I made my own $800 bespoke suit online and it was easy—and fun
Suitsupply's Custom Made program is suiting with convenience.
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Nearly a decade ago, I was a groomsman in a friend’s wedding. It was the first and last time I wore a proper suit. The entire experience wasn’t all too memorable (sorry, pal), but the rental suit I donned gave me an itch my 20-something-year-old self wasn’t yet able to scratch. It turns out, I liked wearing a suit. But the thought of owning one seemed out of reach, considering the income of a part-time barista didn’t have the room for a well-made, tailored two-piece. Thus, the idea was shelved, and I somehow avoided having to attend another wedding for the rest of my 20s.
Fast forward and I’m now in my 30s, which is evident by the number of engagements I see on my Instagram feed on a semi-monthly basis. As the number of impending weddings I may have to attend rises, so does the pressure to invest in one good suit. But where can someone like me, who to this point knew little about bespoke fashion, find the right one?
This is where Suitsupply’s Custom Made came in. The company reached out to ask if I’d be interested in taking a look at its made-to-order suit program, which allows me to design a suit online, get it tailored to my body in person at any of their 100 worldwide locations, and mailed to me in less than a month’s time. How could I say no? As it turns out, I'm thrilled I didn't.
What’s Suitsupply Custom Made?
Amsterdam-based menswear brand Suitsupply is a global retailer that specializes in good quality, relatively affordable two-piece suits, starting at $408 plus $100 to $200 for each garment's tailoring. Although the company sources materials through historic fabric mills of Italy, it’s best known for its provocative marketing imagery and promotion of fair labor.
Last year, the company introduced what it calls “the most comprehensive tailoring program,” Custom Made. The service allows consumers to design and alter their own two-piece suits, shirts, waistcoats, overcoats, and eveningwear. It offers more than 1,000 Italian-made fabrics to choose from, like wool alpaca silk and cotton corduroy, with styles ranging from business to formal to casual. Fabrics aside, details such as the fit, belt loops, pleats, buttons, and lapels are fully customizable and sewn to the suit wearer’s fancy.
Suitsupply’s Custom Made is available in-store, online, or as a hybrid feature where customers can build their suit online, submit their customizations, and meet with a style expert at a store location to go over selections and measurements in person. In any case, the end result is a fully tailored suit, made to your body and liking, and delivered in two to three weeks’ time. Prices vary by fabric, but each suit generally costs under $1,000—a tad more than retailers like Bonobos and J.Crew, but hundreds of dollars cheaper than Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. A custom-made and tailored bespoke suit can cost somewhere between $3,000 to $5,000, depending on the fabric. Alterations are included with all Custom Made designs.
For this review, I took a look at Suitsupply’s Custom Made program and opted for its hybrid model. I customized a suit online at the retailer’s website, sent my customization code to a local Suitsupply store, and drove for an in-person consultation about my options. After the meeting, I had my Custom Made suit mailed to my doorstep.
What’s it like to build a Custom Made suit from Suitsupply online?
I started Suitsupply’s Custom Made program with one goal: to build a suit that erred more on the casual and comfortable side. I had no idea what that meant in terms of fabric, style, and details, but the Custom Made program made catering to my desires easier than I expected.
When building a Custom Made suit, you design the jacket first before moving on to the trousers. Above all else, though, you have to pick a fabric. When I perused the brand’s fabrics online, it was daunting. I couldn’t decide on what I wanted right away, but I knew what I didn’t: wool or corduroy. (I live in Florida, after all.) I spent about 15 minutes slowly scrolling through the entire list of fabrics—which included names like “off-white circular wool flannel” and “mid-grey cotton cashmere corduroy”—before deciding to play with Suitsupply’s filter to separate fabric choices by color. I went with what Suitsupply calls a “mid green pure cotton,” which is a lightweight suit best for spring and summer. I figured the olive shade would make me stand out from the sea of grays, tans, blues, and blacks.
After picking my fabric, I was given numerous customization options for the jacket’s details. Did I want two buttons on my jacket or three? Did I want breast pockets, and if so, one or two? Did I want double or single vents on the back of my jacket? Did I want a half canvas or a full canvas jacket? (The former adds structure to the top area of a jacket near the chest, the latter adds structure throughout the entire jacket, for $100 more.) Did I want shoulders that were lightly structured, unstructured, natural lightly padded, lightly padded pleated, or natural pleated? (I assure you, these are all real things.) Again, I felt a little overwhelmed here, but the amount of info Suitsupply gives you on each style helps guide you through the process. Whenever I was stumped about a specific detail or style, I just hit an info button that gave me a short explainer about it. I’m happy to say I didn’t need to Google a thing here, despite my lack of suiting knowledge.
Trousers require a similarly extensive customization process, with options to tweak the waist closure, belt loop, fly, pleats, side pockets, hems, pocket shapes, buttons, and pocket and leg linings. All told, building my suit took roughly two hours. But for as long as that was, I’m thankful to have had the luxury of staying at home while doing so.
