11 top tips for a great Savile Row suit

8 minutes read

There are many elements that make a Savile Row suit look incredible vs mediocre. Here are 11 areas that I feel are most crucial to your tailored suit success.

Centimetres count to create a shoulder line that sings

Have you ever wondered why some men seem to look so effortlessly well put together? The reason is because they are wearing bespoke tailoring that fits them impeccably. Fear not. We are going to help you understand the fundamental elements that can make you look just as good – if not better – than them.

The shoulder line on your tailored suit is one of the key elements to your suiting success. One centimetre too wide and you run the risk of looking like an extra from Miami Vice. One centimetre too narrow and your shoulders will look too small, and the overall effect of a genuinely great suit is then lost. A sharp right-angle should be aspired to, with a firm shoulder to give your upper body structure and shape.

Your shoulder line is deemed the most important part of your suit as the eye line naturally directs towards your shoulders, as it is the nearest point to your face. When done correctly your bespoke suit can make you look a million dollars. 

Off the cuff – don’t leave the sleeve

With a bespoke suit, it’s the smaller details that really count. Those subtle, well-thought-out, precise measures that have been taken to show that your tailored suit has been made for you, and no one else. One of these crucial details is the length of your suit’s sleeve and how much shirt you’re showing.

Your shirt sleeve should be approximately one to two centimetres longer than your jacket sleeve length. It ought to end just after your wrist bones, cupping the very top of your hand, and no longer. Your suit jacket sleeve should then sit one to two centimetres above this point, just at your wrist bone.

However, don’t make the mistake of having the sleeve of your suit cut based on shirts you would usually wear, if all of your shirt sleeves are too long – i.e they’re dropping well over your hand. Your shirt-sleeve length plays just as an important role to perfecting the length of your suit sleeve, and is an issue that is often missed. 

It may mean that you’d be better off either altering all of your current shirts, so that everything works in harmony, or that you opt for made-to-measure shirts at the same time as ordering your made-to-measure suit

Lastly, on this topic, don’t forget to use real working cuffs on your suit sleeves, as this is a true sign of a Savile Row bespoke suit that is made exclusively for you. I recommend you choose buttons that slightly contrast, to further enhance the quality of your suit.

Take things up a notch

Where some tailors will declare that your lapel width should be defined by the width of your tie, we defy this concept, ultimately designing your suit around you and your body shape. To us this makes sense, not least because ties aren’t worn now as much as they used to be. What works to balance one person’s proportions to achieve sartorial success may not work for another.

Choosing the correct size lapel makes all the difference when it comes to your suit. There are trends that come and go but at Alexandra Wood we passionately believe classic has the overall edge. One centimetre either way can be decided upon depending on your frame. For example, if you’re broader-chested, you may choose a wider lapel to balance your frame and the opposite should you be slighter. 

The most classic, timeless lapel stands at 3 ¼ inches wide and is the most ideal for business suits where you want to look sharp and professional.  

To up the fun stakes, and for those of you who like a little more character to your suit, you can choose a peak lapel for more stylised designs. Like with everything, there is a time and place for both options. 

PS Not for dinner suits though, where peak or shawl should only really be chosen, as a notch lapel on a dinner suit is considered passé.

Don’t let it go to waist – All is not what it seams

Where many men would rather not wish to discuss their waistline, we here at Alexandra Wood are passionate about the subject. Why? Because most men wish to disguise this area. We, however, have our tailoring tools and knowledge at the ready to amaze you at what can be done with your waistline – and the good news is it doesn’t require a trip to the gym. We’ve created a unique design that works for all shapes and sizes, and it’s fun when we see the transformation. Subtle tweaks can truly make your bespoke suit a cut above the rest.

The waistline on your bespoke suit is one of the most important elements of your suit – shoulders aside – to have a clearly defined waistline, that stops you from looking ‘boxy’ with no shape.

Don’t worry, we’ve had customers contest that they don’t have a waistline, but that’s where we come in with our exclusive seam-shaping design that flatters. So, whether slender or larger, your shape will always look good.

Our seam shaping is just one of the defining elements of an Alexandra Wood suit that will leave you looking your finest. As we say, we don’t declare to be magicians, but we do believe in the power of cut and clever seam design. 

If you do have a slight tummy, we also include another cool trick that makes your jacket sit flatter against your body. There are more ways to shape and create a slender look than most people know about. Fear not: we’ve got you covered. 

Don’t cut yourself short

We’re delighted that most of our customers don’t like short jackets and prefer something slightly longer and more elegant and they’re right. There are more reasons than you might initially think as to why a slightly longer jacket is so critical to your ultimate suit success. 

A jacket that is too short can make you look heavier than you are. Opting for a jacket that disguises the top of your legs makes you look slimmer by taking the focus away from the heaviest part of your legs – around the hip/thigh area.

So, where should a jacket come to? Some tailors will ask you to place your hands by your side and cup the jacket with your hands, giving an indication of where your jacket should come to balance your proportions perfectly. However, in our view this is no good if you have particularly long or short arms. So, in short – or not, as it were – we say your jacket should skim the bottom of your bottom. This creates a great shape while enhancing your waistline. This is yet another example of an Alexandra Wood how-to-turn-heads secret.

