A suit is a set of garments crafted from the same cloth, consisting of at least a jacket and trousers. Lounge suits are the most common style of Western suit, originating in England as country wear.
I have always had a healthy attraction towards suits. Ever since I was young I wanted to have a nice suit. In my high school years, I enjoyed ‘dressing up’ in a shirt and pants, occasionally adding some flair with a tie. I remember this fellow by the name of Brandon. Quite the oddball, he wore a three piece suit, brown flannel if I remember correctly. Hell, he even had a pocket watch. I envied him. I don’t know if he paid for it himself, but I certainly didn’t have the means to purchase a suit. And even if I had the money I wouldn’t know where to purchase one. I looked upon suits with great respect. A man in a suit is a man who is important. A man in a suit is a man who has somewhere to be. A man in a suit is a man of mystery. A well-tailored suit that gave a man an impressive silhouette spoke volumes about him.
My first suit was a thick wool suit in the color of charcoal gray from Jones New York. It was decent enough for a sixteen year-old going to his aunt’s wedding. The years went by and my knowledge and taste in suits expanded (as did my waistline) and it was time for another suit. This time I was endowed with a Calvin Klein suit in black. The material: some kind of wool with an ever-so-slightly rough texture. It would prove to be a good investment. Everywhere I went with it, I received compliments from friends and strangers. One rainy day as I was walking home with my pizza dinner this middle aged fellow with thick round glasses and brown tufts of unkempt hair struggling to stay lively on his balding head stopped in his very rushed stride and exclaimed, “Hey man, that’s a nice suit! Where’d you get it?” I told him it was a Calvin Klein suit from Macy’s. It’s a handsome enough suit that I wore it to my friend’s wedding, along with a matching third piece (that’s the vest) that I had hunted down years after my initial purchase.To this day I still wear that suit. The three button garment with flat front pants (no cuffs) has served me well. But it is beginning to show slight signs of wear. The trouser’s inseam has also worn down several times, enough that I had to have a tailor patch it up. How did they come to require repairs? Well, my forceful friend happened to be one heck of a wrestling fanatic. Mix that with his out of control testosterone levels and lots of spare time, you’ve got a forcible grappling match on your hands.
Being of a shorter more powerful stature, alterations to my Calvin Klein suit were necessary. It was altered to my specifications at Macy’s. The sleeves and length of the pants were the only alterations made, and for the longest time I was happy with them. Then one day, I noticed that one sleeve was longer than the other: I could see more of my shirt cuff on the right side. With time, I started to notice more flaws. I felt that the shoulders were a little bit heavy on the padding. I saw that the shoulders were too large an expanseofblack fabric. The lapel was not large enough to break up that empty space due to my large and broad shoulders. The suit could also be a little more tailored to my torso. Always itching to spend money that I don’t have, I decided that it was time to shop around for a new suit.
But where to find a suit? I certainly didn’t want to buy another one off the rack. I already have one. The natural progression of things would dictate that I go a step up. That meant custom fitted suits. I wanted to be measured so that a pattern would be cut just for me. The idea had first been introduced to my inquisitive mind when I was told that tailored suits are cheaply done in Hong Kong.
I wasn’t going to Hong Kong anytime soon. That left me looking for places in New York. Before I did that though, I decided to give myself a refresher on suit education. I knew that there were differing levels of customization on a suit. The most basic would be hemming alterations of an off the rack suit. But I had no idea what lay beyond that: I only had vague notions of what the possibilities (and price ranges) were. Luckily, I came across this article that explained the differences between all the various levels of suit construction. It’s quite detailed and I find it to be a very valuable resource.
With a better grasp of what I ought to be looking for, I knew that I had to search for a very particular word: bespoke. I searched on Google Maps for suits, custom suits, and bespoke, but the reviews were few and unreliable. I couldn’t find any shop that I would risk wasting my time with. Then I remembered a website that my aunt used. She had printed out some local restaurants, specifically places that served steak, for my birthday dinner. The website was Yelp.
With the help of Yelp, I tracked down one place that I hope will make me very happy: Michael Andrews Bespoke. Between the reviews and the website, I feel fairly confident that this place will have the knowledge and expertise to craft for me a suit that is impressive and flattering.
The platinum level suits start at $1195. But quality costs money, and I never buy cheap. I hope I will be getting this suit in the coming months. I am thinking of a black three button suit with very subtle gray pinstripes, wider pinstripes if possible. But what do you wear with a suit? A shirt of course. And it would be foolish to ruin the excellence exuded from a thousand dollar suit with a cheap fifty dollar shirt. I will also be buying custom made shirts. I am a big fan of the French cuff, but I will rely on the expertise of the shop to recommend the type of collar that would accentuate my physical build. I am thinking wide collar with a large Windsor knot, but we shall see. Come to think of it…I will also be needing a pair of shoes to go with this new outfit.
This journey to find a suit that is the very essence of excellence and attention to detail will not be cheap. It will be rather expensive, but I am quite certain that it will be more than worth it.
Stay tuned to see how our Wistful Writer’s journey searching for a bespoke suit turns out. Here’s Part Two!