An Affordable Summer Coat
People ask us all the time how to dress well in warm weather. Our usual answer is to wear linen and summer wool, and to wear coats with minimal linings to take advantage of those fabrics built-in breeziness.
The problem with that plan is that makers tend to fully line even summer coats, simply because it’s cheaper to cover up unfinished interior seams than it is to finish them. Certainly many brands - particularly the Italians - will sell you real summer clothes, but they can be very expensive. If you can find an unlined blazer, it’s often cotton, which is an improvement over wool, but less than ideal.
Enter Suit Supply. This year, they’re offering a style called “Havana,” which features summer-weight wool and very little lining. The coats are priced at $399, which makes them a really excellent value, given Suit Supply’s solid quality. The blazer above would be particularly useful. Full suits are $599 - so if you’re going to some summer weddings, they’ve got you covered.

An Affordable Summer Coat

People ask us all the time how to dress well in warm weather. Our usual answer is to wear linen and summer wool, and to wear coats with minimal linings to take advantage of those fabrics built-in breeziness.

The problem with that plan is that makers tend to fully line even summer coats, simply because it’s cheaper to cover up unfinished interior seams than it is to finish them. Certainly many brands - particularly the Italians - will sell you real summer clothes, but they can be very expensive. If you can find an unlined blazer, it’s often cotton, which is an improvement over wool, but less than ideal.

Enter Suit Supply. This year, they’re offering a style called “Havana,” which features summer-weight wool and very little lining. The coats are priced at $399, which makes them a really excellent value, given Suit Supply’s solid quality. The blazer above would be particularly useful. Full suits are $599 - so if you’re going to some summer weddings, they’ve got you covered.

Spring’s Blues

Charcoal grays, deep navys, and dark browns work well in the fall and winter months, but spring and summer provide an excellent opportunity to wear lighter colors. My favorites include the various shades of mid-blues you see above. These include French blue (which used to be common in men’s dress shirts), slate blue (a powdery color), and Air Force blue (a pure blue that’s similar to the color of the sky on a clear day). With a tailored jacket in one of these colors, you can have a great sport coat to wear with cream or tan trousers. With a suit, you have something smart for social occasions. 

The only trick here is to wear the right shirt. With certain shades, you can wear a light blue shirt, but once the jacket’s color is light enough, you’ll want to use a white or ecru shirt in order to ensure there’s enough contrast. 

Unfortunately, sport coats and suits in these colors aren’t easy to find. The most affordable ones might be at J. Crew and Suit Supply. The styling on Suit Supply’s website is really fashion forward, but the garments themselves are often much more classic looking than their site suggests. There’s also this really nice Camoshita suit at No Man Walks Alone. The price is expensive, but the store is having a sale this week on all their Japanese brands (which includes Camoshita). You can take 20% off with the code BLOSSOM and see how Camoshita’s jackets fit here, as they’re modeled on Kyle (a No Man Walks Alone employee).

Of course, the color works just as well in non-tailored clothing. If you’d like something more casual, try knitwear. Inis Meain has a fantastic (albeit expensive) one made from linen. Their linen yarns are unique in that they have a subtle “bounce back” quality to them. Like wool, this helps their sweaters retain their original shapes, and makes the fabrics feel like they have a bit more “life” to them (as they’re not just hanging limply on your body). More affordably, Brooks Brothers has a Saxxon wool sweater in deep teal, while Howard Yount has some lambswool sweaters in brighter blues.  

(Photos via Milstil, The Sartorialist, and Tommy Ton)

Where To Look First for a Suit (Part One)

Far and away, the most common question I get in my inbox is: “Where should I go to buy a suit, given my budget is X?” I usually try to stay away from such questions, as too much depends on the person’s specific needs. Where are you planning to wear the suit? What kind of styles do you like? What kind of climate do you live in? All these make it difficult to recommend something over email.

However, I’ve always thought it’d be helpful to have a list of recommendations for a broader audience. Something that’s painted with big, broad brushes. So, I reached out to some friends to see what they’d suggest, given different budgets, and added a few ideas myself. Of course, you might go to these stores and find nothing works for you, but at least you have a list of where you might want to look first.