Pockets of style

A pocket is just a pocket, right? Well, not exactly. Pockets that are slightly slanted and angled towards the buttons on your jacket are the most flattering for all body shapes, as they cleverly draw the eye towards your waist, which creates an illusion of slenderness.

All tailored suits are delivered with your pockets sewn up. We strongly advise that these are left just so, as the minute you start putting lots of things in them, you distort the shape of your suit. For longevity and a cleaner line, instead use a bag that co-ordinates well with your suit. 

To vent or not to vent – That is the question

This may seem like a minor detail but is an important part of your jacket. Side vents are more classically British in style for a bespoke suit and work well for most formal styles. 

Let’s discuss your three options:

Single vent: One vent in the centre back of your jacket

Side vents: One each side of the back of your jacket

No vents: The back of the jacket is completely closed

We tend to choose side vents for our customers. Why? They look more formal for a tailored suit, where a single vent tends to look more casual and would be a more suitable choice for a sports jacket. You will find that rules on vents often vary from country to country. No vents can prevent your jacket from flowing as well as it should.

Like many modern menswear details, vents originated from the distant past and for functionalities that aren’t required today. Vents allow a jacket to stop riding up or bunching when a man would ride a horse. Of course, we’re well aware this is not the case today, but the same reasoning applies even when you’re travelling or sitting down. A slightly longer vent can allow for more free movement of the jacket and therefore ensuring the fabric of your jacket stays effortlessly in place. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

Trousers – The rise and fall

Some trousers feel like their instantly yours; they feel comfortable and they just look great. Then, sometimes quite the opposite can happen. The secret is to consider the rise factor.

What exactly is a trouser rise? Your trouser rise is the distance from the front of your trouser waistband to the back. Essentially it is what determines how your trousers will fit you. It’s your outside leg measure minus your inside leg measure that leaves you with your finished rise length.

There’s a fine balance to strike so that your trousers sit comfortably on your hip while there’s also a decent enough rise for them to neither slice you in half nor be too low that it looks unflattering.

The most classic style of rise is where your trousers will sit on your hip bones. This works well for the slimmer man or those with a slight tummy. For a heavier man, it often works better if you wear your trousers slightly higher. This decision should centre upon comfort, though.

The crotch / rise distance of your trousers is also a crucial element – not only for how comfortable you will be wearing them, but also for how flattering they will make your legs look.

The rise of your trousers should be roughly one to two inches below your, erm, crown jewels, to make the most of your legs – whether short or tall, it doesn’t matter. Most trouser rises are far too long, which does nothing for the longevity of your suit, creating tension on the crotch area and also not helping you look as good as you should.  

The devil is in the (trouser) detail

Do you ever wonder why some trousers simply fit better than others? You want to feel supported around your waist and have confidence that your trousers will stay put. 

A sign of true Savile Row suit quality is that your waistband should be firm and not be able to tip forward, feeling snug on first outing on but not to the point of discomfort. You will also have a rubber shirt grip inside, which ensures that your shirt stays exactly where it should.

There are three main trouser adjustment options: belt loops; metal side straps; and button tabs. All have their own benefits depending on the wearer. Our preference tends towards metal side straps. This option allows for you to have more flexibility when needing to loosen or tighten your trousers. Metal side straps also look tidier and therefore smarter. Particularly if you are to wear a waistcoat, this option will ensure that it sits flat against your body and doesn’t create any lumps and bumps like a belt would. 

Trouser style and width 

As mentioned above, comfort is king when it comes to selecting trouser style and width. However, one design over another may not be as flattering. This is where balancing your proportions along with your comfort is crucial. 

Your trousers should have at least a half break. The myth is that shorter men should wear shorter-length trousers, but this again brings you back to looking like a boy. Trousers that just hit the shoe look timeless and elegant and make your legs look longer – a winner in our book.

Trends come and go, though. So, again, we believe that it’s all about choosing the style of trouser that flatters you and is most comfortable. (That said, we don’t think that trousers with too much volume or are too tight tend to flatter any man particularly well.)

Creating the perfect bottom – Make or break

Have you ever wondered why some men’s trousers seem to hang so beautifully, where others look slightly bedraggled? It’s time to discuss how you can look sartorially magnificent with a few tweaks. 

The width of the bottom of your trousers are key to how your trousers hang. A bottom width of 20 centimetres is ideal for a slightly tapered look that will – just – drop on to your shoe.

This also depends on the size of your feet and will be made wider or narrower depending on what will balance your overall proportions best and whether you like your trousers to sit on top of your shoe or just over. 

There should be tape at the bottom help protect your trousers from being worn from your shoes rubbing on them and should sit slightly below the bottom of your trousers to make the most impact. It’s these details that count in the finishing touches, which will ensure your suit lasts. 

A trouser break is where your trousers sit on your shoe and how many folds you have at the bottom of your trousers. Too many folds make you look like your trousers are simply too long. And if too short, they’re unflattering. 

Final thoughts – And a tempting offer

I sincerely hope that you’ve enjoyed reading more about the importance of the finer details of your bespoke suit. If you feel that the time is now right for you to invest in yourself and to find your style we welcome you to explore how we can make a real impact to the way you dress. 

Alexandra holds a limited number of appointments per month in Savile Row in order to offer you the luxury experience you deserve.

To schedule your personalised appointment book here.

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