Getting my first real suit, part three: my appointment with Léon Klaver

Last week, it was finally time to visit Léon Klaver. That day, I had quite the schedule. I had to quickly sand the last part of a woodworking project before bringing it to the paint sprayer. Then, I had to visit a friend and get into the shower, hopefully to remove all the dust from everywhere.

I dressed up in my most formal attire to expose any gaps in my current wardrobe and knowledge. This would be part of a talk about what would be best for a first proper wardrobe suit. I rushed a little but was just on time. I parked my bike outside the store and went in.

The store of Léon Klaver is a beautiful, classy place, full of exquisite fabrics, suits, coats, and a lovely fitting interior.

I enjoyed our first introduction, having some talks over coffee, watches (about which I am totally clueless), and sartorial figures (yes, Léon also had a copy of Parisian Gentleman on his shelf).

Starting off

In the first part of this blog post, I described my preference. So the focus was on finding a navy suit that I could wear in various occasions, especially at formal events when needed. We discussed that I have some other wishes but left those choices aside and asked if Léon could take the lead. I didn’t choose Léon Klaver and not follow his advice; that would be a big mistake.

Before we began with measurements, Léon mentioned the options of made-to-measure, the cost difference, and how it would work when opting for all hand-made with a forward fit. For me, the best choice in this case was to go made-to-measure. Knowing a bit of his history and the good reviews, I trusted I wouldn’t walk out with a bad suit.
I still have a strong desire for the bespoke experience. However, the advice given to me was that it would be wiser to wear a couple of his suits first, gain more experience and refine my style before committing to the up-charge. I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps I’ll consider it when I decide to go for a double-breasted suit?

The process

Once we began the process, Léon had me try on a variety of jackets and trousers to assess the fit. This experience helped me understand how each garment would fit me. Having something made based on a conversation and measurements can be daunting, especially when you consider the price difference between a starter suit at Suit Supply and a quality made-to-measure suit. But this is also quite the experience, isn’t it?

What immediately surprised me was the added weight of a full-canvas jacket compared to the ones I have worn and tried on earlier in life. Of course, I expected a little bit of added weight, but not to this extent. However, it was quite pleasant. The jacket felt solid, almost like wearing armor. Léon suggested that multiple options were perfectly fine: either go for unstructured, half-canvas, or full-canvas. He particularly mentioned that his half-canvas jackets were nothing like the ones from off-the-rack collections. As I wanted to experience full-canvas, I stuck with my initial preference.

The other thing that really caught my eye, both in the moment and when I watched Redmayne’s videos, is the way the suit jacket drapes. What I mean by that is when you look at an off-the-rack suit, it appears quite tight and structured. Everything seems proportioned and sturdy. However, with made-to-measure or bespoke suits, it looks very different on the hanger. And I don’t mean this in a negative way at all; it’s just surprising to me. There’s quite an obvious explanation for it. What fits for me doesn’t necessarily fit for you. A suit on the rack is made to sell as is. A made-to-measure or bespoke suit is made specifically for you, with all that entails. You can even tell where the canvas is located; on the hanger, it contrasts noticeably with the sleeves. But when you put it on, it presents a completely different look compared to my off-the-rack suit. Everything drapes nicely and just looks better. And this was just a jacket that hadn’t even been fully tailored to me yet. That reassured me that I was in the right place!

After all the measurements were completed, we delved a bit further into the details. Léon suggested keeping things simple for this first suit, advising against adding too many details. Despite trying to contain my excitement over the array of options, I couldn’t help but make a silly remark about the chosen fabric.

The fabric (which I’ll have to edit here later on, as I forgot which one it was) is a beautiful hopsack navy fabric. I mentioned that I wanted a quality fabric and said something about the S-numbers. In retrospect, I feel like I may have come across as critical, as sometimes I can be a bit unstructured in my communication. What I meant to convey was that I was interested in exploring various fabric options. In any case, Léon kept me well in check and focused on what I came there for: a first, versatile navy suit in a British style.

I mentioned that due to my height (1.68m; or 5’6 ft), I would like my suit to not make me appear shorter. I thought using a peak lapel might help achieve this, but I was hesitant because it may be considered somewhat unconventional for a classic suit.

