Custom Suit Discussion

It is time to upgrade!

Like many of us on WSO I got my navy and charcoal suits, 4-6 white and blue dress shirts, my Allen Edmond (AE) park avenue shoes, and made it through the interviews and internship. 

Now that I am starting full time I would like to build a wardrobe of 4-5 custom suits I wear consistently. What felt like a simple task of adding in conservative suits of slightly different navy's and grey's has turned into a complicated custom suit adventure as I navigate the never ending world of fabric colors, weaves and patterns. 

Now to be fair, I am making this more complicated. So if you were jumping in here to tell me something like "no brown in town" or "I like to go navy for my first suit" thanks but no thanks prospect.

As an incoming overpaid associate I am willing to spend a good amount of money on my wardrobe but also don't want to screw it up. My body is an odd slim shape so having custom fitting is important for me to look professional. I found a good tailor with a cut that fits me well and reasonable prices. I don't have many expensive hobbies, not into watches or fancy whiskeys, so paying $1-2k (which is what I will be paying for Loro Piana custom MTM suits, don't need help here) per suit is fine as long as I use it for 3-5 years. 

Some will read this and think "why doesn't he just tell his tailor he wants something standard?" The truth is your bosses and bosses bosses are all wearing a combination and variety of different suit/shirt color, patterns, weaves, materials that all appear as "standard" to our simpleton minds. And since I can't afford a $7k/suit Saville row bespoke fashionista tailor like John Weinberg, I am asking my fellow internet monkeys for advice!

For those who have advanced to custom/bespoke suit buying or are comfortable sharing your personal style, here are some questions I have for you:

1. Suit Fabric -  What type of fabric weight and super (S) count do you usually go with? In the past my suits have all been standard S110s and usually 280g+. I'm finding that in the summertime these are pretty heavy and hot and I would like something lighter. In addition, finer fabrics (Super150+), seem smoother and more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, while also being lighter (usually 250g). I've heard these finer fabrics can wear faster, what has been your experience? Can the heat concern also be addressed with half or quarter lining? Do you lose formality doing less lining?

2. Fabric Pattern - Birdseye, Nailhead, Sharkskin, Herringbone, Plain weave? What are the general fabric patterns for an environment like Investment Banking/Private Equity? Are certain patterns too bold? I imagine it depends. Do you diversify? I've heard Birdseye and Sharkskin are safe for "the boardroom" and are formal. (Assuming 100% wool fabrics here and no linen, silk, cashmere, but am open to suggestions) Here is a list of S170 Loro Piana fabrics I am looking at. I know I can't pull off pinstripes, check, creams/browns, linens, probably not Herringbone either, but are Sharkskins like N13041/N13047 too aggressive? Should I stick with something even simpler (like N13063) so I don't look like a goof? 

3. Color - Simpler question. Not a huge fane of check print but do people ever do windowpane? I don't see much light grey I'm guessing it isn't that formal? Charcoal, medium grey, navy, and dark blues seem to represent 95%+ of the suits I see on the street. Going to stick with those unless I get a sense I have a greenlight to do otherwise. 

4. Shirt patterns - Yes we do white and blues with suits but does everyone keep it standard with poplin (broadscloth) and oxford weaves? Or do you ever branch out and do twill, jacquard, herringbone, royal oxford? Do certain patterns go better with specific suits? Just curious...

5. Suit features - I'm assuming notched lapels until I'm David Solomon? Do you guys do belt loops on every pair of slacks? Is half or quarter lining appropriate? Do you ever cuff the slacks? Always go with structured shoulders?

6. Shoes - Now I know this is a topic big enough it deserves its own post but!... when do you bust out the loafers with a suit? Socks or no socks? Gucci/Ferragamo bit loafers at a client meeting? (Seems bold but what do I know) If I want to upgrade my oxfords from AEs what is a good brand to go with? Everyone says "no brown in town" but they clearly haven't been outside because I see it all the time. 

For all the high school prospects on this forum (90% lol) this post is useless but for you seasoned financiers that appreciate the sartorial arts... I long for your wisdom! Feel free to share you style and personal fashion choices, thank you for taking the time, and answer whatever questions you like :)

TLDR: BOLD

Edit: There seems to be some confusion regarding my post and I apologize if this is my fault. I do not need help finding a place to get the suits made or cheap brands. I already have a tailor that will custom make a MTM suit with the custom fabric of my choice at a price point I am comfortable with. 

