What to Know And Look for When Buying Custom Suits
Made to measure or ready to wear clothing does not offer the same level of expert fit and attention to detail as having a custom suit or bespoke item of clothing made for your specific measurements.
There are key elements that set a bespoke or custom suit apart from made to measure or ready to wear garments. Here’s what to ask and look for:
Are your suits fused (glued)?
Eighty per cent of ready to wear suits, jackets, topcoats, overcoats and outerwear garments are fused, meaning that the body of the garment (between the front fabric and the interior lining) is constructed using a membrane that is heat bonded to the actual fabric to give it body and shaping. Eventually over time, this membrane separates from the fabric during the dry cleaning process and causes a bubbling effect on the front of the jacket that cannot be fixed.
Better quality suits, jackets, topcoats, overcoats and outerwear are constructed using a canvas that is sewn into the garment by hand and literally “floats” within the jacket (floating canvas). This gives it better shaping and longevity and the ability to actually conform to your body over time.
Do you make a pattern for me?
Making a paper pattern is the next step in the creation of your custom made suit, shirt, pants, tuxedo, blazer or topcoat. Your tailor will transfer your measurements to a paper pattern including posture, shoulder slope, style details and his professional tweaks on how that garment should fit your body. This becomes a flat, paper replica of your body shape that will be laid onto the fabric you chose ready for the cutting room.
Once cut, the individual cloth parts are meticulously sewn together to create your custom made garment. This process is called a “fitting.” His experienced eye will spot any minor changes that should be made before you take delivery of the finished article of custom clothing. These changes will be noted on your pattern for future custom orders, thus making the experience even easier.
Can I have a raw try on?
In cases where a new client is extremely difficult to fit or orders multiple garments on his first order, we invariably make him a “raw try on” first. Using his individual paper pattern that we just created, we sew together a partially made suit, jacket, pant or topcoat using a scrap piece of fabric.
This is truly “raw”, meaning that there is no lining, buttons, belt loops or other finishing details. We then can have a fitting using this raw try on and make any changes to the pattern before actually cutting the fabrics that he initially chose.
This ensures that the client visually can see the finished fit ahead of time and be assured that the final fit will be perfect.
In the case of custom shirts we will make one sample shirt first before cutting and finishing the rest of the order. Although this is an added expense, it is well worth it in the long run.
Can I have a choice of style, interior lining and buttons?
Any custom suit, jacket or custom garment in general will have multiple choices for personal details such as buttons, lining colors, style and even the color of stitching. Countless options that will make your finished item truly unique and not cookie cutter like many others.
Ready to wear and made to measure clothing give you a very limited choice.
How many fittings will I have?
Most times one fitting is adequate if the tailor measured correctly. If he truly asked you questions and listened to how you like to wear your clothing during the initial visit (trim, traditional, classic, etc.) then you should be very near the mark. Sleeve and pant lengths are pretty common alterations mainly because it’s your own personal preference.
Do you have an in-house tailor?
This is extremely important – especially if you are dealing with a clothier who has very little experience in the custom clothing business or comes to your office. Most of these custom clothiers have very limited knowledge about how a garment should be altered and an even harder time expressing to the tailor what needs to be done. The tailors they use for alterations are typically part time who are used to working on ready to wear clothing, so quality control is very sporadic. Custom clothing is a completely different ball game than ready to wear.
If I lose a significant amount of weight (20lb or more) can your tailor alter it?
Like any craftsman, there are great tailors and there are not so great tailors. There is always a correct way and an easy way to alter clothing and most take the easy way because they do not want or do not know how to.
THE CORRECT WAY is to open up the sides of the jacket from the bottom all the way up to the top shoulder seam and in some cases, remove the sleeves. This way the extra fabric can be taken in evenly all the way down. The trousers are opened up through the waist, seat and crotch seams (sometimes completely to the knee) and taken in evenly.
THE EASY WAY is to open up the sides up to the armpits and take it in from there. Additionally, open up the seam running up the center of the back to take it in. This is always disastrous because the shoulders will still be big and now the whole jacket is distorted.
Trousers are taken in only on the back seat seam which pulls the side pockets towards the back and causes the rear pockets to almost meet in the middle.
Good tailors will opt for the correct way because its cleaner, it is correct and the garment can be re-altered again should the client put the weight back on.
Understanding the steps and reasons behind creating a truly custom suit, shirt or other garment ensures your satisfaction with the final outcome.
Start your custom suit journey with Davide Cotugno Executive Tailors. We accept in store, on site or private after hour appointments. Contact us.