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A well-fitting and expertly tailored suit ranks high on the list of men’s essentials. When it comes to finding the right suit, however, there are three shopping routes you can take: off the rack, made-to-measure and fully custom-made or bespoke.
Currently, there are tons of made-to-measure suit programs offering impeccable fits and finishes in various styles, patterns and size ranges. Where most of them falter, however, is in the fabric quality and overall construction of the final garment. Most times, they appear flimsy and loosely threaded like a cheaply made product, even if that’s not the case.
One brand that’s expertly executed the made-to-measure suit service on all fronts is Suitsupply, thanks to its newly revamped Custom Made program. Before making this assessment, I tried the new service and meticulously paid attention to user-friendliness, design options, fitting process and overall customer experience.
Before getting into how thorough and seamless the Suitsupply Custom Made experience was, it’s worth noting the difference between made-to-measure and full custom/bespoke. The differences are actually extremely minor and simply boil down to a few technicalities.
In short, it all depends on the way the suit is created and the materials used. One of the biggest differentiators is the pattern. Think of “pattern” not as the print of the fabric (like pinstripes, windowpanes, houndstooth, etc.) but rather the shape of each individual panel of the suit.
Bespoke suits feature a pattern created from scratch using your body as a mold, while made-to-measure suits are created using other suits as references to gain base measurements for your personal design. In essence, both are “custom” to different degrees.
What is Suitsupply Custom Made?
The pressures most men face to find the “perfectly fitting” suit usually rest on the unspoken understanding that bespoke or custom-made is the way to go. But, in reality, according to Bespoke Unit, going directly to a bespoke tailor can run you between $3,000 and $5,000 — a price range that’s non-negotiably out of range for many.
With this in mind, Suitsupply launched its Custom Made made-to-measure program, allowing shoppers to pick every last detail on their suits without dealing with the hassle of bespoke tailoring prices, fabric forms, etc.
With this program, you don’t just get to choose from basic details like lapel type, size and fabric color, but you also get to choose from hundreds of premium Italian fabrics. Even the smallest details like pleats, lining and stitching are all up to your discretion. And you get free monogrammed stitching to add that extra personalized touch to your masterpiece.
Here’s where it gets special: Rather than simply choosing an off-the-rack suit in a particular cut with a pre-set lapel, vent, pocket shape and more, your Suitsupply Custom Made suit is made and measured to fit just you and only you.
Also, giving you the full “custom” experience, there are five steps involved in the process — and it all starts with the easy-to-use “Design You Own” option on Suitsupply’s website.
To be honest, I didn’t initially anticipate Suitsupply’s Custom Made online experience to be as smooth, seamless and intuitive as it is. If you’ve ever ordered flowers online or utilized any online fashion customization feature like Nike’s, for example, then you’ll find that the process is similar to most, if not even more enjoyable.
After you’ve chosen your suit fabric, lining, pockets, buttons, lapel type and width, etc. (all of which we’ll go over soon), there are just a few more steps that follow, which make the experience even more luxe:
Build and customize your suit online.
Send the suit’s custom code presented at the end of your customization process to a Suitsupply store.
Go in for an in-person first fitting.
Suitsupply sends the suit for construction.
Once the suit is shipped to the store (in a matter of weeks), go in for a second fitting to make sure everything fits perfectly.
These “Custom Made” suits generally take a month between the first fitting and the ship date to create. This timeline held true for me, and everything could not have moved more smoothly.
Building your Suitsupply Custom Made suit online is arguably the most enjoyable part of the entire experience. Based on the vast number of fabrics, pleats, buttons, lining patterns, stitches and several other aesthetic-centric details, there are likely millions of variations and permutations to one suit.
I spent roughly an hour and a half playing around with the design tool online — not because it was a laborious task, but solely due to the vast number of options available for each design category. The key design components in the Custom Made process are:
Extra Trousers (optional)
To start out, you’ll choose from over 1,000 fabrics, sometimes with more added depending on the season and time of year. Choose from cotton, silk, linen, wool, corduroy and blends, with each option available in several colors and patterns.
This vast catalog lets you build an all-season or season-specific suit. Further driving that luxe experience home, these Custom Made fabrics come from Italian mills known for their premium quality, hundreds of years of experience and historical importance.
I ultimately chose a forest green fabric that I believed complemented my complexion better than more cool-toned colors like gray or ashier options like charcoal. The slightly woven fabric (when closely inspected) is versatile enough for both formal and semi-formal wear and falls under the “all-season” category, so it’s breathable enough to wear in the summer months and insulated enough to wear in the fall.
Custom Made Jacket
After choosing your fabric, it’s time to get into the minute details of the suit itself. Starting with the jacket, Suitsupply’s Custom Made program lets you choose from one-button to six-button low double-breasted closures, lapel types and widths, vent styles, canvas structures and layerings (for a more structured or relaxed-fitting suit) and more.
There are 20 configuration options in the “Jacket” stage alone, proving that this is truly a customizable experience through and through.
For my design, I went with a two-button single-breasted jacket with standard peak lapels and a double vent at the rear. I chose the full canvas four-layer style for a cleaner and more structured fit and added a natural pleated shoulder for a more linear shoulder look. I completed the jacket with 2-millimeter stitching, a boat-shaped chest pocket, regular flaps and a ticket pocket.
I picked brown buttons to accent the green fabric and added a handmade Milanese buttonhole lapel for that vintage feel, because why not?
Per the suggestion of Suitsupply associate Darnell, I chose the butterfly lining option for the jacket as it only covers the upper back, making it comfortable enough to wear through all four seasons. And finally, as a finishing touch, I monogrammed the jacket’s underside collar with my name — a feature that’s completely complimentary with this program.