Comments (57)

Jul 21, 2022 - 7:39pm
GoingToBeAnMD, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You are going to have to increase your budget. Even on the "low" end, a good bespoke suit is between $2-3k nowadays. $1k? Not too many bespoke makers are that price point, that's still made-to-measure territory. 

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Jul 21, 2022 - 8:12pm
GoingToBeAnMD, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I still don't think you're on the right track. You say MTM but you post/ask questions like you want bespoke. So make sure you're accurate in what you're asking if you expect people to help you. 

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Jul 21, 2022 - 9:32pm
GoingToBeAnMD, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Is that supposed to make me feel bad, son??? "go back to brooks brothers"???? OHHH BUUUUURRRRRNNNNNN!!!!!

Your thread sucks anyways, son. 

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  • Business School in IB - Gen
Jul 21, 2022 - 9:37pm

I bet this commercial banker gets upset when he realizes that he can't ever get to high finance. Had to settle for a shitty commercial banking job.

Jul 21, 2022 - 9:38pm
BallsOnChinBoy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Lol it's clear this conversation is over ur head.

"Here are my specific questions about custom suit/shirt fabrics, colors and patterns"

incomes guy who only buys off the rack

"WHY YOU ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT BESPOKE!!? Hmm?"

^Clearly something an off the rack only dweeb would say who has never been in a bespoke shop^

Haha fckn bum, be gone with ur machine sown shitty threads

Jul 21, 2022 - 9:49pm
BoutiqueBaboon, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Saw ten replies and figured I'd check out what the crowd views on custom suits are. Zero comments actually answered any of the questions in OP. Classic WSO, when will I ever learn…

2020 Update: recounting my experiences in PE and sharing thoughts on recent deals at https://leverup.substack.com
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Jul 21, 2022 - 10:42pm
ccfarmer, what's your opinion? Comment below:

With your budget you probably need to fly to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, or Taiwan and get suits made. I think in Taiwan you can get bespoke suits for $400(?) Vietnam and Cambodia definitely less and they'll make the suits out of whatever the fuck you want. Round-trip flights will set you back $2k though

Jul 21, 2022 - 10:49pm
BallsOnChinBoy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Lol I didn't ask about budget, I didn't ask about where to get suits, I'm asking about what fabric types people like, shirt types, suit color variety, shoes,…

I don't need to go to somewhere in Asia to get my suits made. I already have the place and it priced out. Just looking for style tips.

Jul 21, 2022 - 10:53pm
poignant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

At your budget you should be looking at MTM or tailored OTR. I highly suggest Ralph Lauren Polo MTM and OTR Tailored. The quality far supersedes SuitSupply and in my opinion brooks brothers slightly. The other benefit is that unlike a fast fashion Chinese store like suitsupply, everything at Ralph Lauren will be classy. They don't allow too ridiculous changes or colours, and their associates will be extremely helpful in picking out customizations if you do their MTM.

Everything is made in Italy or the US and from premium mills. Not Loro Piana, but even suitsupply (which has garbage construction and makes everything in China for pennies) will charge at-least $1,600 for anything Loro Piana. Their fabrics understandably are just outside your price range.

For customizations I tend to keep it traditional and tame. No super skinny lapels, or yoga fitting pants, or notch lapels etc.

Further any OTR suit from Ralph can be tailored in house at any of their flagship stores and customized to a degree (buttons, belt loops, pockets, etc.). They will look great and be much nicer quality.

For shirts I would go to Spier and Mackay for under $120, and T&A if you're willing to pay for custom shirting and can be fitted ($600+/shirt). Biggest thing is no non wrinkle properties (destroys breathability with exception of Eton) and natraul buttons (mother of pearl or shell). Absolutely non of that plastic garbage. I prefer more contemporary spreads of collars and a mix of French cuff and more normal buttoned cuffed shirts personally with pastel colors and traditional stripes (English blues, and bengal to name a few). Nothing outlandish, no yellows, no modern shirting patterns.

For shoes I personally have never been a fan of Allen Edmonds, the cuts are just not for me. On the cheaper side of things Cole Haan will do you well. On the pricier ($500-$1200) Crockett and Jones has high quality shoes. Once you head close to $1,000 you're approaching bespoke shoe territory which will always be better. Personally I prefer whole cut oxfords but ultimately your decision.

