Tips For Your First Made to Measure Experience

You never forget your first time. And hopefully it’s unforgettable. Come on, now, I’m talking about your first made to measure suit! My first is still one of my all-time favorites. Here are five tips to help make your first made to measure experience a good one.

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| WEARING | QG Custom suit and pocket round, Al Bazar shirt, Brooks Brothers tie, Timex watch, Vintage silver bracelet, J.Crew belt, Chelsea boots c/o Jack Erwin | PHOTOGRAPHY | by Rob McIver Photo

Keep it classic. Now that the popularity of menswear in the mainstream has literally exploded and imagery of well-dressed Italian gentlemen abound, it can be tempting to do something wild simply because you see so much of it. Pro tip: don’t do it. Your first made to measure suit should be something you can wear for the rest of your life, not just once in a blue moon. Stick with a classic color like blue or grey and err on the conservative side when it comes to styling.

Have a game plan. Know what you need and what you want. Take stock of what you have (or don’t have) in your closet and do a little research on a few basic elements of a suit. Notch or peak lapel? Flap or jet pockets? Ticket pocket? Double or single vent? (I’ll answer for you: double vent.) Most made to measure programs have all sorts of items you can customize – buttons, linings, and so on – so having a general idea of some of the basic elements going in will help immensely.

Go to an actual shop. There are tons of online made to measure suit options these days, some of them decent and some of them a scam. Save yourself a huge potential headache and make alterations a lot quicker and less painful by finding a reputable local program.

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Be open to suggestions. Here’s where going to a brick and mortar as opposed to choosing an online option makes a lot of sense, especially if you’re new to the game and not exactly sure what you want. Chances are the tailor and/or proprietor has been at it for some time and can help guide you to make the best decision.

Be patient. Made to measure suits typically take between six to eight weeks to produce. Don’t expect to get one made for that wedding you’re going to next week. And remember this: everyone asks if their order can be expedited. Don’t be that guy. Be respectful and understanding. And also be aware that once your suit comes in additional alterations will often be required. Some, like a hem are easy fixes and take no time at all, while others, such as tapering a trouser or taking in a jacket require more time. In general, I’d build in an extra week for final delivery once your suit arrives.

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Highly encouraged in the comments: sharing your virgin made to measure suit experience.

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style

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Chime In

  • GENTS Timepieces

    Bring up some VERY good points there. Keeping it classic and timeless is a must.
    http://www.GentsTimepieces.com

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Cheers, guys.

  • Cham

    I ordered my first MTM suit a couple of weeks ago, I can’t wait to see how it turned out. This article is great advice, which I unknowingly followed: I went for a classic navy single breasted suit.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Congrats, Cham. Let us know how it turns out!

  • Jack Daggett

    I just got my fitst MTM here in Guatemala where I am currently assigned. The old-school tailor, Don Julio, came highly recommended to me by one of my best-dressed colleagues. Inspired by the versaility of Brian’s awesome YSL brown 3-piece, I ordered a vest along with the suit.

    Don Julio took dozens of careful measurements. After the usually shoulder, chest (inhale, exhale), sleeve, inseam, outseam, waist, hips, etc, he broke out several odd, handmade wooden jigs that looked like they were from another century. He had me squeeze the odd frames under my armpits or placed them around my neck while he wound the measuring tape all over my shoulders and chest at odd angles while I stood naturally, raised my arms to the sides and front, and other contortions. The whole time, he called out a series of measurements to his assistant, scribbling dutifully in a huge, dusty, Harry Potter-esque ledger. Even in retrospect, I don’t really know what this was all about but it was fun.

    He listened attentively as I described that I wanted a slimmer, modern fit and almost no break (both very uncommon in traditional Guatemalan tailoring) and other details. Don Julio had indicated that a fitting would not be necessary, which initially made me uneasy. However, tailoring is so affordable here that as long as the shoulders fit, everything else could be fixed for less than $25. A month later, I picked up the suit.

    The fit is just amazing — easily the best-fitting pants, vest, and jacket I own. I had thought that I had had some great-fitting pieces before, some with $100+ of tailoring into them, but these MTM pieces are a whole new level. The careful full canvassing is a delight to wear and move in, and seems somehow more supple than the handful of other full-canvassed jackets I own.

    However, we had specifically discussed a double vent, but the jacket has a single vent (not a show stopper). Also, the fabric seemed nice in the swatch book but in the whole suit, it feels a little more poly-blendy than I would like. But for $300, it was well worth establishing the relationship with an experienced artisan. I might bring him the fabric and even the buttons for my next suit, and will probably try to pick up a jacket and some dress trousers before I move on to my next assignment.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Thanks for sharing your story, Jack. Sounds like overall it was a great experience. Kudos to Don Julio for being willing to listen to you as far as the styling and fit you wanted. This can be somewhat uncommon, especially when you’re talking about guys who been in the business for a long time.

      Very strange that you asked for a double vent but only got a single. I wonder where the mix up happened. Seems like a pretty straightforward request and hard to get wrong. Perhaps he inadvertently entered the info incorrectly?

  • DJ Hargrave

    Just what I needed before my first madr-to-measure suit, planning on taking the leap this summer!

    http://www.tailormade-style.com

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Good luck, DJ. You’ll have to share some photos once you get in your suit. Cheers.

  • http://www.thekentuckygent.com The Kentucky Gent

    While I’ve never ordered an MTM suit before, I think the rules of keeping it classic + timeless translate well into the casual arena as well. I’d much rather invest on classic pieces that I can wear year after year, than load my closet with “what’s in”.

    Josh – The Kentucky Gent
    http://thekentuckygent.com

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Preaching to the choir!

  • Johnny Jonte Boucher

    So, what’s your call on the lapel and pocket styles? Which is more classic, in your opinion? I hope to get my first MTM this year, a very big deal for me. I’ll probably cry tears of joy. Not even joking!

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      The most classic option is notch lapel and flap pockets.

  • Khoi N.

    My first MTM experience was quite good. I had my sister get my measurements according to the site’s (knot standard) step-by-step guide. I opted for a classic look. A dark navy, lightweight wool suit with peak lapels, double vents, dotted lining. It was a beauty and well worth the price. Having heard so many horror stories, I realize how good of a first time experience I had. Had it been terrible, I may have given up on MTM completely.

    The suit arrived in about 4 weeks, just in time for a summer wedding in France last year. It fit snug, not too tight. Looking back, I should have shortened the pant length from quarter break to no break. And brought in the waist slightly. Other than that, it was a MTM dream. It will always hold a special place in the wardrobe and I’ll be wearing it for many years to come.