For a budget of ~$500 and under

  • Suit Supply: A pretty good first stop. They have a wide range of styles to fit different tastes and body types. Jackets will typically be half-canvassed, and be made from fabrics sourced from respectable mills. Their lookbook styling is a bit fashion forward, but once you actually check out their stuff in person, you can usually find some reasonably classic designs.
  • Land’s End: Not the greatest in terms of construction, but impressive in terms of price. Check out their “tailored fit” and wait for one of their many sales.   

For a budget between ~$500 and ~$1,000

  • Brooks Brothers: Brooks Brothers has 25% off sales pretty regularly, and sometimes you can knock an additional 15% off by opening up a Brooks Brothers credit card (some sales associates won’t let you stack these discounts, but most will). That should bring the price down to under $1,000. Their newest cut, the Milano, is perhaps too trendy to recommend, but they have three good “classic” models. From slimmest to fullest, they go: Fitzgerald, Regent, and Madison. Note, you can sometimes also catch their premium Golden Fleece line on Rue La La for just under $500.
  • J. Crew: Their Ludlow series can be a good starting point for many men. Just watch out for the models with razor-thin lapels, which might look dated in a few years. 
  • Howard Yount: Very respectable half-canvassed suits that are, again, made from nice fabrics. They’re also styled fairly well.
  • Proper Suit: Made-to-measure suits for prices starting at $750. You can see our friend The Silentist review them here. If you go, bring along your best fitting jacket and trousers, so you can say what you like and don’t like.
  • Southwick: Classic American styled suits that start at $1,000 or so. You can find them at O’Connell’s or any number of classic American clothiers. They also have made-to-measure for around $1,200, give or take, depending on the fabric. A good option for someone with truly classic tastes.
  • Lardini: Terrible name, but nice Italian suits. Full retail price is north of $1,000, but you can easily find them on sale. Just check places like Yoox (and ignore Yoox’s terrible styling).
  • Benjamin: Great fabric, full-canvas construction, and nice detailing (e.g. discrete pick stitching). Their cuts are slightly fashion forward, but still office appropriate. Our friend This Fits owns their Classico and Napoli models and likes them a lot.

Come back tomorrow, when we’ll cover suits in the four-digit range.

(Special thanks to La Casuarina, A Bit of Color, This Fits, Ivory Tower Style, Réginald-Jérôme de Mans, and Breathnaigh for their help with this article. Also, credit to Suit Supply and Brooks Brothers for the two images above.)

Q & Answer: When Shouldn’t You Go Bespoke?
Philip asks: I’m considering how I should spend $400 to buy a suit. I can either purchase one from a shop in Washington, DC, have one custom made for me in Florence or Rome when I visit this fall, or have one made in Bangkok or Hong Kong when I visit SE Asia in April. What would you recommend for receiving the best suit with the limited funds I have?
We get this question a lot at Put This On. Folks say they’re headed to Bangkok or Mumbai for a week, and should they buy their first suit there? Alternately, they ask if they should buy their first suit from a low-cost online custom maker.
The answer, generally, is no. Unless off-the-rack clothes don’t fit you, just buy off the rack.
Why shouldn’t you go bespoke?
Unless you have a very unusual body, an off-the-rack suit will fit you well, particularly with alterations. You can and should try on a variety of models to get a sense of which brands and styles fit you best, but for men who aren’t 6’6” or 300 pounds, off-the-rack will fit.
Bespoke tailoring, and custom tailoring generally, is never right the first time. Getting a perfect fit requires a long-term relationship and typically at least two or three garments, even for a great tailor.
Inexpensive tailors in second and third-world countries are rarely great tailors. There simply isn’t demand for great tailoring at their price point, and so good enough tailoring suffices. There are certainly exceptions, but you should ask yourself if you have the time and cultural skills to figure out who those exceptions are.
Fashion in the first world is very different than it is in the third world. One generally can’t rely on a tailor for fashion tips, but this is particularly true in, say, Thailand. If you don’t want an awkwardly designed (as opposed to tailored) suit, you’ll have to have a very, very specific idea of what you want, and communicate it effectively.
Buying bespoke involves a lot of choices, and those choices are best left to a professional clothing designer, rather than a guy buying his first suit.
High-quality fabrics are tough to get in the third world. You’ll find a lot of Chinese polyester blends in the fabric market in Bangkok, and not a lot of English woolens.
Of course, there are situations in which you can and should buy custom garments. If your body is unusual and you can’t get a good fit off the rack, go for it. If you live in a tailor-rich country, and can effectively judge who’s good and who’s not, and have the money to experiment and import fabric, go for it.
Generally, though, you’ll be better off at Suit Supply or Brooks Brothers or even H&M than with a tailor you don’t know whom you will see only once.
(One side note: shirts are a different story. If you can find decent fabric, there are tailors who can make affordable custom shirts in tons of places.)
(Photo via)