Jul 21, 2022 - 10:59pm
BallsOnChinBoy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you for the detailed reply.

There seems to be some confusion in the comments. I already have a place where I can get quality Loro Piana fabric custom made MTM suits at a reasonable price. I do not need help in those areas.

Thank you for the comments regarding style. I haven't done French cuffs on shirts but am thinking of trying it. Crockett and Jones is a brand I keep hearing so I need to check them. I like AE but I don't like that they have become so universal.

Jul 21, 2022 - 11:21pm
apricots, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You can get custom for 1500-2k. Maybe 2500 … still fully bespoke. It's the fabric that matters for the cost (can get Loro or some dormeuil at that price). Shit can go up to 20k plus obviously just tell the dude ur range. Knotstandard. Or Michael Andrew's. Few other Just google it. Both of these places you'll hit that price and can pick literally every option (lapels, vents, pleats, buttons, lining, structure, double/single, pockets style/ ticket pocket, monogram etc… and style/fabric/etc possible. I think Alton lane too but never been tho? Proper cloth I think does suits too now, I've just used for shirts… A few others but they're more 5-7k min. Legit savile row bros but I've done both. For work just do the 2k ones. The few I mentioned are a little more commercial now vs getting some savile trained / apprenticed old dude vibe but it's 2-3x cost.

Jul 21, 2022 - 11:30pm
BallsOnChinBoy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It seems to be everyone's move here is to tell me about cost and where to get what. I'm asking about style. I already have the tailor and the prices set for that Loro Piana S170 book of fabric.For your custom suits, however you had them made, what type of pattern were your suits? What super count are your suits? What type of lining do you do? Do consistently use the same type of white shirt or do you switch up the pattern? Different colors etc.

Most Helpful
Jul 22, 2022 - 12:03am
apricots, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I mean talk to your tailor… Flip thru the books, prior suits he made, and pick your preferences. You asking me to pick the color?

… but mostly what you said… navy and grey/charcoal. I personally don't love the greys. I have some but I always find myself picking a new navy ish one/grabbing a navy suit for an event / work/ wedding. So mostly various navys/blues (not bright). Maybe a navy, light navy blue/ blue blue, med grey, charcoal and then some lightly patterned navy (something you barely see… dark windowpane or micro pinstrip). White shirts or just very very light blue. Maybe very very light pink or some lightly checked white/light blue. Again shit you wouldn't notice unless 5 feet away.

For work, fully line suits. Half is informal usually (summer suits/blazers etc). Mostly notch lapel if trying to be more conservative but peak is fine also. Maybe toss peak on the one you get some light pattern on… could be your wedding suit too / less conservative suit.

2 button jacket. Single vent in the back is more standard vs double/English style. But who cares really. Pockets should be the normal covered ones idk what they're called. Fine to add a ticket pocket on a suit or 2.

And then just switch hit better all the suits / shirts.

Jul 21, 2022 - 11:32pm
Ehmerica, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The one thing I recommend is having an older gentlemen measure you.  They will likely have more established clients who have a keen eye for the best patterns on fabrics, know what looks good on you, what will last in terms of style and how to measure you so you're comfortable while still looking good.

With regard to shoes you want to be able to cycle them.  The last thing you need is your foot odor stinking up the board room.

If there are any budget constraints building out the wardrobe over time is better than splurging up front.  This allows you to see what is worn at the office and identify subtle ways to stand out.  You can save on shoes up front with lower end brands and start adding higher quality as time moves on and cash flows in.

Remember you want to look like you perform at a bank and not a circus.

Only two sources I trust, Glenn Beck and singing woodland creatures.
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Jul 26, 2022 - 9:06pm
Ehmerica, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I normally see all shoes as being black or some form of brown.  Brown is where you can get a bit more diversity - e.g. bourbon (when available), chili and so on.  I'd focus more on the differences on overall shoe.  I like mine to have either a wing tip or cap toe of some sort.  It's subtle, but looks nice.

Only two sources I trust, Glenn Beck and singing woodland creatures.
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Jul 26, 2022 - 11:23am
Steam, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Would recommend against this. Most older gentleman tailors I've used have fitted me for a fit they'd wear and are hesitant to even consider something remotely slim fitting.

