Guest post: why fit beats brand every time

Thursday, January 6, 2011
As you may have noticed, my posts have become more infrequent of late. This is a combination of the pressures of a lack of time, and a lack of recent purchases about which to write. Fortunately, a couple of people have offered to step into the breach with guest posts. The first is by a long-time reader and a man whose fashion sense I admire greatly. Until recently, he worked for a major high-end fashion label and has a unique insight into the amount of money that can be wasted by men who think that buying big names is all that is needed to look good. So, over to my guest blogger:

A suit tailored specifically for your own body shape, be it from Savile Row or a cheaper alternative, is the ideal, and one that I am sure all the readers of this blog aspire to. However, off-the-peg suiting remains the choice of the majority despite the relatively recent explosion in companies offering everything from made to measure to a few steps below full bespoke, at a price point well below that of the traditional Savile Row tailor.

C&TD, A Suit That Fits and others like them have been well covered in these pages, but as well as these start ups competing for those unable or unwilling to spend three thousand pounds or more on Savile Row, other more established companies such as Austin Reed also offer made to measure suits at very reasonable prices.

With so many options available to a male population perhaps more fashion conscious than ever, it is hard to understand why off-the-peg suits still dominate the market so strongly. Certainly, if you find a brand whose suit pattern coincidentally fits you perfectly, then you are a lucky man. Stock up. If all it needs is the waist taking in or the sleeves shortened a touch, then buy away. You will, however, be in the minority, and far too many men appear to believe that a well know brand or a high price are guarantees of a good suit. Though this might make life easier, it is sadly untrue. The fit of a suit is far and away the most important aspect of a suit, and one that will make the greatest impression on those you wish to impress. So, while the Ermenegildo Zegna suit might be constructed of the most beautiful cashmere and wool blend and have the smoothest silk lining, if it doesn’t fit you properly then, for you, it is a bad suit.

For the highest priced designer off-the-peg suits, the comparison becomes more and more absurd. A Dolce and Gabbana dinner suit will set you back just over nine hundred pounds. Tom Ford’s website has such an overpowering ‘if you have to ask, you cannot afford’ vibe that I dread to think how much even a blazer costs. On another scale altogether, Georgio Armani’s made to measure suits cost anywhere between five thousand, and seventy five thousand pounds. Will it fit you far worse than a Savile Row suit would for half the price? Yes. Will the construction, cloth or aftercare be half as good? No. But it will have Georgio Armani’s name inside it.

Men, on whatever type of budget, need to realise that not only is their choice not limited just to Boss or Armani, Paul Smith or Ted Baker, but also that the designer route is far too often far from the best one.