Monday, September 28, 2009

You Get What You Pay For: Here’s the truth!

Don't be fooled by designer brand materials 
If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. There are many tailors that fly down from Asia and offer bespoke or tailored Designer brand materials for an amazing price - maybe $500.00.

To offer a  handmade suit in a designer material such as Bvlgari, Armani, Versace, Gucci, Zegna, etc., for such a low price while covering expenses such as return airfare for all the workers that fly down, plus accommodation, materials, labour, etc. seems quite impossible.

A westerner would attribute the amazingly low price to the cheap cost of labour in Asia – partially true – they are probably using inexperienced or average tailors to put the suits together. A Master Tailor, even in an Asian country is actually still relatively expensive.

However the major reason the tailor is able to offer such a low price is because the material is not actually what he claims it is. The real designer material alone would cost around $450, on top of which a retailer would add their own margin, plus the cost of paying a Master Tailor even in an Asian country would be enough to drive the price up to a good $800 - $1000.

Well, it's your decision, but don't be surprised if you find some of the buttons falling off or the suit coming apart at the seams – and most likely, the material not being of good quality and probably not even actually being Super 150s pure Cashmere wool. Most often the material will be a polyester-wool blend.

Here's a pictorial comparison between a cheap suit and a good quality suit...
NOTE: The cheap suit is a suit offered in one of those package deals that you see e.g. 1 jacket, 2 trousers, 5 shirts, 2 ties all for USD $350!! Sounds attractive doesn't it? Wait a few months and you'll realise that you flushed $350 down the toilet.

Cheap Suit - poor finishing

No Woolen Felt underlay beneath the lapel for reinforcement - it's just left bare. The centre stitching of the back of the lapel is also out of alignment with the centre stitching of the back of the jacket.

Button falling off after a few months of use as no reinforcement on the back side.

Uneven, unfinished, non-matching white stitching can be seen on the outside of the pocket.

Good Suit - assurance of quality

Woolen Felt underlay beneath the lapel for reinforcement.

Pocket is finished correctly with thread matching the colour of the suit cloth.

Exquisite patterned linings to add extra flair, with superior finishing inside and out.

Not all tailors are made equal...
This brings me to my next point: despite cheap labour and tailor shops being abundant in Asia – not all tailors in Asia are made equal! Yes some have offers where they’re selling 2 suits + 1 Blazer + extra trousers + 2 shirts + 3 silk ties all for USD$350, or some such deal. You will often see these advertisements in the airline magazines when you are on your way to an Asian country. Once again – sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? It probably is and you will get what you pay for.

The majority of “tailors” are just shop fronts or showrooms that stock the rolls of materials and where measurements are taken, a suit is designed, and fittings are conducted. Many of these shopfronts ultimately use the same actual cutters, stitchers and finishers (collectively called tailors) who put the suit together in workshops that are hidden away somewhere offsite. The flashier looking larger shops just charge more, even though they may be using the same backend manufacturing as the tiny shop next door.

So how do you find a good tailor?
Well – there are three ways:
  1. Word of mouth - which for a number of reasons can be inaccurate. It may be that the person who is recommending the tailor has a vested interest. It could be that the person doesn’t really know what a good suit is, and may be satisfied with the quality he’s received (for the time being until the suit starts falling apart!). Or it could be that the person has only tried one tailor and that’s the only one he can recommend.
  2. The second method is Trial and Error. You will need to go to multiple tailors and invest quite a bit of money to get suits made – then compare the quality, style and fit yourself.
  3. The third method – (being a blatant attempt at marketing, I know) is to come to Sydney Custom Suits  where we retail Finestitch & Co suiting. I am confident in blatantly pushing our brand because I guarantee quality and satisfaction - AND you have a point of call as we are based in Sydney. We have gone through all the trial and error. We use real Master Tailors that are vastly experienced who will expertly hand craft your suit. We use real Super 150s Pure Cashmere Wool from Italy. And our prices are not astronomical – we believe that we strike the perfect balance between high quality and reasonable prices starting from $399 for a custom tailored Cashmere Wool suit. Our Contact details are in the link above – so call us now for more pricing details and to book a visit from a Design Consultant.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Diff’rent Looks for Diff’rent Folks

Everybody has a different body shape – some have very different body shapes, and most off-the-rack suits do not cater for these customers. This is where tailor-made is superior – even for people who have a relatively standard body shape, a tailored suit can really sharpen up the image.

