Bespoke Suit Guide: How to Buy the Perfect Suit

When looking for a high-quality piece of clothing, you often get bombarded with fancy words like haute couture and bespoke. It’s those little tricks that fashion houses sometimes resort to in order to render their final products enticing. Yet, that doesn’t necessarily make them high-end. So, how do you learn to see through their game? Here are a few tips on buying your first bespoke suit in Singapore that will shed more light on the matter. Let’s go.

Tip 1: Bespoke Suits Come with a Middle Layer

There is an additional piece of material between the internal lining and the outer fabric referred to as “canvas”. Its use is not accidental. It serves to keep the garment from deforming and sagging when you move your arms up and down or throw them out to the sides. It not only holds the entire shape together but also makes the piece of clothing more flexible and durable. What is even better is that the more you wear it over time, the better it will adapt to your body’s shape, which will eventually create a fantastic fit.

For the finest tailors suits, the canvas should run all the way from the top to the bottom. It is usually made of wool or horsehair and loosely sewn into the fabric by hand so it can move with you. That said, some traditional tailors opt for camel hair. If you are not ready to pay top dollar for a fully-canvassed suit jacket, there is always a compromise alternative at hand – the half-canvassed one. The difference here is that the material goes from the top to the chest.

Tip 2: They Take Time to Craft

When investing in a bespoke suit, you should keep in mind that quality and excellence take time. Arm yourself with patience and know that it will pay off in the end. This applies to both the initial consultation and the very making of the garment, especially if you are after a fully-canvassed jacket. Your bespoke tailor of choice should be willing to go in more detail about the specifics of the job and tell you about body shape.

The first fitting is not a 5-minute task either. You can expect to spend about half an hour getting your body measured. Not only that, but while your new suit is being sewn, you will be summoned at the house a number of times for fittings. When it is finally ready, you should also receive advice on how to care for it so that it looks good and lasts long.

You should keep in mind that tailors in Singapore will let you come in by appointment only. You can’t just drop by anytime to have a talk or check how it’s going. Every fitting and pick-up should be announced and arranged with the clothes maker ahead of time.

Zegna Anteprima fall winter collection 18/19

Tip 3: The Term Bespoke is not the Same as a Made-to-Measure Suit…

It’s probably hard to tell when so many made-to-measure (MTM) outfits are touted as bespoke just to get more sales. However, the two terms have very distinct meanings and it’s frustrating to see them used interchangeably. Here are some dissimilarities.

When shopping for MTM, you meet with a sales associate or store clerk that is instructed to take measurements and send them directly to the production manager. In comparison, with bespoke clothing, you meet with the tailor themselves. Having seen you in person, they can address your needs more precisely. And while we are still on it, here is another difference: MTM garments are usually made by taking 5-7 body measurements altogether, whereas bespoke clothes run with 20 or more. That’s quite a number right there.

Then we get to the customisation part. When it comes to MTM, your options are rather limited. For example, you select pickpocket style, the number of buttons you want on the jacket, cuffs, pant pleats, and vents. In some cases, you may also be allowed to choose gorge height, interior lining, lapel width and button-stance. As far as bespoke services are concerned, there are no restrictions in terms of complexity. The outfit will be constructed exactly how you like it, even if you picture something extraordinary. Regardless of where you are situated geographically, a truly bespoke tailoring house will have all the perks that a Savile Row boutique boasts.

Tip 4: …And it is the Opposite of Ready-to-wear

This is another way to say off-the-rack (and in some regions: off-the-peg). It generally means clothes that come in finished condition. Because they are made in standardised sizes rather than designed especially for the person’s body, they tend to fit less perfectly. Also, they use poor quality fabrics. The price point of these is pretty average, which is why a lot of people can afford them.

On the other hand, when you join a bespoke club, you can have outfits that reflect your individuality, match your office dress code, and stand out from the crowd. No uniform sizing and clumsy fitting, you get a piece of clothing that moulds perfectly to your body.


Tip 5: The Choice of Fabric Matters

If you need a suit that you can wear all year round, you might want to use lightweight worsted wool. For summer, get fixated on silk and linen blends, cotton and other breathable fabrics. It goes without saying you should invest in thick, insulating materials for winter – anything from tweed, flannels, and wools.

Tip 6: It is All in the Details

Isn’t it weird how small things can make a tremendous impact on the way you look? Take lapels for instance. If you want to appear bold, you can try wide lapels. If you are after a more contemporary look, go narrow. And then we’ve got shoulders. Padded or soft? If you want to seem more powerful, opt for the former, if not – select the latter. No padding is also perfect for warm weather.

The next detail of importance is the trouser break. It is called a full break when the rear hem touches the shoe sole. This is something that traditionalists normally settle on. However, if you would like to accentuate your modern outlook, little to no break at all will be the norm for you.

Let’s not forget buttons. The classic style is a suit jacket with two buttons; you need one for more formal occasions; three should only be your choice if you want to appear old-fashioned.

Last but not least, remember to ruminate on the body type. If you have a muscular build, padded shoulders are a big no-no, as this will make you bulky and asymmetrical. If you are short, your best choice would be slim trousers for they will create the illusion of height. And if you happen to be tall and thin, you can make your physique more prominent by sticking with a loose suit. Don’t let it get too tight or it will not look good on you.

Of course, if you go to an experienced tailor who takes pride in their job, they will be mindful of all these things and offer the best piece of advice on the matter.


Buying a bespoke suit is nothing like ordinary shopping. There are so many things to consider that you need to do a reasonable amount of thinking before you step into the tailoring house. At the end of the day, every single element of the garment will exhibit your unique personality and it should feel like a second skin. Study these tips well and make use of them when it comes to your purchases.

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