Q & Answer: When Shouldn’t You Go Bespoke?

Philip asks: I’m considering how I should spend $400 to buy a suit. I can either purchase one from a shop in Washington, DC, have one custom made for me in Florence or Rome when I visit this fall, or have one made in Bangkok or Hong Kong when I visit SE Asia in April. What would you recommend for receiving the best suit with the limited funds I have?

We get this question a lot at Put This On. Folks say they’re headed to Bangkok or Mumbai for a week, and should they buy their first suit there? Alternately, they ask if they should buy their first suit from a low-cost online custom maker.

The answer, generally, is no. Unless off-the-rack clothes don’t fit you, just buy off the rack.

Why shouldn’t you go bespoke?

  • Unless you have a very unusual body, an off-the-rack suit will fit you well, particularly with alterations. You can and should try on a variety of models to get a sense of which brands and styles fit you best, but for men who aren’t 6’6” or 300 pounds, off-the-rack will fit.
  • Bespoke tailoring, and custom tailoring generally, is never right the first time. Getting a perfect fit requires a long-term relationship and typically at least two or three garments, even for a great tailor.
  • Inexpensive tailors in second and third-world countries are rarely great tailors. There simply isn’t demand for great tailoring at their price point, and so good enough tailoring suffices. There are certainly exceptions, but you should ask yourself if you have the time and cultural skills to figure out who those exceptions are.
  • Fashion in the first world is very different than it is in the third world. One generally can’t rely on a tailor for fashion tips, but this is particularly true in, say, Thailand. If you don’t want an awkwardly designed (as opposed to tailored) suit, you’ll have to have a very, very specific idea of what you want, and communicate it effectively.
  • Buying bespoke involves a lot of choices, and those choices are best left to a professional clothing designer, rather than a guy buying his first suit.
  • High-quality fabrics are tough to get in the third world. You’ll find a lot of Chinese polyester blends in the fabric market in Bangkok, and not a lot of English woolens.

Of course, there are situations in which you can and should buy custom garments. If your body is unusual and you can’t get a good fit off the rack, go for it. If you live in a tailor-rich country, and can effectively judge who’s good and who’s not, and have the money to experiment and import fabric, go for it.

Generally, though, you’ll be better off at Suit Supply or Brooks Brothers or even H&M than with a tailor you don’t know whom you will see only once.

(One side note: shirts are a different story. If you can find decent fabric, there are tailors who can make affordable custom shirts in tons of places.)

(Photo via)

Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget: A Black Tie Guide
Our series on putting together an ensemble for black tie affairs on time and on a slim budget continues. Today we discuss finding the proper shirt. Click here to read the rest of the Black Tie Guide. 
Part 2: The Evening Shirt
While you can find fairly good deals on eBay for the tuxedo, it can be tougher when it comes to the shirt, especially if you have a preference for something that fits a bit more trim in the body and sleeve. 
A few things you want to look for in a tuxedo shirt:
French cuffs
Placket should allow for studs (bib front) or use mother-of-pearl buttons (pleated front)
White cotton that’s thinner, i.e.: poplin or broadcloth — avoid heavier weights
Spread or wing collar 
Bib or pleated front (this means no pockets)
Which collar should you go with? Wing collars come from a more formal tradition — white tie — and it depends if you believe they have their place in black tie ensembles. I think their visible points compliments tuxedos with peaked lapels. If you have a shawl-collared jacket, which relates closer to the casual smoking jacket, then consider going with the less formal spread collar. 
As for bibs or pleats, it’s again worth looking to the traditions of white tie for stylistic cues. The bib front often is made with a pique fabric (also called “marcella”) that’s associated with white tie and considered a more formal choice. Still, I think you could safely pick either and just go with your personal preference. The vertical lines of a pleated front could be beneficial to those looking to elongate their torso visually. 
Unfortunately, off-the-rack options for such shirts are limited under the $100 pricepoint. Charles Tyrwhitt’s shirts start at around $80 and they offer a slim fit version. The next best deal is the bib front from Suitsupply at $99 (slim fit) and for $20 more you can get a pleated front instead (extra-slim fit). 
I’ve personally owned the Hugo Boss Black slim fit bib front with a fly placket and darts on the back and found it to be quite good for $125. Remaining south of $150, you can pick among Brooks Brothers, Polo Ralph Lauren and Kent Wang.
Of course, when you’re around $150, then you might want to consider going with made-to-measure, at which point your options really open up quite a bit. But at this point, you might be pushing your luck with receiving your shirt in time for New Year’s Eve depending on your shirtmaker and shipping time. 
Finally, remember to avoid wearing a regular white dress shirt with your tuxedo — especially one with barrel cuffs, plastic buttons and a chest pocket. 
-Kiyoshi
(Photo via Time/Life)

Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget: A Black Tie Guide

Our series on putting together an ensemble for black tie affairs on time and on a slim budget continues. Today we discuss finding the proper shirt. Click here to read the rest of the Black Tie Guide

Part 2: The Evening Shirt

While you can find fairly good deals on eBay for the tuxedo, it can be tougher when it comes to the shirt, especially if you have a preference for something that fits a bit more trim in the body and sleeve. 

A few things you want to look for in a tuxedo shirt:

  • French cuffs
  • Placket should allow for studs (bib front) or use mother-of-pearl buttons (pleated front)
  • White cotton that’s thinner, i.e.: poplin or broadcloth — avoid heavier weights
  • Spread or wing collar 
  • Bib or pleated front (this means no pockets)

Which collar should you go with? Wing collars come from a more formal tradition — white tie — and it depends if you believe they have their place in black tie ensembles. I think their visible points compliments tuxedos with peaked lapels. If you have a shawl-collared jacket, which relates closer to the casual smoking jacket, then consider going with the less formal spread collar. 

As for bibs or pleats, it’s again worth looking to the traditions of white tie for stylistic cues. The bib front often is made with a pique fabric (also called “marcella”) that’s associated with white tie and considered a more formal choice. Still, I think you could safely pick either and just go with your personal preference. The vertical lines of a pleated front could be beneficial to those looking to elongate their torso visually. 

Unfortunately, off-the-rack options for such shirts are limited under the $100 pricepoint. Charles Tyrwhitt’s shirts start at around $80 and they offer a slim fit version. The next best deal is the bib front from Suitsupply at $99 (slim fit) and for $20 more you can get a pleated front instead (extra-slim fit). 

I’ve personally owned the Hugo Boss Black slim fit bib front with a fly placket and darts on the back and found it to be quite good for $125. Remaining south of $150, you can pick among Brooks Brothers, Polo Ralph Lauren and Kent Wang.

Of course, when you’re around $150, then you might want to consider going with made-to-measure, at which point your options really open up quite a bit. But at this point, you might be pushing your luck with receiving your shirt in time for New Year’s Eve depending on your shirtmaker and shipping time. 

Finally, remember to avoid wearing a regular white dress shirt with your tuxedo — especially one with barrel cuffs, plastic buttons and a chest pocket. 

