Buying a Custom Suit – Everything You Need to Know

buying a custom suit

Buying a Custom Suit – Everything You Need to Know

When it comes to buying a custom suit, there are some truths, half-truths, and outright falsehoods. For instance, suits are not going anywhere anytime soon. They are timeless at this point, and you will be making an excellent investment, as long as you understand more about custom suits.

Custom suits are seeing a resurgence in popularity, especially for lawyers, accountants, and consultants, as well as other professions. If you are someone who wants to present themselves in a sophisticated and sharp way, then you are at the right place. We will go over everything you need to know about buying a custom suit.

Do the clothes make the person, as they say? At Smith & Palestro, we believe there is truth to that statement. When we look good, we feel good. Studies have even uncovered that people who wear suits feel more confident, courageous, and willing to take charge when important decisions need to be made.

In this guide, we will go over everything you need to know about buying a custom suit. We want to ensure you are as informed as you can possibly be before deciding on what kind of suit to place into your wardrobe. By the time you are done reading this, you should have most, if not all, of your questions answered.

Elements of a Custom Suit

A custom suit has numerous elements that go into it. That is actually a big reason for all of the questions surrounding custom suits. You have elements like the fit, style, fabric, and construction that are involved. Depending on your budget, your custom suit will either stay within a limited range of customized possibilities, or a wide array of unparalleled fabrics and handmade touches.

Getting an Ideal Fit for a Custom Suit

Each element that goes into a custom suit is as important as the next. They all coalesce to create the perfect suit.

You have surely seen those people who have worn a suit jacket that is not the ideal match for their collared shirt. They may even get swallowed up, lacking a clearly-defined presence within the suit.

However, there are also more subtle issues that department stores setting suits will be unable to identity. If your posture is not the best, your suit coat’s collar will be pulling away.

In any case, let’s get into specific elements that make up a suit.

What You Should Know About Sleeves

When it comes to sleeves, you will want to keep the exposed area of your cuff less than half an inch. Coat sleeves are meant to cover most of your cuff, leaving just enough for contrast. Also, the cuff itself should go no further than the protruding bone on your wrist while in a relaxed pose.

If you are unsure, then consider your suit’s coat sleeves being longer than they should be. This can be easily adjusted.

The Ideal Length of a Suit Coat

A suit coat’s length will prove to be more challenging to get accurate. In fact, it is more challenging to do so than in years past. The reason for this is due to suit coats today becoming shorter and a bit more trim.

If we want to consider more classic styles, suit coats should end somewhere near the middle of where your trousers sit. Also, the flare should stay decidedly subtle. You may want to keep an eye out for the flare not becoming skirt-like. If this occurs, it means the suit coat is shorter than it should be. You will know when the coat is lower than it should be if it is going past your buttocks and hands while you are in a standing position.

Today, it’s still commonplace to see the traditional full-length coats being worn. However, increasingly, especially among the younger crowd, contemporary trim cuts are showing up in offices across the nation. You will ultimately want to see what you prefer more in the setting you will be wearing your custom suit most often.

How to Know When to Keep a Suit Coat Buttoned or Not

If you are unable to close a suit well, it will be noticed by others. What you want to go for is the two sides of your suit’s coat to be buttoning with ease. The lapels should stay smooth and flush with the body. An easy way to check is by placing your palm on your chest underneath the lapel. Then, make a fist. If it is wrinkling and distorting the fabric of your suit’s coat, then it has passed your test.

The next test is the fit test. This one relies on you closing a single button, be it the one at the top or in the middle. Also, stand as you normally would. If you see a crease that appears like an “X” that forms, then you are going to have a tight fit. Also, if the lower edges are flaring out, then that is also a sign that it is too tight.

Now, it is entirely alright to have a small opening at the bottom of a suit’s coat. This opening should be right above your waist. However, you will want to make sure your shirt isn’t showing under your coat’s buttons. If you can’t get away without showing any at all, then a very tiny amount being displayed is alright.

How to Know the Right Fit of Suit Trousers

Buying a suit off of the rack is usually done with the idea that a tailor will hopefully whip up some magic with the pants that often are ill-suited to the decent coat that they get paired with.

Suit pants should provide you with a smooth fit around your legs and buttocks. As far as the drape is concerned, there shouldn’t be sagging wrinkles under where you sit. If the drape is making wrinkles, then that means they are too baggy for you. On the other hand, when they are too tight, there were will horizontal wrinkles under your buttocks.

