Ever since a couple of years ago during the Mad Men craze, I got pretty interested in men's clothing. And by that I don't mean Kid Robot t-shirts, but instead well fitting dress clothing. My job, by nature, doesn't require me to dress up, which I like. But there are times when I need/want to feel pretty. I admit it.
So, I looked into the suit thing. It quickly became apparent that suits were made for models, or off-the-rack suits anyway. Reading through sites like The Art of Manliness will tell you that, as will the numerous other sites you'll find in your research. Hell, you can just try one on and find that (assuming you're not a model, though if you were you probably have free suits anyway you lucky son of a bitch). So what's a guy to do?
Bespoke suits. A bespoke suit is a suit which is entirely customized for you. They take your measurements, they cut the fabric to those measurements, you go in for multiple fittings, and after several weeks you have a one-of-the-kind, entirely made for you suit. It's like a high-end wedding dress. But for dudes. And probably not white. Looking into bespoke suits will, before long, lead you to discovering about Saville Row, which is the epicenter of fine, high quality tailoring and the best bespoke suit money can buy. And holy hell, does that come at a price. You probably can't get a good suit on a typical day for less than $2,000. The average price ranges from about $2,000 to $5,000, though with some rare and hard to find fabrics, it can go far beyond that. Some deals here and there could get you one for around $1,200 to $1,500, but that's still a chunk of change. Imagine spilling something on that suit? I'd probably murder whoever was sitting next to me just on instinct, even if it wasn't there fault. That's like wearing a used car. A shitty used car, but a car nonetheless.
Then, digging around some more I found the concept of this online bespoke tailoring. Seemed too good to be true, until I found out that while London tailors are the best at their craft, Hong Kong tailors are nothing to scoff at. Typically, Hong Kong tailors will do tours of the US from time to time (once or twice a year) and setup shop in a local common area. I know that even way up here in Portland, ME, some of the best Hong Kong tailors will come by and setup in hotels (the conference rooms, not their own rooms... I think) and you can get measured and then several weeks later receive a suit.
Of course, with the advent of the interwebs, it was only a matter of time before someone figured out a way to make this work while you sit at home. The first of these services I tried was A Tailored Suit. I had my buddy measure me up for a shirt, which was about $100. You might think that's a lot for a shirt, but I can't stand swimmy arms, a loose-fitting back and/or a tight neck. Those are common themes when I shop for shirts. Do you know why? Because I'm not a damn model! I received the shirt a few weeks later with a hand written note from the owner (nice touch - I was impressed). The shirt fit very well and I was quite happy with it. The customizations were so vast, I picked some things I probably shouldn't have. I should have kept it basic, and I should have ponied up a few more dollars for a nicer fabric, but this was just a test run anyway. I even got a call from the same owner a couple weeks later to make sure everything fit okay. They offer two services: I could send it back for alterations or take it to a tailor for alterations and they'll comp me up to a certain amount of money. Thankfully, I didn't need any alterations and I was satisfied with my purchase. The upside here is that my measurements were now on file, and it would be a breeze to instantly order another shirt with the exact customizations I wanted. Considering that a shirt that fits decently typically costs me about $60, I wasn't bent out of shape at spending $100 to $150 for a shirt, plus I hate going out and shopping. Now that I know my sizes with clothes and what brands fit me, I'm in and out of stores in less than 5 minutes - I don't even try stuff on anymore.
Fast forward a couple of years. I've had my eye on a very similar service this entire time called Indochino. It started pretty soon after I ordered my first custom shirt from A Tailored Suit, and the website was high-polish (which I appreciated). I read some reviews, did some research and found that most people were generally happy except that a few people had to send their pants back for being way too short, but it all worked out in the end. Similar to A Tailored Suit, they give instructions so you can measure yourself at home, but A Tailored Suit will give you a credit (up to $25) if you use a local tailor for your measurements. Indochino does not, but states that at-home measurements are usually accurate and give the best results. Not sure if I buy that, but okay. Indochino does offer up to $75 for a local tailor if you need alterations after getting your order, and if need be, they will remake the suit entirely. That's pretty great.
Recently, a deal became available on Gilt City. The deal was for a suit from Indochino's Essentials collection for $339 (normally $379). The original price was already a great deal, but the Gilt City deal also included a shirt and a tie, so I was in. Plus, on top of that, my lovely cousin Sarah gave me a $50 gift card to Gilt which I promptly used to get in on this.
Tonight, I had my girlfriend size me up with some measuring tape (not the construction kind). We walked through each step of the measuring process, watching Indochino's videos along the way. If you're going to do this at home, make sure you wear your best fitting dress clothing (shirt, pants and shoes) before doing it. It was relatively painless, though tailors are clearly more seasoned at this and there was a lot of second guessing and wondering if we were doing it right. I put in the order for a classic navy suit, fancy-free white shirt (Indochino calls it their "utility" shirt) and a couple of ties (one of them being part of the deal, so I only ended up paying $39 for the extra tie).
And now all of my measurements are on file. Will it fit the first time? I'm not sure. Will it be of quality? Yeah, it probably will be. But if all goes well, and I'm hoping it does, I'll be able to just click and order another suit in less than a couple of minutes. The website process was slick as hell, so here's to hoping the rest of the process is the same. I'll write another post once it comes in (slated for around 4 weeks right now, which is backed up for them) and even show some pictures of how it fits me out of the box.
Another big thanks to Sarah for the gift card (making this whole thing even cheaper than expected) and Casey for putting up with my bitching during the measurements.