For those among us with a love of elegant lines and perfectly cut suits, being on a tight budget often means scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram with longing, rather than acquiring the garments of our dreams. But there comes a time in every man’s life where investing in a tailored suit becomes a necessity. A job comes along, or perhaps a wedding — maybe even your wedding. For those extra special occasions, you don’t want to miss the mark on the fashion front. You want to look your very best. You think menswear shops already have your size straight off the rack, or is that risky business? Will paying a visit to the tailor mean having to take a second mortgage on your house? Think again, as things have come a long way in the three-piece suit world in recent years.
Let’s start from the very beginning and identify what you should be looking for, beginning with the jacket. “The jacket is the centrepiece of your suit, and its fit alone will make or break the whole outfit,” says Ant Horner, founder of Empire Outlet, an online company that outfits modern-day gentlemen with luxury tailored suits at affordable prices. Here are his jacket prerequisites. You’ll want the jacket to fit snugly on your shoulders as much as possible, while still allowing freedom of movement. The shoulder seam should align perfectly with your own shoulder’s joint ending. This makes it extremely difficult to find a perfect match from a pre-made suit on the high street, since every man’s shape is so different. The sleeves should end exactly where the joints of your thumbs begin. This is important. A sleeve that is too long will give you the appearance of a middle child wearing his big brother’s outfit. Who wants that on their wedding day? As far as shoulder padding goes, it’s a matter of preference, but also of muscle tone. A padded jacket over the top of very muscular shoulders could make you look too broad. A good tailor will be able to advise on this and offer options.
What Fabric Should You Go For?
Over the years, suit fabrics have evolved to provide an increasing amount of comfort and durability. If you are going to be investing in a tailored suit, no matter how affordable it is, these are the two main factors you want to take into consideration. With the rise of heating and cooling in modern days, men are faced with temperature extremes. You’ll be freezing one second and sweating the next. The clear durable and breathable winner is wool. Wool is naturally resistant, resilient, breathable, flexible, and insulating. But that's not all. Wool has a high moisture content, which gives it other advantages you may not have heard of. It generates very little static electricity, so it does not hold back dust and therefore requires less maintenance. It’s also very resistant to flames and produces little toxic matter in case of fire. It’s as durable and eco-friendly as it is comfortable and stylish. Wool is the way forward.
What About the Trousers?
You shouldn’t have to wear a belt for your trousers to hold in place, but they shouldn’t be too tight either. A good way to establish if the trousers fit well is to look at the pockets. If they sit open, then you should go one size up. As far as leg length goes, the hem position is crucial. The leg should fall in a straight line, and form a single fold (called break) at the bottom of the trousers. Failure to comply with this simple rule exposes you to the risk of having a very creased look, exposing too much sock or, worse, bare leg. A small trick tailors use is to have the leg a little longer at the back of the hem — something you will never find on the high street.
One Question Remains: How Much?
We know you’re reading this and still wondering how much this could all set you back. So much work goes into making a suit in accordance with a single individual’s measurements, so this has to come with a hefty price tag, right? You may actually be pleasantly surprised, as online tailored suit purchasing has come so far in the last decade. Online shops now provide tailor-made suits for men of all shapes and sizes at an affordable price. You can even order fabric samples beforehand, and the whole process will not set you back any more than £200 to £300. We know this is still a commitment and we recommend taking utmost care of your suit. Dry cleaning should be an occasional thing. Remember: wool is breathable and anti-bacterial. The best way to care for your new suit is to air it as much as possible and dry clean only on occasion. That way, your perfectly cut suit will last you for years to come.