Manish’s five bespoke lessons: Working with a tailor

||- Begin Content -||

By Manish Puri

I’ve been commissioning made-to-measure and bespoke garments for six years. 

In any other sphere, that amount of experience might qualify me as an expert. So, it’s telling about the nature of bespoke - the slow production times, the incremental improvements to a pattern, the subtle differences in house style, and the gradual evolution in taste that comes from having a broader palette to create from - that I still very much consider myself a beginner!

Even so, in that time I’ve commissioned tailors from London, Hong Kong, New York, Naples and Stockholm to make pretty much every type of garment save for an overcoat (note to self: ooh, an overcoat).

I’ve had one almighty calamity (aborted partway), a few things I’ve outgrown (figuratively and literally) and have ended up with several pieces that fill me with joy and gratitude whenever I wear them.

So, this article (the first of two) is about some of the lessons I’ve learned from working with different tailors. Of course, this is just my experience and the Permanent Style archives are stocked with articles dealing with Simon's take on similar matters - I’ve added links to key pieces at the end. 

My target reader is someone who is about to embark upon having clothes made for the first time. For the old hands, I hope it gives you the satisfaction that comes from knowing the safe route through a minefield - and I insist that you share your hard-earned wisdom in the comments.

In the final reckoning, to be in a position where you’re even considering having clothes made for you is a gift of fortune. By all means research tailors, agonise over fabrics, measure and remeasure garments, snap selfies, curate look books, and interrogate makers. But, my best advice is to enjoy the ride.

1. More than a feeling

In Simon’s review of his bespoke suede boots from Roberto Ugolini he wrote something about the bespoke experience that had me knocking the nearest table in agreement:

“I am increasingly specific about what I need…and it seems to be paying off. When I was younger I didn’t, and a lot of shoes were just too small for me. Partly it was awe at the bespoke process itself - the work these makers were going to do on my behalf, the combination of skill and strength. But just as importantly, I didn’t have confidence in my own opinions.”

I’ve been guilty of this myself (and perhaps it’s that “natural English reticence” that Simon alludes to). I subordinate my own gut instinct to the tailor’s skill and experience. And on the occasions where I have voiced a concern that something is too tight (and, by the way, it’s nearly always an issue with something being too tight, because, barring your pants falling down, it’s amazing how quickly you can adapt to something being slightly more relaxed than you’re accustomed to) I’ve learnt that reassurances of things ‘giving’ through wear are futile if the current state is so uncomfortable that you can’t bring yourself to wear it - I’m looking at you dry denim!

As Simon says, “it takes time to know what you need”, and over the years I’ve gotten to know that my tailoring ‘pressure points’ (the areas where an uncomfortable fit can mark even the most beautiful garment for the eBay corner of my wardrobe) are around my elbow, across the shoulders and in the crotch.

And so, I’ll try and take a seat at the tailors to see if I can feel any pinch. Not a prim perch on the edge of a stool mind you, but a full gangster-lean back into an armchair with legs tightly crossed. I’ll take imaginary phone calls to see if the elbow feels tight. And I’ll reach into the air as if I’m gripping the hand strap of a Tube carriage to examine if the collar creeps away from my neck. 

I sometimes feel a little silly and even (here comes the English in me again) rude doing this - as if I’m casting aspersions on the quality of the work done. Your tailor won’t care. They’ve seen it all before. One told me that they had a regular client who would go to the corner of the room and assess the fit by contorting their body into shapes that would make Houdini wince.

2. I’ll be your mirror

If the front of a finished jacket and its attendant embellishments (lapels, quarter, pockets, buttons) conveys a tailor’s style, then the back, a landscape of pure cloth, is where their skill is on naked display. 

The large (and largely interrupted) length starts wide at the crest of the shoulders, peaks over the shoulder blades, troughs and narrows through the small of the back, before spreading its form to envelop the tuchus. This undulating journey reveals a lot about how the jacket fits and how comfortably it will wear.

And, so, it’s a minor frustration (and surprise) of mine that not all tailors have a setup that offers customers a closer look at the back - a rear view mirror, if you will. This is especially true of travelling tailors and trunk shows, although I can forgive them for being reluctant to check a full-length three-way mirror onto an aeroplane.

Fortunately, these days we all carry our black mirrors with us so, if you do find yourself trying to catch a glimpse of your own posterior like a dog chasing their own tail, I would encourage you to enlist your tailor’s help in documenting the back of your commission - photos will give you a sharper picture to nitpick over, while video will offer a sense of how it looks in motion.

And to those who say this tip is essentially just a 21st century repackaging of Cher Horowitz’s advice in the film Clueless to never rely on mirrors and always take polaroids, my retort would be that you’re a virgin who can’t drive.

