The bluffer's guide to bespoke suits
Are you a bespoke suit rookie? We tell you how to talk the talk.
In the end, what separates the men from the boys, is suiting up bespoke, instead of off the rack. But in case 40 S sounds like a soon-to-be-released iPhone to you, and Angelina Jolie's leg-baring red carpet posing is the most familiar you are with slits – congratulations, you're a bespoke suits rookie. To sound more veteran, less virgin, here's how to talk the talk through your first time with a fancy bespoke tailor.
The L-Word: Being down with the lingo is key in order to trick your tailor into believing you've already been there, or done that. Use lingo such as “sleeve head”, when describing the upper part of your jacket's sleeves, and when you start talking lapels – not, “collars” - that will also make for the right kind of first impression. While you're at it, make sure you're specific regarding the type of lapel you want – choosing between a notch lapel, peak lapel, diamond lapel, or shawl lapel for your jacket.
Know your wools: A wool bespoke suit remains an all-time classic, and particularly during the fall/winter season, it is the must-have bespoke attire. When it comes to the wool of a tailored suit, it's all about the S numbers which indicate the fineness and quality of a wool, making 80s less fine than 100s for example. The most popular types of fine wool are 160s, 180s and 200s. And when it comes to the type of wool the ultimate taste-makers choose for their bespoke wear, lama wool, or the extremely rare (read: extremely pricey) vicuna wool is what gets them going.
Slit-ettiquette: The slit – or vents as they are officially called – should never be requested if you're planning on wearing your bespoke suit as evening wear. Nonetheless, they can can keep your suit in better shape at the the office, when sitting down or putting your hands into your pockets for example. Whether you go for a single vent or a double vent in the back, is completely up to you.
The perfect fit: Ask for an unstructured suit – that is, loosely tailored without padding - if you're looking for that second-skin experience. For something slightly more trendy, go slim-fit. As far as the trousers are concerned, be clear about whether you want them regular leg, narrow leg, or wide leg.
An eye for detail: Make sure your tailor makes the sleeves of your jacket slightly shorter so at least 1cm of your shirt can come out, and ask for handmade buttonholes to sound like the pro you aren't. Speaking of buttons, go for either a two-button or three-button model for the jacket. Otherwise, ask for a double-breasted jacket, or doppio petto as the Italians call them. Finally, specify whether you like your pants cuffed or not, your shoulders with or without padding, and your seams visible or invisible.