This story originally appeared in the March/April 2017 issue of Elite Traveler.
Every well-dressed man should boast at least one made-to-measure or bespoke suit in his closet. While each is exceptional in fit, there is a difference. Made-to-measure suits see existing styles and patterns tailored to the client’s measurements. With a bespoke suit, the client selects everything – from fabric and cut, to the buttons and the color of the lining.
Both require the time and talents of a tailor. At Stefano Ricci, just outside Florence, a made-to-measure suit can take up to 120 hours of work. For spring 2017, Ricci is emphasizing the beauty of details in a suit that might be called the ultimate classic: three-piece styling highlighted by a two-button jacket with slightly rounded shoulders and a structured, hand-stitched lapel.
Ricci’s master tailors often travel to clients for orders and fittings. Likewise, Savile Row tailor Kathryn Sargent logs plenty of frequent flier miles for her clients – in March she’s slated for personal appearances in Washington, DC, New York, Chicago and San Francisco.We asked her to offer tips to ensure your bespoke or made-to-measure suit remains a forever piece in your wardrobe.
Single vs double: “Double-breasted suits look great when they are worn fastened, but they are much more formal than a single-breasted cut. A single-breasted suit is more versatile and can be dressed up or down,” Sargent says. “I would advise a shorter client that a three-button suit can lengthen your torso, and if you’re heavier, a two-button suit can add shape and define the waist.”
Lapels matter: “Make sure your lapel size suits your frame,” she advises. “A very large lapel on a slight frame can make the jacket look overwhelming, and a thin lapel on a larger frame can make the jacket look too small and out of proportion.”
Opt for style vs fad. Bespoke and made-to-measure tailoring transcend seasonal trends. “Avoid overpowering statement looks,” Sargent says. “A well-fitting suit is timeless and can be worn for decades to come, if it is well looked after.”