Understanding the importance of tailoring a suit.
Tailored Linen Suit
We often get this question: Why tailor a suit? Why not buy off the rack suits?
First, let’s talk about the importance of owning a suit.
A suit can influence your body language and highlight your importance to others. Be it for a date, a job interview or important business meeting, there are suits for every occasion. In Singapore, due to our humid weather and culture, we are often cautious of overdressing, and often opt for the simple basics. There is a thin line between overdressing and looking sharp, and thus, we have put together a beginner’s guide to suits with our years of tailoring expertise, to help you understand what is in a suit, and how you can look your best in one.
Types of Suits
A suit can play host to a variety of accessories.
There are generally three types of suits – ready-to-wear/off-the-rack (RTW), tailored/made-to-measure, and bespoke suits, in ascending orders of tailoring work required.
The first, RTW suits, are commonplace; pop by any fine shirting outlets or any fast fashion stores, and you will see them in variety of fabrics, sizes and cuts (which will be discussed later). These suits are easily available and often priced lower than its tailored and bespoke counterparts. We say often, because you may be paying for brand names, rather than the workmanship or the quality of the fabric.
Since they are mass-produced, the suiting patterns used to design a suit are standardized. Meaning to say, there is no compromise between Small, Medium or Large sizes. If a suit is tight around the waist area, or the sleeves are too long or too short to your liking, you are the one having to compromise, since going a size up or down would make you look like you are auditioning for the role of a mafiaso, or wearing the same suit since you last attended prom.
That is not to say RTW suits are without merits. They are readily available at a range of price points, and great if you are new to suits. If time is of the essence, RTW suits are convenient choices. Our tip – when purchasing a suit online, be confident of its measurement, since sizes varies from brand to brand.
What about made-to-measure/tailored suits then?
For CYC, your measurements are first taken, and an unfinished suit is made with your specific measurements. We then invite you to try on the suit-in-progress, to ensure that the suit is tailored to your liking. This is the stage where any necessary alterations are made before your suit is completed, and where the process sets us apart from other made-to-measure tailors. Also, our made-to-measure service comprises of taking multiple measurements to conform to your body shape, rather than basing your new suit on a 2D, flat fit. These meticulous steps allows an ideal fit, and close to that of a bespoke tailor. This process takes about 4-5 weeks.
The price of a tailored suit, for reference, starts from S$910 for our 2-piece suit.
About the Tailoring Essentials
When it comes to suits, there are many fanciful colors, thus it can be hard to make a decision. We have narrowed them down to four essentials that will cover all bases.
We’re keeping it simple, starting with the four basic colors:
A Navy suit goes well with almost any color. Find out your personal style by experimenting!
Why it works:
Navy is a classic color which pairs well with bright or earthy colors, and you can wear it anywhere.
Where to wear:
Navy suit is a foundation piece for any wardrobe. You can dress it up or down depending on your accessories. For example, a fun tie can give your Navy suit a casual, playful feeling.
And the best of all? Navy lends a youthful feel. It is perfect for gentlemen who prefer a modern look, and it works well as a formal attire.
A word of advice:
Navy is a deep color that may emphasize a pale complexion, so be sure to try out the color for yourself first.
A Charcoal Grey suit can be suitable for both business and casual settings.
Why it works:
A Charcoal Grey suit works in almost any situation. Think of it as a modern take on classic black suits. It exudes an air of class that makes it a winner in any context. For younger men, it adds sophistication to your look. For older gentlemen, it complements any shirt color and complexion.
Where to wear:
Anywhere! Charcoal Grey suits can look as formal or as casual as you like, depending on the accessories you choose. Best of all, they’re a strong foundation piece for any wardrobe as they mix with almost anything!
A Midnight Blue suit – the pinnacle of elegance.
Why it works:
On the more formal end of the spectrum, the Midnight Blue suit or tuxedo is a classic choice for more formal events. A deep color that goes with any color accessories, it gives off a strong, dignified impression.
Where to wear:
While a Midnight Blue suit can be too formal for day-to-day business, it is perfect for semi-formal wear.
Black is the new black – it never goes out of style.
Why it works:
Black is the quintessential color for men, and it works for all ages and body types. It exudes class and importance, which makes a striking first impression.
Where to wear:
Black is best in formal settings and is too formal for everyday business situations.
A Word About Print Suits
A blue checkered suit for an afternoon’s day out.
There are many printed suits available to highlight individual taste and personality., such as the timeless hounds-tooth jacket, when worn well, can showcase your attention to details.
The downside? Printed suits are often unique. Wearing the same piece for different occasions can be a faux pas. Yet if you are a frequent traveller and meet different people at each destination, printed suits can work well for you.
