Tailoring a Budget: Adjustments or Bespoke?

…I have 8 suits that I have purchased over the course of 6 or 7 years. They still ‘fit’ me and are from decent quality manufacturers but, since I have become interested in style and have read a lot of blogs about suits and how they should be worn, I think they need adjusting (narrowing shoulders, taken in at the waist, length on the trousers). I never have much spare cash and have had to save over the past two years in order to fund these adjustments.

However, I have now saved about £1,500 and am wondering whether I should make such a substantial investment in adjusting off the rack suits or whether I should buy a bespoke suit from a City tailor? I would love to own one but do not want to waste the suits I have already bought.

It is very pleasing to see that readers, particularly those with little to spend on dress, are taking personal style and standards so seriously. The common view is that most people save for very few things except old age, a deposit on a mortgage or a ‘rainy day’ – whatever that may be. The last thing one expects the average person to be saving for is a collection of better-fitting suits; so careless has the populace become in dress that being able to look halfway decent is dismissed as the hobby of a millionaire dilettante.

My blog was forged on the fires of resistance to this commonly held belief; that you had to be rich to dress well. Something I, to my great shame, used to believe. The real problem is that people do not prioritise dress in the same way, and certainly not as they used to. This warming enquiry provides a glimmer of hope for the future; caring enough about your outward appearance to save money in order to improve it should be applauded.

When it came to the central quandary, my first thought was of Genesis; “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat…” Bespoke can become addictive, and addictions are expensive, and a gentleman can often indulge in gleeful proclamations: “I’ll never buy off-the-rack again!”, “Only bespoke from now on!” and “I can’t believe I didn’t start sooner!” which are often followed by dark clouds of concern that their prospective wardrobe costs just smashed through the ceiling.

Even if our reader allowed £100 per suit for adjustments, which should be ample for the adjustments required, it would cost £800 to correct decent off-the-rack suits to something considerably better for his frame. This would leave £700 to put towards something else, perhaps even a bespoke suit.

An alternative is to sell the 8 suits and add the cash collected from this to the bespoke war chest. However, unless the brand of suits being sold are very high end, not to mention being in very good condition, they are unlikely to yield much return in a sale – certainly not enough to buy 8 bespoke suits.

My advice would be to keep the off-the-rack suits that are particularly special and get them adjusted. Those that have less personal appeal should indeed be sold and the proceeds added to a fund for bespoke – the forbidden fruit must be tasted. For a man of limited funds, weaker willpower and given to fancy, bespoke can demolish his delight in the simple and mundane, not to mention his living standards and future prospects. However, a man so determined to dress for the job he wants and not the job he has, to save for the future and invest in himself is more than capable of coping with the sweetly enslaving pleasure of having his clothes made for him.