What’s the point of a really good suit or jacket?
What are you looking for? A better job? More money? Inner peace? Sure, what’s inside a person matters: your attitude, your experiences.
But what’s outside matters, too.
Take it from entrepreneur and “Shark” Daymond John:
“Good grooming is integral and impeccable style is a must. If you don’t look the part, no one will want to give you time or money.”
Or maybe you’ll relate more to Emerson:
“Being perfectly well-dressed gives one a tranquility that no religion can bestow.”
No matter the goal, it takes an investment. And you should start with a really good suit. (From our experience, a really good suit or jacket starts around $1,000 bucks)
You’ll see the return on that investment in countless ways, and in this post, we’ll outline just some of them. Others are much more difficult to summarize, because, like Emerson said, it’s not just about the suit, it’s about how you’ll feel in it.
But before we get into the value of a custom suit or jacket, let’s start with why you shouldn’t invest in anything else.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Suit or Jacket Off-the-Rack
Simply put, a suit or jacket off-the-rack will not fit as it should. No guy’s body is the box that mass-produced clothes are made for. Everybody has their own unique proportions and should have clothes that reflect them. In a store, it’s not about choosing what you love, it’s choosing the best of what’s in front of you.
Most guys walk into a store and expect that the person helping them, the so-called expert, will know what they’re talking about. But most salespeople don’t.
They receive a little on-the-job training about how to take a suit measurement and what makes a good suit or a good fit (most often tailored to highlight their own products). And that’s about it.
A lot of times, they’ll measure your chest, and that’s the only measurement that’s taken. They’ll ask your height, and from that, determine if you should be in a Short, Regular or Long, all without actually looking at your arms and body – the other factors that make a suit look nice on someone are not taken into consideration.
If the suit (or jacket) makes the man, then the shoulder makes the suit (or jacket). This is wear most suits fail. The vast majority of bad suits are because of the shoulders: they’re usually too big and too padded. This makes a lot of guys, especially big guys, look like linebackers. Padding and shoulder styles should be determined on the guys’ actual shoulders.
Square shoulders or an athletic build? Try less padding. How about a narrow frame and round midsection? You could extend the shoulder line slightly to create the appearance of a more angular physique. Point is, there are many styles and each one has their time and place – especially if you’re in between the extremes.
So, with a custom suit or jacket, it’s all about balancing your proportions. If you’re shorter, there are tricks to make people’s eyes go up and out so that you appear taller and leaner. You can’t get this effect off-the-rack.
Why Alterations Don’t Work
The advice you probably hear is to find a suit that fits okay and just get it tailored. Here’s the problem with that advice: an altered suit is still not made for you, and there is only so much a tailor can do.
All changes, such as pulling in the sides and sleeves, affect the proportions and the silhouette of the jacket. And every time you make an alteration to a garment, it affects the integrity of that garment.
Online Custom Suits and Jackets Aren’t Really Custom
You get the point. Buying off the rack and getting something tailored isn’t the best idea, which leaves custom. But not all custom suits and jackets are equal.
We strongly recommend avoiding online customs, because the quality is generally sub-par. There’s no guarantee that the details you put together are going to work. And at-home measurements don’t take into account your posture or other critical details that are nearly as important as the exact numbers. Online custom clothing is also made-to-measure, which we’ll briefly explain below.
What About Designer Suits and Jackets?
Now, things are a little different when we’re talking about a ready-to-wear Tom Ford or Isaia suit. First of all, you’re going to drop a few thousand, and it’s going to be a terrific suit. The best menswear designers pay attention to details and simply know how to design a good, interesting suit.
If you have a massive clothing budget, by all means, buy the latest and greatest. But, even then, it’s not made for you.
But if you can only invest in one really good suit, it ought to be custom made for you, and we’ll explain why.
What Exactly Is a Custom Suit or Jacket?
When shopping for custom-made clothing, it’s important to understand the terms. There are three common types of custom: made-to-measure, custom and bespoke.
Made-to-measure garments are created from a standardized base pattern that gets altered based off your measurements. You know it’s made-to-measure when you are in a try-on garment and the sales associate will make adjustments to that fit. You also know it’s made-to-measure if you’re ordering “custom” online.
True custom tailoring is a hybrid of made-to-measure and bespoke. You have more flexibility than made-to-measure and the pattern to cut your suit is created just for your measurements. Certain details, like placements of pockets, interior and lapel styles, may be limited based on the manufacturer.
Bespoke tailoring, on the other hand, is designed entirely from scratch. A tailor designs a brand new pattern solely for you. It’s put on you in pieces, often over numerous fittings. You can control everything, even moving the location of the pockets to the eigth of an inch.
While each custom process will be significantly better than anything you’ll find off-the-rack, the difference between made-to-measure and bespoke is equally substantial.
Learn how to tell when something is truly bespoke. Need help? Get in touch.
The ROI of a Custom Suit or Jacket
Return #1: The Best Fit of Your Life
What does it really mean for a garment to be designed for you?
A custom clothier takes into account the way you stand, where you normally wear your trousers, your lifestyle. Most importantly, the slope of a guy’s shoulders makes all the difference in how a suit will fit. Do you usually hunch forward or do stand very erect? Would a natural, padless shoulder be better for you? A custom suit is designed to fit your posture.
A well-fitting suit will form to you and crease where your body naturally bends.
Return #2: A Longer Lasting Suit or Jacket
Of course a custom suit or jacket better be the highest quality, but that’s not the only reason it’ll last longer than an off-the-rack suit.
A good designer will design your garment for your lifestyle. For instance, if one of our clients works at a desk and types a lot, we’ll reinforce the elbows with patches of the same color. It won’t stand out, but it’ll make the elbows (which would be one of the first things to go) last longer.
A well-designed garment should also change with your body, such as natural small weight fluctuations. A lot of guys think that custom means tight, which isn’t true. Custom simply means it’s going to fit perfectly: how you want it to fit. So when you gain or lose that ten pounds, your suit should still look great.
Return #3: Confidence
The difference in quality of just about anything — art, clothing, etc — lies in the details.
These are details you choose that add up to a thing of beauty.
With a custom suit or jacket, you’re able to choose from potentially thousands of fabrics of different colors and patterns. You can choose the lining, the stitching on the buttonholes, the types of buttons, and lapel style. Just take a look at some of our examples.
With a good clothier this process should be fun, not overwhelming. We talk to our clients about what their style is, what they want to portray, and then we’ll pull out a dozen or so fabrics for them to choose from and offer recommendations. Through this collaboration, they get a suit that they’re excited about down to the details.
The details add up to quality which creates confidence.
You’ll feel your best in a beautifully-made suit that was designed specifically for you. That confidence boost is maybe the exact thing you need to meet your next goal.