Although a lot of the experience is taken care of, there are still things you should know when walking in the door.
So you’ve decided to elevate your game. Channel your inner Don Draper, James Bond or Dwayne Wade. Cool, sophisticated and elegant. That’s the end game. And the bespoke suit is one of your means of getting there. You’ve heard about the benefits of a well fitted, tailored suit over and over again. It fits like a glove. You feel like you have literally been poured into it. And once you go bespoke, you can’t go back. And gentlemen, that is as true as it gets. Well fitted suits to women are what lingerie is to men. It just makes us look good. Feel good. And of course, they fit damn, damn well. Insanely well. We all know that fit is what constitutes a bespoke suit. But then, you can get lost in a swath of men wearing a bespoke suit. Want to truly, truly stand out and wear a suit that feels completely authentic to you, your tastes and preferences? Here is our guide on 9 Tips For Buying A Bespoke Suit!
While the detailed record of your measurements will ensure (assuming that you have a great tailor!) that your bespoke suit sits close to your body when worn, the type of cut you go for can help accentuate the exact aesthetic you are going for. Do you want something fitted with more room? Do you want something fitted and a bit more nonchalant? Or do you want a statement piece – something that will truly accentuate body proportions and give you that figure hugging aesthetic that you’ve been looking to strut for a while?
American – The American Suit, often referred to as the Ivy League or Sack Suit, consists of a boxier shape with no shoulder pads and a single vent. The first American Cut Suit was introduced by Brooks Brothers around the turn of the twentieth century.
Updated American – A more refined cousin of The American Cut, the refined version allows for greater fit, adopting softer elements from European Cuts (discussed below). The Updated American Cut can have padded shoulders, different options for vents, and a more tapered waist to take away some of the boxy shape.
English – Brought to life by Saville Row, The English Suit is a much more tapered suit. With an English cut, the arms are slightly higher (higher armholes), and the shoulders are carved out and defined, and hence don’t come with shoulder padding. Helping present your natural shape in a streamlined manner without much fanfare, the English suit is the epitome of a clean cut. Finally, the English Cut comes with double vents.
Italian – With an Italian Cut, while following the natural shape of your body like an English Suit, features are added (or removed) to further accentuate your aesthetic. Hence, shoulder pads are added in and vents are removed. If you are seeking that often elusive, body hugging tighter fit, the Italian Cut is aptly suited towards you.
Athletic – The Athletic Cut is for a man who has developed his upper body, which throws his shoulders out of proportion relative to his waist. An athletic body type is traditionally defined by clothing companies as a man whose chest measurement is eight inches more than his waist. This difference is called the drop. When opting for a bespoke suit, athletic looking men should go for options that are less suppressed at the waist, as the athletic man already has a discernible difference between his shoulder and waist measurements.
Single vs Double Breasted
Another critical consideration when buying your bespoke suit is the distinction between single breasted and double breasted jackets. The jacket you ultimately choose can largely be determined by the type of occasion that you will be dressing up for.
A single breasted jacket will have two halves that button together, while a double breasted jacket, on the other hand, overlaps and gives the suit a wrap around look.
A typical double breasted jacket will feature six buttons on the front. This number can vary based on how large or small the neck opening is or where the lapels are on the jacket.
Single breasted jackets typically come with notched lapels, whereas a double breasted jacket typically comes with peaked lapels.
Single Breasted Jackets are highly versatile, and can be worn both in formal capacities (work, presentations, weddings) or for more informal events. Ideally worn with dark denim when opting for jeans, a single breasted jacket can have you looking casual dapper if executed right. Double Breasted Jackets on the other hand, are strictly reserved for formal occasions. While they can be worn with discernment to work, they are best suited (no pun intended!) for more formal occasions such as ceremonies, graduation events, and ball parties.
As important from a functional perspective as they are from an aesthetic standpoint, vents are a significant detail not to be overlooked. Similar to other menswear details, vents have their origins in military heritage. In eons gone by, vents served a functional necessity by providing comfort for horseback riders. In addition to providing ample room and flexibility for the horseback rider, they also prevented fabrics from crunching and creasing. So outside of Amish county, what functional benefits do vents have today?
The right choice of vents will largely determine the flexibility you feel while sitting down, and while looking for trouser pocket access. Who wants the unnecessary hassle of lifting up their suit jacket every time they want to access their pockets?
Center Vents, also known as single vented jackets, are more worn by the gentleman that adheres to the ultra tapered look or for other reasons, such as concealing one’s buttocks – which incidentally becomes inconvenient when you are trying to access your pockets!
Side vents, also known as double vents, are worn for both functional and stylistic purposes. Paradoxically, double vented jackets can accentuate your physique! Seems like a win win to me!
Yes, there is a third option: no vents. Ventless suits look sharp, will fit you like a glove, and also give you limited motion and flexibility. Ventless suits are by far the least practical and functional, but no one ever said that handsome was easy!
A lapel is the part of the jacket that folds back over the chest. Historically, lapels were a way to button up a jacket during colder weather, and vice versa during warmer weather. The shape and size of your lapel can drastically affect your suiting aesthetic.
A notched lapel is the most common style on a single breasted suit and mass produced suits. A lapel is notched when it is broken by a deep ‘V’ cut into the side. The notched lapels were derived from overcoats and functioned so that lapels could be pulled over your face for added warmth during cooler periods.
