I took the plunge.
After contemplating the thought for some time – and saving up – I have finally commissioned my first tailor-made suit. In this post I will share my experience in the first step of the process with Knightsman Tailors and a few thoughts on stepping into the world of custom suits.
Preparation: Go in With an Idea of What You Want
There are a LOT of options when it comes to getting a custom suit made and it would be a very daunting process to step into a tailor’s shop to order a suit, just to have to make a number of stylistic decisions on the spot. It could be a costly mistake. You do not need to know exactly what you want – I did not – but you need to have an idea of what you want. A good tailor will happily help you decide the rest; if you are indecisive about the details, let your tailor know and they will take care of you.
I knew that I wanted a single breasted, three-roll-two jacket with a slightly wider-than-standard notch lapel. I was on the fence about having a waistcoat. I knew that I wanted a high waisted, single pleated trouser with turn-up cuffs. For the rest of the details I was able to comfortably come to a decision by working with Knightsman’s stylist Ross.
Related reading: Choosing a Suit Jacket Pt. 1
Having your Measurements Taken
Getting measured up takes around ten minutes, and requires you to be able to stand fairly still. Holding a relaxed, natural stance is important. This is something that I tend to forget; I often stand with my gut sucked in as a force of habit. Doing this while being measured can cause issues later on, as the result may be a too-tight fit in that area.
After the measurements are taken, the tailor may take a couple of photos of your body from various angles to give a visual aid to the measurements. This is handy for cataloguing features like sloped shoulders and hollow/full backs that are not always communicated by the numbers of measurements alone.
What to wear during the process?
I asked the tailor, Milap, to share what he finds to be the most suitable attire when being measured up.
M: Business pants and a long sleeved button up shirt are ideal for getting the most accurate measurements. If you are wearing a sweater, we will ask you to remove it while being measured. Leaving it on can cause the measurements to be too loose.
S: What makes business pants ideal as opposed to something like well-fitted jeans?
M: Denim is a thicker material, like a sweater on the upper region the thickness of denim jeans can cause the measurements for pants to be too loose. If you come in wearing jeans, we get you to change into a pair of ready-to-wear business pants that have as natural a fit for you as we can. This helps to provide the best final measurement.
S: Handy that you have RTW pants on hand! (I arrived in jeans, not knowing about this beforehand)
Ordering Details, and What I Ordered
Once the measurements were taken, I sat down with Ross to discuss the details of what we were making. Taking into account the details I knew I wanted, we worked through the rest. In order to make the decision of whether to have a waistcoat or not, I was able to try on a RTW one they had on hand. I decided I liked the look of myself in a waistcoat, so I decided to have one with my suit. Having never had one before, I was able to rely on Ross’ judgment when it came to the details of the waistcoat. I was also unsure on some other details such as slant of pockets, and this is where it helps to have an experienced stylist; being able to defer to an expert’s advice.
A Library of Fabrics
Fabric selection is a key representative of why you need to have an idea of what you want before stepping into a tailor’s shop. The sheer range of fabrics available at most of them is – to say the least – large, with Knightsman boasting several thousand. I knew only that I wanted a mid-grey fabric. I hadn’t made up my mind whether I wanted plain or a pattern, though I was leaning towards pattern as I have a penchant for them. I did know that I am not bothered about having the most luxury of fabric, preferring something sturdier. Ross showed me several options and we eventually settled on a nice subtle herringbone in a Super 130’s.
Related reading: Understanding Super Numbers
Deciding on the details can be a lengthy process unless you know exactly what you want. Make sure to delegate a good hour or two in your schedule when you go in to make an order. Maybe a little extra if you decide you want to stick around and read one of the interesting books they have out, like I did for Simon Crompton‘s ‘The Finest Menswear in the World’.
Incoming for me is a three piece suit in mid-grey herringbone with a three-roll-two single breasted notch lapelled jacket, a regular five button waistcoat and high waisted trousers with a single reverse pleat and turn-up cuffs. I will reveal some of the finer details when the finished product is complete.
That’s all for today!
It has been a pleasant opening experience with Knightsman and I look forward to seeing out the rest of the process. In around four weeks I will post an update from the first fitting.