Friday, 15 October 2010
Suits and tailoring: choosing the features
The second reason is that it's nowhere near as expensive as you might think. The linen suit in the picture came in for under £300 and although I'd freeze half to death if I wore it right now, I'm presenting at Bafta this evening and will be wearing another tailored jobbie from the same place (anyone wanting more info is welcome to mail me - they have a loyalty scheme so I can refer people and get points against future purchases).
I was wearing one yesterday, though, and one of the women at the meeting said she was surprised anyone would choose such a non-fancy lining for a bespoke suit. She probably had a point; it was one of my first tailored suits and I probably went in too conservatively. On the other hand you don't want to look an idiot - so what to do? Here are some points to consider when you're going tailored for the first time (I'd have loved a list like this when I started, and I'd welcome additional thoughts).
1. The fit
Luckily I was advised that slim fit isn't just for slim people. Ultra-fitted would make me look fat (and yes I understand it's no use blaming the suit); slim, as in the picture, is just that bit better shaped than a standard fit.
2. Working cuffs
One of the things that distinguishes a well tailored suit from off the peg in many people's eyes - I've read it often enough. It's a mark of quality, some people say; in my tailor's case it's a mark of my throwing an extra £25 at the thing so I can undo one of the buttons and pose a bit. Whatever. Don't have these for your first made to measure suit, though; if you're not happy with the sleeve length the tailor won't have the same leeway for alterations as they would with non-working buttons.
Go on, treat yourself to a slightly fancy lining. Patterns, something with a sheen, have some fun - nobody's going to see it much until you take it off, but it definitely adds to the effect. Make sure the back of the waistcoat (if you're having one, which I wouldn't necessarily recommend as they can look a bit stuffy and also emphasise any protruberance of gut) matches the lining of the suit and you're automatically co-ordinated. Opt for a pocket square (or "hankie" as they're sometimes known) of the same stuff and you're really co-ordinated. Go for something too quiet and the suit's likely to look off the peg - which of course may not be a problem to you.
A hand-stitched lapel used to add an air of authenticity, proving something had been hand made. Since Marks and Sparks now have handstitch lookalike jackets available off the peg I suggest the benefits are diminishing - I like the look so I have it, but it's purely a matter of taste.
5. Buttonhole stitching
Tailors will be pleased to stitch the lapel button and the cuff buttons to match the lining rather than the suit if you want. I wasn't sure at first but went for it on the suit that arrived yesterday and am very pleased with the effect; nobody's going to notice unless they look for it but it'll give me a bit more confidence this evening. My tailor, at least, doesn't charge extra.
Oh, and always examine any guarantee they offer in terms of the fit. Some will guarantee to alter a suit even if there's nothing wrong with it and you've changed shape through weight loss or gain.