3. My love is your love

In Permanent Style’s infancy, Simon would often bemoan the fact that tailors didn’t have enough examples of their work on display to help prospective customers get a clearer picture of what the house style was.

I think this is undoubtedly an area where tailoring houses have improved - both in the showroom and through the curation of a library of commissions on social media. (Indeed, at the last Mortimer House talk, Anda Rowland of Anderson & Sheppard appealed to customers to tag them when posting looks online).

However, even within the relatively narrow parameters of a house style there are still so many decisions to be made where even a modest adjustment can have a dramatic impact on the finished product.

Shoulders. Drape. Notch height. Lapel width. Belly. Buttoning point. Skirt length. Openness of the quarters. Like you, I’ve done my homework and I have a notion of what I want from each of these, and I also understand the theory of what a change to any one element might induce. 

However, what this looks like in practice, and how multiple tweaks might work (or not work) in concert sometimes escapes my aphantasic mind. The problem becomes particularly acute on a second or third commission with the same maker where you’re starting to find your bespoke legs and are emboldened to subtly develop your silhouette.

In those cases, you’ll find a helping hand on the commission rail, where finished and semi-finished garments dangle like ripe berries. By trying on other people’s commissions, I’ve been able to answer questions about how closed I want my quarters, how I like the collar to feel, how much belly I want on the lapels of a DB, and how extended I want my shoulders more precisely than I ever would otherwise. It doesn’t matter a jot if the coat is ill-fitting, you’re only looking for visual cues on one or two elements.

Personally, I’d be delighted if one of my commissions helped to steer a fellow enthusiast in the right direction. Just remember to ask the tailor first!

4. Lisztomania

Once you’ve made those micro-decisions, make a list of them. 

You might not realise it (because it’s probably been skilfully done) but you’ve just shared more information on your style, and made more choices about your wardrobe, than you ever have before. And even with a relatively quick turnaround (six to eight weeks minimum) you’re going to forget some of them. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll start daydreaming about the next commission and conflate the two in your mind.

Making a quick note of the fabric code, lining (cloth and type), number of sleeve buttons and any other atypical design choices can really help. Now, the tailor should make notes too, but this is a human transaction - accidental error or misinterpretation can occur, and you should prepare yourself for that possibility within reason.

Or course, if you went in for a navy worsted single-breasted suit and your tailor fishes out a lime-green corduroy double-breasted then run for the hills. Your diligent transcriptions in a notebook won’t help you in these forsaken lands.

5. Tell her no

The golden rule of retail is that the customer is always right. However, as someone that has previously purchased stretch denim, I can attest that not only is the customer frequently not right, they're often crying out for a style intervention where the errors of their ways are patiently and systematically laid out in front of them.

I do understand why some tailors are minded to tell the customer “I'm going to make whatever you want”, but, in the long term, you’ll benefit from working with a tailor that is comfortable saying no to you.

I’m a regular (and very satisfied) customer of The Anthology, for example, and still remember messaging Buzz (one of the founders of the brand, above) to enquire about making a jacket out of a cashmere glen-check cloth that had caught my eye on his Instagram stories.

In characteristically polite fashion, he steered me away from it. He understood my budget, my existing wardrobe, my style and my lifestyle, and he knew what I didn’t at the time: that this wasn’t the right piece for me at that particular stage. 

That careful handling of a customer when there’s a sale at stake gets to the heart of what makes a good bespoke relationship - trust and longevity. You can’t build a long-term customer relationship without their trust and you won’t gain their trust without looking out for them in the long-term.

Manish is @the_daily_mirror on Instagram

Six recommended PS articles to delve into this deeper:

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Just wanted to drop a line to say how much I’ve been enjoying Manish’s articles. The mix of PS geekiness (an absolute compliment), personal experience and humour make for a great read. Not that your articles aren’t great too Simon !

Simon Crompton

That’s lovely to hear Shane, thank you. I know Manish will be thrilled, but for me I really enjoy having the mix of great writing on PS and I’m pleased that’s the case with you too. Even though Manish and I would share many of these lessons, our experiences will always be different and there will always be angles he will take that I would never think of


Completely agree, Manish’s articles are a real pleasure to read. Manish are you writing for any other publications?


Thank you so much, Shane.

I am indeed thrilled and very grateful that you took time out to leave a comment. I really appreciate it.

Best wishes!


Concurred. Thoroughly.


I came here to say the same thing as Shane.


Same! Keep up the good work gents

Alfred N

Absolutely agree. Manish’s pieces are a great combination of being informative, well-structured, humourous and full of personality – and overall are a real pleasure to read.


hi Manish, this is a very helpful article. A thought on your third point: Based on my experiences and a fair few mistakes along the way, I would advise being very cautious about asking tailors to tweak things like lapel width, amount of belly, gorge height, etc. A good cutter will determine these in proportion to the client’s body and based on their house style, and the dimensions should all work in harmony with each other. Changing one element without the changing the rest can really mess up the proportions of a jacket. I would rather say that if you don’t like the tailor’s house style and want to change it, it is better to find a different tailor.


