Finding a good tailor is the biggest step toward getting the custom suit you want. But there are a few things you can do to help make sure the finished product is exactly what you want the first time around:
- Find a Specialist.
Different tailors make different products. Their skills aren’t identical. If you’re having a pair of trousers made, don’t go to someone whose business is primarily in jackets, overcoats, and suits — sure, he makes trousers as part of the suits, but his focus and expertise is clearly in upper-body tailoring. Look for someone who specializes in the item you’re buying.
- Send a Sample.
You’ll be giving your tailor detailed measurements, but go one step further — pay the extra shipping to send him or her a similar garment that you already own and that fits exactly the way you like. This becomes a “block pattern” that the tailor can use as a check against his own construction. Go ahead and take some pictures of the garment and measure it yourself before you send it — that way the two of you can discuss what you liked about the old garment in detail as the process goes forward. (Note: It may also be helpful to label the sample garment clearly with your name, so that it doesn’t get lost in a shuffle of clothing.)
- Start with One Garment.
Resist the temptation to do a package deal until you’re sure of your tailor. It’s worth paying for two rounds of shipping to have one suit, shirt, pair of trousers, etc. made and try it on before ordering more. Once you know you like the tailor’s work, absolutely buy in the most cost-effective packages you can — most will discount on bulk orders, as well as shipping them together to save costs there — but be sure you do like it before paying for a half-dozen pieces of clothing.
If you stick to them, long-distance tailoring is nothing to be afraid of. And for a man with limited local options, it might just be the best clothes-shopping experience you’ll ever have.