We speak with Anderson & Sheppard, a bespoke tailor favoured by Hollywood stars and royalty, on the cardinal rules for a well-fitted suit.


Photo courtesy of Anderson & Sheppard

A man is only as good as the suit he has on his back. The quintessial uniform of the modern day gentleman, a well-tailored suit is the ultimate fashion statement — and practically a second skin. The tailors behind Anderson & Sheppard have the "style meets comfort" thing down pat. The revered Savile Row bespoke tailor first came to prominence in the '40s and '50s, counting Golden Hollywood film icons such as Fred Astaire and Gary Cooper as loyal customers. The label is also a favourite of HRH Prince of Wales, earning an official visit from the royal in 2012.

"We have been known for our soft natural shoulders and elegant drape," says Anda Rowland, the owner of Anderson & Sheppard. "Our style remains almost unchanged over the years with a timeless, classic silhouette." Read on for more of Rowland's tailoring wisdom as she answers all your burning questions.

What are some of the questions you’d ask customers to consider when they walk in for an appointment?
Anda Rowland The first thing we would ask a potential customer to consider is the purpose of the suit: is it for work, special occasion or a wedding? Depending on what sector of business the customer is involved in,  it will help us advise him on the type of  professional dress ideal for his situation.

It's also important to note where the client is from and the climate — whether the suit will be in an environment that's hot or cold, humid or arid. The customer’s preference on the weight of cloth is also important, since even those living in a hot climate zone may still like a reasonably heavy cloth, which keeps its shape and finish.


Anda Rowland, owner of Anderson & Sheppard; Photo courtesy of Anderson & Sheppard

Walk us through the fabrics and materials that are ideal for different occasions in a gentleman’s life.
Light weight linen (weighing 8 to 10 ozs) is tyically used for summer and holiday leisure wear. Wool or worsted (11 to 12 ozs) are typically used for work and business suits — these materials are  good to use for three out of four seasons in the year. Fresco (between 9 to 15 ozs) is the go-to for travel suiting, as the cloth can keep its shape without significant creasing. It's ideal for long journeys and good to wear across climate zones. Barathea (11 to 12 ozs) is a classic traditional weave — in midnight or black colours — used for formal wear, white tie and black tie. Tweed is a wiry, coarser cloth generally suited for relaxed and casual jacketing. It usually improves with with age and is available in a huge range of colours and textures."

What would you say is the biggest misconception people have about the tailoring process?
Many confuse make-to-measure, made-to-order or 'custom made' as the  same as ‘bespoke’ — but the processes are all different. Some customers are also under the misconception tha one fitting will be sufficient — but three fittings are par for the course to ensure that our tailors have refined their pattern properly.


Photo courtesy of Anderson & Sheppard

Is there anything customers should prepare ahead of the appointment?
It is often useful for customers to research a little about the Anderson & Sheppard house style. They may have friends who are our customers for help, and our website is also very informative.  Reliable blogs on luxury tailoring, such as Permanent Style, are also a great resource.

How can a customer determine if a suit fits well?
AR The Cutter has the trained eye to see the fit is correct, but will they always ask you how the suit feels — it is very important that it feels right. A basic clues to start: the coat should just cover the seat area, the sleeve should just be on the wrist and should not come onto the palm of hand. The trouser waist should stay supported on the natural waist and should not slip down.  The trouser length should have a slight ‘break’ onto the shoes. Ultimately, besides the in-house style, it is up to customer’s own preference.  Most importantly is that when the customer wears the suit, he feels confident and comfortable.


Attire House's permanent location in the Asia Pacific Centre; photo courtesy of  Attire House

What are some things Asian customers should be aware of in search of their perfect suit?
Avoid bold stripes, big checks, or window pane checks if you have a small frame.  You can't go wrong with solid, plain or discretely patterned fabrics — in darker hues of navy or charcoal. Depending on your skin tone, a brownish fabric colour might not be ideal. When ordering formal evening wear, select a black fabric with extra depth as some skin tones can make standard black fabric appear dark brown, especially in photographs. We commissioned a special cloth — which has undergone a two-stage dye process —  from Taylor & Lodge in Huddersfield for this very reason.


This story first appeared on hk.asiatatler.com