Thank you , Manish .
It’s nice to hear from a bespoke ‘beginner’ as I would guess most PS readers are.
Simon, more articles like this . In recent months I’ve missed the lack of bespoke commissions (appreciate that Simon has probably commissioned from all of Savile Row ) so it might be an idea to read about other writers commissions.

Some key points brought up
1. Go with ‘looser’ rather then ‘fitted’. After about 4 commissions of MTM shirts I’m still getting sleeves that shrink that ever so slightly and a slight pull under the arms .

2. Go with your tailors advice on first 2 commissions. In the beginning you know nothing !
It’s hard advice to take but being too specific is like a patient telling a surgeon what scalpel to use .
You’ll never be happy with your first commission but that’s the point .
The exercise in perfection starts from there .


First of all I want to thank you, Manish, for this well-written article and add that you are such a handsome and stylish man.
Secondly, please excuse my middle class, but as a customer, do you ever feel stressed about the financial pressure to succeed in your commissions? Do you have any advice on dealing with this?

Given that one does not have completely unlimited funding, spending on one thing limits spending on something else. Thus, a few unsuccessful suits, which seems inevitable, quickly add upp to substantial financial losses equivalent of things like a year of college tuititon, half a car, a sizeable amount of investment in the stock market, down payments on the house, a ski trip. Not mentioning what that money could do for charity.

Note that this is not a jab at the pricing of bespoke garments, I am well aware of the costs of production.


Hi RKM, as a very longtime reader of PS and big fan of Simon and his peers the one thing that I can’t recall ever being explicitly stated is the hard truth that bespoke is just not for everyone. Some will never reach the income level to reasonably afford bespoke. Personally, I don’t believe the rationalization that it’s really just 2 purchases that can be charged to your ccd and paid off later is a fiscally responsible decision, but it’s also not a decision for me to make for another person.

Aside from that, Simon has outlined in past articles that one detail good MTM has to offer over bespoke is the inclusion of try-on garments to help the customer visualize the product before purchase (fit, usually not fabric, mind you). Despite lacking the popularity on sites like PS, the truth is there are many local MTM operations that will be capable of delivering a very good product at a price that is better suited for us Middle Class Joe’s.

I know these opinions might spark some debate on this forum but unless you live in a major city that has regular visits from bespoke tailoring operations then the time it requires to take multiple trips to that major city (assuming you live in a secondary city or a more rural area of your country), stay at least one night in a hotel/AirBNB, and work through the painful experience of failures that all bespoke customers have had, then bespoke is just not the right fit for you (pun intended). On top of that, the idea that a person has a body type that requires nothing short of full bespoke to properly fit is almost always nonsense (some exceptions apply, of course). A great tailor of RTW or maker of good MTM can fix many body-type issues. This is helped by the prevalence of many new RTW brands emerging over the past few years who cater to just about every body type.

To round it off, keep in mind that the fit issues that we talk about here on PS are admittedly usually very minor: a slight slope of one shoulder, the minor extension of that shoulder seam, etc. The average person on the street will never know that you aren’t looking as dashing as Cary Grant because your sleeve happens to be 1/8” too long.

We should all be careful to acknowledge that while top-level bespoke is a genuine work of art, and that (admittedly few) some body types require a great deal of extra work to make things look balanced, really good RTW (even second-hand, see: Simon’s vintage Levis posts, or How to Dress Like Ethan Wong) and MTM might just be where some people need to remain. And remember that it’s not a hierarchy: something is not automatically better because it was bespoke vs. RTW or MTM. Wear what you can afford (the best you can afford) and wear it well. Love it and remember that at the end of the day, it really is just clothes we’re talking about and there is no need to be self conscious that it’s not Solito, or Logsdale, or Poole, or anyone else with their name on that tag.

Simon Crompton

I think one bit of context that’s useful here, Con, is that a lot more people used to buy bespoke, but there also used to be much cheaper bespoke. Savile Row is the very top end of the quality scale – the west end finish – and the vast majority of people did not used to shop at places like this. There’s a reason the books are full of aristocracy, captains of industry and celebrities – normal people had their suits made elsewhere.

Unfortunately only the top end of the market is left, apart from the occasional hold out like Graham Browne in the City. It just doesn’t make economic sense anymore to cut and fit a suit by hand unless it’s the most expensive product.

Omar Asif

hi Simon
Is Graham Browne still operating from the same place? His website has the same Bow Lane address listed but the premises was empty when i visited earlier in the year. I thought Russell has either wound up or moved elsewhere.

Simon Crompton

Hey Omar,
Yes, he’s at 4 Bow Lane – was that where you went?