His suggestion was to stick with the notch lapel but raise the position of the notch slightly and opt for a one-button configuration. Additionally, he recommended wearing the trousers a bit higher. Other adjustments we discussed included mildly padded shoulders, with a hint of a roped shoulder, though not as expressive as an Italian roped shoulder. This combination would maintain a traditional British style while subtly enhancing proportions to mitigate any perception of height.

I was pleased with all the suggestions. The idea of a single-button jacket hadn’t occurred to me before, as I had never seen one personally. It’s certainly an intriguing detail that adds a unique touch to the suit design.

Other options

Now, it was time to discuss the secondary preferences.

Choice of buttons

My preference would always be to choose natural materials over synthetics, if possible. Léon suggested black natural horn buttons, and without coordination, we both picked the same buttons. Excellent!

Thicker lapels

As my current suit doesn’t have thin lapels; they are pretty standard. They’re fine, however, what I enjoy is a slightly wider lapel. They add some extra elegance, just a few centimeters wider. Since it’s my first proper suit, making too many deviations from the standard could detract from the intended style.

The lining

While I could go completely crazy and opt for a fancy lining, I restrained myself and chose a solid dark blue color that complements the suit. If I were to get another suit, I would definitely go for paisley lining. Even though the paisley pattern could be subtle, I believe keeping this suit “simple” is the best approach. It’s also excellent practice for me to exercise some restraint.

A pen pocket

For me, there were a few additions I wanted to include. As I tried on some jackets, I mentioned that I really liked the pen pockets that were featured in the other suits. Apparently, it was an obvious choice.

Trouser options

I have most of my trousers, including the suit I was wearing, with belt loops. Initially, I didn’t quite understand how a belt would affect the silhouette. However, after some experience, I began to appreciate the choice of not using a belt. So, I opted for side-adjusters instead of belt loops. Léon mentioned that this was his standard choice as well. Additionally, I mentioned that I sometimes like to wear braces, so adding internal buttons for braces would be a nice feature to have.

For the pockets, I preferred something standard but clean. A coin pocket is a small detail I appreciate. When I play guitar, I could store my pick there, or if I have something small like medicine that I want to keep separate from other items, I like having the option to put it there.

Also, I never, ever use rear pockets. And if they were there, I really do not enjoy buttons on pockets. Léon suggested omitting the rear pockets altogether.

As advised by many, I requested an extra pair of trousers, as a suit that you would wear for a longer time. Knowing my first suit trousers were basically ruined by moths, I made this request as well.

One of the things I often struggle with, is when zippers fail. It is a tedious job to replace zippers it seems, and often just not worth it. I’ve requested that my trousers will have buttons instead of zippers in the fly area.

One thing I forgot to ask for is to not have a turn-up. I would hope that, implicitly on a more formal suit, this is not added. The benefit of a turn-up is that you can still remove it, but the other way around, not so much.


Opinions differ on this matter. My girlfriend loves a good three-piece suit, and frankly, I’m not against it either. Whenever there is a wedding, I would definitely wear a vest. Since you can choose to wear or omit the vest, I like having the option available. To me, this adds versatility.

Surgeon’s cuffs

As one of the signals of a good suit is having working buttons, I enjoy having them on this suit as well. They do have a practical reason for me as well. I sometimes like to roll up my cuffs and get my hands dirty, so I want to be able to do that when needed. The answer to my wish was: naturally!

Milanese buttonhole

Another signal of a good suit is a Milanese buttonhole. Since the suit doesn’t have a lot of fancy options, a small fun addition like this would be nice. All stitching will be close to the fabric, so it will only be visible to someone who pays close attention to it.

And… a fitting shirt

Léon also offers high-quality tailored shirts. With a nice suit, a good shirt needs to be paired. We chose a nice white fabric from Thomas Mason, with a classic collar, small mother of pearl buttons, and French cuffs. I already have a white twill shirt like this, but it has a spread collar and after two years, with less weight, it just doesn’t fit as well anymore. This is a great addition.

Now we wait

The hardest part of this first journey now comes, and for me, that is waiting. I’m not in a rush, but internally, I’m quite an impatient person. Due to my ADHD and being a serial hobbyist, I have a tendency to dislike waiting. The instant gratification is a bane of current society, and most definitely, for me. The whole point (other than just interest as well) I got into classic menswear was to slow down and reduce the need for continuous dopamine. I am looking forward to it.

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