Section: Men's Style - Blog
So you're in the market for a new men's suit? Well, there are three options for you to consider. Each option has its pros and cons, but ultimately one option clearly wins over when all things are said and done.
If you're like most men, you buy your suits from a local retail store. This is called buying “off-the-rack.” It's what the average guy does. However, when it comes to the all-important fit, buying off-the-rack is probably the worst options
You actually have three options, but you may not be aware of the last two:
1. Off-the-rack Suits for men
2. Custom Tailored Suits
3. Fully Bespoke Suits
Off-the-rack suits are what you buy when you walk into your nearest retail men's store like David Jones or Myer (in Australia). These suits use “standard sizing,” which is a compromised one-size-fits-all approach to suiting that uses only your chest size and jacket length to determine your “ideal” fit.
However, this standard sizing neglects many of the critical aspects of good fit. For example, what about jacket sleeve length? What about the upper sleeve arm and trouser circumferences? What about the crotch length? What about your posture and the shape of your shoulders? The list goes on...
The price may be right for an off-the-rack suit but does it compensate for a less than perfect fit?
Your body is a unique shape and size; so even if you think off-the-rack sizing is ok for you, there will always be one area of fit that's not quite right. Inevitably, buying off-the-rack means fussing around and paying for costly alterations.
It's not unheard of for someone to buy a suit from a retail men's store for $800 or more only to have to spend an additional $200 to alter the sleeves, trouser length, and/or jacket chest to get the suit to fit correctly.
An additional problem with off-the-rack suits is it's almost impossible to find something in both the colour and style you like as well as your right size. This means you're often left to “shop around” until you're eventually worn out or forced to compromise after dealing with pushy sales people.
The benefits of buying off-the-rack suits are you get to see exactly what you buy, and there is a local shop to go to if you need after sales support. You can also grab a bargain during the sales.
Unlike off-the-rack suits, custom tailored and fullybespoke suits are made to your exact body measurements and style guidelines by professional tailors. As custom tailored and fully bespoke suits are made to measure suits, they fit you perfectly.
This means you don't need to waste time shopping around and trying on scores of jackets and trousers to find ones tofit you “well.” Additionally, since you design the suit the way you like and choose the fabric, often from hundreds of swatches, custom tailored and fully bespoke suits are convenient ways for you to buy your next suit, especially if you're like most men and despise shopping.
The major difference between custom tailored and fully bespoke suits is with bespoke tailoring you'll get control over every design detail of your suit. Additionally, there are more fitting sessions so you're guaranteed a perfect fit. Finally, most bespoke suits are made locally.
However, all this attention comes at a cost; fully bespoke suits are expensive, often costing over $3,000. But if you can afford one, it's one of life's great luxuries. Quality custom tailored suits can be found in the range of $600 to $1,200 (depending on fabric quality) with exceptional quality custom suits going for over $1,500.
To compare, currently a quality off-the-rack business suit or blazer is about the same price as a custom tailored suit (in the range of $600 - $1,200 for suits and $400 - $700 for blazers). Price is dictated by the fabric and construction quality. Typically, you get what you pay for.
Custom tailored dinner suits, tuxedos and evening jackets cost more due to their design complexity. And if you're thinking about a custom wedding suit, this can be as extravagant as you like!
For more information about fully bespoke tailoring, visit the Savile Row Bespoke Association. This association's mission is to preserve tradition and to maintain the minimum requirements for a garment to be allowed to use the “Savile Row” trademark. In other words, they define the rules of fully bespoke tailoring.
The downside to custom tailored suits and bespoke suits is since they are individually hand crafted for you, they usually take three to four weeks to manufacture. But if time's not a problem, it's well worth the wait.
You be the judge.All things considered, custom tailoring is probably ideal.
Why? Importantly, it offers most of the benefits of fully bespoke suiting (such as being made to your exact body measurements and style requirements so there's no need to “shop around”).
Custom tailoring has a more affordable price tag as there is usually only one fitting and fewer styling options available. However, having access to around 10 to 20 styling options is usually enough for most gents.
The reduced number of fittings with the custom tailored option also reduces the amount of time taken for you to get your suit (when compared with bespoke suiting).
Overall, custom tailored suits represent the lowest effort, best value for money, and the best end result. With a price on par with good quality off-the-rack suits, you'll get a perfect fitting suit every time, styled the way you want at a great price, which is a winning combination.
So, if you want to a men's suit that fits you perfectly, it's simple. Find a good, local tailor that offers a custom tailored suiting service, and you're on your way to looking a million dollars ... but ensure you've read the rest of the articles in this series so you know what to look out for!
If you are local to the Sydney area, we'd love the opportunity to earn your business. Call to set up a private appointment or stop in our showroom when you are in town.
Note: Prices in this article are stated in $AUD at January 1 2012.
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