Omar Asif

I am not sure about the exact door number but it was the address I had picked up from his website. Interesting, I will try again. Thanks Simon.


Omar – I think GB moved about 6 months ago. They are very close to the old shop (I walked past last week). It’s on Bow Lane (the one with Konditor on the corner and St. Mary’s church at the other). You may have gone into Well Court, the smaller lane off Bow Lane, where they were based and which is indeed an empty unit now.

Omar Asif

That is very helpful, thanks Rob!

Anthony Thompson

Interesting discussion.
You’re right, of course, Simon, to say a lot more people used to buy bespoke, but that is because there was a lot less availability of of MTM, let alone RTW in years gone by.
I don’t agree that Graham Browne sits virtually alone in the lower priced bespoke market. M&W, Cad, Souster, Merrion spring to mind as quality bepsoke makers at around half the Row price.
Equally, you can get some very good (make/fit/choice etc) MTM, or indeed semi-bespoke, for way less than the Row prices.
People need help knowing where to look.

Simon Crompton

Hi Anthony,

Certainly, yes. On the others, I’m not counting makers that are outside London, which will of course be cheaper (and will often not make to the same levels as a west end tailor, to cater to the local market.

Omar Asif

hi Cameron
On the point of an average person on the street not caring for a measurement being off by 1/8″, i think most fans of bespoke go this route out of their own passion rather than wanting others to think of them in a particular way. I remember conversations with my father where he would question me about wanting hand padded chest when no one else would be able to tell that and my response would always be that doesn’t matter whether anyone can tell or not, I know!
I agree that bespoke is a very expensive journey and it is not for everyone – I consider myself very fortunate that being from Pakistan, I have access to a good tailor who is a fraction of the cost of top European tailors but is still very good in terms of cut, fit and finishing. I can not afford the makers mentioned on this website but it doesn’t matter to me as long as i get something that I like and it works for me, comes down to personal preferences as i said.


One idea is just cashflow management. Spread out the cost of the commission with some interest-free or low-interest payment methods. Various credit cards, personal loans and PayPal and others offer this. Of course, this doesn’t change the balance sheet picture, but it should lessen the day to day impact and allow you the space to try out/indulge in/experiment with bespoke. The watch retailers and brands figured this part out awhile ago, and almost every retailer and brand offers 24 month interest free financing for pieces. Recently I even got offered a £75k financing option for a particularly tempting piece!


This just means that you cannot afford it. Things like clothing, shoes, watches etc. are an indulgence but never a neccessity. If you’re unable to pay for it on the spot chances are you shouldn’t buy them at all.


Even if you could afford it outright, if you could improve the cash flow why not? For instance I could dump 75k on a watch now or pay for it over two years interest free.


I think RKM’s concerns are perfectly reasonable. To anyone starting out my own suggestion would be to begin with a less expensive tailor so that any mistakes will be less costly. Contrary to the impression sometimes given here, Savile Row is not the only place in the country where you can get a bespoke suit made. Check them out as you would any other supplier – are they well established, do they seem reliable and interested in tailoring, where are the clothes made, will there be after-sales service (repairs, adjustments, etc.) and do you like their house style? If you can visit and briefly get to know them first, all the better. Take them through roughly what you want – any decent tailor will be happy to help – and perhaps choose some classic items first to reduce the risk of disappointment. If after all that bespoke is for you, then you can always trade up to a more expensive tailor later if you wish.
For someone who just wants two or three special occasion items and doesn’t want to go through all the above, it’s worth bearing in mind that generally speaking the more expensive the tailor the better their advice will be, the wider range of cloths they will have, the better the cut/finish and the better the after-sales service. Again, some classic items are the safest option.
This is just based on my own experience, which is nowhere near as extensive as Simon’s. 


Excellent article! I have to also mention that Manish seems to have excellent taste in music and I’d be very happy to see a Spotify playlist of his shared around these parts!


Thanks so much, Teo.

Haha! I was wondering if anybody would look at the links! Let’s see what I can do 😊


Thank you Manish 🙂
Yet, even as a regular customers for many years I am still amazed at the mistakes that can occur. When you hear from tailors what can go wrong (and what actually went wrong) not for quote, one’s thoughts sometimes drift towards a car workshop.
Wouldn’t bespoke companies benefit from a simple course in management techniques and customer service? Still in their old fashioned advertising bespoke companies always bring out he incense pot to colour the bespoke process into something magical abracadabra.

Neil Laurence

Fab article. I’ve been commissioning bespoke for about eight years and love the final point on the tailor telling you ‘no’.
A number of times I’ve excitedly asked to see a swatch that I have seen online (usually a crazy tweed or check) and being told “seriously Neil, you’ll never wear it”.
Echo Manish’s advice at the beginning of the article to ‘enjoy the ride’.


