Style

What to Expect from Bespoke

So you’ve decided to “go bespoke.”  Great!  From now on, everything you commission should be perfect, right?

I decided to ask some of StyleForum’s members to elaborate on their bespoke experiences to give the “n00b” an idea of what to expect during the first (and hopefully continuing) foray into bespoke.  Their combined familiarity helps create a balanced prospective of what one should be looking for during the process.

Granted, it may take some time before finding a tailor that suits your needs.  Forum member @Slewfoot, AKA David Beckwith of Grand Cru Wine Consulting, had tried several tailors before he found his current favorite: Steed.  “A big reason I settled on them was seeing all the amazing photographs of their work online.  Additionally,  many people on StyleForum and London Lounge that I trust use them regularly.”

Once at the tailor’s shop (or at a traveling tailor’s temporary shop space), what do you ask?  Indeed, where do you even start?  David continues: 

“I think it’s a very good idea to take the long term approach to the relationship with your tailor. At the beginning you are really getting to know one another. You’re getting a feel for making sure you all are on the same page aesthetically and philosophically. The first handful of items you get from a tailor you all carefully discuss the specifics of the fit and details, but after a while much of that becomes second nature and you then just do tweaks here and there depending on the specific garment at hand.”

Andy Poupart, known as @Andy57, on StyleForum concurs:

“My first suits came out fine, but that first commission was also a learning experience for me.  What I didn’t know to ask about were the many stylistic and detailed choices that one can make when commissioning a garment. Since then, I have come to know such things as I almost always want a ticket pocket, I want at least two narrow inside breast pockets for my reading glasses, I don’t want belt loops on my trousers, nor do I want rear pockets or a coin pocket in the waistband.”

During the process, the learning curve for both client and tailor can leave certain details to chance.  What happens then?  @Manton recalls one such incident: 

“I once ordered a dinner jacket, as a double breasted shawl collar, and I thought the lapel buttonhole should be angled up, as is typical on a double breasted jacket.   In this instance the tailor angled it down, as on a single breasted jacket. I was sort of miffed at first, but I solved the problem by always wearing a flower in the lapel.”

Small tweaks are to be expected, even after the initial commission.  However, the process does get easier with time.  David explains:

“I used to overthink things too much when I was first getting into it. At first, it’s like re-doing a room in your house – you’re presented with dozens of options for paint and drapes, and  start running around in circles. These days I just let my gut take over and make much faster decisions. One thing I’ve noticed that’s a big help is physically seeing the fabric in person first. Holding it in your hands, you often suddenly get hit with how the finished garment will come out. You inherently know that patch pockets will be great for this fabric or that this suit should be a 3-piece vs a double breasted kind of thing.”

After multiple commissions, @Manton agrees: “As I’ve gained experience with bespoke, I’ve streamlined the process.  I just say, “Just say “Single or double-breasted, two piece or three,” and let them do their thing.”

Take your time to get to know your tailor. Trust them to do what they do best, and trust yourself to make the choices that are best for you. Oh, and try not to overthink it!

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Peter works in construction, but has an extensive collection of custom suits which he gets so that he can wear suits on the weekend. Even though he lives in San Francisco, he has never used the word "impact" as a verb. He writes about classic menswear and is one fedora away from being a complete dork.

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