When it’s time to buy a new suit--either for work, for a wedding, or just because you feel like you need an update--there are a few different things to consider before getting started.
Is it best to get a custom suit or one that’s ready to wear? What kind of fit is right for your body type? Does it need to be formal, or can it have a casual feel?
Buying a suit can be overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve got a process here at The Helm that will ease all your worries.
Whether buying a suit is a big deal for you or it’s just another Tuesday, we always take the same care and consideration into helping you find exactly what you need. Here’s a glimpse into our process so you can show up confident and prepared.
First things first: Give yourself time.
We mean this in two different senses:
First, set aside an hour or so of your day for your appointment. We’ll spend time asking questions, measuring you, and selecting fabrics. We want to really get to know you so we can be sure we’re selling you the perfect garment.
Second, try not to come in a week before an event for your new suit. We’ll always do our best to get you into one that fits your needs if you have to have it STAT, but don’t rush it if you don’t need to. 6-8 weeks of lead time is great, if you can manage it. More time allows us to explore all options--both custom and ready to wear--helping you get the perfect item in the end. You can find more details on the wait time for different types of suits below.
How to buy a suit
The first step in buying a suit is the consultation. It is important for us to know about you and what you need before digging into the type of suit you should buy.
Here are some questions you can expect when you’re buying a new suit:
- Do you need the suit for a specific function? If so, what function?
- What’s the location of the function?
- What’s your role at the event? Ex. groom, host, speaker, etc.
- Will you be using this suit for work? If so, what is your profession?
- How often do you expect to be wearing it?
- What time of year do you need it for?
- How quickly do you need it?
- What’s your typical style?
- What other types of styles do you like?
- What does your current wardrobe look like? We don’t want to give you something identical to what you already have.
We’ll assess your needs along with your own personal style to start narrowing down the brands, styles, and fabrics that will work best for you.
2. Service Selection: Ready to Wear, Rapid Custom, Made to Measure, or Bespoke
The next step is determining what type of suit will work best for you. As we are chatting, we’ll start to get a good sense of the type of service you need. In some cases, a ready-to-wear suit might be just the ticket. If you’re looking for something more personalized, we may go down a custom route.
Here are four types of suit services we might suggest:
Ready to Wear
What it means: A ready-to-wear suit is one that is already in store. You’ve tried it on, love the fabric and fit, and other than a couple small adjustments from our in-house tailor, you are ready to walk out the door with it. Ready-to-wear suits can have a slightly second-rate connotation, but the truth is, they are just as impeccable as one that has been made to measure. It’s the exact same quality, fabric, and make of a custom suit. The only difference is that you don’t have to wait for it.
Benefits: Usually fits 80% of men, variety of brands and designer-curated styles to choose from, same quality as a custom suit, fastest turnaround time.
Price range: $1050+
What it means: A rapid custom suit is one that needs only small adjustments to what we carry in store. For example, when you find a suit you like but you want it in a different colour or need a little extra length on the jacket or sleeve. These take about 7 days to arrive.
Benefits: Quick turnaround time, a unique suit without extra hassle, same great quality as all other custom suits.
Price range: $1095+
Made to Measure
What it means: A made to measure suit starts with a pre-existing pattern, which is adjusted at the factory to fit your needs. We take up to 50 different measurements and notes to come up with a suit that is unique to you. It is more personalized than the rapid custom, but is not as intensive as bespoke. Our team is there to guide you, so don’t let the number of options overwhelm you.
Benefits: Hundreds of fabrics to choose from, customized fit to your measurements, fits nearly every body type, ability to choose nearly every detail, faster turnaround time than bespoke.
Price range: $1395+
What it means: A bespoke suit is fully customized, right down to the millimetre. We start from scratch, giving you complete control over the final product. There can be up to three fittings to make sure it’s perfect. This option is great for someone who has a very specific look in mind and can’t find what they want in a pre-existing pattern.
Benefits: A perfect fit, ability to design your dream suit, intermediate fitting to ensure perfect fit, pattern is cut from scratch, one-of-a-kind garment.
Price range: $2795+
3. Measuring and Fit
After we know what type of suit you’ll need, we’ll take some measurements to determine how it should fit. This usually takes about 15 minutes. If minor adjustments are needed, our in-house tailor will take care of it. For made to measure and bespoke suits, we’ll send your measurements to the atelier making your suit (either in Italy or Canada depending on the brand).
4. Fabric selection
While there are hundreds of fabric options available for custom suits, we’ll be able to narrow down what you need based off of our conversations. From the fabric’s composition to the pattern and weight, we’ll make sure you’re only seeing options that are relevant to you.
5. Final details
Next, we’ll help you choose the details that really make the suit your own. For made to measure and bespoke suits, that can include things like linings, buttons, and styling. Again, our team will help you through this process based on your style and your needs if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
6. The waiting game
Once the order is placed, we’ll send you updates about your suit and its expected delivery.
Ready to Wear - Up to 7 days
If all you need is a trouser hem, you can usually walk away with your suit the same day if needed. If other adjustments are required, our tailor will take care of it in about a week.
Rapid Custom - 7 days
Since rapid custom suits only have one or two small changes to an existing pattern, these arrive in about 7 days. When you come for your fitting we’ll have it pressed and ready for you. If there are any last little adjustments to be made, our in-house tailor may need another few days for those.
Made to Measure - 3-6 weeks
Made to Measure suits take a bit longer because of how customized they are. They’ll be hand cut, sewn, and finished to your specifications. Again, after your fitting you should leave a few extra days of buffer time in case final adjustments need to be made by our tailor.
Bespoke - 5-8 weeks
Your bespoke suit can take longer than a made to measure suit due to the labour required to craft it from scratch and the extra fittings required. Always give yourself plenty of breathing room when going bespoke.
We’ll give you a call as soon as your suit arrives and schedule a time for you to come for a fitting. This usually takes about 20 minutes. We will have a shirt, shoes, and tie for you to try on with the suit, so don’t worry about bringing your own.
8. Minor alterations
Our in-house tailor will handle any alterations needed after your fitting, like taking in the jacket, adjusting sleeve length, etc. All tailoring is complimentary with your suit purchase, excluding sale suits.
9. Delivery or pickup
When your suit is ready, we’ll give you a call to let you know. We can either deliver it or you can pick it up, depending on what is best for you. We’ll provide you with care instructions and a card to use at our preferred dry cleaner.
Remember that your suit comes with lifetime service, so if you have minor repairs or tailoring to be done at any point during the life of your suit, just bring it back to us and we’ll fix it right up. Read more about our lifetime service here.
It’s all about teamwork
We really do want to make sure you walk away feeling like a million bucks. If you know exactly what you want, our team will make sure you get it. If you’re not entirely sure, don’t sweat it. We’re here to help.