Hello Manish, will Part II of the article include the almighty calamity & pieces the style of which you’ve outgrown.
These types of articles are most illuminating when they discuss concrete examples.



I shared some running commentary of my saga dealing with the (then) European agent of B & Tailor in the comments here:


I’ve learnt that reassurances of things ‘giving’ through wear are futile if the current state is so uncomfortable that you can’t bring yourself to wear it.”


Great piece, and I 100% recall about everything, same path my man.


Great article, Manish!
Something else I would add, based on recent experience, is don’t expect the tailor to hit a moving target. I gained some weight – about a stone – between my second and third commissions, the pattern was adjusted, but then just a couple of months after receiving the third jacket – single breasted, double vent, slightly wider lapels, flapped pockets, in the PS Shetland Tweed – I very suddenly lost a stone and a half rather quickly and unexpectedly. (*cough* new puppy *cough*) I only got to wear the piece a few times, and it’s now back with the tailor to be taken in – it was suddenly hanging on me. So far the weight is staying off, thankfully!
The tailor in question has said much the same, too, in that he has had people commission a suit and say “I’m trying to lose weight!” – so for something like a wedding suit where the chap concerned is aiming to shed 30lb before his impending wedding date, the tailor more or less has to aim at a moving target and hope. Awkward for the tailor, and could result in disappointment for the customer.


This happens with a grooms!
I’ve also been in the position of a customer not coming in for well over a year between measurements and fitting to be proudly told how he’d lost 50lb. I didn’t even waste time putting the item on him, just remeasured him.


I can loose 10% body weight every year (curse my love of cookies :)) haven’t done bespoke, but for rtw and MTM I’ve settled for size that’s a bit too drapey when I’m on my skinniest and a bit too tight when I’m… not. this way I have a measure when to get on diet. like I spent 500£ on this jacket! I’m not buying another one! I’ll get back to fitting in it!!


I’ve been on the bespoke journey for 27 years and if you are a clotheshorse it is the greatest joy you can have. I consider every project a grand experiment. Some things don’t turn out as well as you’d hoped, and others surpass your wildest expectations. For me, the first fitting is almost always jarring, a disappointment. I’ve realized the strange unfinished garment is so odd, no buttons, no finishing, just so far from what I’d imagined. Even my cloth choice looks strange at that point. So I’ve learned to accept that and let it go. Also, when you start, common advice is to get something versatile, restrained. For some that is probably good advice. But for me a shepherd’s checked jacket, or a jacket my tailor made from Black Watch kilt cloth, have been enjoyed the most. This is your chance to get something different. Finally, I waste a lot of time online looking at cloth swatches, planning for my visit. It really isn’t useful and I know I shouldn’t do it but I do it anyway. The computer fails to capture color and texture. By contrast, when you’re actually at the tailor, the cloth books are magical. There are so many choices, and so many you might have missed if you made a decision beforehand.


“I’ve learnt that reassurances of things ‘giving’ through wear are futile if the current state is so uncomfortable that you can’t bring yourself to wear it.”

Well, quite! Finally someone else has said it. I’ve been reassured in this way multiple times (I won’t name names—it’s not my style), and never—not once—has the cloth ‘settled’ as it is often put. I’ve had tailors deploy this remedy for everything from pinching at the shoulders and the jacket flaring open at the chest, to the collar lifting off the neck and the front–back balance being woefully off.

I’d be interested to hear from Simon, Manish, and other readers whether this fabled settling of the cloth has ever actually allowed for what felt like a tightly fitting garment to ‘settle’ in a way that winds up being a joy to wear.

Simon Crompton

Certainly bespoke garments mould a little as they are worn, and this can improve some things, but I don’t think it would ever fix the kind of issues you’re talking about

Omar Asif

These are some pretty extreme issues and won’t go away just by wearing the cloth and letting it ‘settle’. These all would require alteration and something like jacket flaring open at chest may not be fixable on a finished jacket.
In my experience, aspects which improve with wear are subtle fit things like shape through the chest and the waist – as the canvas moulds to your chest, it helps accentuate the shape through the waist as well.


I would seriously question the judgement of a tailor who tells you that initial tightness or discomfort is normal or OK. I have been commissioning bespoke for around 15 years now and never once has a garment or a pair of shoes that started out being uncomfortable become comfortable over time due to the fabric settling or stretching.

Some fabrics, like cottons and linens, start out more rigid and soften up over time. But this is a more of a question of them molding to your body and wearing in. They should start out comfortable and become more comfortable with repeated wear.


I agree. A bespoke item should be comfortable – that is one of the reasons for choosing bespoke. If an item isn’t comfortable then ask for it to be altered until it is. If a tailor doesn’t want to do it and instead trys to tell you it will ‘wear in’, insist it is altered until you are happy. Then find a different tailor.

