Ballpark Estimate: $400 to $10,000
It used to be that having a suit custom made was a privilege that was reserved for the rich and famous. Today, though, this is no longer the case. Custom made suits are now obtainable for men from all walks of life and they can be made to fit not only most body types but also most budgets. In fact, one national trade group of custom tailors and designers estimate that custom-made suits account for a total of 20 to 25 percent of all men’s suit sales in the United States.
The Difference Is in the Details
A custom made men’s suit is exactly what it sounds like: a suit that is custom made specifically for someone’s proportions and body type and is tailored to fit perfectly. This is a good option for men who are hard to fit, as well as for those who simply appreciate the fact that custom tailored clothing just looks more expensive and feels more comfortable than clothing that is bought right off the racks.
When you decide to have a men’s suit custom made, you get to play an essential role in the design process, from selecting the cut of the suit to the fabric, texture and weight it will be made in and the details that you want it to include. This is a huge advantage over buying a men’s suit that is already made and leaves no option for you to express your own taste.
Generally, when investing in a custom men’s suit, you will want to select a classic style and fabric so it won’t go out of date any time soon. By working closely with an experienced custom tailor, you can achieve the best suit for your body type and your lifestyle and hopefully will get a product that will last you for a long, long time.
Some of the details that can help to distinguish a custom men’s suit from one you can buy off the rack include:
- Fine stitching with silk thread
- Reinforced on the seams
- High-quality zipper
- Neat stitching on the buttonholes
- Expensive buttons that are sewn on tightly
- Pockets lined in with rayon or cotton inside
- Wool lining on the jacket collar to help it sit well
- Well-done cuffs and crotch area
- High-quality fabric and lining
- Exceptional finishing
In addition, most custom suit jackets sport a special buttonhole on the front of the collar, which signifies to the rest of the world that this has been specially made for you.
The Custom Process
Many tailors have their own way of custom making a men’s suit for their clients, so the procedure can vary from place to place. A typical process, however, usually begins with an initial meeting with the tailor to discuss your desire to custom order a suit and to talk about what you like and dislike and what you expect of the final product. Some men bring in magazine pictures of men’s suit styles they like and want to replicate, while others aren’t sure of what they want at first and prefer to look at the tailor’s sample books for ideas.
Some of the materials that can be used for a custom men’s suit include wool, tweed, cashmere, gabardine, silk mohair, linen and a variety of other fine fabrics. The tailor can show you samples of these and other materials and let you select the one you want him to use, or you can bring in a swatch of something special that you would like him to match. In addition, you can request the color and pattern, including checked, solid, pinstriped and flecked.
What truly makes a custom men’s suit so special, in addition to the high quality materials and handwork that is used, really lies in the personal fitting. This is when the tailor will take a multitude of your measurements (anywhere from 10 to 35, depending on the tailor) that he will us to craft an individual pattern that serves as the guide as he hand cuts the fabric of the suit. (This pattern can also be used to make future suits as long as your measurements don’t change.)
The tailor will also discuss all of the details you want him to incorporate into your design, such as how closely the suit should fit the body, whether the jacket will have two or three buttons and if the pants should be pleated, flat front and cuffed.
It is important to note that some custom men’s suit makers will request several fittings with the client throughout the process to ensure the perfect fit of the suit. Other tailors, particularly those who are out of your area or out of the country or who do business mainly online, will make the suit based strictly off the measurements you provide without even needing to meet with you or having you try it on.
The entire process of crafting a custom suit from start to finish can take anywhere from a month to six weeks or longer. A lot depends on how busy the tailor is and on how many fittings are involved in the process.
How to Find a Custom Tailor
Custom tailors abound today. Many businessmen have their clothing made from tailors located in parts of Europe and Asia where high-quality tailoring is more common, and sometimes less expensive, than it is here. But you can even take advantage of this old-world craftsmanship without leaving the country. Some of the foreign custom tailoring shops that cater to Americans make annual trips to big cities in the United States, where they do custom fittings for new and existing customers.
But if you prefer to use a tailor who is located closer to home, you can find local custom shops by looking in your yellow pages or by doing an online search. In addition, several of the high-end department stores, as well as chain and individual specialty shops, offer a custom made suit option for customers. You can also shop online for custom men’s suit shops. Simply enter your measurements and select your fabrics right from the website and order through an online form.
What You Can Expect to Pay
The price of custom men’s suits varies greatly. A lot depends on where you shop and what quality material and labor you select. But there are some general ranges of what you can expect to pay:
- For a well-made suit that is made of fine quality fabrics, you can have one custom made through a department store starting at about $400.
- If you opt to use a reputable custom tailor, you can expect to spend in the $800 to $1,500.
- If money is no option, some of the best custom made suits can cost as much as $10,000.
And while these are the averages, if you want to spend less, or more, there are other options. Some of the online custom shops have very low-end custom-fit suits that start as low as $175, while at least one well-known designer will custom-made you an extravagantly tailored suit for $30,000.
In addition, if you desire a custom-made look but don’t have the time, or money, to splurge right now, keep in mind that you can get a custom-fit on any suit that you buy right off the-rack (or take right out of your own closet) by having it specially tailored to fit your body perfectly.