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Common bespoke suit mistakes

by The Black Lapel |

Fancy-schmancy isn’t always best

People often make the mistake of ordering the most high-level suit they can conjure up before having even covered the classic must-have suits. As the old saying goes, less is more, and this tends to be true for bespoke suits as well. Every wardrobe needs streamlined, easy-to-match colours such as navy blue, charcoal and of course, classic black. Once you have covered the classics we recommend you start trying out the more seasonable colors and designs.

It’s all in the stripes (and the cut)

Closely-knit stripes work best on slim-line frames, while wider stripes lend a slender silhouette to a wider frame. Vertical stripes are one of the greatest ways to create extra length for a short frame, as the top-to-bottom pattern tends to draw the eye upward and elongate the look of the suit. The same thing goes for the cut of the suit. In order to avoid your suit’s trousers turning out too long or short, you must mind the break, which is the parting in the fabric that occurs when your pants are too long, creating a horizontal crease at the bottom interval where the seams meet the shoes.  Clients should opt for 1-2 breaks.

Press the right buttons

While we’re all for adding a personal touch to your suit, the truth is that a 3-button jacket is no longer in fashion; in fact, the pattern is more reminiscent of a scene from Grease than of James Bond-esque elegance. We at The Black Lapel suggest that you stick to two-button suits, as this will always stay in fashion and is suitable for all body types. If you’re slim, we recommend a one-buttoner as well.

Test your tailor

Clients often don’t realise the importance of choosing the right tailor. Just like choosing the right doctor, it’s essential to always select a tailor that’s right for you and who clearly understands your requirements and vision. Make sure that your tailor understands the difference between a made-to-measure suit and a bespoke suit. To clarify, made-to-measure suits use an existing pattern adjusted to an individual’s measurements; whilst a bespoke suit means that the suit is customised from scratch.

The tailor may build most of his garments along the same lines but the details of the garment are individually crafted, and the tailor will likely use a large variety of physical measurements to determine the size and proportion of the garment.

Details reflect quality

When adding the finishing touches, the quality is reflective in the details. A few details to note are:

- The use of a canvasIt’s important to ask whether the tailor is using a fully floating, fused or half canvas. Traditionally, suits were constructed by creating an inner framework made from horse hair or a combination of wool/mohair called a canvas. The outer fabric was then attached to it by hand stitching. The canvas’ purpose is to provide structure to the coat, resulting in a stronger fabric. Over time the stiffer canvas adapts to your shape to provide a perfect fit, allowing the exterior panels to hang naturally.

- Stitching of button holes. Though there is some debate around whether keyhole stitching is required, a good indication of quality is how the button hole has been sewn. If it is machine -stitched, it is likely to be perfect and uniform. If it has been hand- stitched, it won’t be perfect and it will have character and be beautiful for that very reason. For those of you who love that continental look, you can also get teardrop- shaped button holes, most of which you will find are hand sewn.

- Working Cuffs. Originally reserved for bespoke suits only, regular retailers have now started adding working cuffs to their suits as well, with frequent alterations needed after the suit is bought. However, with a bespoke suit, the sleeves will be to your exact specification.

- Peak Stitching. Peak stitching is another example of a detail that is used to indicate it is higher quality, hand finished garment. Now this too has been embraced by the mass producers. This was bound to happen when ‘bespoke effect’ details became trendy. However, the mass producers do not do this by hand, instead opting for a machine- stitched alternative that uses larger stitches that are wider apart.

Natural fibres

If you’re aiming for a high-end suit, make sure your tailor uses only 100% natural fabrics . The pricier, the more likely it is that the tailor will have to use natural fabrics as opposed to synthetic polyester blends, which usually get a shiny finish after wearing it a couple times.

Money matters

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about the money. Saving a few bucks with a cheaper tailor should not mean foregoing the quality of the suit. A poorly made suit will cost you more to replace later. Price points should be factored in with the quality of the fabrics, the cut, the level of personal attention paid to developing your unique brand and the level of customer service offered, rather than being a stand-alone factor in choosing your ideal tailor.

Patience is a virtue

A bespoke suit that is designed to the highest standards takes time as the entire suit must be mustered from scratch. Think of your bespoke suit as a piece of art, and your Suit Concierge as the artist. We often come across clients who need suits in 48 hours. While there are Suit Concierges who meet this requirement, any professional Suit Concierge wouldn’t accept this challenge. There are many steps involved in hand-crafting a suit, and if any steps are skipped the suit will not be a timeless creation, nor will it fit as perfectly as a well-constructed suit.