Omar Asif

hi Manish
A very good read indeed; reminded me of my time earlier in the bespoke journey where I would make a list of all the things I wanted to ask the tailor! It has come to a point now (over the last 15 odd years) that it is a second nature to both the tailor and myself.
On your third point, I am always a little wary of asking the tailor about drastic style changes such as opening the foreparts, thinking that it may end up being a disaster. Same goes for shoulder style; over the years as I now commission sports jackets instead of suits, I have asked for very lightly padded shoulders but am reluctant to ask my tailor for a Spalla Camicie, something he is not used to. Essentially following Simon’s advice of letting your tailor cut his style, an article which you also reference at the bottom.
And on extending the shoulders, I feel that it requires slightly lower arm holes to be comfortable than you would need otherwise. It would be interesting to know your experience with that.


Hi Manish, if you don’t mind, I was wondering why Buzz thought the cashmere glen-check jacket wouldn’t be right for you at that particular stage? Thanks!


Hi Tom

The cloth was a vintage navy cashmere glen check which was beautiful.

However, I think Buzz’s reservations were:

1. It was quite a big step up in price from what I was comfortable with
2. I had a couple of blue jackets already so it perhaps wasn’t the most versatile choice
3. It was quite delicate and maybe not the best choice for a beginner’s wardrobe as I’d been leaning towards slightly more robust fabrics to that point

Hope that helps 😊


This is quite helpful – thank you. I find it difficult to fully express my opinion when a garment is finished and I’m feeling uncomfortable. I will try to voice it but then if they say “just wear it a little bit”, it doesn’t get changed… not sure how others deal with that?

Simon – was it also like this for you when you were starting out?

Simon Crompton

It certainly was GD, and frankly it sometimes still is.

It’s completely normal to not know what you feel about the jacket when you wear it at the final fitting, and so I shouldn’t be concerned at all about wearing it two or three times and then coming back for a tweak here or there. It helps a lot if you’re a consistent customer of the tailor as well – you both know that getting the jacket right is worth it, because it will make everything in the future easier too.


That’s an excellent point – thank you for sharing, Simon!


Great read, thanks Manish!
You mentioned your aphantasia in point 3. I’d love to hear more about that if you feel comfortable and how it impacts your stylistic choices when putting together outfits and commissioning things when there are no solid visual references.
Digging into these questions is probably one of my favourite discussion areas concerning style and clothing. It’s fascinating to me because I visualize combinations all the time including with items that I don’t yet have and wearing them in scenarios and places that may not exist — which is really to a fault for me, because I end up chasing an image that isn’t compatible with real life, only to be disappointed with the result. IMO getting out of one’s own head is really important to having good style.


Really insightful article, thanks Manish!


Thoroughly enjoyed this article as it validated my experience with the one bespoke pair of trousers I’ve had made with a London tailor. They are too tight in the seat and thighs, so much so it’s uncomfortable to sit down in them!! I too was given “reassurances of things ‘giving’ through wear”. Never happened. Lesson learned. I look forward to reading the next installment, Manish.

Matt Spaiser

This is a very helpful read. The most important thing I’ve learned in bespoke is to go to a maker that you like the house style of. Everyone has a house style, even if they say they don’t. It’s such good advice to be familiar with what a bespoke clothier has already made. It’s easy to go to the makers you like when you have the funds to go to the places you want to anywhere in the world, but even when going to a local tailor seeing what they make, and seeing it on real customers, is very important.

I’m always worried about mistakes in the process and trying my best to avoid them. But mistakes can happen on both sides, and while I am as clear as I can be with my requests I can’t control mistakes by the tailor. I remember on Will Boehlke’s old blog A Suitable Wardrobe, he’d have issues with bespoke tailors making a suit in the wrong cloth or making a suit in the wrong style (a 4×2 double-breasted suit instead of a 4×1). He said that it was on him as a customer to deal with these mistakes, otherwise he’d be sacrificing the relationship with the tailor. These mistakes would have cost the company thousands of pounds to order new cloth and in labour to cut it and put together a new basted fitting.

I’m always concerned that the tailor is going to do one of these things wrong. I’ve faced mistakes numerous times from some very high end and famous names, and I’ve noticed that mistakes are not uncommon in bespoke tailoring. I’ve taken Will’s advice when a suit was made for me with two buttons instead of the one I asked for at not only the time I was measured for the suit but at the last fitting before the buttonholes were cut. They offered to remake it for me because it was obviously their mistake, but I would feel awful to have them eat that cost, and I’d also have to go through the process again. But had they accidentally put a second button on a dinner jacket, I would have refused the garment because I’d never wear it.

