Getting my first real suit, part two: Finding a tailor

One of the first and probably most important steps is finding a tailor whom you think is best for you. I have to admit, in the Netherlands, this is actually pretty hard. The bespoke tailors like Chifonelli, Anderson & Sheppard, Antonio Liverano, whom we see in videos in famous places like France, the United Kingdom, and Italy, are not found everywhere. (Pardon me if I forget to mention others.) Aside from that, buying my first suit on Savile Row may be a bit out of my league after owning two less-than-ideal off-the-rack suits. So I decide to find my tailor closer to home.

What am I looking for in a tailor?

For me, personally, it is greatly preferable, not just for tailoring, but in many cases, to find a store with knowledgeable, skilled people who can deliver what I want and provide the help I need based on their expertise. That also means I prefer a local store over brands. This preference is even more important for a tailor. I like to have “preferred suppliers”—people who know me, and whom I know. That’s partly because I have a bit of difficulty feeling at ease around other people. I genuinely connect better with individuals who can be enthusiastic and not judge my ignorance, and who are happy to teach me and answer my questions in the process.

It is also important to find a tailor who matches your style. To me, this was quite a challenging question. What do I think about my style when I haven’t developed one yet?

My “style”

I need to start somewhere. In the previous part of this blog post, I mentioned that I prefer a simple, navy suit to be my first workhorse attire. As you may have inferred, I have a preference to blend in, as I already feel like an oddball. Because of my desire to fit in and dress accordingly, I feel that the British style suits me best.

The British style offers a more defined look for a suit compared to perhaps the French or Italian styles. As someone who is still learning the ropes of the sartorial world, starting here would be best.

Léon Klaver in Leiden, The Netherlands

My choice went to Léon Klaver in Leiden. Other than being close by, Léon Klaver offers both bespoke and made-to-measure services. His history and expertise are undisputed. While the bespoke experience may not replicate that of Savile Row, it certainly comes close. Léon appears to be well-informed about the trends in the sartorial world. He provides a wide range of fabrics and styles, and although the suits are crafted overseas, when you order a British suit from Léon, it reflects British craftsmanship. He will personally design a pattern just for you, and you have the flexibility to choose between fully machine-made, fully hand-made, or something in between. Additionally, you can opt for a forward fitting if desired.

He can also tailor a coat and shirt if needed. I was contemplating investing in a good winter coat at some point, and his collection of flannel and tweed fabrics is particularly appealing. While tweed may be a bit too far for my taste, I truly enjoy flannel fabrics. All in all, this seemed like a perfect match for me.

I’ve also visited some other suit stores that offer made-to-measure services in the past. I enjoy exploring these stores and initiating small conversations to gauge their enthusiasm and their perspectives on menswear. While I may not necessarily agree with their opinions, I find it valuable to understand what motivates them and to assess whether they can assist me in dressing according to my preferences.

In one instance, I visited a menswear store with my off-the-rack Suit Supply suit, hoping to find matching ties. Unfortunately, I received rather disapproving looks. Despite purchasing my tie and braces there, I left with a negative impression. Conversely, my initial interaction with Léon Klaver was entirely different and highly positive.

I believe companies like Suit Supply play a crucial role in making classic menswear accessible to a wider audience. They offer an affordable entry point for individuals to explore this style without breaking the bank. This accessibility paves the way for many people to eventually venture into made-to-measure or bespoke tailoring as they become more acquainted with the world of menswear.

With everything considered, I believe Léon Klaver is the right fit for me. I was definitely looking forward to our appointment.

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