Notched lapels will complement virtually any body type and can be worn with a single breasted two or three button suit! However, it is critical to pay attention to your lapel’s proportions. Too wide, and they will add unnecessary perceived horizontal lines to your aesthetic. Too narrow, and they are going to make you look like you are marching too hard in hipster-ville. Keep it somewhere in between for a balanced, elegant aesthetic!
Peaked lapels point upwards towards one’s shoulders, helping to create that much desired ‘V’ aesthetic that starts with broader shoulders and tapers down from there. Peaked lapels are best suited towards slimmer men.
The Shawl Lapel should be reserved for formal functions. Characterized by a rounded edge, the shawl lapel is best suited for black tie events / tuxedo evenings. While a shawl lapel is rarely seen on anything other than a tuxedo, many style enthusiasts argue that the shawl lapel can be more of an informal variation for evening wear.
Regarding your body type, shawl lapels are highly versatile, yet should be avoided if you have a very round face. A shawl lapel will certainly balance out your aesthetic if you have a wide upper chest as the roundedness will counterbalance the heftiness and build in your upper body.
If you are looking to dress incredibly dapper for your own wedding, a friend’s wedding, or to simply dressed a notch (no pun intended!) above your contemporaries, the Shawl Lapel is your lapel of choice!
Most Off The Rack Suits come with standard lining sewn in. Hence, these suit jackets are not extravagant and have your standard, run of the mill interface aesthetic on the inside, even if they are constructed of high quality wool and with fine workmanship. A Bespoke Suit, on the other hand, offers you personalization. And not many details speak volumes about the detail and thought you’ve put into designing your masterpiece than an intricate jacket lining does. If you are opting for a conservative look and want to play it safe, your safest option is matching the lining of your jacket to the exterior fabric of the suit. However, if you are opting for something bold, a grey suit with purple lining or a navy blue suit with red or burgundy lining will do the trick.
Looking for even more flair for your ensemble? Piping, which surrounds the lining on your jacket, can provide your ensemble with even further color and pop!
A truly fitted bespoke suit should fit you seamlessly, even without a belt. Hence, ditching the belt and opting for side tabs can significantly enhance the look of your ensemble. Side tabs or adjusters cannot be used to make trousers wider at the waist, only narrower. Hence, the waistband on your bespoke suit trousers should be cut to fit your waist at its most ‘fat’, with adjusters used in between meals or when you are feeling less bloated!
So how do these side adjusters work? By giving them a tug, they will draw your waistband together, to make the overall circumference smaller and tighter. Please note that there are limits to their range, being able to make your waistband about 2” smaller (1” on each side).
Colored Button Holes
Colored button holes are a detail that have become increasing popular, with more sophisticated clients opting for one colored button hole that matches the lining of your jackets or stripes that form the pinstripe color scheme for that particular jacket. This can often be a great detail to pay attention to for a wedding suit, where color schemes are often present.
Lapel Button Holes
A finer detail of bespoke suiting, lapel button holes are often overlooked. Provided for the use of boutonnieres / lapel flowers, this is a feature that can be particularly beneficial during wedding season or for other milestone events such as a graduation!
The type of lapel flower that you wear and the color of the lapel flower are very connected to the message that you want to send. Just as different colored ties can have different connotations, different flowers and colors can mean distinctive things to different people.
Flowers that are shaped like a rose are generally safe, as they are a well accepted, even romantic flower.
Poppy has sadder connotations, is typically associated with war, and should be worn on remembrance days.
Carnations and lilies on the other hand are flowers that are considered joyful, and are apt for occasions such as dances or weddings!
The cultural connotations of the flower that you are planning to wear should be known before you go to your event in order to ensure that you don’t upset or offend anyone.
And last, but not least, what better way to stamp a bespoke suit than with your name on it? Nothing attests to bespoke like an intricately embroidered name that explicitly details that the suit was made for you. And the best part? It’s done in a subtle manner. Subtle, yet explicit. Takes a while for people to notice, but when they do – it’ll jump straight out. It will also serve as a reminder to you, the customer, that you purchased a finely crafted garment designed to your specifications and needs. Now that’s a privilege few can boast about!
In the past, monograms were generally created in the Victorian format of first initial, large last initial and middle initial. These days, the rules of monogramming are much more flexible – there is no discernible ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to execute on it. The actual text that you employ is completely at your behest. You can select anything from your full name, to your initials, to a nickname that you’ve used since your youth, to a phrase that inspires you. Remember, this is about a bespoke experience. Ultimately, the detailing and specifications are down to your discretion. That’s what signifies a suit that has been created specifically for you, and it’s what this article has been about!
And that’s a wrap for this one! I hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it.
This guest post was written for Gents Lounge by Rishi Chullani. Rishi decided to take on entrepreneurial flair in the fashion world after 10 years in the corporate realm. Originally from Hong Kong and having lived in the US for 10 years, his broad travel and life experiences have provided him with depth in perspective that has contributed to his men’s accessories and style platform The Dark Knot. Rishi’s goal is to help gentlemen dress better, and believes that his vision is wholeheartedly reflected through his e-commerce site and blog, The Dark Knot.