When I’ve faced mistakes in MTM, if the shop could prove that the factory made the mistake, they brand would get the factory to cover the remake if it wasn’t their own factory. I’m sure there’s still some cost to the company that sold me the garment, certainly in postage to me. I once received a remade garment that was posted overnight to me across the pond, and it arrived less than an hour before I needed it. I felt bad about the tremendous cost to post me a large box overnight, but I also realise it was their responsibility.


Hey Manish,
Thanks for such a great article. If I may ask you to write even more than you already did: what were your first 5-10 bespoke jackets/suits/coats/trousers and what made you choose them, what would you like about them, and what you would change if you could redo it from the start?

Mine are:

1- Jacket from Jean Manuel Moureau in Escorial Tweed (Brown).
Rationale: wanted a more casual jacket (I never need to wear even shirts), mainly for going out chic with my wife
2- cream trousers from Jean Manuel
Rationale: I love cream for trousers and JMM had a wonderful one showing on the table. The only problem was the incoherence between seasons that each fabric was made for , one winter and the other summer
3-Anthology Wool/Linen brownish herringbone.
Rationale: I can make better use of an all season jacket then one for winter (just because I struggle more with heat). Also good with cream trousers
4- Anthology taupe flannel trousers. To go mainly with the first jacket. Also easy to pair
5- Anthology cream jacket. Similar reason to first, and I love cream as a color. Goes well with jeans


Thank you for writing such an informative article – lots of great points here to digest.  I am 32 years old and I am at a point in my life and career where I am seriously thinking about taking that jump into the world of bespoke.  I think the biggest thing that I am wrestling with is the fact that in economic terms I’d be spending a sum of money that is certainly significant to me and therefore I keep coming back to the idea that I want to commission something that is going to tick as many boxes as possible.
I think that reading this article (and also many other from Simon on PS) has helped me start to come to terms with the fact that whilst my logic of wanting to get the most out of the suit in terms of what situations it can be used is understandable it’s maybe not wise.  Your last point around Anthology saying to you “this wasn’t the right piece for me at that particular stage”, seems to be a good mantra I’ll keep coming back to when pondering decisions around my first commission in order to dive deeper into that question what do I actually need.


One of the concerns I have is my feeling of guilt taking a precious time slot on a traveling tailor’s schedule to only have a garment delivered (or another altered) and not to commission a new piece. Should we notify the tailor of our intentions (or lack of) when we schedule?

Simon Crompton

Personally, I don’t think so Ben. There will always be other things that come up, and swatches to look through. As indeed you would do in a regular shop


Dear Author,
the reading of your article was almost touching for  in its gracefulness and candour so I decided to give you a few tips. I’ve been wearing only bespoke garments for the past 35 or more years, not six, and this amount of time is not enough to coverthe knowledge of all the details you mention in your article. And let me tell you something else: there is no need.
The ultimate goal of turning to a tailor instead of a garment shop is to be able to have clothes that are your clothes, not clothes for others. this ensures that one can always feel comfortable when dressing. and feel that way, it makes what you wear look good on you.
It can also happen with a garment bought on a stall, or found in an uncle’s wardrobe. But it is difficult.
elegance (or style, Permanent, as you call it in your blog) has little to do with cloths. It is the way those clothes fit you, you, and only you, that makes the difference. The rest doesn’t matter.
the number of eyelets does not matter, nor does the width of the lapels. Everyone has their own personal taste.
What matters is to find someone who can read your body and knows how to cover it while respecting it. Who knows your movements, your attitudes and your lifestyle, and takes this into account when cutting and sewing for you.
And that is the problem. A. it is difficult, B. when you have found it, it takes years. You have to grow up and grow old together.
In this delightful blog of yours, you actually collect, out of your curiosity and your work, a lot of very carefully crafted clothes. But if you make one or two and then go to the next one you have to review, you will never be truly elegant: you will simply have a very fine wardrobe.
I don’t know who your icon is. Surely you must have one. Agnelli, Onassis, the Duke of Windsor, Charlie Watts? Do you think they changed tailors or shoemakers every month?
My final advice: keep reviewing tailors and shoemakers and shirt makers, it is useful and supports excellent craftsmen. But choose ONE for you that makes you feel good. And get YOUR wardrobe from him. Only by him.
A greeting

Simon Crompton

Hello Luca,

I assume this is directed to me, Simon, rather than Manish who wrote this article. I’ve been commissioning for about 15 years now, but certainly not 35.

I agree with you and have spoken many times about the value of a relationship with a tailor. I recommend readers only use a very small number, but of course have to cover more than that to give them a better spread of options.

This recent article touches on those points, if you’re interested.

