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Buying bespoke suits for dummies: What is the process, how long does it take and other questions answered

Nothing defines luxury acquisitions better than a suit made just right for your body type. Our guide to what you need to look out for while getting yourself a bespoke suit will have you covered on all fronts. 

January 02, 2021 / 10:01 AM IST

The word ‘bespoke’ translates to mean a luxury product that is customised to your specifications. Everything, from a watch to a shoe to a tie can be ‘Made to Order’. Of these, bespoke suits are unique and the greatest possessions a man can own.

Our dummies guide to owning a bespoke suit will take you through the paces of getting one made.

What is a bespoke suit?

To put it simply, it is a suit tailored to fit your body shape. Interestingly, the word ‘bespoke’ —with origins somewhere in 1538 — was applied to formal steps in the made-to-order production of hand-made suits and shoes involving measuring, cutting, fitting and final adjustments. Later, it came to be used to describe anything commissioned to a particular specification.

  • Know your budget: You can buy a bespoke suit from anywhere between Rs 1 lakh to Rs 40 lakh. The important thing is to know what you want, rather than how expensive it should be.

  • Colour: If you are looking at the versatility and regular wear, stick to classic colours such as navy blue or grey. If you are putting together a large wardrobe of bespoke suits, then besides the classics, you can choose white, sky powder blue …you can be as whimsical as you want.

  • The fit: The Italian fit is the slim fit. The traditional British suiting is far more ‘fitted’ look, while the loose, casual style is emblematic of American fit. In British style, higher armholes make for closer-fitting sleeves. More elaborate, and expensive, construction lends the Italian suit a tapered look. A classic suit is a two-buttoned suit jacket. Three-button jackets are somewhat old hat. You need to put in a little thought into what you want from your suit. Should it be sharp and stiff-shouldered or softer and more relaxed? Generally, a well-tailored suit is characterised by strongly tapered sides and minimal shoulders – an exact opposite to the off-the-rack suits that often come with generous shoulder padding.

The relaxed America fit. Relaxed America fit.

  • The choice of fabric: Fabric wise, the most versatile is lightweight worsted wool, which can be worn all-year-round. For a winter suit, thicker, more insulating wools, flannels or tweed work best. For summer, you should opt for breathable fabrics such as cotton, linen or silk-blends. While the outer fabric is commonly made up of wool, cotton, linen or microfibre, or their combination, the inner lining is silk or Bemberg (regenerated cellulose fibre derived from cotton).

  • Lapels: Notch lapels are a tad traditional and formal, while peak lapels are flamboyant and channel Italian flair. The notched or step lapel is when the lapel is sewn onto the collar of a jacket at an angle, creating a triangle between the two. Shawl lapels are usually seen in a bespoke tuxedo.

  • Inner lining: The inner lining fabric comes in with contact with your body and adds structure and weight to your suit. There are three options to choose from unlined, half-lined and fully-lined. The benefits of a full-lined suit jacket are greater insulation and thickness so it is best for colder weather. In warmer weather, half-lined or unlined suit may be more breathable.

Inner lining. Inner lining.

  • Ø Fused suit jacket: A fused, non-canvassed jacket features has an inner lining that’s glued to the visible outer fabric of the suit, both in the front panels and the lapels. A fused suit jacket doesn’t conform to a man’s body perfectly and can be rather stiff.

  • Ø Half-canvassed suit jacket: The half-canvassed construction is made up of a thin, fused layer covering the entire area of the front panel of the jacket and a piece of canvassing material stitched to the upper half of the jacket – from the shoulders down to the chest. It drapes naturally around the chest and lapel area.

  • Ø Full-canvassed suit jacket: Considered the pinnacle of bespoke tailoring, in a full-canvassed construction, the canvass comprised of wool and horse or camel hair spans across the entire area of the front panel of the suit jacket, including lapels. It is hand-stitched to the outer fabric in a loose manner, allowing greater mobility and range of movement.

Linen suit for summers. Linen suit for summers.