While packing for a recent trip to New York City, I had my sweatpants for the plane, a jacket, and an overabundance of underwear. But this trip was a special occasion — meeting with a book publisher and a few people behind notable menswear shops — so I needed something to look at least half-way decent in. Which leads me to the one item that I gingerly laid on top of the mass of rolled jumpers and jeans: a bespoke suit.
It’s easy to consider a bespoke suit as a luxury, and anyone who does is absolutely right. It’s expensive, especially for something you only wear a few times a year. But, man, when I tell you the feeling I get putting on something that was made just for me — nothing’s quite like it.
Every guy should, at some point, have a bespoke suit. I’m not one to necessarily be dogmatic when it comes to fashion. I follow the best menswear newsletters, but I don’t think there are 10 commandments one must follow and I will wear white well past Labor Day. I’m also a fan of a proper corduroy suit. But there’s something different about putting on a garment that was made just for you, and there’s a fair case to be made for guys to save up and make their way to a tailor as soon as they can.
Bespoke Versus Made-to-Measure
There’s an important difference between made-to-measure and bespoke. Online, one can see the terms used semi-interchangeably but they’re quite different.
A made-to-measure suit uses a basic pattern that’s adapted slightly for your frame. The suit will nip here and tuck there to fit your basic measurements, but it doesn’t allow for much customization to uniquely fit to your body. Fabric options are generally limited as well. Made-to-measure is a great option for your budget and time, but it has some limitations when it comes to full customer input on the final result.
A bespoke suit, on the other hand, is a commissioned garment that’s entirely customized to your body and made exclusively for you. A fresh pattern is created every time for each individual client versus copy-and-pasting existing patterns, as one may with a made-to-measure suit. Because this process is more hands-on, it requires additional fittings, a more in-depth consultation on fabric options, and, of course, more money.
The Benefits of Bespoke
Nothing is wrong with a made-to-measure, or even an off-the-rack, suit. But if you want to stand out and make an impression, then a suit that’s custom to your body and all of its unique quirks is the right choice. The trickery of tailoring can alter the appearance of certain “flaws” of one’s body, such as elongating the torso, tapering the leg in, or creating a more masculine frame in the suit jacket. A good tailor will work with you on creating the illusion of the body you want without you ever having to step foot in a gym.
Another benefit of bespoke tailoring is that it will change as your body does. While many people have the misconception that paying upwards of a couple thousand dollars on a bespoke suit is a waste if you gain weight, this isn’t necessarily true. You see, a machine-made suit is economical with the fabric and gives only the minimum amount of excess in the seams to be let out. A bespoke suit can add in a bit more fabric and makes for easier adjustments as the years go on. It’s meant to be worn for a lifetime, not just for your body in your thirties.
Bespoke Tailors Every Guy Should Have On Their Radar
The world of bespoke suits is a world of relationships (this is something you’re going to keep and adjust for many years, after all). These three shops have the depth of knowledge, relationship with fabric mills, and reputation to make the right garment for anyone looking to take the plunge into the sartorial unknown of bespoke suits.
Cad & The Dandy
With locations in New York City and London’s Savile Row, Cad & The Dandy is easily accessible for many gentlemen looking for a suit. It makes a wide variety of bespoke garments with an emphasis on heritage with a modernized style. I have a long relationship with Cad & The Dandy and recommend the shop to anyone looking for a suit and level of service that exceeds many of its competition.
Located in New York City’s West Village, J. Mueser has steadily grown an engaged customer base since opening in 2008. With a mix of relaxed elegance and aspirational style, J. Mueser’s star is still on the ascent in the menswear world.
There’s something to say about tradition in the luxury suiting market. With a history dating back to 1849, well-crafted garments, and a considered approach to silent luxury, Huntsman has continued to stay relevant not for keeping up with trends, but for eschewing them, sticking to what the tailors know, and creating garments that last for years.