Array
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Jul 26, 2022 - 9:22pm
Ehmerica, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm a larger guy in general so it may be my bias.  Regardless of whether I was in the army or fresh out of college, a slimmer fit suit always bothered me.  I hate the feeling of it pulling against my shoulders or back.  It is probably from watching tommy boy too many times, but I always felt like I was doing the 'fat man in little coat' routine.  When I started getting MTM I thought at first it was because they were off the rack.  Eventually, I ended up getting a MTM suit from a local shop with a younger tailor and it gives the same effect.  Don't get me wrong it looks a good and is a bit more fashionable, however, it isn't a massive improvement in terms of looks.  That being said, its very much to each his own!

Only two sources I trust, Glenn Beck and singing woodland creatures.
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Jul 22, 2022 - 12:34pm
alth, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Just go to suit supply. They'll tailor your suit for free and all suits are under 1k and amazing quality.

Jul 22, 2022 - 4:18pm
backstreetabortion, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'll bite - I'm guessing you're based out of London. You should be able to find bespoke suits at the higher end of that range. These will typically be younger tailors who are trying to establish a name for themselves. There's a tailor an experienced tailor in London around that range who outsources his production to Saville Row trained tailors in Asia (they work exclusively for him). I'll try to find the name for you but I recommend searching on styleforum. I've also heard good things about Steed but that's more MTM apparently.

To answer your questions:

1- Suit Fabric: Ignore the S1## to a certain extent as its more of a marketing gimmick. That being said, you don't want anything superfine. Assuming these are day to day wear for work, I'd get something Fine Worsted. On the lower $ range end, I'd recommend Dugdale NFW; on the higher end Fine Worsted by Fox Brothers. They both have a starchier feel to it (nothing like S170, closer to S100), but they last long, are very breathable, have solid drape, and retain their crease easily; they don't wrinkle much either. Here an example of how it looks 

2- Pattern: Go for something plain like sharkskin to be honest. I'm not a huge fan of Nailhead or Birdseye, but to each their own. Prince of Wales can work as long as its subtle. I'd go herringbone on fancier/more formal fabrics as they elevate the look much better. Here is an example

3- Color: Stick with those unless your are going for a sport coat. Sport coats can be a more casual statement piece but I recommend getting those once you build your collection.

4- Shirt: Depends if you wear a tie - If you wear a tie, stick to solid white or blue (make sure to have a wide spread - you want to avoid looking like this). If no tie then I'd recomment striped (white w/ blue bengal stripes) or plain with a slight cutawar collar.

5- Suit Features: I tend to go softer shoulder as I have broad shoulders. If you're skinny go with a structured shoulder. Lapel sizing should be on the larger end IMO, as it makes you look more muscular (its all about proportions). I'd personally go with Besom pockets as they are more versatile and cleaner (even though more formal) - its the little things that elevate the look. In terms of pants, make sure they are sitting on your hip bone. Most people nowadays have low rises which makes their legs look short and stumpy. You want it to look like this --> this also makes you look taller. Pleats are a matter of preferance, but I'd recommend single reverse pleat. Also get the trousers front lined to the knee - It helps durability. For jacket, I'd recomment a butterfly lining so you keep the breathability.

6- Shoes: TLB Artista. Carmina is also a good option too.

Jul 22, 2022 - 4:44pm
BallsOnChinBoy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you thank you. This is great.

1. S170 is pretty fine, I'll see how this new S150 suit I got holds up. Also looking into some Zegna/VBC/Reda S120s. Do you recommend double trousers for finer fabrics? 

2. To my knowledge neither of my first 2 custom suits have any specific weave/pattern/texture (whatever its called) like nailshead, birdseye, or sharkskin and are all "plain." Looking to change it up for the next suit and was think of doing this dark blue (N13047) but don't want to be too aggressive. 

3. Everyone above was dumping on grey and I get it, seems boring, but anytime I search a google images on a senior banker, medium grey/charcoal is almost all I see. 

4. Yep. Sticking to solid white and light blue shirts.

5. Been going with 8.5cm (3.25inch) lapels, seems standard, thinking about trying 9.5cm (3.5inch). Never tried Besom pockets but looked it up and it does give a new look. 

6. Shoe recs look solid, I will for sure dig around.

Thank you again!

