Custom tailoring isn't for everyone. And it doesn't need to be. Ready-to-Wear suits are improving every day and as long as you go to a reputable clothier, there's every chance you can look as good as someone who has paid twice as much as you.
There are a few mistakes I see all the time. So here is a quick guide to shopping off-the-rack:
The MOST (and I cannot express this enough) important thing is the shoulders and collar. It is by far the trickiest (and therefore the most expensive) area to alter so it is worth getting it right. Men seem to be consistently buying their suits 1 or even 2 sizes too small in order to get a really fitted waist. Stop it. The shoulder seam should sit on the edge your shoulder. If you press on the top of the sleeve with a flat palm, there should be a little give before you hit arm. A jacket should drape from the shoulder down, not feeling like it is trying it's absolute best just to hold itself togther.
2. Bigger is Better
Anything can be altered to be smaller but
it is impossible to make a RTW suit bigger so if you are between sizes, go for the larger one. Reach forward, if it feels like the back is about to tear, go up a size.
An alterations tailor can be a wizard or a headache so do a bit of research and find a decent one. It is worth paying a premium for a job done well. I have fixed so many botched alterations over the years which means the client has ended up paying twice! Buy well. Buy once.
Here are some useful areas to chat to your tailor about:
This one is particularly useful for anyone under 5'10". You can wear a jacket 5 sizes too big, but if the sleeves are the perfect length, it will look deliberately oversized. Equally a perfect fit can be ruined by a gangly cuff. Shortening a sleeve even by as little as 1cm can make ALL the difference.
4. Tapered Waist
As mentioned above - most men are wearing a suit which is at least a size too small. And the reason is usually because they are striving for a snug, waisted silhouette. Go for the bigger size and get the waist and hips tapered. It's a really straightforward alteration and can result in a much more flattering final silhouette.
More information on alterations click here