-Kiyoshi

(Photo via Time/Life)

Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget: A Black Tie Guide
Our new contributor Kiyoshi Martinez has expensive tastes - but not a lot of scratch. In this series, he’ll show you how to put together a black tie ensemble without breaking the bank.
Part 1: The Tuxedo
It might just be the circles I travel in, but it’s rare I have the opportunity to wear black tie. Still, I find the excuse at least once a year to don the tuxedo for New Year’s Eve. Now’s a good time to start thinking about getting the various elements of a black-tie ensemble together if you want to have everything in place for the end of the year.
Black tie items don’t often go on sale or come cheap, but I’ll still be trying to offer some of the best values that can hopefully be affordable, starting with the tuxedo itself.
First, you’ll want to avoid renting one, as most rentals are polyester monstrosities that drape like a trash-bag poncho. Here’s a few key things to look for in your tuxedo:
Peaked or shawl lapels — avoid notched lapels
Single-button fastening for single-breasted jackets
Double-breasted jackets work fine, too
Preferably jetted besom pockets (if it has flaps, tuck them in)
Unvented or double-vented backs, depending if you want to be traditional or modern
Satin or grosgrain faced lapels and piping on the trousers
Preferably midnight blue in color, but black will do
If you’re on a budget, then I suggest looking at eBay. I prefer to search eBay U.K. using the term “dinner suit” or “dinner jacket” instead of “tuxedo”, which is an American term. You can often find a vintage one for $100-$200. It’s where I found mine. 
If you want to buy off the rack, I’d take a look at Tommy Hilfiger’s slim-fit line. It comes in both shawl and peaked lapel versions, however, it also has flapped pockets and a two-button front. Still, the price is a moderately reasonable $350 and I know several friends who’ve been perfectly happy with this line of suits. 
If your budget is higher, then consider Suit Supply, whose peaked lapel, one-button tuxedo looks like one of the best deals under the $500 price point. I recommended it to a friend of mine who wore one at his wedding and it looked fantastic on him. 
Keep in mind that you’ll need time to ship it to your home and get alterations done, so there’s a bit of a time crunch. Hopefully you have a good relationship with your tailor so he or she can have it ready in time. 
When getting your tuxedo altered, be sure to bring the appropriate shoes and shirt to the fitting so the sleeves show the correct amount of cuff and the pants can be hemmed precisely. 
Finally, keep your tuxedo simple and basic as much as possible. Avoid the temptation of a white dinner jacket, which is only really suitable for warm climates or summer, and avoid straying into jackets with flashy elements, odd colors or too-trendy cuts as they’ll look dated and the tuxedo is only a value when it’s timeless in design.
- Kiyoshi

Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget: A Black Tie Guide

Our new contributor Kiyoshi Martinez has expensive tastes - but not a lot of scratch. In this series, he’ll show you how to put together a black tie ensemble without breaking the bank.

Part 1: The Tuxedo

It might just be the circles I travel in, but it’s rare I have the opportunity to wear black tie. Still, I find the excuse at least once a year to don the tuxedo for New Year’s Eve. Now’s a good time to start thinking about getting the various elements of a black-tie ensemble together if you want to have everything in place for the end of the year.

Black tie items don’t often go on sale or come cheap, but I’ll still be trying to offer some of the best values that can hopefully be affordable, starting with the tuxedo itself.

First, you’ll want to avoid renting one, as most rentals are polyester monstrosities that drape like a trash-bag poncho. Here’s a few key things to look for in your tuxedo:

  • Peaked or shawl lapels — avoid notched lapels
  • Single-button fastening for single-breasted jackets
  • Double-breasted jackets work fine, too
  • Preferably jetted besom pockets (if it has flaps, tuck them in)
  • Unvented or double-vented backs, depending if you want to be traditional or modern
  • Satin or grosgrain faced lapels and piping on the trousers
  • Preferably midnight blue in color, but black will do

If you’re on a budget, then I suggest looking at eBay. I prefer to search eBay U.K. using the term “dinner suit” or “dinner jacket” instead of “tuxedo”, which is an American term. You can often find a vintage one for $100-$200. It’s where I found mine. 

If you want to buy off the rack, I’d take a look at Tommy Hilfiger’s slim-fit line. It comes in both shawl and peaked lapel versions, however, it also has flapped pockets and a two-button front. Still, the price is a moderately reasonable $350 and I know several friends who’ve been perfectly happy with this line of suits. 

