After four bespoke suits made in Hong Kong over the past few years, and now embarking on my second British bespoke suit, I find it hard to see how I could ever stop getting a particular thrill out of it. But it will be a while before I pay for bespoke shoes.

Ignore for the moment that I can’t afford bespoke shoes. (I can buy bespoke suits off Savile Row or in the City from £800 and up, but I’ve yet to find a bespoke shoe maker who is as proportionately affordable.) Even if I was spending the usual £3000 or so for a Savile Row suit, I’m not sure I’d be spending £2000 on bespoke shoes.

Equally, when you read the experiences of older men they still buy ready-to-wear shoes even though they never buy ready-to-wear suits anymore.

I think the reason is that a bespoke suit is both more comfortable to wear and flattering. Bespoke shoes are pretty much just about comfort.

A bespoke suit is more comfortable because it hugs your contours and your proportions. It ensures that the waist doesn’t restrict you when you turn or reach for something. And (more impressively, since that last aspect of fit could be achieved by just buying a bigger suit) it allows your arms to move independently without dragging the body of jacket wherever it goes.

So, it’s more comfortable. But that comfort also produces flattery and beauty. If you are relatively slim, the jacket is likely to be more pinched at the waist, giving you broader shoulders and a sharp silhouette. The shoulders will follow yours exactly, creating a smooth, sculpted body of cloth. Overall, as the Dictionary of English Trades (1804) describes the work of a cutter, it will “create a good shape where nature has not granted one”.

But shoes look beautiful no matter how badly they fit. OK if the fit is really terrible the leather might be distorted and bulge (if too small) or crease in the wrong place and leave an awkward curl at the toe (if too big). And a bespoke shoe does follow the lines of your feet better, making it look a little daintier and sculpted.

But generally, being a little big or a little small makes no difference aesthetically. Most of the aspects of shoes associated with bespoke, like a slim and bevelled waist, can also be found on high-end ready-to-wear (like Gaziano & Girling, for example, or Lodger’s English contemporary last).

So for now, I’ll be sticking with ready-to-wear shoes.

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jon kolbeck

I hear what you are saying and to an extent agree with you, but I do think George Cleverley did an amazing job making my bespoke shoes comfortable, while looking very appealing and elegant.

My new Anthony Cleverley shoes also have a great look to them and in my opinion are the best RTW shoes one can find, especially given the price.

John Lobb (Paris) also makes some great looking shoes and I love them, but their bespoke price is crazy.


You never said how much your recent Graham Browne double breasted cost. Did that cost only £800?! I hope it doesn’t seem inappropriate to ask how much you spent. One of the valuable things about this blog is learning how to invest wisely and knowing the cost of something is obviously an element of that. And do tell us more about the second suit.

Steven Kippel

My feet are of different size by a little less than half an inch. I wonder if a bespoke shoe would benefit me.

Sartorial Vancouver

Bespoke is not just about fit and comfort. It is also about being able to specify whatever it is – material, details, what have you – you fancy.

As to shoes, you can always go the made-to-order route and specify a last, upper material, and design of your liking.


What happened to the post on galoshes? It seems to have disappeared from this site.


This post ignores the key difference between suits and shoes:

Provided a man can keep his waistline measurement constant, a suit will fit the same on your wedding day and your fifth anniversary. Shoes, on the other hand, will mold and conform to your feet and the leather will soften with each use. Simply stated, ready to wear shoes become custom fitted to the owners individual feet after being fully broken in.

Evan Rose

Like Sartorial Vancouver said, you can do almost anything you want with MTO shoes. Gaziano and Girling have, on their standard lasts, made me a pair of shoes that were different sizes and different widths for the same price and of course, their shoes, after a wearing or two, fit like they were made for me because they were.


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Darren K

Dear Simon,
I have read your material on suits fairly extensively and have taken notes. I’m ready to buy my first bespoke suit and I’ve decided that since I’m based in the SF Bay Area, I should avail myself of local talent so I can find someone hopefully good and just stick with them. I consider myself an anglophile , want something British about my suit and don’t foresee visiting Saville Row anytime soon. For this, I thought I could go with a British wool mill. However, I’ve read your comments that suggest ignoring label altogether and go with certain quality characteristics that you emphasize. Any guidance would be much appreciated? Do you distinguish between Italian and British mills and is there any “rule” on Saville Row tailors favoring British wool. Thank you!

Darren K

Thank you Simon.

If any reader of Permanent Style has experience with Spoon Tailor in San Francisco, I’d very much appreciate input. My one concern with them is that I don’t “know” what I want. By that I mean, I need some expert guidance on fitting and I wonder if they’re better for folks who can assert themselves during tailor fitting process.