A bespoke suit will last you years, perhaps even decades, so it’s important to get it right. Jonathan Self offers his advice on how to get one that’s just right.
Have a clear idea what the suit is required for
You probably won’t want to wear a tweed suit in the City (except on a Friday, when it’s acceptable if heading off to your country estate for the weekend).
Choose a suitable cloth
8oz for summer, 11oz for the rest of the year. A 20oz cloth will, incidentally, virtually stop a bullet. Tailors will talk about fibre width (super 80 to super 240, which is the finest), but fibre length is every bit as important.
Use all the tricks
If you have a ‘powerful build’ (no tailor will ever call you overweight), then choose a plain, dark colour as it will make you look thinner.
Don’t be afraid to go with simple and classic
When choosing a style, it’s impossible not to look amazing in a classic, two-button, single-breasted, two- or three-piece suit with a double vent at the back.
Don’t refer to ‘jackets’
Coats (never jackets, which are what potatoes have) ought to have three flapped outer pockets, a breast pocket, a boutonniere and four working buttons on each sleeve.
Lapels depend on what you look like
Lapel width should be fixed by your tailor according to your body shape. Ask for the gorge (where the lapel meets the collar) to be set high and for half an inch of shirt to show at the cuff.
Avoid a fancy lining
It seems amusing at the time, but, like that holiday tattoo, you will come to regret it.
Trousers should have steel zips
Emphatically not buttons. They also need side pockets for ease of use – and no back pockets as these spoil the line.
Belt loops are sartorial death
If your weight varies, ask for a strap and buckle or tab and button.
If, side on, you look even vaguely like an egg, ask for braces buttons. Braces are the only way to ensure your trousers sit at the perfect height. The crotch should be as high as comfortable, unless you’re a rapper or a clown. Tapered trousers never, ever go out of fashion.
Don’t ignore your shirts
If you’re going to wear a bespoke suit, you should also wear bespoke shirts.
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