The journey finding my bespoke suit is a long one. You can read all three previous parts here: Part I, Part II, Part III.
I was envisioning the way my bespoke suit would look. It would hopefully turnout to be an elegant and flattering suit. After all, I did spend many a pretty penny on the outfit. Being one with an eye for the details, I knew that I would have to remain consistent in that image. A bespoke suit deserves shoes that are consistent with it’s high quality. Also being one who prefers a one stop shop, I figured that I would order a pair of bespoke shoes from the same place I ordered my bespoke suit, at Michael Andrews Bespoke.
I emailed them inquiring about the availability of one style that liked. I thought that it would be nice to have my shoes come in at the same time as my suit: that way I could wear the entire outfit on day one. In the interest of that preference, I thought that I would try to hurry up and schedule an appointment to discuss shoes. Luckily enough, my try-on suit had arrived at the studio.I once again trekked to the Lower East Side. Having been to 20 Clinton Street once before, I expertly made my way to the studio once again. I rang the bell and glanced around, my eyes skimming the doorway for any surveillance cameras. I was buzzed in before I could spot any. Samantha greeted me this time, and by name too. Her hair was decidedly informal, as was her dress. I mentally checked to see if it was Friday, but it was not. Casual Friday could not be the cause of her more casual appearance. Perhaps it was the lingering effects of the Labor Day weekend.
The same blue basement hallways that led me to the promised land were familiarly confusing, so Samantha had to guide me once again. I felt a little sheepish: navigation had never been my strong point. Samantha graciously excused my flaw, pawning it off on the fact that it was only my second time there. It surprised me to hear that: I didn’t really expect to be remembered.Samantha walked me in through the door before going to get my try-on suit. I took my customary seat on the sofa and Marian greeted me by name as well. I felt welcome in a familiar place. Everything was the same as it was before, not that I expected anything to change. As it was last the last time I had been there, I waited for a small while. There was a different set of books on the table this time. I ignored them, opting to catch up on some email on my iPhone.
Some moments later, a lean looking fellow came up to me and introduced himself as Clark. As I looked up from my phone to shake his hand, I was ever so slightly surprised to see that Clark looked very much like a hipster: shaggy hair that fell in front of his eyes framed his long face, decorated with light stubble. A navy blue T-shirt draped over his lanky frame, and skinny jeans hugged his hips. Of course I had no qualms about working with Clark, my only thought being that I didn’t expect to see someone dressed like that to be working at a place like Michael Andrews Bespoke.
Knowing that I had come in to discuss shoes, Clark left me with some leather swatches. I looked over the four different sets. One was comprised entirely of felts, so I simply set that one aside. However, the remaining ones required some deciphering. One of them were designated as being for belts, while the purpose of the other two sets were unknown. I gave the two unknown sets a thorough looking through.
After what felt like too long, Clark returned. We took a seat at the round table to discuss my shoes. I had some questions about the different leathers. To me, the single most important quality was the ability for the leather to take and hold a shine. I had gone through many a pair of shoes that couldn’t seem to hold on to a nice layer of wax. All my hard work shining the shoe would be fruitless, with the wax simply flaking off.
I asked Clark which leather he felt could meet my requirements. Much to my dismay, he lacked the expertise to answer my question. Michael, as busy as he usually was, was consulted. He had apparently recently purchased a pair of shoes with a leather that he found to keep a really good shine. We dug through the different leathers, but being unable to visually identify it, Michael asked Marian to pull out his own file to check the leather used on his own shoes. It was good to see that Michael used his own wares.
We found the leather in question and I looked at it for a very very long time. I don’t know how long other customers spend during their appointments, but I am a very thorough and incredibly picky consumer. As such, I must’ve spent what felt like an eternity looking at the minute differences in texture, luster, and feel of the final three leathers I had chosen, easily narrowed down from a large selection of leathers in colors I wasn’t interested in.
I finally settled on the black leather that Michael had chosen himself. I went with a tan looking leather for the inside lining, apparently titled “natural” according to the print on the back of the swatch. I had already decided on a style, but I still had other concerns. The display model that I wanted was incredibly large. As such, I had trouble envisioning what that would look like on myself. Michael reassured me that it was a flattering shoe on me, on anybody really. Clark brought in a shoe that was more my size to try on. He handed me a large stainless steel tool designed to assist in putting your foot into your shoe. The name of it escaped me at the time. I asked Clark what it was called. He replied that it was called a shoehorn, and a big ass one at that. I would remember how much I liked the shoe horn.
