This story originally appeared on the Gents Cafe Newsletter. You can subscribe here.
I couldn’t go bespoke, but I couldn’t bring myself to go off the rack, either.
These exact thoughts echoed in my mind repeatedly when I went for my first proper suit last summer.
It’s hard to say what is and what isn’t a proper suit. At that time and now, I consider ‘proper’ to mean a couple of things:
It has the fundamental style overall and in detail
That might be vague to some people, but it was as clear as the summer night sky to me. I just wanted something that was properly mine, made for me, as it were. Thankfully, that’s what made-to-measure (MTM) is all about.
At this point, that was all I knew about what I wanted (plus some extra styling details), but I certainly needed the help. I would not and could not sort this out for myself. In this case, going to Suitsupply in London was my only option.
There are some excellent MTM services online too, but it’s all rather useless if you don’t know your measurements and don’t have the skills to measure yourself correctly. Not least, to also understand how measurements dictate nuance in the fitting.
With my holiday booked off work and train ticket bought, I made my way to London, not with a fury cat as Whittington did, but with a firm belief that I would return in high spirits. And I did.
What I got was not the crucial thing (though I love what is my first proper navy suit). It is the experience that counts.
The whole experience was a magnificent first step into tailoring. I often buy items ready-to-wear and simply get my local tailor to make alterations – a practice I preach for its affordability and convenience. A proper made-to-measure experience, however, is the next level.
To be sure it is quality MTM, you can’t be fooled by the marketing or customer service – while all of that is very important – the quality of the cloth, the time dedicated to your personal fitting, and transparency about how and where your garment will be made is fundamental to good MTM.
I can confidently look back and say I would happily do it again. As they say, once you get the sartorial bug, it’s the point of no return.
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