Yesterday I went to my local tailor in order to explore the possibilities of a made-to-measure suit. Living in NY, this option is usually well off the table – at least in terms of price. But I was visiting the lovely state of Michigan, and I thought a possible decline of the Big 3 and manufacturing in general may lead to a few price points within my range. Alas, no – MTM suits started at $1100, all for the Jack Victor line. While I certainly trust the quality, it’s a little too close to the conservative side for my taste (I also learned that he stocks nothing smaller than a 42…!?!?!..Says a lot about the midwest population, unfortunately).
However, my trip wasn’t totally unsuccessful. My tailor graciously convinced me that I don’t necessarily need a MTM suit. Within moments of walking in, he immediately (accurately) sized me up as a 38 chest and 31 waist. Buonissimo, signore. Then, with the flick of a wrist he instantly determined that I was just shy of a 38, but nothing that a simple adjustment to an off-the-rack 38 couldn’t take care of. Thirty seconds later, I was looking at $700-$800 suits with about $50-$100 in alterations, rather than suits at $1100 or more.
Moral of the story: unless off-the-rack suits are impossible to find in your size, don’t completely rule them out, as long as you have a relatively qualified tailor. Many people swear by bespoke or MTM suits, but unless we happen to be traveling to Asia on business, it may not be worth paying the extra $$$ for a barely noticeable closer fit.
As for shirts… that’s a completely different story. Shirts aren’t easily altered by tailors and are better off custom made from the beginning. Bespoke is an option, but MTM may be the most practical. While everyone emphasizes the fit of the suit, do we not spend most of our day in the office with our jacket off? There is no stronger statement than a well-fitted dress shirt.