Every man has fantasies of suiting up and looking as fly as you conduct a business lunch or, come sundown, downing a shot of fine whisky. But you won’t get that fit from an off-the-rack suit. No, you’ll want to head to a bespoke tailor. A good suit is an investment – if you take care of it (and your waistline), it can last ten to 20 years. Before you visit a tailor, be mindful of three key points: shape, fit and fabric. And be patient. Expect at least 20 body measurements to be taken and two to four fittings. It can take up to 50 hours of manual work – which translates to weeks or months before you hang the final product in the wardrobe – to create a bespoke garment. But it’ll be worth it, trust us.
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As its name suggests, The Prestigious is a well-known bespoke tailor often consulted by the well-heeled and well-dressed community. All commissions suits are crafted in-house in the atelier by a team of 7 tailors and apprentices, mentored and personally supervised by master tailor Thomas Wong, a veteran who has over five decades of experience in the industry. There's no outsourcing and no secret factory here – The Prestigious is one of the only places in Singapore where the pieces don't leave the premises except in the client's hands (or body). To up the Savile Row experience, a personal tailor is assigned to each patron who is tasked to measure, fit, draft, cut and construct the pieces.
This family-run tailoring business has been around since 1983 so Joe's Tailoring knows what they are doing. Joseph Koh, owner and namesake of the business still cuts and fits his slew of regular customers, which run the gamut from the newly initiated to bespoke tailoring to high-flyers who are accustomed to the exacting quality of the craft – American singer Peter Cetera reported counts himself their "#1 fan". Suits start from $850 – these are fully handmade in Singapore in their in-house factory and workshop using quality fabric sourced from Italy and the UK – and have made a mark for their unerring fit and hand rolled lapels. You can get all suited up at Joe's – they stock English Goodyear welted shoes by Joseph Cheaney, Italian shoes by Ducal and a range of complementary accessories such as Italian umbrellas, handrolled pocket squares and gentleman suspenders.
The Bespoke Club tailors suits and shirts for both men and women. The staff take customers through the process of fabric selection, then note down their measurements and detail requests – which all can be done with a single-malt or cognac in hand. Rolling the lapel, felling the collar, setting the canvas and sewing the buttons are all done by hand at the shop. Patrons also have access to a stable of over 5,000 of the finest fabrics (from Ariston, Thomas Mason and the Albini Group, to name a few), haberdashery and accessories. Shirts start from $150, trousers from $250, sports jackets from $650 and The Bespoke Club suits from $950.
Launched by former Raoul menswear designer Chong Han San, Q Menswear takes centuriesold tailoring practices and modified them to fit the brand’s design philosophy: a focus on colour and proportion. As such, the goal is colour coordination and cutting fabrics to enhance one’s features. All products are crafted by a local team of tailors working with over 2,000 fabrics sourced from Italian and Swiss mills. Prices start from $170 for shirts and trousers, and $870 for a two-piece suit. Additional design details can be requested at an extra cost.
Dylan Chong took over the business from his father, Peter, and rebranded it as Dylan and Son. Unlike other bespoke offerings that give you complete freedom over the design, Dylan and Son strives for classic styling – that means no ostentatious details. Nonetheless, the brand makes some of the finest suits using fabrics from Loro Piana, Scabal, Dormeuil and more. It’s also the only tailor in Singapore to offer Eurotex (fine yarn) fabrics. Prices start from $200 for shirts, $300 for trousers and $2,500 for two-piece suits.
What to look for in a suit
Don’t be swayed by those longer, leaner blocks you see in Saville Row’s windows. Those only work if you’re tall. And if you are vertically blessed, don’t opt for contemporary shorter cuts or your backside will be exposed. The length of your jacket should reach your knuckles or around the bottom of your zipper.
Take a good look at your figure and work out what suits you. Generally, the fewer buttons your suit has, the longer and sleeker the silhouette. The shoulder seam should also end where your shoulder does – any padding or rigid structure will throw the whole thing off-balance. The sleeves should follow the natural contours of your upper arm and stop where the arm ends and the thumb begins.
Suits are made of wool. Stick with that. Quality cloth can be squeezed and can bounce back with little or no sign of wrinkling. If it feels like there’s a structure to the fabric, that’s a good sign, too. Watch out for loose threads, cheap plastic buttons and puckering, especially at the seams.
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Here’s a secret for guys who want to look spiffy in a perfectly tailored made-to-measure suit. Menswear labels Dylan & Son and Kay-Jen have come together in a shophouse along Telok Ayer, and specialise in bespoke tailoring and made-to-measure lines, respectively. Swing open the doors and walk into a minimalist space, furnished with an in-house workshop. An experienced team will take you from fitting to finishing, and you’ll walk out with a wellcut piece, no matter your tastes. Kay-Jen Dylan veers towards a youthful, contemporary style, while Dylan & Son are masters at classic bespoke cuts.
If you’re looking for bespoke tailoring and made-to-last clothing for both men and women, stop by homegrown outfit Inventory. Started in 2016, this bespoke, made-to-measure label focuses on everyday clothing for both genders and local craftsmen create each garment, which includes suits, biker jackets, jeans and more. Just like the best bespoke tailors, there are no off-the-rack shirts or suits to buy at Inventory – each piece sold is made according to the customer’s measurements. But unlike traditional tailors, the Lin sisters’ go beyond just classic three piece suits to create fashion-forward modern pieces including shirt dresses and utilitarian shirts in collaboration with creatives from difference disciplines such as fashion stylists and musicians.
This sprawling ION Orchard store probably has more suits on its many racks than smartly dressed men in our sweltering city. So the next time a fancy dress occasion rolls around, bring your father, brothers and other halves through its doors. Suit shopping can be pretty daunting if you can't tell your notched lapels from party-ready peaked tips, but the attentive – and very sharply suited – service staff here are in top form, ready to demystify the dress code without being too pushy. Pick from the many muted shades of green, blue, grey, or black on the racks ($579-$1,549), or speak to the team about finding the best fabric for the garden wedding you don't want to melt at. The one-stop nature of the store also means that you won't have to venture outside in search of a shirt ($129-$309) or pair of brogues ($279-$1,159) to match. And those sewing machines flanking the entrance of the store aren't just there for show – alterations are done in-house while you wait, which means you can pretty much rock up 2 hours before your fancy fête to get dressed, if you roll that way.