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.
Have fun with the details.
You've got more good decisions to make: Two or three buttons? They both look good, but please, gentleman, do not button the top button of a three-button coat. Two-button coats have a longer lapel and can make a shorter man look taller. A three-button coat generally has a little more structure and flatters taller men. There's also the less common single-button coat that is very clean and very formal. The other option, double-breasted suits, are a beautiful thing when done right, but they take courage and experience to wear. The first time out, we recommend going with two buttons. Keep it simple.
That same advice goes for choosing the buttons themselves. A good horn button in a deep brown will almost always do the trick.
Credit: Photograph by Chad Springer