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.
Dress up to get dressed.
When you visit a tailor, you should wear dress shoes – don't go barging in there with some limited-edition sneakers. When you try on your trousers, you want to see exactly how they fall on what you would normally wear with a suit. The same is true for shirts – wear a dress shirt. You want to see how the sleeves and collar look under your jacket.
If you have a suit you like, wear it to your first appointment, even if it's not a custom suit. It will help the tailor get an idea of both what you like and how you hold yourself when properly attired.
Credit: Photograph by Chad Springer