Custom Made Trousers
Though the trouser configuration variations are far fewer than the jacket, there are still enough options to make the pants your own. There are five included customizable categories: model, construction, pocket, buttons and lining.
Each category breaks down into smaller fields. For example, the “Model” section gives you closure and waistband choices, while “Construction” lets you choose pleats and hems.
When designing my trousers, I opted for a double hook closure, side adjusters for a clean, belt-free look, a standard single pleat and a turn-up 4-centimeter hem.
Of course, each pick is my personal preference, as I was going for the bespoke tailored aesthetic (without the bespoke price), but you can customize your suit to your liking with the wide range of options available.
Immediately following the “Trousers” section is an optional “Extra Trousers” field. Since a suit’s pants usually wear out more quickly than the jacket, some prefer snagging an extra pair for when the inevitable happens. Think about it — when wearing a suit, you likely take your jacket off, but never your trousers.
There is also a Custom Made waistcoat option that follows immediately after for those who enjoy the dapper look of a vest. With this option, you’ll transform your suit into a three-piece configuration. This all comes down to personal preference. I ultimately opted not to design a waistcoat as I knew I’d likely rarely wear it, if ever.
Custom Made Size
If you’ve ever purchased an off-the-rack suit, you’re probably aware of the drop-six rule. This is when you subtract 6 inches from your jacket size to determine your trousers’ waist size. The common and age-old measure, however, doesn’t apply to everyone.
With the Suitsupply Custom Made program, there’s no more mixing and matching or guessing if this rule applies to you. Simply pick your waist size separately, and you’re good to go.
Also, Suitsupply is one of the most size-inclusive men’s suiting brands you can shop, especially for the men’s Big & Tall community. Suit jackets go up to 50L, and trousers go up to 44L or 4XL, depending on the design.
Fitting Process and Customer Experience
So, you have your suit fully configured and ready to go! Once you’re satisfied with your selections, you’ll submit your Custom Made suit. Shortly after, you’ll receive an email with a link and an identification code that’s specific to your design. Luckily, your choices aren’t set in stone until you go in for your first fitting, so you can still make adjustments to your design.
Suitsupply’s Custom Made fitting process is among some of the most thorough I’ve ever experienced. Having been fitted for several suits in the past from standard tailors, I’ve actually found that, relatively speaking, the premium brand goes above and beyond to ensure that all i’s are dotted and all t’s are crossed.
There are two fittings in total — a first and second — that you’ll undergo after submitting your suit online.
For the first, you’ll go into the store closest to you and present the identification code corresponding with your Custom design. From there, an associate will go through all of your selections and make any adjustments you may have after viewing and touching fabric samples, button styles or suit cuts in store.
I went to Suitsupply’s Williamsburg, Brooklyn, location for my first fitting. When I arrived, I met with Darnell, my assigned associate, who went over my design and showed me what the fabric I chose looked and felt like in person. After noticing that the cotton fabric I initially chose was a bit darker — and honestly more drab — than I preferred, he suggested a beautiful forest green textured fabric from the Italian mill Drapers. It’s also 100% super 130s wool, giving it that durable and high-end finish.
This exchange proves that, during the first fitting, taking the associates’ expertise into consideration is key to guaranteeing you design the perfect suit that best complements your personal style, budget and body type. Also, they’re professionally trained on the ins and outs of fabric types, so don’t shy away from using them as a resource during your fitting.
After making a couple of minute design changes, he gave me a jacket, trousers and dress shoes to try on to make sure the fit was right — not too snug and not too loose. Once everything was in place, he pinned areas on the trousers’ thigh and hem areas and on the jacket’s torso to note any revisions that needed to be applied to my measurements — and that was it!
In total, the first fitting lasted roughly 20 to 30 minutes.
About four weeks later, I received an email informing me that my suit was ready for a second fitting. Keep in mind that, depending on the rarity or seasonality of the fabric you choose, this time frame can be lessened or even extended up to about a full month.
The purpose of the second fitting is to simply ensure that your suit fits perfectly and that everything you chose in collaboration with your assigned associate was produced to your liking.
In my case, to my surprise, everything lined up perfectly, and no adjustments needed to be made. Darnell went piece by piece, explaining how the fit should look and further ensured that I felt comfortable and not restricted in the jacket or trousers. Once complete, my suit was ready to go.
Suitsupply then pressed the suit and gently placed it in one of their custom garment bags for me to leave with.
Is it worth it?
While the response to this question is completely subjective, I can confidently say that it absolutely is worth it.
It’s a struggle to find a suit that looks premium and supremely tailored while also being relatively affordable. Suitsupply strikes the perfect balance between both of these elements with its Custom Made program.
The vast attention to detail provided both online with the “Design Your Own” tool and in-store with the highly experienced and professional associates make this an experience that lives up to the hype and, honestly, one that’s not present anywhere else.
Suitsupply is a leading authority in premium men’s suiting, and this showed that its reputation is earned based on merit and not hearsay.
This was my final takeaway: For under $1,000, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a suit that’s this well constructed and produced from fine Italian wool paired with complimentary, experienced in-person support.
There is also major flexibility in the Custom Made program, as you can keep your suit between $500 and $700 by choosing more standard base-line fabrics, which are automatically marked when you begin your design. So, with this tool, you get the best of both worlds, with the end result being the same, regardless of fabric choice: perfectly tailored and custom-created to your liking.
As far as I’m concerned, my suit (pictured above) turned out just as I had hoped.
All in all, I can confidently say that Suitsupply Custom Made is my No. 1 recommended method for getting a bespoke tailored suit without the hefty bespoke price.
Check out Suitsupply’s Custom Made program here and design your own suit from scratch!
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