At the end of my selections, I was given the option to add any additional items like vests and an extra pair of trousers for a few hundred dollars. After declining, I was given a code to send over to a local store and have them measure me for my suit’s fitting, as well as a price: $738. Not bad, especially with all the alterations included. You may alternatively input your own measurements, but I didn’t want any errors on my suit’s fit, which was the main reason I chose the hybrid design model so a store pro would wield the measuring tape for me.
That said, for the sake of this review, I played around with the measuring system online and found it pretty easy to follow. You can input your typical size for jackets and trousers—I chose XL and 36. Next, you’ll get a selection of premade measurements for each garment in that typical size. For jackets, Suitsupply’s system will preload measurements for chest width, waist width, shoulder width, right and left sleeve lengths, and jacket length. For trousers, it’s waist width, upper leg width, lower leg width, foot opening width, and inside right and leg widths. All of these you may adjust as you see, er, fit. The brand recommends using a suit to take measurements, not your body, but (as mentioned) I don’t own one. Keep this in mind if you’re thinking of inputting the alterations yourself.
Here’s what it loaded when I input my XL jacket size and 36 trousers:
And here’s what I measured for myself, using a combo of my own knowledge of other garments I wear (like pants' inseam) and a loosely cinched tape measure around my body:
As you can see, Suitsupply’s default charts aren’t too far off from what I measured, but they also aren’t a perfect fit for my body. That's why I'm glad I scheduled an appointment to visit my closest Suitsupply—about 90 miles away—to meet with an adviser who could take my measurements and go over my choices.
What’s it like to get a fitting at Suitsupply?
At Suitsupply’s brick-and-mortar store in Tampa, Florida, I met with Robert, the store’s sales manager, for my fitting and consultation. He pulled up the suit I designed online on his tablet and we went over my options.
Robert wanted to know some of the ideas behind my suit, and asked me if I was going for a casual or formal look. After I told him I wanted the former, he went over my selections and showed me samples. He pulled out huge binders of fabrics, buttons, and liners to let me see and feel some of the details I’d chosen for my suit. This was helpful for me to envision the final product, and it gave me the option to switch out some of the selections. Though Robert told me that my selections stylistically made sense, I considered changing my button colors but decided to stick with my first instinct.
After finalizing my design, Robert fitted me for my suit using some in-store pieces. I went into a dressing room, changed into a Suitsupply dress shirt, suit jacket, and trousers, as well as a pair of Weejuns I brought with me that I planned to wear with the suit
and walked out for my measurements. Robert got the exact fit I was going for, with a casual not-too-slim fit, and no pant break at the hem. He also informed me that my right arm is slightly shorter than the left—a supposedly common trait of those who may use their computer mouse a little too much.
The entire fitting process took around 45 minutes. I left after giving out my mailing address and was told my suit would be ready in three to four weeks’ time.
Did my Suitsupply Custom Made suit fit?
Exactly one month later, my suit showed up in the mail. Inside of a large box was the two-piece I had ordered, neatly folded in a zippered garment bag. I unzipped the bag, put on a dress shirt and a pair of socks, and suited up.
The results? I looked amazing. The suit came out exactly how I wanted it to. My jacket had a wide lapel, double vents, a natural shoulder structure, and jetted pockets. My sleeves had three kissing buttons, and the circle brown pattern on the lining looked even better in person. Meanwhile, the pleated trousers I designed fit my body well, and the double-hook closure I ordered is super convenient compared to typical buttons. The materials, stitching, and fabrics feel top quality, and I’m sure this suit will last for years to come.
The tailoring was also well done. The alterations compensated for my disparate arm lengths via the back of my jacket, disguising my uneven shoulders in the process. The jacket covers my torso well without appearing too lengthy, while the sleeves of my dress shirt don’t poke out past the jacket’s cuffs, as I requested. The trousers fell just above the area where my pair of Weejuns loafers expose my socks. The hems have a slight stacking, due to there being no pant break, and the double pleats toward my waistline look crispy.
I also measured the two-piece suit to see how close Robert was to the measurements I took of myself at home. The final product measures:
As you can see, it helps to pay a visit to a professional.
I’m happy to say that my suit fit me well, but if it didn’t, Suitsupply offers further alterations in-store for no extra charge. The fact that Suitsupply’s Custom Made pricing offers tailoring at no additional cost can save a lot of money, especially because the fit is the most important aspect of a good-looking suit.
Is Suitsupply Custom Made worth it?
In my mind, absolutely. Suitsupply’s Custom Made program makes building a suit highly accessible and value-oriented. The ability to design a suit from scratch is a game-changer, and that the brand doesn’t charge extra for an in-person fitting and alterations makes it a solid deal. Suitsupply typically sells jackets starting at $259 and trousers at $149, with two-piece suits starting at $408, but alterations can easily stack an extra $100 to $200 per piece if purchased a la carte. That Suitsupply includes tailoring and fitting services in its Custom Made offering helps save a ton. My company-furnished suit’s final total came to $782.28, which I would gladly pay out of my own pocket, no questions asked.
Of course, you could go overboard with your suit design and opt for a fancier fabric, which could run you well over $1,000 a suit. But navigating the Custom Made program is simple and clearly conveys a set price that doesn’t fluctuate on anything other than fabric choice. For a suit that’ll last you for years to come, I can’t recommend this program enough.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.