Jul 23, 2022 - 12:12am
backstreetabortion, what's your opinion? Comment below:

S170 is way too fine for work in my opinion - Those fabrics are usually for very formal events and wrinkle and wear too easily. If your tailor is recommending those fabrics for workwear, then you should find a new tailor as he's not looking out for your best interest (unless you don't care about buying new suits every year).

Nailsheard, Birdseye are all "plain". I'm just not a fan of it up close/feel wise. I typically like sharkskin or a twill-like weave.

I tend to double my trousers as those are always the first thing to go bad - I also tend to rotate the trousers to keep even wear to match with the jacket (fabrics fade slightly over time)

Jul 23, 2022 - 5:02am
KAleksandrov, what's your opinion? Comment below:

All of these users are clowns. I don't work in IB - I don't even work in finance at all. However, I work at an operating level in a tech firm, I'm certain that I make most of the posters' here annual compensation just through my equity payout yearly alone.I own a few VERY high end suits (13 to 14k) but in London, it is very possible to find a solid, bespoke suit around 2 to 2.5k (although it'll probably be a less experienced tailor you'll be working with).

Try RMO with your price range

Jul 26, 2022 - 11:22am
Steam, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Here's sim actual advice from someone fairly well versed in MTM suiting;

1) go for a variety of colors within the dark/medium blue/charcoal/light gray range.

2) don't personally agree with pinstripes / think they're outdated. Don't need to go with something as ostentatious as a windowpane fabric, but would actually do so and suggest mixing and matching the unique pattern tops with plain pants and vice-versa. Look into sharkfin (I believe that's the name), Glen plaid, and similar patterns when you want to get crazy. Throw a herringbone in there too if you want.

3) the higher the fabric number (S150s, etc) will be very fine fabric and not at all something you should be wearing regularly. They're made to be worn very lightly and only when you have a decent wardrobe and can rotate them in once a month would I consider anything in that tier. Typically, I don't see a need to go for this and have most suits made in standard 110s for basics and 120s for other patterns. They're workhorse fabrics and will last you a while, especially through repeated wears.

4) you don't need peak lapels, maybe one is fine and do see them quite frequently believe it or not at the junior levels. I think times have changed and they're becoming more acceptable. It's certainly not on the level of a contrast white collar on shirts. Otherwise, just got for notch - don't do slim notch either, that's a current fashion fad and will fade out; stick with regular sized notch lapels ideally 3.5" if you have a choice.

5) ticket pockets, always. This is a standard tell tale sign of a custom / higher end suit these days. Most off the rack aren't including them for some reason but it's a very easy way to look like you're wearing a very expensive suit.

6) side tabs > belt loops, always. Personal preference but I always get two pairs of suit pants - if you like wearing belts then perhaps get one in belt loops and one in side tabs. But ditching the belt will give you a lot more options and make getting ready easier that you don't need to always look for a matching belt to your shoes, especially if you have a good collection and the belt doesn't exactly match the shade of shoes, which looks off.

7) play around with the inner fabric lining - most MTM shops allow you some flexibility here so even a standard blue/charcoal suit can be bought a few times with varying inner fabric lining colors / patterns.

8) don't wear a pocket square.

Array
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Jul 26, 2022 - 11:26am
Steam, what's your opinion? Comment below:

For shirts - you actually want to load up on Twill fabrics and non-iron, if possible. They're the most wrinkle resistant and you can choose a higher woven thread count if you want shine vs matte. Solid color shirts (stick to pale light colors, nothing dark) goes with everything and patterned (Glen plaid, stripes, checks) should only be worn with solid color suits.

Go for a tall, higher spread collar. Even cutaway. Most people recommendations to "fit your face" only apply to shorter collars - once you adjust for a taller collar, you can really wear anything and look good - mostly spread/cutaway.

Array
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Aug 10, 2022 - 12:27am
fredbrown, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Aut nostrum sequi vel voluptatibus. Ut rerum dolorem id qui exercitationem.

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Aug 10, 2022 - 3:09pm
Mantis Toboggan MD, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Fugit consectetur reprehenderit voluptatibus dolore. Aut eligendi ut qui aut. Illo dolore rerum quae aliquam saepe in. Iusto in voluptatem rem omnis nemo et.

Aug 15, 2022 - 7:48pm
BallsOnChinBoy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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