Many thanks


Hello Simon,
no, no, actually it was directed to all, collectively, those who are active on this excellent blog. A humble suggestion, not a criticism. And with much respect and appreciation.  
In a humanity that uses only plastic clothes and shoes as a tribute to a perverse and perverted industry, I think you do a sort of cultural preservation, in yourway.
I just wanted to point out, to remind you, that the point of everything you deal with – I presume- is not craftsmanship per se, but elegance.
The Style. The Permanent Style, in fact. I am wrong?
As Honoré de Balzac wrote: the Brute covets, the Rich Man festoons, the Elegant Man dresses. That’s it, isn’t it?

Simon Crompton

Indeed, we all aim to dress rather than festoon! Thank you Luca, yes again couldn’t agree more


Must apologize. I’ve read the previous article of yours.
You’ve already stated what i did suggest.
I may have souded bothersome

Simon Crompton

Not at all Luca, the sentiment was perfect and we appreciated it

Jack Linney

This is a great article and very helpful. I have asked myself a couple of these questions since I started down the bespoke route, but I have had blinders to others So thank you for putting this together!!!
I must admit to a tangentially related question: how does one find the most complete list of bespoke tailors who travel? I have always just used one tailor. I am very happy with him and share his preference for a more structured style, but have recently thought about getting a suit or sport coat made by someone with a less structured aesthetic. I know of a lot of tailors who do that (to varying degrees), but am less sure of how to work with them.

Simon Crompton

Feel free to ask us, Jack, and we will usually know.

There is also a calendar of travelling tailors that Tom at The Valet in London is starting to run, building on what we used to do a few years ago.

Jack Linney

Thank you so much, Simon. I am in the US. I live in a small city, but can easily travel to DC, New York, Chicago, and Dallas.
I have been looking at the northern Italian tailors, largely because I do travel to Milan for business about once per year, which puts Florence, Milan, Turin, and other cities within reasonable reach. Many of them also seem to strike a nice balance between very little structure, which isn’t really my cuppa, and the structure of a Huntsman or Poole. (FWIW, Sciamat is not really my style.) I can only find Liverano & Liverano traveling to the US. Any guidance you or anybody else can give would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you so much – JL

David Starzyk

This is so well said; as one who had the pleasure of being fitted by, and made for, one Antonio Gasbarri, who made Bogie’s white dinner jacket in “Casablanca”, this brought back so many memories. The one I hold onto most fondly is, upon seeing the pants to my very first bespoke suit, my wife exclaimed: “Gasbarri found your ass!!” Never to be forgotten. The stories I heard in that little shop on Vine St. in Hollywood, not only filled me with awe; it made me a MAN. No kidding. Thanks for sharing; this should be read by everyone interested in what we wear, and how it’s made!!!


Question for the gallery…
For those with bespoke experience, how many successful orders would make you comfortable with your tailor skipping to the first fitting? Imagine sending fabric choices remotely or having them pick, so that when you meet, you’re already at the first fitting stage. What’s your take on this?

Ravi Deshpande

Depends how long it’s been since the last suit. Have you gained or lost weight, become more muscular etc. I’ve also found that different material drapes a little differently… but perhaps that could be adjusted in the first fitting.

Nicolas Strömbäck

Great article Manish! Would you please share also your hair grooming routine. That hair style is truly the most well-cut I have seen.

Ravi Deshpande

Some of these are mentioned in the article, but i had an opportunity to put down my “rules of tailoring”.
I’ve had custom made suits and shirts for about 15 years now. Nothing beats bespoke. Buying off the rack for tailored garments is an exercise in serendipity at best. I think I’ve had less than 5 suits, shirts or trousers that actually fit pre-bespoke. As well, for an equal price you’ll get far superior materials than off the rack.  

Here are my “rules”. 

1. You have to find a tailor that is between “the customer is always right” and “the tailor is always right”. There’s more than a few of the latter. You want to be general on some things, but also specific on some things that are important to you.  

2. Things you want to be general on:
• Your general level of fit – Italian, British, American, slim vs roomy etc. This is where you want the tailor to exercise his art to figure out how to best tailor the garment for your body. Don’t try to do the tailor’s job here.  
• What you’ll use the garments for. If you attend formal events or are a lawyer vs a creative director, this will influence the styling of the clothes. I had very specific issues like lots of air travel, having to wear clothes in Montreal in the winter and Phoenix in the summer.  

3. Things you want to be specific on: 
• Any special things you’d like. I love pens and had a special pen pocket put into the side of my shirts. I used to wear big watches and needed roomy sleeves. I had a special pocket for my phone put in just under the collar of my overcoat, so I could pull it out in cold weather without opening my coat.  
• The tailor will likely ask you about things like button holes, cuffs, linings, etc.  

4. Buy extra cuff and collar material for shirts. These can be replaced to add many years to your bespoke shirts. I’ve also added patches to the elbows of jackets and shirts. I’m the ultimate recycler. 

5. Not all tailors have great colour sense. You might need to hire a stylist or rely on your wife’s good taste!