Choosing a Suit Material
There are several materials to choose from, each with its own advantages. We have stuck to basics here, outlining the four most common fabrics.
Wool fabric is a popular option in men's suits. This material not only looks amazing, but is also equally versatile for any situation; from formal occasions to a casual day out. Wool is a soft, natural choice that make for a comfortable suit, while boasting great wrinkle resistance.
The down side? While wool is comfortable in most temperatures, it can be rough for wearers in hot climates. Wool can be thick, and does not always suit men who enjoy a slimmer fit.
Wool-blend suits are popular, boasting all the benefits of wool at a cheaper price. While sharing a similar look to a wool suit, they also take on the advantages of the material the wool is mixed with (often polyester).
Wool-blend suits can be lighter and cooler, with the same durability of a wool suit. An advantage of wool-blend suits is its pairing, machine-washable trousers, which makes life easier.
Hot Tip: When buying a wool-blend suit, it is best to have two pairs of trousers, as frequent washing can cause the dye to fade. By alternating between two pairs, you can avoid the trousers fading to a different colour than the jacket. This would help your suit last longer.
Linen is light and comfortable, suitable for wear in even the hottest of climates. Ideal for casual summer looks, a linen suit can add a touch of refinement. While it has the tendency to wrinkle and stain, there is nothing a good dry cleaner cannot handle.
Cotton is a breathable material that provides a great alternative to heavy wool. It can be worn in a more casual setting. However, cotton also wrinkles easily, which demands more attention to care.
How Should a Tailored Suit Fit?
What defines a great fit? There are a few pointers to keep in mind when looking for the perfect suit.
Shoulders: The suit should fit with the seam on top matching the length of the shoulder and it should lie flat. If the suit hangs over the edge of the shoulder or falls short, it needs adjusting.
Arms: A great fit allows for an inch of your shirt to be seen beneath the cuffs when wearing your jacket.
Jacket length: Let your arms dangle by your side and check to ensure your jacket ends where your thumb does.
Trouser Length: Trouser length can get a bit more complicated and tends to change as trends come and go. When deciding on trouser length, you should be aware of the concept of the trouser ‘break’. This is where the hem of the trousers meets the top of the shoe.
Certain looks work better with slim fit suits than traditional.
Slim Fit vs. Traditional Suits
Photo by Macys.
Suits with a more traditional cut tend to be wider, although not baggy. They are looser through the pants and jacket. Compared to a slim fit suit, a traditional cut features a more relaxed fit, yet it enhance and flatter body shape.
Slim fit suits are a recent trend and feature a narrow cut that enhances the wearer’s physique. They are more fitted around the arms, chest and the waist. Often favored by younger gentlemen, a slim cut tends to look better on men with a slimmer body type.
Mr. Tom Hiddleston in a magnificent Navy suit.
Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are examples of actors that wear slim fit suits, while Warren Buffet, an older gentleman, wears a traditional cut.
Trousers can influence a suit’s overall look too! Their lengths are also indicative of the style identity you are pursuing. Let us take a look.
How to determine your Suit Trouser’s Length
There are four common ‘breaks’ that determine a pant’s length.
An example of trouser breaks by hespokestyle.com. From the left: No Break, Slight Break, Medium Break and Full Break
No Break: The trouser leg ends above the shoe, with the hem just short of touching the top of the shoe. This looks best with slim fit trousers, if you prefer a modern aesthetic.
Slight Break: The trouser ends sits on top of the shoe and is best with pants with no cuff that angle longer in the back. This also works best with slim fit trousers.
Medium Break: Trousers sit on top of the shoe in a more conservative style. This is popular with older gentlemen. Go with this if you are after a classic silhouette.
Full Break: With a full break, the trouser sits directly on top of the shoe, with fabric pooling around the ankle. The trouser leg should be wide for this look to achieve its full potential.
The Basics of Suit Detailing
An exceptional tailor understands how details can enhance a suit. Some of the most common details are:
Lapels are the flaps of folded material on the front of a suit jacket. There are three common types.
Notch lapels are the most common, meeting the bottom of the collar in a notch. They are usually found on single-breasted suits.
Peak lapels also meet the bottom of the collar. This type of lapel has peaks that point upward toward the collar. Peak lapels are more formal lapel than notch lapels.
Shawl lapels are seen on tuxedos and very formal black-tie attire. They form a curve up and around the neckline with no break.
Buttons for Suit
Buttons have a heavy influence on the look of a suit. The most common types include:
One-button: This suit should be buttoned when standing and unbuttoned when seated.
Two-button: Always button the top, leaving the bottom undone to avoid undue restriction.
Three-button: Button the two top buttons and leave the bottom undone. Or button the middle button only. Your choice should be based on comfort.
