10 things a gentleman should know before getting a Savile Row suit

Every gentleman should purchase at least one bespoke or made-to-measure suit in his lifetime; there aren’t many feelings better than pulling on a jacket for the first time and it fitting like a glove. The advent of e-tailoring services may have driven the occasional man online, but there’s absolutely no doubt that Savile Row suiting is still the best in the world bar none.

Like anything in life, it’s advised to go prepared, giving your tailors an even better chance to ensure you leave both satisfied and stylish. We have spoken to the experts who reside in London’s most sartorial of streets about the things you need to have in mind when it comes to getting fitted…

1. WEAR THE RIGHT SHOES

Sean Dixon, the founder of Richard James, the occupants of number 29, says…

“Wear the shoes – or very similar shoes – to the fittings that you will be wearing with the suit.” 

The thinking here is that you’ll get the perfect break (where the trousers fall on the shoes), as it’ll be tailored to the shoes you’ll be wearing with the suit most often.

2. THE SHOULDER IS A KEY AREA

Gieves & Hawkes know a thing or two about securing the perfect suit. Marketing Director Simon Baker imparts…

“Most importantly a jacket must fit on the shoulder. It is the key to the success of a suit. Too big and you will look like a commissionaire, too small and it will be uncomfortable and the suit will pull.”

And, as we all know, fit is paramount to the perfectly tailored piece.

3. GO FOR SOMETHING VERSATILE AND NEUTRAL

Savile Row suits don’t come cheap – this is the height of luxury after all. With that in mind, opt for a suit that you can wear for years to come. A two-button, single-breasted navy or grey piece will never go out of style. An orange, double-breasted suit on the other hand…

4. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT IT FOR

A suit for work is likely to be markedly different than that for a wedding. Know what you want from your latest investment piece and you can steer your tailor in the right direction.

Nicholas De’Ath, Dege & Skinner’s senior bespoke cutter, says…

“Where and when do you intend to wear the bespoke suit? Choice of cloth is almost limitless so factors like climate, humidity and whether you’re having it made for leisure or business will help the bespoke cutter advise you on which cloth to choose.”

5. WEAR YOUR BEST SHIRT

Similar to Mr Dixon’s recommendation with shoes, wear your best or most frequently worn shirt to the fitting. From this you can get a complete idea on how long your sleeves should be to show just the right amount – no more than half an inch.

6. RELAX

Posture is everything, but don’t make a special effort on Savile Row, as esteemed inhabitants Huntsman elaborate…

“Relax when being fitted. Cutters and salesmen will look at your natural stance when measuring you for a suit so that the balance and fit is perfect. Standing erect like a soldier when your natural stance is more relaxed can be misleading.”

Simon Cundey, Managing Director of Henry Poole, agrees…

“Feel comfortable with your surroundings and your cutter. They should put you at ease with their advice.”

7. IT TAKES TIME

Luxury isn’t done in an instant and perfection is rarely created first time around. Bespoke suits in particular take time. At Dege & Skinner unique patterns are cut for the individual client and not used for anyone else. Nicholas De’Ath implores you to…

“Ask how many fittings you should expect. At Dege & Skinner we insist on three fittings for our bespoke tailoring.”

While Huntsman inform us…

“Be patient, these are works of art, cut and sewn by hand. A bespoke suit will require 2-3 months, a made-to-measure 6-8 weeks and even our ready to wear suits will need a couple of days before they are ready for collection, as we have to finish sleeve lengths, button holes etc.”

8. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK

When it comes to getting fitted, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask your tailor questions – you’re the client and they want to make you look good. Don’t be too timid to query any design decisions or suggest any ideas on how you want the suit to go – you’re the one who will be wearing it at the end of the day. Huntsman say…

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take your time. This is Savile Row, not the high street. Our team is specialised and is full of good sartorial knowledge and advice.”

Simon Cundey agrees…

“Don’t be shy to ask questions and ask ‘what looks good on me?’. The tailor should be realistic and true. It is not about commissions as the client represents the tailor house as they represent you.”

9. CONSIDER THE DETAILS

The devil is in the details and bespoke means you have full creative control. Between side adjustors as opposed to belt loops, working buttons on the cuffs and ticket pockets – among many others – this is your chance to create the perfect piece of tailoring. Don’t skip over the smaller elements.

10. LOOK AFTER IT

Savile Row suits are in many ways works of art and should be cared for accordingly, as Simon Cundey explains…

“Care. Learn how to maintain and how often to dry clean vs sponge and press. Sealed suit bags with cedar blocks helps keep the moths at bay. Notably, the most important suit of all, the dinner suit, as this can be shut away for a month or two [at a time].”

Further Reading