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Mistakes Men Make Buying Custom Clothing (I) | Men’s Clothing Style Guides

Men’s Clothing Style Guides

So you’re considering buying custom clothing – Congratulations!

A tailored suit, shirt, or coat can be one of the best investments a man makes. Done right, a good piece of tailored clothing will last for years or even decades, fit like a dream, and make the wearer look great. There are, however, pitfalls that even an experienced clothing buyer can stumble into along the way to a great custom outfit.

Mistake #1: The Rush Job

Buying Too Much Too Quickly.

This is going to sound like crazy talk coming from a guy who sells package deals on custom clothing, but here it is: you don’t have to buy the whole wardrobe at once. In fact, you basically can’t buy an entire wardrobe at once, not and expect it to all go well together and fit you well.

The biggest mistake, the number one error a guy can make, when he decides “yes, I’m going to take the plunge; I am going to be a custom clothing man from here on” is to run right out and order half a dozen suits and a dozen shirts from the same tailor. There are a couple reasons this is a bad idea: number one, it’s letting your tastes at a single moment in time shape the bulk of your wardrobe. Tastes change and sensibilities develop over time.

You don’t want to sink a big pile of money into one look, and then realize a year later that you hate wearing the bulk of your clothing options.

The number two reason to avoid this mistake is that it frontloads your tailor with the bulk of the work he’s ever going to do for you at the time when he’s least familiar with your measurements and your personal tastes. Start with a few pieces and give your tailor detailed feedback on what you  like and don’t like about those before ordering more clothing.

The  finished product will be that much better for it. None of that is to say you should avoid package deals. A suit and a couple of shirts,  maybe  even  two  or  three  suits  and  an  overcoat  and  a  handful  of  shirts? That’s fine for a starting place.

It’s  a  good  balance  between  giving  your  tastes  and  your  relationship  with  your tailor time to develop, but also having a decent variety of sharp, custom-tailored looks available right out of the starting gate.  But  if  you  had  any  thoughts  of throwing everything out and starting all over  with an entirely hand-tailored wardrobe bought all at once, think again.
It’s not the way to do it, even for the lucky few that could afford a whole new custom tailored wardrobe cash on the barrel.

Mistake #2: Lost in the Woods  | Men’s Clothing Style Guides

Not Understanding the Custom Process
While  we’re  on  the  subject  of  cash,  it’s  worth  having  a  decent  idea  what  you’re getting into in terms of the process and the costs of custom-tailoring.
Individual  prices are going to vary widely depending on the skill of the  tailor, the level of customization, local economic conditions, and (often more than any other factor) the cost of the raw cloth used.

Custom  tailoring  can  be  broadly  broken down into two categories: 1. Made To Measure 2. Bespoke

Made to measure tailoring uses an existing pattern adjusted to an individual’s measurements. Other than changing the measurements, and sometimes offering a selection of cloths, the tailor is essentially making the same garment over and over again. That reduces effort – and cost – but also limits the customization, and typically only adjusts the fit to a half-dozen to a dozen measurements.

Bespoke tailoring is customized from scratch. The tailor may build most of his garments along the same lines, of course, but the details of the garment are individually tailored, and the tailor will likely use dozens or even hundreds of physical measurement to determine the size and proportion of the garment.

While it’s not a given, bespoke tailors also typically offer a wider selection of fabrics  and  materials,  all  the  way  down  to  the  suit  lining  or  the  button  threads.  Unsurprisingly, bespoke tailoring is substantially more expensive than made to measure.  A  bespoke  garment  also  requires  more  input  from  the  customer,  and  will  take longer to complete. (Any traveling “overnight custom shirts/suits/etc.” operation  will  almost  certainly  be  made  to  measure  –  there  isn’t  time  for  a  true bespoke experience in a hotel lobby).

If you’re new to custom tailoring, made to measure isn’t a bad starting place. The  result  is  still  going  to  be  customized  for you, giving a much better look  and fit than even an adjusted off the rack garment.  For the best visual and physical results, bespoke will always be the way to go, but  the  buyer  should  come  prepared  with  a  firm  idea  of  exactly  what  he  wants, and an understanding that the process will involve multiple measurements, plenty of input from both tailor and customer, lengthy production times, and of course a higher price tag.

Mistake #3: Getting Fancy | Men’s Clothing Style Guides

Not Buying Simple Classic Styles First.
Customization can get overwhelming – and intoxicating. When you’ve got a skilled professional on board to make you literally anything you want to wear, there’s going to be a temptation to get pretty wild with it.  Something that’s worth remembering is  that well-made custom  clothing lasts. It’s not a short-term investment.