The right clothes help to highlight our best features and conceal our worst ones. The best part is that a custom-tailored Finestitch & Co. suit will fit perfectly, because it is based on your measurements and body type. No more wasting time and energy trying on scores of jackets, trousers and shirts to test out the fit – I repeat  –  Finestitch & Co. garments will fit perfectly!

Here are some rules of thumb for different body types:

Taller Men
If you are tall or thin or both, it is better to avoid darker colours and pin stripes, as they will make you look even skinnier. Generally, solid lighter colours or plaids are the way to go in order to reduce the leaning effect.

Tall and lean men should also avoid wearing non-fitted clothes, even though psychologically they may think that these clothes make them look bigger. In reality, baggy clothes on thin people just make them look thinner and like they are swimming in their clothes. It is not a good look.

It is also a bad idea to get suits and shirts that are too fitted, because then you will also look skinnier. Just the right fit is required, and the experienced Design Consultant from Sydney Custom Suits will know what to do when taking measurements.

A Three or Two Button Suit is fine. Taller people (5’11” and up) can get away with Three Button Suits. Whereas on shorter people (5’4” and below) it generally makes them look shorter if it is not made the right way – so Two Button or One Button is more suited for them. Medium height people (5’5” to 5’10”) can go with any of the styles and still look fine. As a side note - two button is most popular, and in the UK, one button is also in fashion.

For shirts, it is better to have them slightly fitted with spread collars for taller or leaner men, as it has a widening visual effect.

Trouser can be cuffed and jackets can be a bit longer because tall men have the height to spare.

Shorter Men
Shorter men should steer clear of longer jackets, trousers with cuffs, and plaid patterns that have horizontal stripes as well as vertical. Darker colours and Pinstripes should be in your wardrobe, as they will make you look taller. One and Two Buttoned suits are better for those shorter in stature, as too many buttons make it appear as though there is too much going on in a short amount of space.

With shirts, generally they should have longer pointed collars as opposed to the wider English cut collar. This is once again to visually elongate the body with more things being vertical than horizontal.

Larger Men
Larger men should never wear plaid. Like shorter men, the focus should be on darker colours and Pinstripes. Peak lapels look good for larger men because unlike the notch lapel which carries the eye down to the centre of the jacket near the stomach, peak lapels carry the eye upwards towards the shoulders.

The jacket should be two button, as three button might look like it is straining at the buttons. The Two Button style opens up the top area to show more of the tie and lowers the meeting point of the lapels. In effect it allows more breathing space, and has a more slimming effect due to the narrower and longer V shape of the lapels.

The back of the jacket should have side vents – it is commonly misconceived that side vents make larger men look even larger. The reality is that side vents have a slimming effect, and also add some flexibility to the jacket.

Also like shorter men, shirts with longer pointed collars are more flattering.

Advice applicable to all body types 
Finally, some advice for all body types – when buttoning your single breasted suit jacket always leave the lowest button undone on two and three button jackets, because having all buttons done does not look right.

If you buy a double breasted jacket, never ever leave it undone – it will look wide and unflattering and will completely lose any slimming effect. A double breasted jacket must always be done up – all working buttons must be buttoned. It is a power suit and looks very impressive in meetings or for special occasions if it is a navy blazer with brass buttons, but the double breasted is definitely not an everyday suit.

When it comes to ties, wide tie knots such as the Windsor will look fine for wider spread collars such as English Cut – which is the recommended shirt collar type for taller people. For shorter or larger men, the thinner tie knots such as the Half-Windsor and Four-in-Hand are more appropriate, as they are narrower knots that have an elongating vertical visual effect. Alternatively, a medium width tie or even a narrow tie (if suitable for your work environment) will look better for shorter men.

For shoes, always wear flat tapered shoes or boots which do not have too much of a heel and the toe is narrow at the front or even pointed. This looks much better than a clunky shoe that has thicker heels or a rounded or bulky toe. No matter what your size, you will find that your trousers will fall much better on a flatter more streamlined shoe, and it will improve your overall presentation.

A Sydney Custom Suits Design Consultant has the expertise to advise you on what styles and materials are suitable for your body type and occasion and help design a Code suit to compliment you. Book your appointment today and take your first steps towards improving your wardrobe!