If your budget is higher, then consider Suit Supply, whose peaked lapel, one-button tuxedo looks like one of the best deals under the $500 price point. I recommended it to a friend of mine who wore one at his wedding and it looked fantastic on him. 

Keep in mind that you’ll need time to ship it to your home and get alterations done, so there’s a bit of a time crunch. Hopefully you have a good relationship with your tailor so he or she can have it ready in time. 

When getting your tuxedo altered, be sure to bring the appropriate shoes and shirt to the fitting so the sleeves show the correct amount of cuff and the pants can be hemmed precisely. 

Finally, keep your tuxedo simple and basic as much as possible. Avoid the temptation of a white dinner jacket, which is only really suitable for warm climates or summer, and avoid straying into jackets with flashy elements, odd colors or too-trendy cuts as they’ll look dated and the tuxedo is only a value when it’s timeless in design.

- Kiyoshi

We Got It For Free: SuitSupply Suit 
In my short time writing about men’s clothing, I’ve been asked no less than a dozen times by readers to recommend a suit priced around $500. I’ve never been able to give a good answer. Recently, however, SuitSupply sent me this navy, chalk-striped suit to review after reading my post on their made-to-measure program. Of all the suits I’ve seen in this price tier, at least in terms of MSRP pricing, this is easily the best I’ve seen. 
To start, the suit is fairly well cut. The jacket buttons at my natural waist and it’s long enough to cover my rear. The collar always stays on my neck and the shoulders neither dimple nor rumple. Additionally, the pants sit on, not just at, my hips and the back fork falls fairly cleanly. These may seem like really basic points, but you’d be surprised how difficult it is to find a suit in this price range that meet them. 
The construction is also fairly decent. It’s a half-canvas made with a softer canvas material, and the shoulders are soft and sloping. Both of these features make the suit look more natural when worn. Additionally, the buttons are made of horn and the chalk stripes match up neatly as they move across the pockets. 
There are two downsides, however. First, the armholes aren’t as high as they could be, which causes the jacket to lift when the arms are raised. The sleeves also have functioning buttonholes, which means they can be altered only up to 3/4ths of an inch (either let out or taken up). If your arms are shorter than that allowance, you’ll have to take the sleeve up from the armhole, which can cost you about $100. You could also try the longer and shorter versions of your suit size, but that may throw other proportions off. 
At the same time, both of these issues are fairly common for off-the-rack suits, especially in this price tier. They’re hardly unique to SuitSupply (I’ve also been told that the Washington and Sevilla models have higher armholes). In the end, this suit is classically proportioned, well fitting, and decently constructed. I would enthusiastically recommend it to anyone. SuitSupply is working in a price tier with competitors that are selling either fused suits or ones made with really bad cuts (e.g. skinny lapels or short jackets). They’ve upped the quality, brought cuts into better balance, and selling it all for around $500. In terms of quality and fit, these are comparable to many brands selling at more than $1,000. While their custom clothing program is only available to those who can make it into one of their stores, their ready-to-wear line (which is a full menswear collection, by the way) can be ordered by anyone online.
So, in the future, if anyone asks for a recommendation for a suit priced around $500, I finally have an answer - SuitSupply.

We Got It For Free: SuitSupply Suit

In my short time writing about men’s clothing, I’ve been asked no less than a dozen times by readers to recommend a suit priced around $500. I’ve never been able to give a good answer. Recently, however, SuitSupply sent me this navy, chalk-striped suit to review after reading my post on their made-to-measure program. Of all the suits I’ve seen in this price tier, at least in terms of MSRP pricing, this is easily the best I’ve seen. 

To start, the suit is fairly well cut. The jacket buttons at my natural waist and it’s long enough to cover my rear. The collar always stays on my neck and the shoulders neither dimple nor rumple. Additionally, the pants sit on, not just at, my hips and the back fork falls fairly cleanly. These may seem like really basic points, but you’d be surprised how difficult it is to find a suit in this price range that meet them. 