Double-breasted suits: Double breasted suits usually have four buttons. These should all be buttoned but the bottom, although this again is a matter of personal choice.
Visual of different suit vents by veritasimage.com. On the left: center vent, on the right: side vents.
A vent is a slit on the back of the suit coats that helps make the suit jacket less constricting. A center vent is one single slit, while side vents are two slits, one on each side of the back panel.
Center vents work well for men who wish to conceal flaws in their physique. Side vents work best on men who wish to show off a great shape.
Different types of Suit Pockets
Illustration of different suit pockets by realmanrealstyle.com. From left: patch, ticket, angled, flap and jetted pockets.
There are five common suit pockets:
Patch pockets are a simple patch of material forming a pocket. They are the least formal and are often seen on sports jackets.
Ticket pockets are small, narrow pockets. They were once used to keep train tickets.
Angled pockets are often angled down toward the back of the suit and are a sportier look.
Flap pockets are plain flaps of material that add a bit of bulk to the hip.
Jetted pockets are a simple, elegant slit best suited to formal attire such as tuxedos.
Inner Suit Pockets
Inner pockets are often overlooked. They can carry a multitude of small yet indispensable items, from credit cards to room keys. A word of caution would be to avoid over-stuffing your inner pockets, ending up with a bulky look.
When you get your suit, the inner pockets are sewn shut. This is to ensure that the suit maintains its shape. Using a small pair of scissors, you can remove the stitching to make your pockets functional.
A Suit's Accessories
A tie with intricate designs can breathe new life into your usual suits.
Ties are the most important way to add flair to your attire. Conventional neckties knot at the neck and come in a variety of colors. For more formal occasions, solid colors add refinement.
For more relaxed occasions, choose ties in fun colors. Think solid pastel with a high-sheen, a floral or textured pattern. For fun occasions, there are bolder patterns. They’re quirky enough to show off personality yet suitable for dress attire.
You can also complement your tie with a pocket square. Do note that a pocket square should never match your tie exactly in either color or pattern!
There are no set rules for matching a tie to your shirt or suit. Yet keep in mind that the color should go with the overall look of your suit. For example, a red tie is a universal symbol of power, yet wearing it with a salmon-colored suit won’t look good.
The same rules can apply to patterns and sheen. When attending an occasion in formal attire, a bold tie with a high sheen may not work.
Matching Your Shoes to Your Suits
Shoes are quintessential to the overall look of your suit.
When matching shoes to a suit, there are conventions to guide you:
Cream or Beige suits are best worn with light brown or white shoes
Black suits should always be worn with black shoes
Dark Grey suits can be worn with black or burgundy shoes
Light grey suits can be worn with black, burgundy or brown shoes
Navy suits go well with black, burgundy or brown shoes
When tempted to wear different color shoes with your suit, stay close to your intended look.
Fused Vs. Canvassed Suits
Suits with a canvas lining are called canvassed suits, which use canvas as a foundation, and have the wool stitched to the canvas that allows for a solid shape.
The canvas allows the suit to conform to the shape of the wearer, creating a great fit. Canvassed suits are generally more expensive than fused suits, because of the additional labor and material costs.
Fused suits use an interlining glued to the wool of the suit. While easier on the budget, fusing can look stiff. Half-canvassed jackets are a compromise between the two. Yet canvassed suits are the cream of the crop when it comes to the best fit.
Suit Lining Types
Photo by Beckett & Robb. From the left: Fully-lined, half-lined, and unlined jackets.
There are several types of lining to choose from. Fully-lined suits are more structured yet thicker and hotter than to half-lined suits, while half-lined suits have the benefit of structure yet without retaining heat. Unlined jackets are more casual and have the least structure. They’re also cooler in hot weather. Lining, like accessories, can be a great way to express individuality. You can get it in many patterns and colors to subtly accent any suit.
Wearing Your Suit with Style
There are many ways to wear a suit and each have their own unique style. Most men unbutton their suit when sitting, while Tom Ford leaves his buttoned. George Clooney wears his shirt collar unbuttoned under a suit. Most men prefer it buttoned.
You can also wear your suit with a decorative pin for added style, or patterned pocket squares or unique socks that lend definition to your attire. Once you know how you like to express your yourself, your signature style will shine through.
Ordering a tailored suit has a multitude of advantages. Many men expect custom-tailoring to be more expensive than off-the-rack suits which is not always the case. Tailored suits in Singapore are often very reasonably priced. And when you consider the longevity of a well crafted, tailored suit compared to the hassle of replacing a cheap suit every year or two, it justify the purchase.
Curious to know more? For the very best tailor made suits in Singapore, visit our Capitol Singapore store or our latest outlet at Fullerton Hotel today!
If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy our guide to shirt tailoring.