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Assuming your body doesn’t change shape too dramatically, you could easily be wearing the same shirt for years; the same suit for decades.
That  means  you  don’t  want  to  get  too  experimental  or  trend-driven,  unless  you’ve got the budget and the inclination to keep buying new custom clothes on a regular basis.

Start out with a couple of timeless classics so that you’ll always have them in the closet, high-quality and fitted just for you.  Some  good  starting  pieces  for  the  first-time  custom  clothing  buyer  might  include:

● 2-3 dress shirts in solids and light patterns, inc. a crisp white shirt
● Charcoal gray or navy blue business suit
● Lighter gray flannel suit for business-casual and social wear
● A navy or camel hair blazer
● Corduroy sports jacket

These  are  all  pieces  of menswear that just about anyone can find a use for.  They’ve stood the test of time.  You won’t necessarily look like you’re setting the latest fashion trend in them, but you’ll always be able to at least look respectable in them.  Starting with those timeless classics is good because it guarantees a usable end product your first time through the custom tailoring process.

It’s  worth  applying  this  rule not just to styles, but also to fabrics: don’t start  off with luxury or exotic fabrics your first time through with a custom-tailored. Stick  to  simple three-weather wools, cotton shirts, and the like, rather than  going straight for the vicuna or the triple-digit ultra-ultra-ultra-fines.  Your wardrobe will come out a little less flashy, but much more functional.
Further down the road, if you decide you like your tailor and his work, you can start investing in some more unique pieces or rarer fabrics.

Mistake #4: Giving the Tailor a Pass | Men’s Clothing Style Guides

Not Negotiating or Interviewing.
Once  again,  this  is  going  to  sound  crazy  coming  from  a  professional  tailor,  but here it is: don’t settle for the first custom tailor you find!
Shop around a bit. Compare cloth options, clothing styles, customer service, and yes, price – although that last is probably not what you want to base your decision on.
Custom  tailoring  isn’t  retail  shopping.  You’re  essentially  commissioning a  piece of custom craftsmanship. And in this case, it’s craftsmanship that you’re  going  to  display  on  your  body,  so  you’ve  got  extra  incentive  to  get  exactly the product you want.
Don’t  give  your  tailor  the  benefit  of  the  doubt.  Look  at  several,  and  pitch  them all on a garment you might potentially want made. Sound them out on the cut you’re looking for.
Ask what fabrics they have available. Inquire what customizations they make in  addition  to  fit  –  can  you  add  an  extra  pocket,  for  example,  or  have  the  button stance moved higher or lower?
Haggle a bit, if you’re planning on dropping serious money.
There’s  no  harm  in  pitching  a  basic  order  (a  simple  suit,  say),  and  then  suggesting that you might be willing to invest in a spare set of trousers and an additional sports jacket if the tailor throws in a custom shirt or two.
Not every tailor negotiates,  but  how  they  react  gives you a  good sense of how flexible and engaged the tailor is.
Remember that no matter how good a price you find, you’ll still be looking at a serious chunk of money.

Chasing the lowest price isn’t the way to find a custom tailor.
You  don’t  want  to  pay  “just”  £450  for  a  so-so  suit  when  you  could  have  a  perfect suit for £1000.
Yeah,  you  saved  money,  but  the  product  you  got  is  only  barely  worth  the  money you paid, as opposed to something that would have been well worth what you paid and then some.
It’s  worth  shopping  around  for  tailors  –  and  shopping  critically.  Say  “no  thanks” as often as you need to.
Ideally,  you  want  to  find  someone  who  carries  fabrics  you  like,  routinely  produces pieces in the styles you like, and will be willing to work with you on customization, multiple fittings, and satisfaction guarantees.
That’s a lot to ask of a tailor. Not everyone does. Be sure you do.

This is just the ​beginning of your style journey? Stay connected for the upcoming articles.

Please  note  that  much  of  this  publication  is  based  on  personal  experience  and anecdotal evidence.  
Although  the  author  and  publisher  have  made  every  reasonable  attempt  to  achieve complete accuracy of the content in this Guide, they assume no responsibility for errors or omissions.  
Also, you should use this information as you see fit, and at your own risk. 
Your  particular  situation  may  not  be  exactly  suited  to  the  examples  illustrated here; in fact, it’s likely that they won’t be the same, and you should adjust your use of the information and recommendations accordingly.
Finally,  use  your  head. Nothing in this Guide is intended to replace common  sense, legal, medical or other professional advice, and is meant to inform and entertain the reader.  
So have fun and learn to dress sharp! 

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