The Perfect Men's Suit

They say that a suit can improve the appearance of any man. Well the opposite is true if it is an ill-fitting suit. An ill-fitting suit sticks out like a sore thumb. It can adversely affect your confidence, and will definitely affect the way people see you, and – subconsciously – even the way they treat you. Subliminally people perceive a sloppy dresser who is scruffy to be slow-witted, un-ambitious, and a slacker. Harsh but true. The converse is also true where people associate someone who dresses impeccably and is immaculately groomed to be an intelligent, self-driven go-getter.

So getting a great fitting suit is vital and can even be considered an investment in your career and corporate life that will provide an excellent return. A tailored suit definitely stands out from the crowd, and will help present a professional and sharp image in interviews, to clients, peers, the opposite sex, colleagues, and your superiors at work. Hence the saying “Dress for Success”, which applies to your career, as well as success in social and networking situations.

I have made a list of check points to help ensure that you purchase a good quality fitted suit that is sure to impress:

The Fabric
Worsted Pure Cashmere Wools are the best choice for a quality suit due to the way they fall and the way they feel. See the blog on Suit Materials for more details.

Perfect Trousers
You should be able to stick two fingers into the waist while wearing the trouser. This gives enough leeway for any increase in weight, or increase after a good meal, and it will be comfortable even when you are not concentrating on sucking in your gut! It is therefore essential that when your measurements are being taken that you let it all hang out, because then the measurements will be taken when you are in your most relaxed state – which is how you will be normally.

With pleats, they are more suited to larger men as they add flexibility and stretch. Someone with a larger stomach should generally stay away from flat front as it accentuates the curve of the stomach and is not as flexible when sitting down. Conversely a man with a smaller tummy should go for flat front, as it makes for a sharper look.

To avoid looking extremely sloppy, the trouser should not have too much excess material flapping around in the wind. It should be tapered well, but not too tight, otherwise you won’t be comfortable, and it will get a lot of creases whenever you move or sit down.

At the bottom of the trouser when you are standing straight, the back of the hem should be a quarter-of-an-inch above the part of your shoe where the heel meets the body of the shoe at the seam, and in the front of the trouser it should have a slight break.

It is personal preference for Cuffs or Without Cuffs at the hem. Cuffs usually appeal to the more mature customer, as it used to be the style of choice before the turn of the century. Without Cuffs has the effect of making you look taller, and with Cuffs can suit taller people; although most young professionals are opting for Without Cuffs regardless of their height, as it has a slicker, more streamlined look.

Perfect Jacket Sleeves
Sleeves that are too long will make you look sloppy, and sleeves that are too short will make you look like you’re wearing a jacket that used to fit you before your growth spurt at puberty. The classy look is for the sleeve of the jacket to always be half-an-inch to one inch shorter than the sleeve of your shirt, so that some of the shirt cuff is revealed.

English or American Cut? The Jacket Waist.
The American cut suit is now outdated. American cut is shaped like a box – from under your armpits it goes straight down and does not accentuate your shape at all. The English cut is now definitely the preferred style as it is tapered to come in at the waist then slightly out again at the hips. This gives a sharper, more streamlined appearance and moves away from the boxy, un-tapered look of the American cut suit.

The Perfect Fitting Suit
In the Perfect Fitting Suit, you should have enough flexibility to stretch and bend with relative ease while wearing the suit, but it should not look baggy either – it is important to strike the perfect balance between comfort and fit.

The following tests will help determine the comfort and fit:
  • Walk around to ensure the trouser hem doesn’t get caught at the back of the shoe near your ankle. If it does, the trouser is too short. When the measurements are being taken, the perfect length is when the tape is taken from the side of your waist where you wear your trouser, down to just a quarter-of-an-inch above where your heel touches the ground. 
  • Sit down in a chair and ensure that the trouser is not too tight. When the waist, hip and thigh measurements are being taken, the Design Consultant will always put a thumb or finger under the tape to give some leeway, whilst maintaining the tapered fit. 
  • Your arms need to have free movement in the jacket. Bring your arms out straight in front of you. As long as you can lift them so they are parallel to the ground without feeling like you will rip the jacket, it is a good fit. When doing this, some tight feeling is to be expected in the jacket if it is well fitted. 
  • Wear a well fitted shirt under the jacket and ensure that only half-an-inch to one inch of the shirt cuff is showing out of the jacket sleeve when your arms are by your side. The shirt cuff should come down to the base knuckle of your thumb.
  • Button up the jacket and ensure that there are no obvious creases coming from the waist to the center where it is buttoned – otherwise this is an indication that the jacket is too tight around the waist. 
  • If the shoulder pads are sticking out sharply, it means that the jacket is too tight for you. 
Having said the above, some people may prefer a tighter or looser fit. A tighter fit sacrifices comfort, but has an extremely tapered appearance for those who simply want a fashion suit to wear out to events. A looser fit may simply be what one is used to and a more fitted suit may just feel uncomfortable to one that is not accustomed to it. After all - perfection is all in your perception.

