Newsflash: most men are not sample-size. Maybe you’ve got a swimmer’s shoulders or a basketballer’s lanky legs (or some weird combo in between). That can make buying a suit problematic. And no one wants to splash out on a combination that only sort of fits.
The solution? Going made-to-measure. But with so many options - not to mention often heftier price-tags – venturing into a tailor’s can prove an intimidating prospect.
The truth, however, is that made-to-measure is now more accessible than ever with a host of brands offering the service in-store. David Jackson, Design Director for Peter Jackson, shares his sartorial guidelines for nailing the made-to-measure experience.
MH: When it comes to made-to-measure the sheer range of materials on offer can prove mind-boggling. How should you navigate your way through it?
DJ: I think you really need to nail down what occasion the suit will mostly be worn for. For example, if you're looking to individualise your workwear, opt for a simpler pattern and allow the customised suit details and fine tailoring speak louder.
For special occasions, or for men who like to make a statement, explore bolder patterns such as the window panel, or richer palettes such as grape or copper tones and have a lot more fun with the fabric.
Above all, pick a pattern that reflects your personal style. Men look their best when they're confidently dressed.
MH: What should you consider when choosing a weight of cloth?
DJ: Generally speaking for the Australian climate, I would suggest a medium-weight merino wool because the natural fibres adapt to most weather conditions - when it’s cold the fine fibres contract and create a denser, warmer weave, whilst in the heat it does the exact opposite.
More specifically, the “Super” count denotes the fineness of the fibres in the wool and is a good way to determine the best weight for your suit.
In our made-to-measure program, fabrics start at Super 100 and go upwards to Super 150. With the higher count in the range of 140’s and 150’s, the fibres are more intricate and produce a more ‘luxe’ feel for formal wear. For everyday wear, a Super 100 to 120 is recommended as it produces a more “open” and adaptable weave.
MH: If you’re buying your first “proper suit” should you err on the side of caution?
DJ: Caution is probably the wrong word to use. Personally, I find myself regularly going back to a classic navy suit because it's such a versatile look. When selecting your first proper suit - grey, black and dark blue palettes with either subtle or no patterning is the perfect way to start building up your tailored collection.
Once you have your classic styles nailed, you can start experimenting with bolder “feature pieces” in shirts and ties.
MH: What’s your advice in terms of fit?
DJ: There has been a trend in the past couple of years with slim and super slim suits, but we are now beginning to see a greater push towards classic tailoring updated for today. It is more about complementing your form, rather than contouring it.
MH: What suit styles (double-breasted etc) flatter different physiques?
DJ: Typically in menswear, double-breasted suits are best fitted for fuller, broader body types, while single-breasted styles lend themselves to a taller, slimmer frame.
Made-to-measure, however, levels the playing field, so no matter what size or shape, men can create a suit they have always wanted.
MH: What details can you customise that you can’t achieve with an off-the-rack suit?
DJ: When shopping off the rack, you're buying a pre-designed garment. Although a tailor can tweak and adjust the fit for a nominal fee, ultimately you’re buying a template.
With made-to-measure, it's more a creative experience, something that involves you directly in the design process. You're not just buying a suit; you're helping to create something unique.
Honestly, there's little we can't do, from peak to notch lapels that span 11 centimetres in width, to patch, jet or ticket pocket on any suit or sports jacket combo. We even allow for buggy lined jackets, which gives a more relaxed fit, perfect for summer.
MH: What type of person should consider buying a made-to-measure suit?
While I think everyone should consider it, ultimately, it's for the man that wants more out of his menswear.
Whether you're looking to upgrade your work wear, getting married, or searching for that special statement piece for the Spring races, made to measure is something all men should definitely consider – and not just once in their life!