The Secrets of a Bespoke Tailor

Most readers of this blog own a bespoke suit, or are very familiar with the process. You therefore know that once you’ve had a suit tailored for you, all off the peg suits pale into insignificance – instantly relegated to the lowest divisions of the wardrobe.

But have you ever wondered why? How is it that a suit we have tailored for us fits, and feels, so much better?  The stalwarts of Savile Row will tell you it’s a combination of tiny adjustments and calculations that add up to create an alchemic combination of style, fit and comfort. And they’d be right. But they’d never tell you how they did it. They’d sooner fall on their shears than disclose the tricks of the trade.

In the following post I’m going to let you into some of the tricks of the trade we use to make clients look thinner, taller and more muscular…

Long before scissors meet cloth decisions have already been made on your behalf…

Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. And when it comes to body shapes this old adage could not be more resonant. After all, we need Kylies as much as we need Angelinas! The homogenous ‘fashion’ stores that line our high streets, however, have different ideas for us – especially when it comes to suits. Each season they roll out the same stock sizes that are inevitably too big in the jacket, too small in the trousers, or are simply cut for a different shape. They produce as few variations of size as possible in order to reduce costs. Then they train their sales people to flog the customer the closest size.

In the past this tactic worked well – mainly because most men didn’t care or notice. The modern gentleman, however, is far more sartorially savvy. He knows how important it is to look sharp in the office and beyond – and he has learnt what fits him and what doesn’t. As a result he has spurned the chain stores for a more personalised experience – choosing instead to take the bespoke path.

Once you’ve decided to go bespoke you’re already 90% towards creating a suit that looks great on you. You’re going to have over 20 measurements taken and detailed posture observations will be noted.  Do you stand upright or slightly slouch?  Does one of your shoulders drop lower than the other? etc. Then a team of craftsmen with a wealth of experience is going to spend 40+ hours analysing those details and cutting a suit that they feel is as flattering to your body shape as possible. Finally you’re going to have fittings in front of an expert to ensure that if any further improvements can be made your suit is appropriately measured, pinned and altered.

However, many aspects of how the suit looks on you are decided long before scissors or chalk come anywhere near cloth. They are the notes the tailor takes during the time we spend with you at the initial consultation. We are constantly making judgment calls that will go on to shape the finished product.

Below are just some of the secret tricks we use to make sure your suit looks as good as it possibly can:

• If the client has narrow shoulders and they want to look broader and more muscular we add 1-2cm to their shoulder measurement and encourage them to choose a ‘peak’ lapel. The peak lapel draws the eye away from the centre of the body creating the illusion of width.

• If the customer has a paunch we help hide it with slanted pockets rather than straight. They accentuate the curvature of the jacket. We also recommend a waistcoat – which can hide a multitude of excessive lunches sins!

• If a client with a fuller figure wants pinstripes we would advise narrower, fainter stripes. They draw the eye inwards and elongate the body.

• If a client is tall and slim we often recommend a double breasted jacket. It creates shape even where there is none. We then don’t make the jacket too fitted.

Double breasted jackets compliment the leaner figure

• If the client has short legs and wants to look taller we suggest cutting the jacket a few centimetres shorter, creating the illusion of longer legs.

• If the client is particularly tall we make sure that there is at least a single break at the foot of the trousers. It is always such a welcome change to have trousers that sit well on the shoe.

• Similarly, if a customer has long arms we err on the long when we’re cutting the sleeves to ensure that they end at least at the break of the wrist – if not slightly beyond. This will create the illusion that the clients arms are perfectly in proportion to the body.

• If a customer has a narrow torso we advise a slightly slimmer lapel than usual. The jacket then looks broader than it actually is.

This is by no means a definitive list (we have to keep some secrets for our clients after all!). Nor are these points set in stone. There are a number of factors that we consider throughout the consultation process. The taste of the customer, for example, can have a dramatic impact on the final design. Our clients’ tastes are as individual as their measurements. Our job is to listen and advise, and ensure that the final product is a balance of your style and our expertise.

King & Allen suits range from £299 – £1299. We are currently offering a £200 discount on our Crispaire range for Spring / Summer 2013.  Call 0800 0274430 or contact us here for more information.

We have fitting locations in London: Liverpool St, Savile Row and Charing Cross; Nottingham; Leeds; Wilmslow and Surbiton.


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