Of course, baggy trousers get altered often, but there is a limit to what can be done. At a certain point, if they are too baggy and large, then the pockets will start to become distorted while they are altered. If trousers are too tight, then even the most skilled tailor will be unable to do much for them.

Back to how trousers should wear on you, their hem should be falling right at the top of your shoes. Ideally, there will be a minor crease as they touch the shoes. As far as the back of the pant legs are concerned, they should stay above the tops of heels of your shoes.

These days, there are slimmer fits being worn, as well as shorter ones. It’s not always easy to pull it off. However, when it’s properly done, then the fit will look sharp.

At Smith & Palestro, we can help you get the ideal fit for your custom suit. We are offering a special right now for 25% off of your first suit when you sign up for our newsletter.

If you feel ready to receive a consultation and discuss your needs and wants, then feel free to book a consultation.

Choosing a Suit Style

Of course, depending on where you will be wearing your suit the most, you will be choosing one suit style over the other. Time and time again, those individuals who have decided to go with the style they genuinely like are the ones who are far more satisfied. Those who are simply trying to copy what others are doing end up dissatisfied with their choice and are left wishing they went with their instinct.

Here are the suit style options you have to choose from.

Single vs. Double-Breasted Suit Coat

You can choose between a single and double-breasted suit coat. The most common suit coat is a single-breasted one. This could be for the fact that it is the easiest kind to make. Also, it will usually have two or three buttons, as well as a notch lapel. The single-breasted suit coat is the one you will almost always find on suits that are off the rack.

A double-breasted suit coat has been regarded as the formal type of suit coat. Depending on your size and shape, you will either find a double-breasted suit coat looks great on you or is better not worn. On the coat, you can receive from 4-8 buttons. The more buttons there are, the more formal the suit coat. Finally, a double-breasted suit coat features a peak lapel.

Choosing Between a Two-Piece Suit and Three-Piece Suit

Should you get a two-piece suit or a three-piece one? Even as the times changed, vests are still popular today. In fact, vests have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years.

Usually, if you are looking for a custom suit to wear to the office, then a two-piece suit will be a good choice. That is due to it being the less formal of the two options you have. However, if you love the way the vest wears on you, then by all means get a three-piece suit.

Selecting the Right Type of Suit Coat Vent

A custom suit has the option of having one of three different types of suit vents:

· Center Vent

· Side Vent

· None

Here are the differences between these three styles:

Center Vent

Suits off the rack will most often have a center vent. This style originated in the United States and is regarded by some to be less formal and sophisticated, given a center vent costs the least to make.

Side Vent

Side vents are known as being the priciest to make, which is why there are not many double-vented coats. A side vent will often appear on custom suits. Depending on your body type, a side vent may or may not help you. Overall, double-vented suit coats are the optimal type.


If you’re looking at a suit coming out of Europe, then you will notice that there are no vents. However, the lack of a vent means only certain body types will be able to manage to wear a suit without one.

How Many Buttons to Get on a Suit Coat

The number of buttons on a suit coat can make a surprisingly large difference. Here are the options you have when it comes to how many buttons to get on a suit coat:

· One Button – The use of one button is mainly relegated to tuxedos. However, a custom suit is known to feature just one button. This is usually when the suit coat has a peak lapel.

· Two Buttons – The two-button style works ideally for the majority of people who wear a suit. When wearing a suit with two buttons, you only need to button the top one. Suits off the rack will nearly universally be of the two-button style.

· Three Buttons – Older suit coats will feature three buttons. If wearing one of these, your options are to either button the top two or just the middle one.

Selecting a Lapel for a Custom Suit

Most people prefer to have a notch lapel. This is due to it keeping everything looking clean and simple. If you are unsure of where the notch lapel goes, it becomes affixed to the bottom of where the suit coat’s collar is.

Besides being featured on double-breasted suit coats for a long time, another option that has become increasingly popular on single-breasts suit coats is the peak lapel.

We can help you select the style best-suited for you. If you feel ready to receive a consultation and discuss your needs and wants, then feel free to book a consultation.

We are offering a special right now for 25% off of your first suit when you sign up for our newsletter.


How to Determine the Best Type of Suit Fabric

You can sew a suit in numerous ways. However, what determines the quality of a suit is the type of raw ingredients used to make it. That is why selecting the best type of suit fabric will be the most critical decision you will make. The type of fabric you choose for a suit will decide how it will look and feel. Additionally, it will determine how well it will keep its shape over time.

Another major factor in buying a custom suit involves the fabric to make it. A suit will come out strikingly different depending on the type of material being used.

