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.
Ditch the belt.
A truly bespoke suit should fit you even if you're not wearing a belt. So skip the belt loops and go for side tabs, with a few buttons on the side of the trousers that allow you to adjust the waist (you may be wearing this suit to a very fancy lunch, after all). You get a clean, uncluttered look around the waist.
Interior buttons for suspenders are also an option if you're ready to really commit to an old-time look. It should go without saying that novelty suspenders are a very bad idea unless you're working the vaudeville circuit.
Credit: Photograph by Chad Springer