ATTENTION: All MTM/custom suit brands are invited to participate in this challenge. If you’re game, get in touch for more details.
A reader named Justin emailed me with an interesting proposition:
He said he has a hard-to-fit build and wanted to challenge the most reputable custom suit brands to make him a suit that fits.
He also said that he wants to publish the results of this “fit challenge” right here on The Modest Man. Needless to say, I gave him the go ahead.
Several brands turned down the challenge outright, but a few expressed interest. The following is Justin’s first review of the challenge, featuring Knot Standard.
Hey gents! I’m Justin.
I’m an undergraduate student at NYU, and I’m also impossibly difficult to fit.
This post is the first installment of “The Fit Challenge”, where I reached out to custom / MTM suit companies in the New York area and challenged them to make a suit that fits me.
Fitting me is indeed quite a challenge – I’m 5”2 (on a good day) and around 145 pounds, with a 40 inch chest and a 24 inch inseam. Let the games begin…
Knot Standard Review
Disclosure: I received this suit free of charge, for the sake of this review.
Although Knot Standard wasn’t the first company to respond to me, they were the first to get me fitted, and for that they get credit.
First, some background on the operation: Knot Standard was founded in 2010, and now boast 7 showrooms. The product line is somewhat vague if you look at the website, so I’ll clarify here:
If you order online, you can choose from either the Classic Collection (starting at $595) or the Private Collection (starting at $795, and going up to around $3000).
The showroom experience is totally different, unlike places like My.Suit or Indochino, where the showrooms are essentially extensions of the website.
At the Knot Standard showroom, suits start at $795, and can go up to $18,000 (!).
The $795 price point uses the same fabrics as on the website (at the bottom range), but all possible details and additions (we’ll get there below) are included.
So in summary, this price point was a bit higher than other competing shops, like the aforementioned Indochino or My.Suit.
As with any MTM / Custom suit maker, especially for short guys, you should go in person to a showroom to get measured. If the stylist knows what they’re doing (see below), then you have a much better chance of getting the fit right the first time.
The Fitting Process
I was paired with a lovely stylist named Caroline, who explained all of the above. Caroline was professional, super nice, and very knowledgeable about Knot Standard’s offerings and how a suit should fit, which is more than I can say for some of my past MTM experiences.
Caroline and I decided on a subtle dark charcoal fabric with a blue paisley lining. She said usually takes 26-28 measurements, although it felt like less.
She was also fairly adamant that KS is a custom menswear maker, not made-to-measure. For example, they measure shoulder slope using this nifty tool:
Or maybe it’s just some sort of medieval torture device. Who knows.
How the Suit Fits
The suit arrived around 6 weeks later – a little on the longer side (My.Suit has a 2 week turnaround). I came in for a fitting, and the suit was not too bad.
We made a couple of adjustments – loosened the waist and thighs on the pants (were way too tight), tapered the pant leg slightly, and tapered the arms on the jacket. Overall, the initial fit was good but not great.
After the first round of alterations, the suit fits really well. I’m able to button the jacket comfortably, which hasn’t been the case with any of my previous MTM suits.
suit | shirt | tie | square | shoes
Here are some different angles (notice the matching, personalized Kippah):
I love the way it looks, although there are some fit issues:
- Slight pitch on the left side of my back, partially due to my uneven shoulder slope (I lean right)
- Jacket roughly 1/2″ too short (to fully cover my backside)
- Bunching on sleeves behind biceps
Overall though, I think it’s fantastic. Like I mentioned, I’m really impressed that KS was able to make a jacket that I can close without unsightly billowing in the rear area. I also wouldn’t change anything about the pants.
An area that left me really impressed was the details that KS offers on the jackets (these would cost extra online, and some aren’t available there).
KS was able to accommodate everything I asked for, including a zipper pocket on the inside of the jacket (highly recommended).
I chose the following details:
- Peak lapels
- Patch pockets
- Five kissing, functional buttonholes
- Real horn buttons
- Double vent, two button jacket
- Blue paisley lining
The Milanese boutonniere hole is absolutely beautiful, and totally worth the extra $50 in my opinion.