Some popularly-used fabrics include:

· Wool

· Cotton

· Linen

· Silk

There are also artificial fabrics used as well. However, we highly recommend avoiding them. For most of these types, there are further breakdowns in terms of different variations and weights.

We recommend having a custom suit made out of wool. There are a number of reasons for this, which include:

· It is a natural material that lets you breathe more easily.

· It shapes to your body in a more form-fitting way than other fibers.

· It is incredibly long-lasting.

· It will keep you warm in cold weather and comfortable in cool weather.

· There are numerous levels of quality that are possible, including ranges of thickness.

When it comes to defining the different grades of wool, there is something called the Super Number. What this number indicates is a fabric’s weight, also known as the thread count. The Super Number begins at 80 and climbs up to 250. If you want to buy a custom suit that is made of the finest wool on the planet, then get Super 250 fabric.

The Super Number is usually the main factor in determining how expensive a suit should be. However, one crucial point to make here is that simply having a high Super Number does not automatically mean the wool itself that was used was the best quality. Where was the wool sourced from? How long is its expected life?

The Super Number is representing how many fibers are spun into one unit measure of cloth. The only thing this number tells us is how fine the fibers themselves are. This means the higher the Super Number, the softer it will feel to the touch, and the higher sheen it will have.

Just because a suit manufacturer boasts using Super 250 fabric doesn’t mean the wool will hold up as well as better quality wool. Overall, if you want a luxuriously soft suit, then getting one made with Super 250 fabric is the way to go. If you are looking for a more affordably-priced custom suit, then we recommend looking at something within the Super 110-140 range.

The higher the Super Number, the less durable it will be. That is why suits between the 110-140 range are considered to provide the right balance between a luxurious look and feel and a durable suit.

Once you get into a Super Number of 180 or more, the material starts feeling incredibly delicate to the touch. We only suggest getting a custom suit with such a high Super Number if you have plenty of suits already you regularly wear. This is the kind you will only want to wear occasionally when a special occasion or statement-making moment calls for it.

At the end of the day, investing in the fabrics that will provide you with the greatest durability while still feeling good to the touch are the best choice.

We can help you pick out the best fabric for your needs and wants. If you feel ready to receive a consultation and discuss your needs and wants, then feel free to book a consultation.

We are offering a special right now for 25% off of your first suit when you sign up for our newsletter.

Different Custom Suit Construction Styles

Going a little deeper into a custom suit, we come to what lays within the layers of it. This is a key element of the suit, and can make the difference between a suit looking extraordinary and just decent.

There are two main types of suit coat construction:

· Canvassed

· Fused

Here is how these two drastically differ:

Canvassed Construction

This construction style will boast the best quality possible to get. What goes into this style is the combining of both wool and either horse or camel hair. The fibers are then layered between the outer wool and the inner lining.

Canvassed construction involves hand-sewing the canvas to both layers. This assists in the structural integrity of the suit coat, providing support for the outer fabric to maintain its proper shape. Also, it helps the suit coat conform to your body for a better fit.

Further breaking down this construction style, there are two levels to it. These are:

Full Canvas Construction

With full canvas, there is a layer of canvas used for the entirety of the front panels on both sides of the suit coat, as well as the lapels. The benefit of going with full canvas is that the outer fabric is the most well-protected. Additionally, the suit coat will be more form-fitting. Out of the two main canvas options, this is the more expensive one.

Half Canvas Construction

With half canvas, the canvas fabric becomes fused on the front panels. Since no hand-stitching needs to be done, it will be less expensive than full canvas fabric. A suit coat that uses half canvas will feel firmer and will begin to conform to the body increasingly less as time goes on.

Fused Construction

This construction style uses an inter-liner that becomes glued to the outer fabric. The result is that the suit coat receives its necessary structure and shape, but will be quite stiff. Compared with a suit coat made out of canvas, a fused coat will not be form-fitting anywhere close to it. It is far less expensive to make a suit coat with fused construction, which is why it is the type of construction you will most often see on suit coats off the rack at clothing stores.

We can help clarify anything you may still be unsure of when it comes to custom suit construction styles. If you feel ready to receive a consultation and discuss your needs and wants, then feel free to book a consultation.

We are offering a special right now for 25% off of your first suit when you sign up for our newsletter.

Understanding Custom Suit Accessories

Now that we went over all of the major elements of a custom suit, it’s time to focus our attention on the smaller details that help accessorize the suit. In fact, your custom suit can be transformed into a dapper work of art.

