or adjusters.
- One, two or zero pockets on the trouser seat.
- Zip or button fly.
- Trouser hem with a straight finish or turn up.
- What style of trousers – slim fit, ultra fitted or bootcut.
- Trouser waistband width can be customised – width, depth and the number of belt loops.
After the consultation, we then moved swiftly onto the measuring portion of the appointment. Acquiring your exact size is one of the most critically important aspects of the whole process, after all, if the measurements are slightly off, then it can potentially throw off the entire look of the finished suit. Jonathan takes his time when measuring, making sure every section of my body was catered for (even as far as taking into account my slightly off-balance shoulder – which I didn’t realise was that noticeable!). The end goal is to ensure the suit showcases the perfect silhouette across the body, both stationary as well as in motion (almost any outfit can look good while static – with the aid of clips, pins and of course photoshop!).
Jonathan has an in-depth list of different measurements to take during this process, many are small areas which I would never have guessed make a difference individually, but as a collective tie together to make the final suit flawless. This process is one of the standout areas which raises ‘A Hand Tailored Suit’ above its competitors, the sheer amount of different measurements that they take in the initial interview is extensive; nothing is guessed and left to chance at a later date, I felt in safe hands during my very first bespoke suit experience.
Example of the measurements taken (this is not the complete extensive list) –
- Collar (neck).
- Shoulder width.
- Back width.
- Sleeve length of the blazer.
- Bicep width.
- Cuff width.
- Trouser waist.
- Trouser seat.
- Knee measurement.
- Inside leg.
- Hem width.
At the tail end of the consultation, we move onto to selecting the fabric for my suit and also the lining and details, singlehandedly the most fun part! Jonathan pulled out a substantial amount of books filled with all kinds of fabrics and cloths; at first, it was quite overwhelming with the number of astronomical choices at my fingertips! Fortunately, Jonathan was at hand to help guide me through this section, via a process of elimination. Simple questions such as will I mostly wear it in the summer or the winter, which colours match my skin tone and most importantly for me – what colours and patterns work best for photography (sometimes the tech in DSLR hasn’t accounted for certain fabrics (such as particular blue denim), causing problematic colour casts which usually appear as reds and greens which are difficult to remove even in post-production. After perusing through what seemed like an endless amount of cotton, wools and cashmere, I finally found the one I wanted! It is a Prince Of Wales fabric, which is a gorgeous medium charcoal grey with lines of contrasting colours running through it. For the lining, I picked out a metallic red/pink paisley finish, which will give the suit a stunning contrasting colour pop.
Even after this, there is more to come! We now need to determine the fine details, such as the button types and whether I want to have a handkerchief built inside the chest pocket or left empty (it can easily be tucked back inside, to use something different if you require). As you can imagine, even this final part of the appointment had an extensive amount of choices filled to the brim!
As you can tell, getting measured up for a bespoke suit is a far more in-depth and personal experience than just popping down the local high street, but this fact along with all of the individuality open to you, proves why even in this day and age when fast fashion is prevalent around the world that owning a bespoke three-piece is something to be treasured. Personally designed suits have an unspoken similarity with the popularity of automatic Swiss watches, both are luxuries which very few people need (mechanical watches are seemingly more redundant for the masses with the availability of quartz digital watches and more recently phone screens), but many people crave creations from a timeless bygone era when quality and substance was a luxury for everyone, it is entirely essential to hold onto these vital fashion traditions.
It will take around 8-12 weeks for everything to come together for standard delivery (if necessary, there are options for a chargeable quicker turn around), and get the basics of the suit up and running, in which time I will need to return to the showroom again for any final adjustments that I need for my end product. I am so excited to receive it in my hands; then I will follow up this initial post with photos of my suit in all its glory, featuring as many photos and angles as I can muster!
What are your thoughts of bespoke suits, have you ever considered owning one? Alternatively, do you already have one sitting in your wardrobe, feel free to tell me of your experiences either in the comments section; alternatively, you can send me an email.
*Updated – 31/01/2020