From what GQ would have you believe, “suits are to women what lingerie is to men.” Though our female readers might be the most authoritative voices to confirm or deny, we can’t find any evidence to dispel the notion.
That’s one reason we were so excited to connect with Richard Hall and McGregor Madden, the magicians behind Proper Suit, an online custom-suit maker. We met the guys just over a year ago at one of their fittings in Chicago and instantly connected because of our common belief that the modern world has eliminated all excuses for men not to look sharp.
In talking with McGregor and Richard, it becomes immediately clear that they’re not just concerned with a hot market. They are completely committed to a revolution in the way men present themselves. What we care about, they care about.
- Off-the-rack (OTR): You walk into your local Men’s Wearhouse (on the low end) or Brooks Brothers (on the high end) and pick out a jacket that fits in the shoulders. This kind of suit is made for the average customer, and it’s not going to fit you everywhere. You take it straight to the tailor and have it altered for your body as much as is possible. Cheap(ish) and passable, depending on how much you want to spend.
- Made-to-measure (MTM): This type of suit is customized for your body by carefully tweaking stock patterns. May require minimal alterations. By taking this process online, companies have been able to drive down the price (while still offering high levels of quality and detail), which makes it an affordable and attractive option for guys on a budget.
- Bespoke: Literally spoken into existence. A pattern is created from scratch according to your personal measurements. Over the course of several weeks and a multitude of fittings, a tailor chalks you up, makes changes and creates a garment that’s truly made for your body. They’ll cost you a couple of months’ wages.
- First, the initial fitting happens in person, unlike some of the other companies you’ll find online (which rely on you to understand their sometimes unfamiliar measurement instructions). These guys commit: By walking you through the process, they take all the guesswork out of the equation and give you as much (or as little) guidance as you need. They’re on hand to answer any questions personally.
- Second, Proper Suit is a member-based club. They hold regular traveling fittings across the the U.S. and Canada (NYC, LA, DC, Seattle and elsewhere). Then, your freshly crafted suit shows up on your doorstep several weeks later. Future transactions are Internet-based, since your custom pattern is kept on file for life, and with that comes a very keen sense of loyalty to their customers. They’re in this for the long haul.
- Third, the patterns are laser-cut, using AutoCAD tech.
- Finally, word has it that the guys have recently relocated to Chicago and are headquartering Proper Suit out of the Midwest, as well as their shirting side project, Hall & Madden. (Though, the suits themselves are made abroad.)
- Navy, two-button, notch lapels
- Super 120 wool-mohair blend (73% wool, 27% wool-mohair)
- Lining: Dutch polyester
- Construction: Full canvas (standard for 2012 orders)
- Double vents
- Straight pockets, no ticket
- Flat-front trousers, no break
That’s in addition to the hidden pocket toward the back. It’s cut to hang from the shoulder, which doesn’t disrupt any lines and makes it perfect for the weight of a cell phone. (Or a passport and a little extra cash—in case you find yourself needing to get out of the country after the night you had.)
These are all signs of a thoughtfully crafted garment.