Q&A: Great Details for a Bespoke Suit

March 11th, 2009

Q:  I’m getting a bespoke suit.  Looking forward to it.  What sorts of interesting details are possible on a men’s suit?  I’ve heard about the working button holes and such, but perhaps you have heard of some totally awesome details?

Pictured: Duncan Quinn Bespoke Suits.

A: I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “totally awesome.” If you mean “totally awesome fit,” then yes, most good bespoke tailors will fit you a suit that wears better than anything else you have (except for another high quality bespoke suit, of course).

Bespoke is more about personal style and quality than fashion.  Translation: avoid a loud, statement-making suit that may be in fashion right now but will go out tomorrow.  I trust you know how to find a good tailor and how to tell him what you want, so I’ll skip right ahead to the details that are available out there.

The bottom line is that bespoke is expensive.  And that’s kind of the point.  It’s not for everything, and the exorbitant price is largely why it stays that way.  If you’re going to go bespoke, you might as well go all out.  At least, don’t skimp on things to try to save a few dollars here and there.

With bespoke, you can indulge yourself in details ranging from patterned jacket linings to exotic materials.  Duncan Quinn, highly regarded in the bespoke world, for example, offers a suit made out of guanaco.  If you can pull it off, feel free to go bold with pinstripes or checks in whatever color you’d like.  Of course with details like these, you’re talking about a suit ranging well into the thousands (Duncan Quinn starts at $4,000 per suit), perhaps even into the tens of thousands. 

But given the sinking economy, a bespoke suit feels even more extravagant than it does in normal times.  You don’t need to go all out with a suit to go bespoke.  Try a bespoke shirt (try Charvet, Tom Ford, or Borelli for the best) or shoes (try Barker Black).  Ties can be made just for you as well.  Just keep in mind that designers may require you to order multiple items at once; especially smaller items like ties and shirts.

Have a great tip about what to look for in a bespoke suit? Share it with us in the comments!

Entry Filed under: Men's,Q&A

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Heather  |  March 11th, 2009 at 11:13 am

    What does “bespoke” mean?

  • 2. Kerry Cordero, Image Consultant and Personal Stylist  |  March 11th, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    I have a few clients that I order bespoke or custom suits for. I do it for men whose lifestyle or role at work demand that they look impeccable. I also order custom clothes for men and women who have fit issues. I have a client who ordered custom denim and she wears it everywhere – from work to weekends – and it makes her feel great. Well worth the $400 price tag.

    And my tailor makes bespoke suits for around $2500. He’s in Summit NJ and his name is Carlos of Summit Tailors.

  • 3. Dave  |  March 11th, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    With all due respect to the author, this post falls very short of answering the question asked.

    The question was asking about details for bespoke suits, not a recommendation of other bespoke products or a warning about the economy.

    Q) What is a bespoke suit? What details should I consider?

    A) The suit hierarchy is as follows:

    1) Bespoke
    2) Made-to-measure
    3) Off the rack, aka Ready-to-wear

    Off the rack is what it sounds like; standard size suits in different fits and fabrics that are mostly made in factories.

    Made-to-measure is a what most people think of as a ‘tailored’ suit. The tailor takes measurements and then uses standard size shapes (thing: cut outs) for each of the parts of the suit.

    Bespoke is a fully customized suit. The tailor will use hand work almost entirely, including the “individually cut of a paper pattern”. Every nook and cranny will fit your shape perfectly and every panel is customized.

    As far as details go, you options are extensive.

    First thing to do is choose a fabric that you are going to feel comfortable wearing as regularly as possible. Bespoke suits are meant to be worn, not admired. This suit is the one you will wear every time you close a business deal or go on a third date. I would go with a dark grey or a navy blue with some texture to the fabric.

    Next, chose your fit and details. I am a big fan of slim fit jackets and flat front pants (obviously, pleats are like hoola-hoops; gone for decades). Next thing to do is pick the number of buttons. Double breasted suits were making a comeback, and the single button is a classic, but i would choose a single breasted 2 -button, as it will never go out of style.

    On to he lapels. Round lapels look great on a tux, but its a little flashy on a suit. Fat lapels are made for 80’s tycoon villains like Gordon Gekko. Go for a narrow peaked lapel with top stitching. Top Sticking is where there is a noticeable ‘border stitch’ on the outside of the lapel, it gives the suit that little extra something..

    As far as the extra little details, you should choose a vent in the back that suits your taste. I like the double vent because i never take my jacket off. Also, I love the look of bright patterns under the lapels. If you ever decide to pop your collar, it makes the jacket look unique and super premium. This bold pattern under the lapels should either be the same, or very complementary to the internal lining. The reason for this matching is that I would surely go for the detail you mentioned in the question of “working button holes’. This will allow you to roll up your sleeves and show off the bold lining. I would go with a loud check pattern – think a Caralina Blue and Light Grey check. This will make your suit like a great mullet; business in the front, party in the back.

    Hope this helps.


  • 4. Leslie  |  March 12th, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Hey Heather,
    I read the term “bespoke” was coined because when a client ordered a suit in a certain material that that piece of fabric was now “spoken for.”

  • 5. Lena  |  March 15th, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Thanks Dave. The details in your comment was a good supplement to the answer.

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