While we’re fully on board with Galahad’s (Colin Firth’s character in Kingsman) belief that ‘manners maketh man’, we also believe that clothes – especially a well-fitting suit – says a lot about a man.
Sure, Singapore might be hot and humid, but that’s no excuse since you’re not going to parade around in the sun all day. So, here’s what you should know before getting your first proper suit – and no, that baggy black set you bought on sale for whatever reason doesn’t count.
Altering a suit off the rack is the next best alternative if you’re not ready to go down the professionally tailored route. However, this cheap(er) and faster option is more suited to people with bigger builts as there are more fits that cater to them. Those on the smaller side might find that even the smallest size can be too broad in the shoulders – one thing that can’t be altered. Sleeve length, circumference, jacket length and width can be adjusted when brought to a good alterer or tailor.
The entry or mid-level option of professional tailoring, this is the recommended choice when it comes to your first suit. Tailors offering this service will provide a generous amount of customisability, as well as their keen eye, expert opinion, and extensive knowledge. MTM suits are made according to your key measurements, and take between four to six weeks to complete. These may be machine-sewn or hand-sewn, with some tailors offering one or two fitting sessions in between.
Warning: once you go bespoke, you never go back. This tier of suit-making involves a very high level of craft with complete customisation from the initial-to-final stitch. Involving a minimum of three visits – the first consult, a fitting, and a forward fitting for final additions – bespoke suits take any where from two to three months as the patterns and canvases are cut from scratch according to every nook and cranny of your body. Needless to say, this is the most costly option.
What To Look Out For
The most common fabric types for suits are Wool (these can be woven in a number of ways, producing flannel, tweed, gabardine, and fresco cloths), Linen (far more casual and porous than wool, ideal for Singapore’s climate), and Cotton (moves and breathe well but tend to crease easily, thus looking less ‘luxurious’). Wool-polyester blends are also common.
Shoulder pads should end with your shoulders right at the joint, and arms should fit comfortably without being baggy or too tight to move about. The ends of the sleeve should be even with your wrist bone, and with your arms at your sides, your knuckles should be at the same level as the bottom of your jacket’s length.
For your trousers, half an inch to one inch of break (stacking against your shoes) is ideal, although some may prefer no break at all. As for the torso, your flat hand should easily slip under your suit and tug just a little with a clenched fist.
Depending on your tailor, you may be offered a varying amount of customisation. There are two types of lapels (the ‘flap’ that extend from the collar to your navel) available: the traditional notched lapel (commonly seen on business suits) and the more modern peaked lapel (think tuxedos, double-breasted jackets and long coats).
Vents (the slit at the back of the jacket) are either single (one at the center) or double (one on each side). Both styles are equally classy, but double vents put more emphasis on your behind.
While most suit jackets are seen in a two-button style, one-button suits add the illusion of height and has a ‘slimming effect’. In contrast, three-button suits look literally more buttoned up and stiff, and are best worn by very tall men.
Speaking of buttons, those on quality suits are usually horn, bone, or mother-of-pearl. Opt for dark colours like navy or black for more formal and darker suits, and brown ones for versatility. The lighter and paler the button, the more casual it is. If you’re tailoring an entry level suit, do indicate your preference (with an additional fee) or you’ll just be given plastic ones.
Where to Buy Suits in Singapore: Made-To-Measure & Made-To-Measure Tailors
Ready to make your first professionally tailored suit? Check out some of Singapore’s best, according to affordability:
No time to head down to the tailor? Singapore’s travelling stylists Gary Ong and Jonathan Wong gives you the luxurious convenience of getting measured and fitted at your own home or office. Just like in a brick-and-mortar store, you have a full range of customisation options as they get to know your needs and requirements personally. Outsourcing their suit production to tailors in the region allows for surprisingly premium quality work at highly reasonable prices.
Price for 2-piece suit: $370 onwards
Another web-based company with personal outfitting service, Edit Suits (with another outfit in London) revolutionises the way you shop for your suits by sending outfitters to your doorstep for consultation and fabric showcase. They employ the same fabric mills used by high-end fashion companies, all at a fraction of the luxury brands. Manufacturing for Edit Suits takes place in the region.
Price for 2-piece suit: $599 onwards
Edit Suits is located at Level 2, 30 Duxton Road, Singapore 089494, p. 9898 3957. By appointment only.
Founded by menswear designer Han San, Q Menswear focuses on bespoke suits, shirts, and shoes, and have since evolved to a lifestyle retailer brand that offers accessories, travel goods, and grooming kits for men. Q Menswear tends to veer towards the Italian style, featuring a softer slim cut, natural shoulders, smaller armholes and use of lighter fabrics which makes a jacket more natural; taking old sartorial rules and gentlemen’s dresses codes and applying them to today’s trends.
Price for 2-piece suit: $870 onwards
Q Menswear is located at 116A Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068585, p. 6636 6939. Open Mon-Fri 11am – 7.30pm, Sat 11am – 3pm.
Running the one-man operation Kay-Jen six days a week is fashion designer Matthew Lai, who started the business just a year ago. Younger customers are the target market here, what with Matthew’s modern contemporary style, opting for minimalist and simplistic designs. At Kay-Jen, classical menswear tailoring meets trendy fashion styles and cuts.
Price for 2-piece suit: $880 onwards
Kay-Jen is located at Sultan Plaza 100, Jalan Sultan Unit 03-34, Singapore 199001, p. 9640 6669. Open Mon-Fri 11am – 7pm, Sat 12pm – 5pm.
Dylan & Son
Creative director and designer Dylan Chong heads this sleek boutique in the heart of the CBD, taking the traditional definition of a haberdashery and turning it on its head. Counting designers such as Junya Watanabe and Kim Jones as inspirations, Dylan regularly brings in limited edition fabrics in interesting colours while still maintaining a clean aesthetic. The descendant of pre-existing Oriental Tailor Shop along Lau Pa Sat, this shop is well-built upon decades of quality workmanship and meticulous service.
Price for 2-piece suit: $1490 onwards
Dylan & Son is located at 147A Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068606, p. 6221 1852. Open Mon-Fri 11am – 7.30pm, Sat 11am – 3pm.
Kevin Seah Bespoke
Kevin Seah’s bespoke boutique along Boat Quay is strongly reminiscent of a British gentleman’s club, making you fall in love with the place before you even get to business. Knowledgeable and passionate about the craft, Kevin is without a doubt one of the finest bespoke tailors in Singapore and the region. With possibly the largest selection of fine shirting and suiting fabric in Singapore sourced from Italy and England, Kevin Seah Bespoke also stocks shoes from quality brands like Gaziano & Girling and Edward Green, so you know what to pair your suit with.
Price for 2-piece suit: $1600 onwards
Kevin Seah Bespoke is located at 55B/C Boat Quay, Singapore 049844, p. 65322018. Open Mon-Fri 11am – 7pm, Sat 12pm to 5pm, by appointment only.