Everyone knows that clothes make the man, and it's the suit alterations that make the clothes. You can, of course, buy a great suit off the rack and look good. However, a suit that's then altered to fit you perfectly will make you look like a fashion god.
Suit Alterations: The Tailored Truth
You don't need a bespoke suit to look amazing. Any good suit that's altered to your measurements will be a winner. Of course, you can have a cheaper suit altered as well if you need the waist taken in or the cuffs adjusted, but if you're going to have suit alterations, you may as well do it right and get something good that will last.
Think tailoring is just some extra fuss? Think again! If you saw the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale, you will remember the scene where Vesper gives Bond a tailored suit to wear. He protests, saying he already has a dinner jacket. Cut to Bond in the tailored jacket, looking in the mirror. A few snips and tucks show off his sculpted body to perfection - the man looks hot.
Even just minor adjustments can make a difference. Giorgio Armani himself famously flew out to Los Angeles the first year Billy Crystal hosted the Oscars to drape his tuxedo. The master designer made good on his promise that he could make Crystal look two inches taller, doing so well that the comic quipped, "Where were you before my prom?" You'd be stunned at what a knowledgeable tailor can accomplish!
Choosing Your Tailor
There's no point in getting a suit altered, even slightly, unless you're going to someone who knows what they're doing. Every dry cleaners has a tailor on staff and they will usually be able to do suit alterations, but tailoring is harder than most sewing and you don't want to entrust it to just anyone.
The best way to select your tailor is via the personal recommendation of someone whose suits look great. Since this isn't always possible, try your local online "Yelp" site. Most cities have a forum for tailors where users will give their recommendations and comments, and then you can make your choice accordingly.
When you bring your suit in to someone you've never worked with before, don't feel pressured to go ahead and leave them the job. Talk to them about your needs, see how they work with you during a fitting, and assess your comfort and confidence. You'd rather pick someone good the first time then have someone else try to fix a mistake.
Good Shops Have Good Tailors
If you are buying clothes at a better department store, or somewhere high end, you will receive the extra service of on-site suit alterations. It should be as part of the purchase, although some shops charge a modest fee - be sure to check before you buy! These shops trade on quality goods and even better service, so you can feel certain you are in good hands and needles when you elect to buy your suit at someplace exclusive. In addition, while the price may seem prohibitive, bear in mind that most men only need one special suit and that it will last for years. It's always worth spending some extra money to look extra sharp.
Of course, even the high end shops aren't all the same and you should take your time looking for the one you like that provides the best service. If you haven't bought a designer suit before, you may want to bring a friend who has and can offer advice and ask the tailor about lapels and shoulders and cuffs. This is one time when you don't want to not ask questions!