A well-fitted suit should be the first item in every man's wardrobe. But how do we ensure that it turns out right? We've consulted established contemporary tailor Gresham Blake and procured these top tips.
Make sure you chose the right tailor
The tailor is there to guide you through the service, so make sure you use him to get the suit that you want. When you put it on you've got to think, 'wow I look great'. If that's not there, something's lost and something's wrong. You don't want your tailor to hard sell you a suit.
If my customers say they want a suit in four weeks I say: 'You've gotta do it now, otherwise I won't be able to make it for you.' If they want it in three months or further they should speak to other people too. You talk to people and sometimes you feel good about them and at other times you don't. Get recommendations and speak to people about their experiences."
Or else have a look on the internet to see what kind of feedback tailors are getting. If you get on with your tailor, that's good, but if you're speaking to him and you don't really get on with him, then maybe you should see somebody else. You're supposed to work together with your tailor, so make sure that you're happy with him.
Where will you be wearing the suit?
A good tailor will have a good relationship with all of the good mills, and, in my opinion, the British fabrics are the best fabrics. I carry about nine fabric mills, but a tailor should carry fabrics from at least four or five different, well-established, high-end companies like Scabal. If you're looking for a plain black suit, then maybe it doesn't matter as much, but it's good to have variety.
A good tailor will always ask you this question and you should know the answer. I've got one customer whose wedding suit I made. He keeps his phone in the pocket of his business suit and he uses it day-to-day, so he had his wedding suit cut an inch closer. I always ask people if they're going to be wearing the suit on the train a lot, in which case there's no point wearing a light cashmere suit, because you'll wear it out very quickly. You've got to make sure the fabric fits the job.
Going for a close cut
The suit has got to look as if it was made for you, with a nice close fit. It has to look fitted, but shouldn't feel tight or restrict movement especially with the arms. It shouldn't be too big for your body, but still must feel really comfortable. If a tailor is going to be able to get that balance, you've got to tell him why you want the suit.
Proportion and balance
On a traditional bespoke suit, the button holes should be done by hand, not by machine and the cuffs too. If somebody's coming in and they're paying a bespoke suit price, then that's something they should expect. Buttons take a lot of time maybe two or three hours. Similarly, the lining on the bottom of the jacket should be done by hand. Again, if you're paying for a bespoke suit, you should get that traditional touch.
Have your own design input
If you're having a suit made, why not push yourself a little out of your comfort zone? Have something a little bit different that maybe you might not have gone for normally.On the other hand, a lot of people go into a tailor's and they'll see lots of fabrics and design details and then try to put it all into one suit, when maybe they're actually looking for two suits. When you do this, you're in danger of overdesigning it and looking as if you have fashion Tourette's.
It's important that you've got a suit that's well-made but it's also about the design. I had someone who wanted his jacket square at the bottom. Now he'd spoken to a lot of tailors who wouldn't do that, but why not if you're making it from scratch?
The tailor is there to be a guide, so if it's something completely ridiculous, then they can lead you in a different direction, but a tailor should be able to cut anything really.
Gresham Blake is an innovative contemporary designer tailor based in the UK, specialising in bespoke and made-to-measure suits for men and women.
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