The construction is also fairly decent. It’s a half-canvas made with a softer canvas material, and the shoulders are soft and sloping. Both of these features make the suit look more natural when worn. Additionally, the buttons are made of horn and the chalk stripes match up neatly as they move across the pockets. 

There are two downsides, however. First, the armholes aren’t as high as they could be, which causes the jacket to lift when the arms are raised. The sleeves also have functioning buttonholes, which means they can be altered only up to 3/4ths of an inch (either let out or taken up). If your arms are shorter than that allowance, you’ll have to take the sleeve up from the armhole, which can cost you about $100. You could also try the longer and shorter versions of your suit size, but that may throw other proportions off. 

At the same time, both of these issues are fairly common for off-the-rack suits, especially in this price tier. They’re hardly unique to SuitSupply (I’ve also been told that the Washington and Sevilla models have higher armholes). In the end, this suit is classically proportioned, well fitting, and decently constructed. I would enthusiastically recommend it to anyone. SuitSupply is working in a price tier with competitors that are selling either fused suits or ones made with really bad cuts (e.g. skinny lapels or short jackets). They’ve upped the quality, brought cuts into better balance, and selling it all for around $500. In terms of quality and fit, these are comparable to many brands selling at more than $1,000. While their custom clothing program is only available to those who can make it into one of their stores, their ready-to-wear line (which is a full menswear collection, by the way) can be ordered by anyone online.

So, in the future, if anyone asks for a recommendation for a suit priced around $500, I finally have an answer - SuitSupply.

Suit Supply’s Made-to-Measure Program

Five months ago or so, this article in the Wall Street Journal generated quite a buzz over an Amsterdam-based company called Suit Supply. In it, they deemed Suit Supply to be of more or less the same quality as Armani, and praised the brand for having high-quality Italian fabric, clean construction, and “lots of attention to detail.” I found the piece intriguing, but was still skeptical. Armani is an over-priced fashion-driven brand like Louis Vuitton, and I’m cynical of overused phrases such as “lots of attention to detail.” The article still failed to say anything substantive, even about the most basic construction points such as whether the suits were canvassed. 

More recently, a friend of mine in the industry commented that he thought Suit Supply’s suits were of good quality and that their made-to-measure program offered excellent value. Given how much he knows about the manufacturing of men’s clothing, I took his opinion very seriously and decided to investigate. 

It turns out Suit Supply might be one of the better made-to-measure values around. A few points:

  • First, the fabrics for the made-to-measure suits are excellent. The company uses Ariston and Vitale Barberis Canonico, two excellent mills that supply many high-end manufacturers and custom tailors (e.g. Sartoria Partenopea, Brioni, Patrick Johnson, WW Chan, etc). 
  • Second, everything is either half- or fully-canvassed. Production takes place in Portugal, Italy, Mexico, and China. I don’t know anything about the last three factories, but I do know that the Portuguese factory manufacturers for a number of very high-quality lines. I can’t reveal other people’s sourcing, but I have confidence the the manufacturing there is quite good given who else the factory serves. 
  • Third, there actually is an impressive level attention to detail. The Jort model, for example, has an incredible amount of handwork - the setting and sewing of shoulders; collar construction; sewing of canvas; attachment of buttons; and pick stitching are all done by hand
  • Fourth, there is the fit. Of course, it all comes down to fit. The photos above show two MTM jackets - one in the Roma model and the other in the London. The sleeves are a touch short for my taste, but this can easily be addressed in the measuring process. The jacket seems to fit fairly well otherwise. Made-to-measure, as you know, takes a pre-made paper pattern and adjusts it to your measurements. Here, there are eighty points of adjustment. It’s not as ideal as bespoke, where something is truly custom made for you, but it’s quite good. 
  • Prices start at $899. It’s an expensive buy, but for a custom-made suit, with this level of materials, construction, and detailing, I think Suit Supply is an incredible deal. 

They have seven models to choose from. It would be too much to cover all of them here, but I’d like to highlight the Roma (shown above in the first photo). The Roma has wider lapels, soft shoulders, high gorge, open quarters/ cutaway front, and patch pockets. If those terms are too technical for you, just know that this is a very rakish, casual Italian/ Neapolitan look. It’s a style that I strongly favor, but of course, your tastes may differ. 

