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.
Take your time.
Getting your first suit made takes time. It requires multiple fittings and adjustments – you can't just go to London for a week and come back with a suit. Most tailors will measure you once and then make a loosely mocked-up coat that you try on during your second fitting. Then they'll make the necessary adjustments so that your jacket fits comfortably on the third attempt. Even then, better tailors may still adjust the length. Proportions are everything.
Credit: Photograph by Chad Springer
Next time you need a suit, your tailor will have all the details on file and can make something much more quickly. This is a sartorial blessing and a budgetary curse – rare is the man who gets a bespoke suit and doesn't come back for more.