Clark brought me another shoe for sizing purposes. However, unsure of what size to put into the order form, he asked Michael for some assistance. I put on the shoe again, but felt uncomfortable as Michael laced the shoe for me. I was never comfortable with anyone doing that sort of thing for me, but the unease only lasted several seconds. He asked me to push my heel as far back as it could go, and after some haptic feedback as well as my own feedback on the fit, Michael gave Clark the final verdict. Sadly though, it was only later that I would realize that I was misinformed and undereducated about my shoes: the shoes at Michael Andrews Bespoke weren’t truly bespoke shoes. In fact, my foot wasn’t even measured, my size only estimated. They are simply available in a wealth of sizes and crafted by hand in Japan.
With the shoes out of the way, it was time for the second fitting of my bespoke suit. I was rather excited to see how it turned out. I went to the mirror to put it on, my privacy and dignity protected by two curtains encircling me. After a little bit of adjustment, I parted the curtains. Michael asked me to take the jacket off as we would be fitting the pants first. I pointed out that my right leg was a little off, that it didn’t drape as well as it ought to, and Michael slashed some marks on the back leg of my pants.
It was time to put the jacket back on. I put it on and looked in the mirror. I took a very long time taking in my new handsome silhouette. I adjusted it a little here and there, gently swung my arms around, and otherwise preened like a peacock. This was going to be what I could look like every day.
Marian’s recommendation to do a two button suit was a good one. I was rather relieved that it looked quite flattering. The vents were also well cut: I didn’t have to worry that my posterior would be the object of a cruel caricature. The shape of the shoulders conformed nicely to me. I was rather pleased. My shoulders no longer looked like massive dark mountains, stiff and unmovable. Everything looked much more well proportioned. I also felt that I had a greater range of motion. The entire suit just felt right. It was far more comfortable than anything else I owned.
Michael asked me what I thought. Though I was not yet delighted, as I still hadn’t seen the finished product, I expressed my satisfaction. I stood still as Michael tugged at my jacket, marking it here and there. I felt that he had quite an eye for details, details beyond even my own very picky observation. I mentioned that I was unsure about whether or not it ought to be shorter. As a person more used to spending time closer to the ground than the ceiling, I thought that perhaps a shorter jacket would give the illusion of height. Michael looked it over. To better visualize and better contemplate the option, he pinned up the bottom of the jacket. I still wasn’t sure myself: as visual as my cognition and imagination is, I couldn’t tell if the shorter style would be better. Michael concluded that the length of the jacket was suitable as it would be more able to lengthen my silhouette. I humbly accepted his design decision: their capable knowledge was one of the reasons that I chose to have my suit made by Michael Andrews Bespoke.
With my second fitting completed, Michael commented that he thought they did a pretty good first shot. I much agreed. I was confident that the suit would be an outstanding one and couldn’t wait for the final product to come in. Michael went to put in an invoice for my shoes, and I lingered around the accessories. I figured that if possible, I would get a new tie and cufflinks. I asked Michael about getting a bespoke tie, and we went through a four books of material swatches. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find one that I liked, though I was giving some serious consideration to a deep purplish tie. I was looking for a dark red, a burgundy, with a strong and solid pattern, and that deep purple was the only one that seemed close enough. Michael, honest as he is, reassured me that I shouldn’t feel pressured into buying one if I didn’t see any that I liked. Of course, having once been a salesman myself, I am well versed in the arts of persuasion and therefore immune to such pressures.
After he put the books away, I moved on to the accessories: tie bars and cufflinks. I saw some very interesting cufflinks in a mock shotgun shell. Michael shared with me a funny little anecdote involving a ‘shotgun’ wedding. I was trying to match cufflinks to my Gevril watch, but unfortunately couldn’t find any. However, there was a little tie bar that caught my eye. It was brushed stainless steel with a black enamel center, an exact match for my M-Clip money clip. I decided I would add that to my purchases of the day.
And then I was on my way. Marian and Samantha both bade me farewell with a warm smile and a wave. As I stepped out, I felt that it was a nice experience, far more personal than what you would experience at any chain or retail store. I made my way to the train station, all the while waiting for the fateful day that I would receive an email telling me that my suit is ready for the final adjustments.
Seven weeks later, the Wistful Writer gets his suit in Part V of this series!