Saturday, 11 February 2012

How to Get the Best Out of Your Suits?

What I want to achieve here is increasing the value of your basic wardrobe. I can do that by advising you on how to get better life out of your suits and better look from their appearance. And two things will affect this; first, the amount of suits you own and the level of quality you invest in concerning who makes it and how and what from. 

There is only one qualification....How much are you ready to spend?

I will state below what to do for whether spending from £1000 per year and above or under £1000 per year. I'll also add a bit for those real bargain hunters who have no cash at present but do need to dress well for work or just for fun

£1000 - £10,000 per year and beyond
You should be spending the lower end of this on made to measure as you should purchase more to build up your wardrobe if you are restricted to the lower end of this budget. In the previous post I explain more about rotation and why a good amount of suits is much better than 1 or 2 expensive ones. But if your rotation is over 10 suits then spending £3000 plus is a must to experience try tailoring and cloth at its best if you have not done so already.

Building up to 10 suits I would recommend buying 2 or 3 per year for around £1500 to £3000 so you can have some real elegance and still a well tailored experience. After 4 or 5 years you will no longer be buying suits or casual outfits for necesscity as you should have a good rotation to last a long while but now you can buy all the things you want but weren't in a position to justify before more essential items. Such items like casual suits for summer or winter, great tweed and check 3 pieces for going to the races in, an extra DJ for back up, tropical suit weights for your business trips to Asia or the Middle East, and so on.

Up to £1000
There are some lower end made to measure places that do a suit or casual outfit for less then £500 but from all the experiences I've heard from clients and businessman around London the consistency is way below par. Needless to say most of these will be garments made from block cuts in a far east factory so quality will vary depending on the measurements taken when ordering.

Above £500 you will find a much better product with more bells and whistles as to extras and maybe even some handwork here and there. Many places and visiting tailors will sell the word bespoke at prices under £500 but if that is possible the only place I have ever seen something close is the far east where commodities is a little cheaper but labour is hugely discounted so don't believe it.

If you think handmade when you hear the word bespoke then you are in agreement with Savile Row and most respectable tailors. But some will use the word with little care or tact. They could be describing a simple made to measure or, if they are dishonest, be giving you an adjusted off the peg, but I have as yet never seen a fully bespoke garnment made by a tailor in London or even Europe and America for less than £1500.

The fact is the word 'Bespoke' is a grey area in the garment making world. In 2008 the Advertising Standards Authority in Britain ruled that it was ok to call a suit that was entirely cut and sewn by machine as long as too some measurements were taken and made to order. In fact because of this ruling many items which in the past would have been called made to measure (cut and adjusted from a block pattern) are now called bespoke with no changes between the two.
So beware the description and ask these questions to determine made to measure, semi-bespoke and bespoke and pay to your budget:

Is the garment hand cut? Yes, Semi or full Bespoke. No, Off the Peg or Made to Measure.

Is the garment completely handmade? Yes, full Bespoke. No, Off Peg, M2M or Semi-Bespoke.

Is the cut made from a block pattern? Yes, Off Peg or M2M. No, Semi or Full Bespoke.

How long does the suit take to make? Under 20 man hours, Off Peg. 20-40 hours M2M. 40-60 hours, Semi-Bespoke. 60+ Full Bespoke.
These are rough averages as most establishments will tell you in weeks the delivery estimate but this is actual man hours by "cutters and master tailors". Also resulting time in far east is either due to very cheap and hard working labour force meaning you can churn out a completely handmade suit in just 4 days to 2 weeks or they lie. Personally, I don't know as some tailors are very reputable and others are just guys started up yesterday woth a shop front but will one day do my best to find out.

£200 and under
If you are only able to be in his group to begin your professional career then either do some hard searching in Charity shops (some of my greatest buys have come from these) or do some shopping around for fit and find a shop whose cut you like then buy as many as you can reasonably afford. But beware, high street shops are dictated by fashion so cut and style can change rapidly so that suit that fit last year may have changed completely to something new in design.

This is a fellow blogger that has a great blog, An Affordable Wardrobe, about finding fantastic quality garmenst in thrift stores in the states.

 Tailor Dan

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