Is custom suit tailoring really worth it?

October 6 2016 | Guest post by Francis O'Callaghan
Is custom suit tailoring really worth it?
Bespoke tuxedo jacket

We know that suit tailoring for grooms and dapper brides can make you look much more crisp and stylish, but it can be pricey and time-consuming. Are made-to-measure suits and tuxedos really worth it?

Tailoring is one of the oldest trades in the world. Some of the best tailoring techniques are still used today. As part of the tailoring process, over 20 different measurements need to be taken by your tailor. It's a hefty process.

Off-the-rack suits vs. tailor-made suits

Off-the-rack is always a viable and cost-saving choice. And they can be tailored, too, but they may not fit you as well as a custom suit that has been cut to your pattern from scratch. With custom tailoring, you will end up with something that fits better and lasts longer since decent custom shops generally use better fabric and construction than the factory made stuff put out by designer brands. The trade-off is, of course, the cost, which may not be as much as you expect.

Is custom suit tailoring really worth it?
Bespoke Suit with Tailcoats

Suit tailors in Asia and international wholesale markets

Southeast Asia is renowned for its suits, and in cities like Bangkok, there are almost more suit shops that people in the city! So how do we determine the quality of these particular tailors?

Finding the right tailor can be particularly difficult. Three steps I always advise when buying a suit when visiting as a tourist:

  1. Always check their reviews — preferably via social media or review websites
  2. Ensure that the materials are of high quality. In general, the quality of the fabric can be determined by sight.
  3. Always be sure to shop around to see what the different tailors are offering. Some of the Asian tailors, in particular, are world-class.

This also applies to buying via places like Etsy. Read those reviews!

How much does a custom suit cost?

Custom suits start at around $395 and go up to $5,000+, depending on fabric and craftsmanship. Of course, if you've got the scratch, a Vicuña custom suit from South America can be made for $20,000. They produce small amounts of extremely fine wool, which is very expensive because the animal can only be shorn every three years, and has to be caught from the wild. Talk about your luxury purchases.

Is custom suit tailoring really worth it?
Vintage pinstripe suit

Who is measuring, cutting, sewing, and fitting?

If you're serious about your suiting and want to make the jump to a custom suit, you'll quickly realize that it's about more than just the fabric and craftsmanship, it's also about the measurements, fitter, and Master Tailor making adjustments. After all, you could pay well into the thousands for a custom Zegna fabric and hand-tailored bespoke suit, but if the original measurements, the fitter, and the tailor making the adjustments don't have the experience, you could have bought a used Rolex — at least that would fit.

Don't sweat your suit to the point that you're fretting, but do consider your options when it comes to rocking a well-fitted three-piece.

Share your experiences with custom suit tailoring in the comments!

  1. SO worth it! We got my husband a custom suit this past summer and it is gorgeous! He's a stocky dude, so we have to get a lot of his clothes altered (no complaints here, I love that squat booty) and we found out that the alternations place we got his wedding suit altered also does custom suits. They have a 3d scanner, then send the information to their partners in Asia. It only cost us 800$, and it fits perfectly! Both our sisters got married last summer, and in his sisters wedding photos where the groom and groomsmen are in rentals, the difference it highly noticeable. Especially compared to my sisters wedding where the groom and groomsmen were all in custom suits, expensive, but stylish AF. A well made suit will last and is worth the investment!

    Edited to add: If you can't afford a custom suit, don't sweat it! However definitely get alterations done. My husband got married in a cheap suit but since we got alterations, it photographed extremely well.

  2. I think tailored suits are cool but that vintage pinstripe suit in the picture is definitely not tailored to the fellow wearing it!

  3. Would love to see more on this! We are contemplating a bespoke suit which we will buy locally (in UK) and are finding it hard to know how to go about choosing a tailor. Would also love a post on what to expect when you go to a tailor in person. More bespoke suit posts please!

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