Suiting Up

I can’t recall exactly when, but at some point in the distant past, Sylvia asked if I’d have a custom suit made for the wedding. It sounded like a great idea really. Why should Sylvia be the only person who gets to have fancy articles of clothing tailored specifically for her? I’ve also had some pretty poor experiences with buying off the rack suits in the past, so the idea of having one built for me specifically from the ground up sounded like a grand idea the more I thought about it. When we sat down and talked about going and doing it for real, she mentioned that she’d read an article recently about a company called Balani Custom Clothiers so she called them and made an appointment. It turns out that the custom suit process doesn’t take nearly as long as the wedding dress one does and the appointment was made for earlier this week.

The most stressful part of the experience was just getting there. I left, giving myself 20 minutes to get down there on the Red Line, which should have been more than enough time, but I always forget that the CTA can and does have delays. As the texts and phone calls from Sylvia (who was already there) started coming in, it became apparent that I wasn’t going to be on time at all. She did what she could from her end to make sure that we could still keep the appointment, but I ended up being nearly half an hour late, which is probably the latest I’ve ever been for any appointment in my life. Thankfully, once I got there, everyone was more than gracious and super professional about it. Within a few minutes, I’d even forgotten about the horrible sin that’d I’d committed by not giving myself enough time to get down there early, much less on time.

Sylvia and I ended up sitting  with a fantastic gentleman named Ricardo and man did he take care of us. He took care of everything really. He did have another appointment coming in at about the same time, but he put us both at ease and made both appointments work at the same time. Not only did he offer us water, but he offered us beer too! Who does that? I felt like that was one of the classiest touches and maybe even a throwback to when all suits were custom-made.

Anyway, once we were in and we chatted briefly about what we were looking at, he pulled down some books with fabric swatches and we started looking at everything. Interestingly enough, they don’t up-sell at Balani. Once you pick your fabric, the cost of the suit is essentially fixed as all of the detail work is included in the cost. You essentially are paying for the fabric and the labor is fixed so there’s nothing to charge you extra for. If you want something super basic with no flourish at all, it’s the same cost if you wanted the same fabric in a really over the top style. The prices are pretty good for what they are too, as each book has pretty good quality fabric and a lot of swatches as well, so you can go budget and still get a good suit or go about as fancy as you could imagine. At some point as we were narrowing down suit fabric, he asked about the shirt and pulled down a few books with white fabric swatches for us to take a look at. Apparently, the cost of the suit includes a custom made shirt as well, which is pretty awesome. At this point, he went off to attend to the other appointment and let us know he’d be in periodically to help us however we needed it, which is more than I was expecting for being as late as I was.

We started flipping through everything and the one thing I think we knew going in was that we wanted some sort of brown, possibly chocolate brown even. Sylvia pointed out to me years ago that earth-tones look good on me and what better way to show that off than with a good brown? We managed to narrow it down to a couple of choices fairly quickly, but picking shirt fabric was so much harder. I think the two of us were expecting that we’d just go somewhere and find a nice dress shirt so we didn’t come in prepared for the question of, “what kind of shirt did you want to have made?”

After maybe 10 or 20 minutes, Ricardo came back and he masterfully steered us to a good choice for the shirt and we discussed the fabric of the suit more to confirm that everything was as we wanted it. Then we had to figure out what lining we wanted in the coat, which is something I wasn’t ready for because you really can do all kinds of flourish when it comes to a coat liner. Eventually Sylvia picked out something she really liked and then we started discussing the style of the coat and pants. This didn’t take long at all as we both knew that something more modern was going to be the way to go. Then it was measuring time.

I’ve never been measured so much in my life, but it was reassuring as it had me really starting to feel that everything was going to come together and it was going to look really sharp. I also heard the phrase, “well yeah, I can see that as you do have kind of a long crotch” from Ricardo and just died laughing because I really am a 12 year old boy sometimes. Sylvia was jealous too because being measured for a dress is a much less complicated affair and she felt like she was really missing out.

Once the measurements were done, we settled up the tab and made our way home. Everything about the experience itself was super fantastic and it really has me feeling like I need to get rid of the suits I already have and committing to saving up to have a custom suit made every year for a few years. Well, we’ll see as I’m still waiting to pass judgment until I can actually try the thing on. I’m pretty sure that’s going to go very well though and then I really might just come home and give away not just the suits, but the dress shirts as well, because why keep them when you can have custom shirts made too?

This may all sound very silly, but for the few of you out there reading this that know me, how often do I ever care about buying clothes other than the occasional fun t-shirt? Now imagine what kind of experience I must have had that now has me feeling like I want to go out and have a bunch of custom suits made? Exactly. If anyone is looking into having a custom suit made, by all means check them out because I can’t recommend them enough and I don’t even have my suit yet.


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