10 tips for buying a bespoke suit

When weighing up lunchtime options, it’s all too easy to fall into the same old ham sandwich option; it’s cheap, easy and does the job. Sometimes, though, you may want to splash out on Savile Row’s bespoke offerings – ideal for an important business function or even a sit-down meal complete with proper cutlery and tableware within the world’s most prestigious hotels. Opting for bespoke is a luxurious option no doubt, but it will serve you well in such important events and will earn you gentlemanly respect.

This is akin to buying a suit off the rack than going bespoke. The former is an easy and sometimes necessary route, and the latter is something you won’t do very often, but will cherish each and every step. To help you on your sartorial expedition, here are 10 tips for buying a bespoke suit.

1. Know your budget

Whilst it’s impossible to purchase a ‘cheap’ bespoke suit, some will be more pricey than others. It’s important to understand your budget, as this will have a drastic effect on where you go. Work out how much you’d like to spend and then research brands that fall into your price band. Don’t get caught up on names though; instead understand what kind of suit you’re after and then adjust accordingly.

2. If in doubt, simple is best

If you’re purchasing a bespoke suit for the first time then stick to classic colours like navy blue or grey. This will allow you to look great for a number of occasions and due to the versatility, you can wear them as separates too.

Sean Connery getting properly suited by Anthony Sinclair in London. (Photo by Harry Myers / Rex Features)
Sean Connery getting properly suited by Anthony Sinclair in London. Harry Myers / Rex Features

3. Keep it trim

Aim for a slim, flattering fit wherever possible, but ensure that the suit isn’t restrictive in any way. You should focus on clean lines that flatter your body shape and allow you a free range of motion. After all, if you’re not comfortable then you won’t appear confident, which is arguably the key to pulling off any clothing.

4. Choice of fabric

Fabric wise, the most versatile would be a lightweight worsted wool, which can be worn all-year round. If you’re purchasing a winter suit then thicker, more insulating wools, flannels or even tweed would be perfect. For summer you should be after breathable fabrics like cotton, linen or silk-blends, which will keep you cool under the sun.

5. Button up

When it comes to investing in a classic purchase, you can’t go wrong with a two-buttoned suit jacket. Three-button jackets are slightly old hat and one-buttoned examples are usually reserved for more formal evening wear.


Muhammad Ali's first bespoke suit fitting

6. Lapels

Your lapel choice can drastically change the look of a jacket. Notch lapels are a failsafe option and peak lapels are more flamboyant, channeling plenty of Italian flair. Keep them slim in width for a more contemporary look and wider for a bolder appearance.

7. Trouser break

Again, this is all down to personal preference. The traditionalists would say that the rear trouser hem should touch the beginning of the shoe sole, which is known as a full break. This creates bunching of the material though and if you want to look more fashion-forward then opt for little to no break, which will also create a cleaner silhouette.

8. Shoulders

Padded shoulders will create a powerful image and would therefore be perfect for the boardroom. Soft shoulders with little to no padding are perfect for the warmer months though, as they offer unbeatable comfort and an increased range of motion.

9. Know your body type

If you’re tall and slim, avoid a suit that is too fitted; a bit more flow in the material adds more prominence to your physique. Shorter guys should go for slim trousers with a minimal break to add the illusion of height, and those with a muscular build would be wise to avoid anything with padded shoulders or a cropped cut.

10. It's all in the details

When going custom you’ll get to choose from a range of details, which can really elevate your suit to the next level. Linings, button colours, stitching and vent choices can all be made, so don’t be afraid to discuss with your tailor if you are unsure.

For more information on Savile Row Bespoke and Chivas Regal, click here.

Further Reading