My experience with Proper Suit taught me one important thing: Not all made-to-measure suiting is made equal. It’s not just about the amount of fabrics available or what details you can have, but it’s largely also about the skill and expertise of those fitting you.
The guys behind Proper Suit, McGregor and Richard, have a great deal of experience and familiarity with their product and service. When they offered me the opportunity to review a suit from them, I was admittedly a bit nervous when they managed to just eyeball measurements and adjustments without a tailor’s measuring tape.
But that comes from having spent an incredible amount of time fitting guys in eleven different cities, starting right here in Chicago. Unlike some lesser made-to-measure operations that let you simply enter in a few measurements online, Proper Suit insists upon an in-person appointment to fit you to a few base-model suits and make the necessary adjustments.
And these adjustments aren’t just for things like sleeve length or tapering the chest. They took into account my posture and where the best buttoning point would be on my torso so the lapels would lay correctly.
The armhole size was raised a bit to accommodate the fit I wanted, but it wasn’t too extreme as I intended for this suit to be more for business dress. The height of the chest pocket was adjusted to be more in proportion with my torso length.
When it comes to shoulders, they really stressed over every aspect, from the slopes of my shoulders, to what kind of padding to go with (I went with a natural shoulder), to how the sleeve ought to be rotated to make it drape properly.
"Our fit specialists are not only just really cool guys," McGregor said. "But they are very technical and take fit very seriously."
My experience on the fitting definitely reflected that. While it was casual and relaxed, I felt that the two of them definitely “got it” in terms of knowing what to care about and how to manipulate the pattern being made to flatter your body the best.
There are 300 different fit check points that goes into consideration when the pattern is entered into AutoCAD. Because of all the different adjustments needed to account for your body’s shape, Proper Suit flatly rejects the idea of just having guys enter in a few self-taken measurements and shipping a box to their door, like some competitors do.
I think McGregor’s reasoning why Proper Suit avoids online MTM made a lot of sense:
"Two people may have very similar measurements but they have completely different postures, different tastes and different reasons for wearing the suit. How do I know which fit will be correct? I don’t. You are also relying on someone else measuring you. That is just flimsy. I hear a lot about remakes that other companies need to do to dial down the fit. Remakes for my business are toxic to our bottom line. That is why we take upmost care in getting it perfect the first time and we can offer this kind of quality at this price point."
This is what leads me to my sentiment that not all made-to-measure suiting is created equal. Before even getting into fabrics, construction and details, the fit has to be perfect.
And when it came to fabrics and details, the sky’s very much the limit. There are about 250 fabrics available with 80 different linings.
Details on the suit (or sport coat) can include all the usual things like a throat latch, sueded lining under the collar, monogramming, surgeon cuffs, ticket pockets, etc.
But I found the details on the trousers to be actually surprising. The hem of the trousers have an extra strip of fabric sewn on the inside edge to give them extra weight to keep them down. The waistband has a strip of grippy fabric on the inside to help keep your shirt tucked in. This isn’t something you’ll find on most off-the-rack trousers, for sure — and they weren’t included with another MTM suiting operation I tried. In fact, the only time I’d seen these details were from my tailor’s bespoke trousers he did for his customers.
As for the suit itself, I went with fairly standard details. Flapped jetted pockets, two-button, notched lapels, flat fronted trousers with jetted slanted pockets and no cuffs, kissing buttons (non-functional), boutonniere hole and loop, suede under-collar lining with monogrammed initials.
The fabric is a navy blue sharkskin texture from Loro Piana’s All-Season line with a silver Bemberg lining and a light-blue printed piping.
The construction is full canvas and the lapels roll amazingly well. They suggested I wear it several times to help break-in the jacket a bit and I did find the suggestion made it decidedly less stiff than when I first put it on. And it really felt great after an evening of dancing at Double Door — so, yes, you can move in this suit.
In terms of pricing, Proper Suit lists their prices on their website and Loro Piana fabrics start at $1,250 (for comparison, if you were to head to the Loro Piana retail store to do their MTM program, their suits start at $5,500 and it takes three months turnaround). Proper Suit’s base model fabrics start at $750.
The one question I almost always seem to be asked, especially on higher-priced items, is, “Is it worth the money?” I can imagine some people will browse over to Indochino and see they could get two suits for the price of Proper Suit’s base model — assuming quantity is a better deal, or that paying half the price would be a steal in comparison.
The difference is that I don’t believe there’s a legitimate comparison. For one, the fit I received from Proper Suit absolutely blew away the fit I received with Indochino (and I even received an in-person fitting with them during their Traveling Tailor program). The attention Proper Suit just pays to their suit’s shoulders is more attention than what Indochino paid to the fit of my entire suit. Proper Suit even hand-stitches the shoulders of their suits to make sure it fits you better.
And once you get into construction, Proper Suit also wins out. For an additional $250, you can have your suit entirely handmade. And while the suits are manufactured in China, McGregor — who happens to also be fluent in Mandarin — stressed to me that not all factories are the same and they’ve spent years finding the best manufacturer for their suits, which also makes suits for some other really big-name labels, and they work with them to ensure they’re producing the best-fitting suits the first time for each new customer.
Admittedly, made-to-measure isn’t for everybody or everyone’s budget, but when you consider the prices of some ready-to-wear suiting brands, it’s worth considering the alternative, too. The price is a good deal considering the fit, fabric and construction.
Wearing this suit made me wish I had a reason to wear a suit more often — or at least find more excuses to wear one. These guys care immensely about the finest individual details while providing a good value. Consider this review a recommendation for Proper Suit.
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