With the economy on the ropes, a small investment in your workplace appearance seems a sound one. But for many men, buying a new suit can be a daunting prospect, not least because of the hit your wallet usually takes. But it needn’t be that way. We’ve investigated two modern approaches to buying a suit – both of which can be done online to highlight how easy and affordable an upgrade can be, particularly to bespoke. Here we reveal all.
Buying bespoke seems like something only posh people in the City can afford, but that’s not entirely accurate. Sure, a two-piece suit from Savile Row’s Ozwald Boateng is priced in the thousands of pounds, not the hundreds. Well beyond the reach of pretty much everyone.
How bespoke tailoring works
Ordinarily you front up at a shop, a trained tailor (or his/her assistant) will take a whole range of your measurements, from your inside leg to your shoulder width and pretty much all points in between. All of which is intended to ensure your suit fits snugly, but not too snugly of course. The idea is to make the most of your particular body shape while cleverly concealing the less appealing parts – any hints of a paunch, for example.
You’ll then run through extensive sample books to choose your preferred fabric, agree on the cut, style and shape of your suit and tweak the detailing. Details such as pockets, the number of buttons, lining and so on. You’ll then book a fitting for two to six weeks’ time, where you’ll try on the partially made-up suit, any adjustments can be noted and then off you go. A few weeks later you can return for a second fitting, which in most cases won’t result in any further changes and you can collect your suit there and then.
From hangrr.com which is one of a new breed of bespoke tailors operating online, gap between online & the high street. You can take your own measurements at home using our online guides (videos) or book an appointment to have these noted by a style adviser. We’d recommend a personal visit the first time to get the most accurate measurements (to guarantee a perfect fit) these are then stored alongside your profile so once they’re done, they’re done, making any future orders much easier.
You can then choose your fabric ( from plain, patterned, herringbone and textured, etc) in the studio or have sample fabric swatches posted out to you easily enough.
Then decide on your detailing – anything from the lining colour to the number of pockets and the number of buttons on the cuff. They claim to offer over billion options across fabric, cut and detailing so an individual look really ought to be achievable. Ours had our name stitched inside and we opted for four buttons on the left cuff and three buttons on the right – peculiar yes, but 43 is our lucky number and if you’re wearing a suit you’re probably hoping for as much luck as you can get come interview time.
Now the interesting part - Your first fitting can take place at home or at your chosen studio and, all being well, you’ll have your finished suit that day. If not, any alterations are done and are whizzed back to you. Job done!!!
The resulting bespoke suit we found extremely comfortable, an excellent (even flattering) fit and really is individual clobber. Of course, the turnaround time of up to three weeks won’t be the answer for those wanting an instant splurge but you’ll be well rewarded for your relative patience.
Buying off-the-peg online
Marks & Spencer aren’t the only high-street brand to offer their suits online, but you won’t find their ‘Performance’ range anywhere else and they’re well-respected for good quality English styling.
The Stormwear suit is constructed by technologically advanced fabrics designed to provide a water- and crease-resistant finish. So the man-made Teflon fabric repels the rain as efficiently as your hiking jacket while ensuring you don’t emerge from your commute looking like a crumpled tissue.
Given it’s off-the-peg, you only need to know your chest size (in inches) along with your required jacket length (short, regular or long) to select the appropriate jacket. For the trousers, your waist size in inches and leg length (short, regular, long) will do.
We put the jacket through it’s paces for the last month to see how it fared and it came out trumps. We’ve commuted in it, danced in it, worked in it, taken it for a walk in the park and even took it out on the tiles for Diwali eve or the New Year’s Eve. While you might not want to be wearing one in an actual storm, it’s an extremely sturdy piece of kit and really does keep you (and your pocketed paperwork, wallet and smartphone, etc) dry. The only downside is that with these man-made fibres your suit will have a slight sheen, which won’t appeal to everyone, but the upside is comfort, dryness and easy cleaning.
Is buying a suit online right for me?
We’ve bought shoes online and they’ve fitted well as many times as they’ve fitted badly – so buying clothing online can be something of a gamble. Suits, on the other hand, shouldn’t be. Online bespoke tailors will often guarantee the perfect fit and take such an array of measurements that the margin for error is extremely small. High-street brands will almost always allow you to return ill-fitting items for a refund or exchange, so you’re pretty well covered. Crucially, a bespoke suit bought online can be one-tenth of the price of Savile Row, making one affordable for just about everyone, while an off-the-peg bought online offers convenience, durability and choice.