Unfortunately, you have to be near one of their stores in order to get measured. In the United States, that would be in New York City. If you can get to NYC, however, I encourage you to stop by their store for a visit. Nish (who formerly worked at Cucinelli for six years) runs the operation. He bent over backwards to get me all the information I needed for this article, which gives me confidence that he will give you excellent service. 

Finally, Suit Supply also has a wide range of off-the-rack offerings, starting at $400, for those interested something more affordable. I don’t have as much information on those garments, but I’m hoping to get my hands on one of their off-the-rack suits soon. When I do, I do a full review of it here. 

I’ve been impressed by what I’ve read and seen from Suit Supply, a Dutch company which has recently opened its first store here in the US. They sell store-branded suits, all of which are at least partially canvassed, in very contemporary styles, for a reasonable price. All sounds great, right?
The downside, though, is significant: all of their suits have functional button holes on their cuffs. This means that the buttonholes are real, open-and-closable, rather than sewn onto the outside symbolically, like on most off-the-rack suits.
Functional button holes are a sign of quality - on a custom-made suit. The reason a custom-made suit can have functional button holes is that the sleeves are cut to a custom length. Once buttonholes are cut, it’s major surgery to change the length of sleeves, so they’re typically only cut when the customer’s exact sleeve length preference is available. That means by a tailor. Once they’re cut, they can’t be un-cut.
Typically, the cuffs off-the-rack suits come one of two ways. Lower-end suits come with non-functional cuffs, with buttons sewed to the outside of the sleeve. These can be easily lengthened or shortened as necessary - an alterationist just moves the buttons in a $20 alteration. Higher-end suits come with unfinished cuffs, which are cut to length by the purchaser’s tailor. This costs more like $50, as the tailor must cut the buttonholes himself.
With a finished cuff, the only way to alter the length of the sleeve is at the shoulder, a complicated and expensive process that doesn’t always work perfectly.The sleeve is removed completely, then re-attached. This is always dicey, and often costs about a hundred bucks.
This means that by using functional button holes, an essentially symbolic sign of luxury, Suit Supply has consigned every one of their customers whose arm length doesn’t happen to perfectly match the one they’ve cut to an ill-fitting suit. That’s probably what, 75 or 80% of their buyers?
Bummer, huh?

I’ve been impressed by what I’ve read and seen from Suit Supply, a Dutch company which has recently opened its first store here in the US. They sell store-branded suits, all of which are at least partially canvassed, in very contemporary styles, for a reasonable price. All sounds great, right?

The downside, though, is significant: all of their suits have functional button holes on their cuffs. This means that the buttonholes are real, open-and-closable, rather than sewn onto the outside symbolically, like on most off-the-rack suits.

Functional button holes are a sign of quality - on a custom-made suit. The reason a custom-made suit can have functional button holes is that the sleeves are cut to a custom length. Once buttonholes are cut, it’s major surgery to change the length of sleeves, so they’re typically only cut when the customer’s exact sleeve length preference is available. That means by a tailor. Once they’re cut, they can’t be un-cut.

Typically, the cuffs off-the-rack suits come one of two ways. Lower-end suits come with non-functional cuffs, with buttons sewed to the outside of the sleeve. These can be easily lengthened or shortened as necessary - an alterationist just moves the buttons in a $20 alteration. Higher-end suits come with unfinished cuffs, which are cut to length by the purchaser’s tailor. This costs more like $50, as the tailor must cut the buttonholes himself.

With a finished cuff, the only way to alter the length of the sleeve is at the shoulder, a complicated and expensive process that doesn’t always work perfectly.The sleeve is removed completely, then re-attached. This is always dicey, and often costs about a hundred bucks.

This means that by using functional button holes, an essentially symbolic sign of luxury, Suit Supply has consigned every one of their customers whose arm length doesn’t happen to perfectly match the one they’ve cut to an ill-fitting suit. That’s probably what, 75 or 80% of their buyers?

Bummer, huh?