Why did I start this site? Well, I think that every item in a person’s closet has a story. It may be a story about how you came to acquire a particular item, it may be a story about things that have happened while being worn, or it may be a story about how the garment was made, but everything in your closet has a story. I decided that I wanted to tell those stories as a creative release.
The suit pictured here is what set me on the sartorial path in a serious way. It’s not the first suit I’ve owned and I certainly hope it won’t be the last, but it marks a significant shift in my interest in men’s clothing and men’s fashion. This is my first custom made-to-measure suit.
So how did I come to have a suit custom-made? Well, in 2011 or 2012 after several years of having my doctor frown at my test results which indicated that my blood sugar levels were elevated and my weight was in the obese range, I finally decided to do something about it. I cut way back on candy and completely cut out Coke and similar drinks. I also began to use a step monitor (Fitbit Flex) and after consulting with a nutritionist to get an estimate on what my daily caloric intake should be, I started tracking my caloric intake and expenditure with My Fitness Pal. I increased my activity by committing to walking two miles at my lunch break three days a week and trying to get at least 7000 steps everyday.
After about a year of this change I had lost 53 pounds and found that almost all of my clothes no longer fit me properly. I had gone from an XL shirt to a M and from 38 inch jeans to 33/34 (I hope we all know this doesn’t really correlate to waist size). As a way to motivate me to keep the weight off I decided to invest in a made-to-measure (MTM) suit. My thinking was that by investing a considerable amount in something I would not want to see that investment as a waste by no longer being able to wear it. I started doing some research and it quickly became clear that if I was only planning on having one suit then I should focus on grey or navy. I also researched menswear stores in my area to identify someplace that offered made-to-measure. I was delighted to find four well regarded locations: Savile Lane, Cuff’s, Davide Cotugno, and Christophier. Given my budget I decided to work with Savile Lane.
Before heading to Savile Lane I researched suit construction and what options were typical in MTM suiting. The major differences between MTM suit makers are quality of cloth and suit construction. The price of the cloth used depends on the material, pattern, and weave. I wanted to stay with wools and among wools sheep’s wool should be less expensive than Cashmere or other wool fabrics. The next step was to decide on a super number range for the fabric. Wool suiting fabrics are classified using the Super number. The lower the number the heavier the fabric, so a Super 100, 110, or 120 will be heavier than Super 150, 160, 180 and in general more durable. If you are only going to have one suit that you plan to wear often then you want to use a Super 100 or 110 wool. For the construction you will need to consider the canvassing since this will have the most impact on cost. The canvas is composed of wool and horse hair and is what helps a suit mold to your body as you wear your suit. The canvas sits between the inner lining and the chest piece which is then covered with the suiting fabric. The canvas can be hand stitched to the suit fabric or applied with fusing and cover the entire front of the suit, half of the front of the suit, or without canvas. The most expensive and most durable option is a full hand-stitched canvas. So I now knew I wanted a Super 110 wool and full hand-stitched canvas.
At this point I was ready to go to Savile Lane and look at what fabrics and construction options they had. Savile Lane didn’t really have Super 100-120 fabrics and so I chose a charcoal Super 140s fabric. I requested working cuff buttons, two button stance, and flap pockets. For the lining I chose a plain purple Bemberg. I also requested a full hand-stitched canvas. This was not something that Savile Lane usually did and they had to check with the production facility to see if it was possible. The report was that with a $50 surcharge they could do it (This turned out to be an issue). After deciding on all these details and having measurements taken the order was placed and submitted to Savile Lane’s manufacturing facility to be completed in five weeks.
Five weeks later I had not received a notice that the suit was ready and when I spoke to them it turns out that the canvassing was the hold up. Nobody at the facility had hand-stitched canvassing before and it was taking them a little while to figure it out. In the end it took about seven weeks for Savile Lane to receive the completed suit to try on for final adjustments. A week later after the sleeves had been shortened, the pants hemmed, and the waist adjusted I was able to pick up the finished suit. For me it now seems ironic that right after placing the order for the suit my father was diagnosed with liver cancer. It was just a couple of months after the suit was finished that I wore it to his funeral. So you can see that there are several memories (happy and sad) associated with this suit and I recall all of them every time I wear it.
So began my adventure into men’s fashion.