The following are the different kinds of custom suit accessories you can enjoy having:

Button Styles

You can have buttons on your custom suit that are made out of different kinds of materials, such as bone or plastic. Additionally, the color of the stitching in the center of the buttons can be customized, adding a bit of subtle flair to your custom suit.

Surgeon Cuffs

This is not a common customization, but it is done occasionally to show off to others that the suit is, indeed, custom. It entails working button holes. Someone who has surgeon cuffs will keep their last button unbuttoned so that others can see they have a custom suit.

Silk Lining

Getting silk lining put into the inside of your suit coat can say quite a bit about you, just as the choice of what outer fabric to use will.

Personalized Stitching

You may want your name stitched into the lining for a truly personalized custom suit. This is a common extra customization feature people getting custom suits want, and you may want to consider it as well.

Cost of a Custom Suit

Now that we have gone over all of the important things to know when buying a custom suit, it’s time to talk about price.

You may initially think that buying an off-the-rack suit will be more affordable than getting a custom suit made for you. However, you should take some time to think about whether this is indeed the case because it may not be. In fact, you may be paying a great deal more for an off-the-reach suit than for a custom one.

It’s common to see off-the-rack suits going for around $1,000 or more, and that’s without any alterations being done. Once you factor those in, expect to see the cost balloon another $1,000 or more. You will even see suits off the rack going for $10,000, and sometimes even more!

To add to the confusion, bespoke suits can go for $25,000 and up. On the other hand, companies sometimes make them for just $1,500. This sure paints a confusing picture, doesn’t it?

To gain some extra clarity on pricing, here are some guidelines to know.

Everything already mentioned, meaning all of the features, elements, and quality of each used, factor into the cost of a custom suit.

You may be surprised to learn that a custom suit may cost similar to middle-range priced suits off the rack after all is said and done. You could find a custom suit can go for around $1,000 or can go as high as $20,000. It is entirely up to you, based on how you want your suit to be made.

Are you wondering how much a custom suit we make for you will cost? Feel free to book a consultation.

We are offering a special right now for 25% off of your first suit when you sign up for our newsletter.

Time to Make a Custom Suit

It generally takes between 4-6 weeks to produce a well-made custom suit. However, if it is a busy time of the year, such as around the winter holidays, then this time estimate may be extended. It is also possible to get a custom suit made in less than four weeks. However, to ensure you receive the best quality custom suit, you will want to avoid rushing the process.

Other Important Factors to Consider

There are a few additional factors you should consider when buying a suit. Here are important considerations to keep in mind

Labels Are Not Always Accurate

Sure, the tag may say “Made in USA” on it, but it could have come from a factory in Southeast Asia. Branded fabrics are also known to be counterfeited. Finally, stores will sometimes say their suits are “Made on Site” but they actually aren’t.

Since it’s a business like all others, there are corners sometimes cut to turn a higher profit. There are finer details to making a custom suit that often go unnoticed by clients. The unfortunate thing is that there are plenty of bad actors in the custom suit industry.

It’s important to consider all of these and take the time to look into whether the custom suit you are is authentic and matching what it is advertised as.

Difference Between How and Where a Suit Is Made

There is also a difference between how a suit is made and the location where it is actually made. The quality of a suit can vary drastically. However, it also is disingenuous to paint with a broad brush and make generalizations.

For example, just because something has been “Made in China” no longer means it is automatically junk. There have been significant advances made over the last 10 years or so that have produced impressive quality suits. The nature of the quality lies in who is in charge of manufacturing the suits. If they are being diligent, honest, and careful, then the level of quality in the suit will be high.

Differences in the Cut

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with what the “house cut” of various suit-making hot spots in the world are. What looks most flattering on someone will vary depending on who you talk you.

For instance, when you head over to England, a high-end tailor will have a house cut that has bigger allowances, which provides a more roomy fit that includes a smoother drape. In England, the use of heavier cloth is preferred. Additionally, they like using a lower gorge line, which is the seam where a collar and lapel meet. They also make the chest canvas a bit more stiff than other places. All in all, there is more fabric being used, presumably for those cold and wet England days that often come.

If we head down to Italy, we will find that lighter fabrics are used there. Also, the allowances are smaller, which leads to a more form-fitting suit. Also, there is a higher gorge and the overall construction of the suit allows for greater flexibility.

Depending on who you go to, there will be differences in the cutting style. This means that not only will the differences vary from country to country, but they can also differ within the same city! Shops geared towards older clients who prefer a more British accent on their suits will make their suits differently than those focused on attracting young clients who are influenced by Italian designs.