Whatever your preference, Sydney Custom Suits can help you with tailoring a perfect Finestitch & Co. suit to satisfy your personal taste.

Suit Materials

Cashmere Wools
All high quality suits are made from Cashmere Wool, as it is a natural, durable, and breathable material for Summer or Winter, and it falls exceptionally well. Cashmere is an extremely soft, luxurious fabric made from the hair of the Cashmere goat - native to Kashmir in north-western India. Cashmere is obtained from the animal by combing rather than clipping, and hence it maintains a softer and more complete feel than clipped wool. The fabric is light in weight and magnificent to wear.

There are three main types of wool weaves used for suits, including:

1. Worsted
Worsted wools are the most popular fabric and wool weaves for suits. Worsted wools usually consist of gabardine, houndstooth, plaid, and nail-head variations in the weaves. They are quite light and durable and may be worn all year round.

Depending on the “Super” number of the weave, worsted wools can vary from slightly lighter to slightly heavier, but are generally considered to be a mid-weight fabric when compared with Tweed or Flannel.

If you are familiar with “Super” numbers, e.g. Super 100s up to Super 180s, when it comes to wool, you may have mistakenly taken it to mean the quality of the fabric. The Super number is not necessarily an indicator of quality. The Super number indicates that the worsted wool has been twisted more times. So the higher the number, the more times the wool yarn has been twisted when manufacturing the material.

The effect of the higher twist is that each fibre of the twisted wool yarn becomes finer and therefore more fibres can populate a square inch. This results in a finer cloth and lighter weight as you go up in the Super numbers. This is why higher twist wools are pricier than lower twist – because the material is softer, lighter and has a more luxurious look and feel to it.

Having said that, lower twist wool can be thicker, warmer and more durable than the higher twist. So for everyday wear, I recommend that you purchase something in the Super 100s – Super 130s range. Whereas for higher-end, less regular wear, the Super 140s – Super 180s is more suitable.

2. Tweed
Tweed is a very heavy wool fabric, and is more popular in colder places such as Britain. Tweed is for more mature gentlemen, and is beginning to be a dated style amongst the younger generation. It is usually used to make Sports Jackets and Blazers, but rarely used for a full two or three piece suit.

3. Flannel
Aside from Tweed, Flannel is the heaviest wool weave. It is quite durable and especially warm in the winter months. It is probably too hot to wear in Summer and also in most indoor office environments, but would make an excellent Winter Jacket for the colder part of the year.

Other Fabrics
Suits may be made from other fabrics as well, but these are not considered high-end quality suits.

1. Cotton
Aside from wool, Cotton is an acceptable material for suits. If you live in a warmer climate this is an alternative to wool, however it does not bring the prestige or luxury of a pure cashmere wool suit. Cashmere Wool can also be light and cool in warm climates depending on the twist of the yarn and hence the weight of the material.

2. Linen
Linen is quick to wrinkle and does not fall well, but is still a popular material for some. For a business suit it is not appropriate at all. It has traditionally been used for safari suits, very casual suits, or simply white or cream casual jackets but is not really in fashion in the present day.

3. Polyester
Polyester is not the best choice for a good quality suit, and must only be resorted to if the budget is tight. A good quality tailor-made suit would certainly never be made from Polyester or a Polyester-Wool blend, as the material has a cheap looking artificial finish to it.

4. Micro Fibre
Micro Fibre is just variation of polyester. For some reason it gained popularity in the late 90s. If you do have a Micro Fibre suit, don’t worry – everyone makes mistakes. But now it is time to forget the past and move on to Pure Cashmere Wool suits!

At Sydney Custom Suits we sell only 100% Pure Cashmere Wool suits. You can be assured that you will get a high quality custom Finestitch & Co. suit styled and tailored to perfection.