A bespoke suit flatters, never shows its age, and has the power to imbue a tinker, soldier, or spy with the sort of confidence he might otherwise find in a bottle. Every man deserves one, but actually acquiring a tailored suit requires more than just taking out the plastic. You have to work with your tailor to build something worthy of a rite of passage. And, yes, that first trip to a serious haberdashery – whether it be on Savile Row, Fifth Avenue, or the streets of Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood – is as much of an initiation as any graduation, bar mitzvah, or first kiss.
That doesn't mean that stepping in front of a three-way mirror isn't unnerving. It absolutely is, which is all the more reason to study up before you start playing with fabrics and talking about that Tom Ford sport coat you saw in the pages of 'Men's Journal.' This is no time to rest on your lapels. Before you part with a lot of money on a suit that will be with you for life, you need to have a long conversation with your sartorial spirit guide: your tailor.
Tailors operate on small margins and word of mouth. The field is stunningly – and increasingly – competitive. That means you need to listen, but it also means you need to participate in the process. Here is everything you need to do to help your suit maker create something so long-lasting you'll want to be buried in it.
Break it in.
After all the decisions, all the fittings, the hours of handwork that have gone into your suit, you are ready to stride into the world. That's not to say you should show off the newness of your suit: Fred Astaire supposedly threw his against the wall so it appeared worn in. You don't have to go that far, but the suit should look as though it's been lived in. You should be wearing it, not the other way around.
Credit: Photograph by Chad Springer
You'll still need to take care of it. Keep it on a wooden hanger so that it keeps its shape, and don't wear it two days in a row, which allows wrinkles to set. Also – and this is important – don't dry-clean it. Sponge and press it when you have to. Many tailors offer this service themselves, or they can refer you to a trusted location.