How do I find a tailor?

With so many tailors to choose from, a good place to start is often a recommendation from a friend or family member. Otherwise an Internet search coupled with a look at their reviews should reveal a tailor you feel comfortable with. It is always a good idea to choose a tailor close to where you live or work, so that any alterations can be conveniently made.

What is bespoke tailoring?

Bespoke tailoring is the creation of a suit or shirt using a hand cut pattern, with measurements tailored to each person individually. It often involves cutting a pattern onto manila card and then using it to cut the cloth. However some tailors may simply chalk the measurements straight onto the cloth and cut without using the card. This process is known as “striking” a pattern.

What is the difference between bespoke, made to measure and ready to wear?

There is a confusing difference between bespoke, made to measure and ready to wear. Ready to wear is whereby you simply walk into a shop, buy a suit and walk out with it. Made to measure is where a suit or pattern of a suit, is adjusted to fit your body style – whether it be shortening the sleeves or letting out the waist. A bespoke suit is one where a suit pattern is cut by hand and drafted to your individual measurements. It is involves more time and therefore takes longer to make.

What is the correct bespoke style?

Choosing a bespoke suit is about choosing a style and fit that is the most comfortable and flattering for the person wearing the suit. There are no right or wrongs – merely preferences. The suit should be tailored proportionally to the body of the person wearing the suit and should be comfortable to wear. A European fit of suit will often appear more slimming and fitted. Whereas North American suits tend to be made to offer a more relaxed fit.

What makes a good bespoke suit?

There are four important questions to consider for the jacket and three important questions to consider for the trousers. For the jacket, the considerations should be quality of the fabric, the canvass construction of the suit, making sure all pockets and buttonholes are working and that the style of the jacket is complete to the person wearing the suit. Considerations for the trousers should be making sure no glue has been used (a quick check under the hem will reveal this), making sure there ie enough spare fabric in the waist for any future alterations, and that the style of the trousers match the style and fit of the jacket.

What questions should I ask a tailor?

A good suggestion is always to visit as many tailors as you can and familiarise yourself with all the styles and fabric choices available. A customer should not feel pressured by a tailor in to styles. Rather, consider what cloth and colours might be most appropriate and remember there are no right or wrong choices. A good tailor will never make someone feel awkward with any questions there might be, how may fittings, make sure work is done locally using locally sourced cloths.

How many fittings should you have for a bespoke suit?

A bespoke suit can take anything from four weeks to four months to make, depending on the systems and workload of the tailoring house. As each customer is different, there are no written rules as to how many fittings there should be. However, it is generally acceptable that there should be a minimum of three fittings. The first fitting is called a ‘baste’ fitting, whereby the suit is loosely sewn together with ‘baste’ cotton. The second fitting is the ‘forward baste fitting’, when the suit will look more complete but will still need some adjustments. This is followed by a third fitting to check all the work has been completed to a satisfactory standard. More fittings may be required, depending on the nature of the work and the figuration of the customer.

How do I know what fabric to choose?

Suits can be made from any number of materials, including wools, cottons, linens, mohair, corduroy and moleskin. The most popular suiting fabric is wool, which offers a soft and durable finish and is available in a number of different weights. It is important to think of how you will wear the suit and the climate you will wear it in. This will help make an informed decision of the most appropriate fabric.

What is a Cummerbund?

A cummerbund is a silk waistband that covers the waist of the body. A cummerbund is traditionally worn with a tuxedo or dinner suit to offer a slimmer and more formal finish.

What is a boutonnière?

A boutonnière, from the French word “buttonhole”, is often used to describe the placing of a small flower or floral decoration placed in the lapel hole of a jacket.

What are Milanese buttonholes?

There are a variety of buttonhole styles to choose from, but a popular choice is the Milanese buttonhole. This style of button originates from Milan in Italy and is a longer style of button or lapel hole. Due to the way it is sewn, it sits slightly higher on top of the fabric of the suit and gives the appreance of being more visible. It is a style that takes longer for a tailor to make – sometimes up to two hours per buttonhole.

What is a floating canvass?

There are different ways of constructing a suit. Some suits are glued together. Some suits are fused together, whereby a lining is glued to the inside of a suit. A canvas is a piece of coarse fabric often made from hemp or similar yarn, which is cut to the measurements of the cloth and sits between the fabric and the lining of the suit. The fabric of the suit is stitched to the canvass. Although it does not float around the suit, it gets its name “floating canvass” by moulding itself around the body over time, in order to provide the best possible fit.

Can I have a suit altered?

A suit can be altered if there is enough spare fabric to do so. This spare fabric can be found along the seams of the jacket or trousers. Some alterations are more straight forward than others, such as hemming trousers or taking in the waist of a jacket. Other alterations, such as shortening a jacket sleeve from the top of the shoulder, can be more complicated and should only be carried out by a tailor who is confident to do such work.

How do you become a tailor?

There are many ways to become a tailor. It might be from watching and learning from others, experimenting with techniques at home or taking a professional qualification. In the UK, Newham College in London offers a Diploma in Bespoke Tailoring and taking registered courses can help with employment in the future.

Where is Savile Row?

Savile Row is a street in Mayfair in central London. The street was once home to British military officers and their wives, but today is considered the “golden mile” of tailoring. It is also home to one of London’s biggest police stations – West End central, part of the Metropolitan Police estate.

How should a suit be packed when travelling?

To pack a suit, first lay the suit flat, with the lapels facing upwards. Then turn the suit over. Take each sleeve individually and make an inwards fold so the sleeve sits on top of the suit and runs parallel with the length of the suit. Keep the suit flat. Take the trousers and fold in half and then half again. Lay the trousers on the top half of the suit and then fold the suit in half so that it covers the trousers. Carefully turn the suit over with the lapels showing. Place the folded suit in a clear zip tight bag and leave any air in the bag to stop any creasing.

How do I look after a suit?

There are several ways to look after a suit. It is important to rotate a suit, wearing it no more than once or twice a week. It should normally be purchased with a second pair of trousers in order to prolong the life of the trousers. At the end of each day, the suit should be allowed to breathe and this can be achieved by airing it outside of a cupboard at room temperature. A suit should be dry cleaned no more than once or twice a year, as the chemicals can shine and shrink the fabrics. An alternative to dry cleaning, is a steam press – this will clean the fibres and remove any creases for the suit.