A Bespoke Suit
July 11th, 2005
A Bespoke suit is almost certainly made from animal hair, and in turn it is almost certain that animal is a sheep. Wool has several unique properties. It is an immensely strong fibre that resists creasing and retains heat in cold weather but releases it when conditions are warm. The coarseness of the wool and the length of the fibres dictate its fineness and the finest wools are every bit as soft as cashmere. The very best wools are grown from the merino sheep in Australia. Suits made from wool naturally have the same properties as the fibres themselves. On a sheep's back the only cleaning the fleece gets is from rainwater, and water (in various forms) is plenty good enough for a suit. Dry cleaning and the chemicals used in the process are not good for wool, stripping the material of its natural properties. Although there are occasions when a suit has to be dry cleaned (severe stains for example) , most garments should be treated with steam by a tailor. Depending on the size of your wardrobe, a suit should not be worn more than once a week and if hung properly, it will then not need to be pressed more than once a year.
Recognize bespoke suit
To hang a suit you will need one hanger and a clip for the trousers. The hanger should be shaped with bulbous ends protruding slightly from the centre. The jacket should be placed on the hanger and padded with polythene or tissue paper to retain its shape. Hangers are far from perfect on their own. The trousers should be hung from the trouser clip by the bottoms. There is more weight in the waistband and by hanging the garment upside down any creases will drop out more easily.
A FEW TIPS
1) The lighter the weight of material used in a suit the more it will wear. Heavier cloths are more robust. If you are ordering a light weight suit always consider ordering an extra pair of trousers, particularly if you use the suit in circumstances when you usually remove your jacket. Remember that it is difficult to buy another pair of trousers for a favourite suit subsequent to its initial purchase. Materials are discontinued and shade will vary from one batch of cloth to another even if it remains available. The darker and less patterned a suit, the less likely this is to be a problem.
2) Contrary to popular opinion, a suit can be packed in a case if it is folded properly. With the coat, turn the suit inside out and reverse one of the armholes so that it fits into the other. Stuff the suit with tissue paper before packing. With trousers fold at the knee, but again protect the fold with tissue paper. If the suit is hung properly on arrival it should be ready to use within 24 hours. If it is badly creased, hang the garment in the bathroom and generate some steam (i.e. turn on the shower). This will help creases to fall out.
3) Trousers tend to wear much more quickly than the jacket on almost all suits.
A few do's and don'ts:
a) Don't sit on leather as this shines the seat of the trousers.
b) Don't stuff the pockets full of coins, keys, wallets etc unless you tell your tailor to strengthen the pockets when ordering the suit. He will then use stronger materials.
c) Do turn the trouser at the knee when seated so it doesn't stretch.
d) Do re-enforce the bottom on the trousers to stop fraying.
e) Do ask for a zip rather than buttons which while vastly more practical also avoids problems with pressing.