Bespoke or altered, and either way, how do I go about it?
November 21, 2005 6:03 PM   Subscribe

I want to own a suit that looks like it was made for me. As I see it, there are two ways to do this, one involving buying a good suit that's pretty close in all the important ways and then multiple trips to a good tailor to have it altered to fit, the other involving a made-just-for-me suit. How do I decide which, or is there another path I'm missing? Once that decision's out of the way, how do I find a tailor I trust to walk me through one process or the other?

I'm in upstate New York, and willing to plop down in the range of $1000+ for this particular suit, which I'm planning to wear at my wedding. yay!
posted by gleuschk to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It's not a perfect match, but a question I asked earlier solicited some helpful comments and answers.
posted by purephase at 6:12 PM on November 21, 2005

Thanks, purephase. Among other things, that thread reminds me of some extra information I should have put in the question: I'm tall and skinny (6'4", 170lb).
posted by gleuschk at 6:27 PM on November 21, 2005

This usenet post is a helpful start. (Also see the dress shirt and tuxedo references.) Alan Flusser, author of the classic menswear bible Style and the Man has a well regarded custom shop in NYC. If you pay them a visit you will get a very good idea of what to look for and learn the fit details that will make the difference between a good suit and a great suit.

You want to make sure when you are buying a suit that you get a style that is enduring. For example, the Brooks Brothers suit cut is generally boxier, European suits are generally more tailored and help to show off a nice physique, and the prom rental place will give you a score of mandarin collar suits or other styles that are the modern day equivalent of a powder blue suit with ruffles. Unless, you know, that's what you really want. Avoid extremes in anything: lapels, gorge, color, the basic men's suit hasn't changed very much, and the further you deviate from it the faster it becomes dated.

Joe, the author of the usenet posts, is a font of information about sharp dressing, although he is a fan of more classic styles (not to be confused with boring or stodgy). I don't know if he is still at the same email address, but if you can get in touch with him, he will give you fantastic advice about where to go and what to look for. I consider him a authority on the subject in a way that the Queer Eye Guys will never be.
posted by hindmost at 6:47 PM on November 21, 2005

A Savile Row tailor named Thomas Mahon maintains a blog called English Cut. When it comes to bespoke (custom-made) suits, Savile Row in London is known for some of the best tailors in the world. This tailor's blog has some great info and it looks like he actually travels to the US regularly (as do many others).
posted by mullacc at 6:53 PM on November 21, 2005

And here is a link to Thomas' "top 10" articles from the blog I mentioned above. This may save you some time finding the good stuff.
posted by mullacc at 6:56 PM on November 21, 2005

Have you ever read the blog English Cut? He has a post seemingly written for your benefit.
posted by missmerrymack at 6:57 PM on November 21, 2005

purephrase's previous AskMefi question has tons of info. For general reading, Thomas Mahon, a Savile Row bespoke tailor, writes a wonderful blog that covers every aspect of suits and tailoring imaginable. I've linked to his collection of popular posts above. The different suit options are expounded here and advice on what to look for in a affordable suit is here.
posted by junesix at 7:02 PM on November 21, 2005

Ouch - preview double whammy.
posted by junesix at 7:03 PM on November 21, 2005

Speaking of Alan Flusser. Get his more recent book, "Dressing The Man: The Art of Permanent Fashion." He talks extensively about the history of suits and the origin of various styles, while explaining how to understand the difference between a classic aesthetic and something that is going to look ridiculous in a few years (as well as what looks good on different body types).
posted by bingo at 9:44 PM on November 21, 2005

600$ = airfare to Thailand.

200$ = luxury room at The Oriental.

200$ = the International Tailor around the corner.


Bottom line: hand tailored suit and an awesome adventure.

They will keep your measurements on file for a year, you can order more as your success allows.

Tell 'em Mr T sent you and bring me back a Cohiba from the cigar shop.
posted by Mr T at 10:27 PM on November 21, 2005 [2 favorites]

You don't even need to fly to Thailand.

Meet Raja Fashions in a designated hotel room in the US or Europe - they take your measurements, and six weeks later you get a hand-made suit from Hong Kong in the post.

I've never used them myself, but a BBC journalist blogger has.
posted by badlydubbedboy at 2:28 AM on November 22, 2005

I get my suits tailored in Seoul at fantastic quality. I recommend it heartily, if you can find a good tailor at a price you can afford. For a man of your size/shape, it will do wonders.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:14 AM on November 22, 2005

er, that is "custom tailored" sorry
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:15 AM on November 22, 2005

If you're ever on Long Island, there is a guy near me, Thomas Mitchell (old chamber of commerce link - he's moved since, but the phone number is still good). I will be ordering a couple shirts from him soon.

Interesting article on him I just found here.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 10:24 AM on November 22, 2005

Thanks, everybody. I appreciate the pointers.
posted by gleuschk at 5:18 AM on November 30, 2005

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