When you understand what the style and strategy of a shop is, you will avoid getting a suit that isn’t, well, suited for you. Do your due diligence before deciding on a custom suit. It is, after all, an investment.

Reach a Stable Weight and Body Type

Are you on a diet right now, following and intense workout routine, or are stress-eating constantly? If you see potential irregularities in your weight and body type, then you should put off buying a custom suit until you have reached a stable weight and body type. Once you do, make sure that you will be able to maintain that weight.

If you are the kind of person who needs more motivation to stay in shape than most, then buying an expensive custom suit will be great incentive to stay fit!

Achieve the Right Fit From the Beginning

The best shops will hold onto the pattern used for your custom suit. This could either be a paper copy or a digital file that will be sourced if there are ever any adjustments or alterations that need to be made. The entire process because easier and quicker.

You Should Listen to the Advice of the Professionals

Even if you are highly invested and interested in suits, you are probably not someone whose full-time job is to produce custom suits. That is why it’s a good idea to listen to the advice of the professions whose full-time job is to do just that. They know how to make you look the best. It’s literally their job. That is why you can listen to them and also talk about your styling choices. Avoid assuming that you know better in order to get the best custom suit for you.

Avoid Getting Caught up in Trends

Trends are called trends for a reason. They come and go like the wind. These mercurial and fleeting fads will mean you may have a suit in a few years that simply cannot be worn without some degree of embarrassment.

Ideally, you should be planning for your custom suit to last around a decade if all goes well. We recommend sticking to the classics, avoiding some novel trend that may appear to be in vogue at the moment. For instance, incredibly thin lapels are no longer something most people are comfortable showing off, while oversized lapels today are likely to see the same fate as razor-thin ones.

Some trends are easier to alter than others. One that is relatively easy to adjust is the hemline of trousers. Hemlines can be extended or shortened within just a few minutes. So, if you want to jump in on some trend involving those, that shouldn’t be a big deal.

Go More Basic For Your First Custom Suit

If you are new to the world of custom suits, then you will probably want to stick to getting a custom suit that is versatile. From there, you can expand to get suits that show off a bit more personal flair, as well as begin to incorporate seasonal fabrics.

If you already have off-the-rack suits in your wardrobe, then we suggest not counting these as suits, unless you absolutely adore them and they fit well. The difference between a suit off the rack and a custom suit is so great that almost everyone stops wearing the off-the-rack variety after getting their first custom suit.

If you have already amassed a solid foundation for a custom suit collection, then you can go a little more “out there” with your choices. A common thing to do is to bring a photo with you of the kind of suit style you would like and show it to the person who will be making your custom suit. This will give them an idea of what you are going for, as a seasoned suit-wearer.

Keep Your Expectations Realistic

We are firm believers in a good quality custom suit transforming the way someone looks into one that is more refined and distinguished. However, don’t expect miracles.

For instance, a suit will wrinkle. There is no way to get around it. The only time a suit is completely wrinkle-free is when it is standing on a mannequin. The very nature of fabric means it will start creasing and wrinkles in no time.

Additionally, getting something like a slim look will mean you may have to sacrifice some comfort. Your range of motion will decrease as well. If you want a more roomy suit, then that means you will lose some of the form-fitting shape you had when it was slimmer. However, these days people are opting for a form-fitting suit due to how it helps the wearer feel “locked in” while wearing it.

Protect Your Custom Suit Investment

Since it will cost you a bit of money, your custom suit will be an investment. That is why you should find out what the instructions are for properly caring for it.

As a general rule, you should not dry clean your suits if you can help it. This is a last-resort measure that should only be used if the suit has become dirty in some major way. The reason you want to avoid dry cleaning is because the chemicals used will start eroding away the fine fabrics within the suit. They are basically “scraping” the surface of the fabrics.

If you need to freshen up your custom suit, then opt for getting it steamed or pressed. With the use of just heat and steam, you should be able to keep your custom suit in excellent condition for many years to come.

Begin Your Custom Suit Journey

Now that you know everything you need for buying a custom suit, you can start your journey with Smith & Palestro. We provide premier custom suits and are based in Silicon Valley. Our mission is to deliver timeless style that is tailored to you.

We are offering a special right now for a massive 25% off of your first suit when you sign up for our newsletter. If you feel ready to receive a consultation and discuss your needs and wants, then feel free to book a consultation.

We provide both a clothier consultation and a phone appointment, depending on your preference. We look forward to answering any questions you may have and explaining our process more thoroughly. Our mission is to ensure you are completely satisfied with your custom suit so that it will provide you with years of use and enjoyment.

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