You’re an “I want it the way I want it” type of guy. Whether it’s the setup of your home sound system or the shade of the leather in your Lexus, you take the time to fine-tune till it’s just right. But want to customize your blazers, shirts, jeans, and dress shoes so they suit you to a T? Sorry, you’re out of luck.
Granted, for a decade, the groundbreaking design-your-own-shoe lab, NikeID, has made the company’s athletic footwear tweakable and kept hardcore sneakerheads worldwide happily tinkering with the looks of their favorite pairs of Kobes or Nike Frees. Want a fluorescent tongue? Go for it. All matte black, but in high-tops? No problem. How about your monogram on the heel? Thought you’d never ask. (Honestly, even if I don’t pull the trigger on buying them, I find designing pairs of Jordan 1s at least as much fun as playing Halo.) But that’s about as far as it’s gone.
Until now. Finally, options for extreme customizing have gone beyond athletic shoes and into the realm of dress shirts and shoes, T-shirts, even brand-spanking-new—if wildly expensive—blue jeans.
And because, like NikeID, made-to-order items cost more than the usual factory stuff, I went searching and found the best—and best-looking—clothes to call your own. And when you’re done there, pick up the customized accessories to match.
1. Button-down shirts
WINNER: Trumaker (trumaker.com); casual button-downs from $97, blazers from $495
Nothing matters more than fit, so before you start fussing over different collars or stitching colors, turn to Trumaker, which started out obsessed with one thing: producing the best-fitting damn button-down you’ve ever worn. Its entire operation is configured to help you buy a classic shirt in made-to-measure proportions—think J.Crew but with custom measurements. It’s a unique company that essentially works like a mashup of Uber and Avon, sending trained reps, known as Outfitters, to meet you for a free appointment at your office or place of choosing. These roving tailor/style consultants spend 30 minutes taking your measurements and helping you pick from the firm’s designs to create a unique online style profile, then use the company’s own algorithm to chew through that data on fit and size to produce custom patterns with which your shirts or jackets are produced.
RUNNER-UP: Woodies (woodiesclo.com); most shirts $78, with a few basic colors just $68
The brainchild of a onetime department store buyer, this combines fit with personalization. The measurements are handled using a nifty piece of tech: an advanced 3-D rendering program that lets you play with a mannequin-like avatar that models shirts in your exact measurements. Once you’re set up, you can start picking fabrics and toying with the collar, cuffs, and whether you want a pocket or monogram. Among firms that allow such detailed personalization, Woodies is a standout for: 1) the price, which is far cheaper than most rivals, and 2) its 100% happiness guarantee on every purchase. If you don’t like the shirt, it’ll remake it until you do.
WINNER: SonofaTailor (sonofatailor.com); T-shirts $60 each or $54 for two
Fantastic for guys with unusual measurements, like beefy biceps or a thicker neck, this startup offers four styles of custom T-shirts in four colors. You provide your measurements, either by mailing in a favorite T-shirt to copy or filling out a form, then sewers create a custom pattern on which they base your T-shirt; each worker adds a handwritten note before sending you the garment. The fabric is top tier–choose from organic cotton with 5% elastane for just the right amount of stretch, or 100% Supima cotton. How good are they? The company claims return rates of just 3%.
RUNNER-UP: Vastrm (vastrm.com); T-shirts from $125, polo shirts from $145, hoodies from $245
Yep, I know: weird name. (Apparently, it’s Sanskrit for “cloth.”) The polos here, though, are unbeatable. Three sizes are sent to your home for you to try on; you can then tweak the basic measurements to slim down the fit or adjust the arm length. The T-shirts and hoodies are overpriced ($125 and $245, respectively), but at $145, the build-it-yourself polo is terrific. And there isn’t a single detail you can’t personalize on it: Vastrm stands out as the only custom site that visually shows your changes as you go along, so you can swap out the collar color, add a golf tee pocket, and pick the kind of sleeve cuff you want, as well as the number of buttons.
3. Dress shoes
WINNER: Quoddy (quoddy.com); shoes from $275, boots from $300
This old-school Maine cobbler has embraced extreme customization, NikeID-style, offering two dozen styles that can be tweaked to your own specs. I’d advise skipping the boring beige and brown options offered for the boots and moccasin-inspired shoes, and instead go with the fun, trippier color combos available for the driver ($325) and boat shoes ($295). Quoddy lets you choose everything from the soles (I’m partial to the red version on the driving loafer) to the rivets and even the stitching. Watch for fit, though: These styles tend to fit more like sneakers than dress shoes, so going a half-size down from whatever sneaker you wear will probably feel snug but comfy.
RUNNER-UP: Scarosso (scarosso.com); shoes from €269 (about $300)
This firm offers seven styles of shoes, handmade in Italy to your exact specs for €269 (or about $300) per pair. The site walks you through each step clearly: For an Oxford shoe, you can choose the leather, lining, toe decoration, and sole. (The lightweight rubber is a great winter choice.) They’re stylish without shouting, and Italian-made shoes are renowned for being wide enough for even the fattest feet. It’s just a pity it takes so long to get the final product—at least seven weeks.
WINNER: AltonLane (altonlane.com); two-piece suits from $595, three-piece suits from $740
There are countless online suiting start-ups, and Alton Lane is one of the priciest. But bear with me, because it’s worth it. This firm operates a series of showrooms across the country, each equipped with a 3-D body scanner: Step inside, and within 30 seconds its sensors have mapped your entire frame. The measurements are then sent to a computer that creates a custom pattern with the precision of a master tailor, so the fit is unbeatable. It’s up to you what color you choose for the buttonhole and the piping on the lining.
RUNNER-UP: SuitSupply (us.suitsupply.com); two-piece suits from $399
This site scores major points for the wide variety of its suits: 12 clearly explained core styles, including my personal favorite, the slimline Napoli with a lightly padded shoulder that, in a navy or dark gray, should flatter most guys. You can’t change the basic details—the flap pockets and notched lapels on the Napoli, for example—but you can count on a nearly perfect bespoke fit. Submit measurements online, or book an appointment at one of the firm’s ateliers (15 and counting countrywide, with more opening each month), where the knowledgeable on-site staff will take your vitals in person.