Here are the pants details (inspired by Justin over at The Fine Young Gentleman):
- Extended tab closure
- Gunmetal side tabs
- No belt loops
The gunmetal matches the fabric quite nicely, and the monogram on the waistline is a nice touch.
Another nice detail here is the extra fabric at the bottom – Knot Standard doubled over the cuff, which gives it some great weight.
If you’re a short guy with legs or calves on the larger side, that extra fabric will help your pants not shoot off the back of your shoes.
I’m no expert, but the construction of the suit also seems very good. The fabric is a 110s/120s 100% wool and is soft to the touch.
The stitching is neat all around, and details like extra fabric stitched over the back of the collar, and a loop under the lapel for a flower are all well executed.
This is the best fitting suit I’ve owned so far. Although it wasn’t perfect out of the box, Knot Standard and Caroline were able to understand exactly what I needed, and execute on the alterations.
The company was a pleasure to deal with, and I would most definitely purchase here again (although this suit was comped). If you’re a short man with less than normal body features, Knot Standard will do a great job fitting you.
Brock’s Thoughts: My experience with Knot Standard was notably different than Justin’s. I was fitted in person – at their DC showroom – with three other gentlemen.
All four suits required major surgery or complete remakes.
While being measured in person is almost always better than submitting your own measurements, it really comes down to the expertise of the person you’re working with – regardless of the brand.
That said, I’m thrilled that Justin is happy with his KS experience.
Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below!
Andrew Hulsh says
I dong know whether any of you see the same photo of the suit that I saw; I think the suit looks awful—it’s a poor fit, period. The jacket is too short; the trousers look awful. I was considering buying a few suits at KS; after looking at the photos, you couldn’t give me a suit from KS.
PopcornJones77 (@PopcornJones77) says
Glad you had a good experience with KS. I haven’t so far, but hoping that’ll change. (In the MTM world, of which KS is part*, I have had a very good experience with Blank Label, so far.)
You want to make choices in your MTM suit that create the illusion of elongating both your upper body and legs.
So, the length of your jacket is actually quite good. Any longer at it starts to diminish the proportional appearance of your legs.
My biggest quibble is KS gave you too high of a button stance. They should have lowered it a bit IMHO. The high button stance is why your pockets look disproportionately big/long on your jacket. If they lowered the button stance, the top of your pockets would have been lower, starting normally and roughly at the same horizontal line where your second bottom button is placed.
Below your buttons, they cut too much of a curve into the bottom of left and right of your jacket. The front left and right of your jacket should hang more vertically a la this: https://img.buzzfeed.com/buzzfeed-static/static/2015-03/16/15/enhanced/webdr13/enhanced-13796-1426534817-24.jpg
I’d also recommend you experiment with bringing your trousers up as close as you’re comfortable with to your natural waist (or your belly button, depending on where it is). It would add to the illusion of elongating your legs. I would recommend against cuffs on your trousers as they horizontally break up your vertical line.
While your photos make your suit look gray, the close-up of the fabric makes it look brown.
If your suit is gray, wear burgundy, dark brown or black shoes. If your suit is brown, only wear dark brown or perhaps burgundy. Either way, IMHO, your light brown/tan shoes are way too much of a contrast with your suit and draw the eye away from the suit, while also breaking up the visual line of your suit-to-shoes.
Also consider a point collar on your shirt.
* KS is made-to-measure. The term “custom” is a marketing term meant to obscure less-informed customers about what exactly they’re buying IMO.
KS certainly is not bespoke; if there’s no basted fitting, and if they’re not drafting the pattern and cutting the fabric by hand, then they’re already disqualified from being bespoke.
Justin Gage says
Thanks for the ideas.
(a) You’re 100% correct about the button height.
(b) The jacket curve is a style thing. I’ve seen different MTM makers do it differently and I don’t have a particular preference.
(c) Your comments about shoes are one side of the equation, but are far from accepted. You may have a preference for darker shoes with darker suits, but the style world by no means fully agrees with you. I personally prefer the look of a lighter Walnut shoe in the summer.
(d) I like cuffs.
(e) I don’t like point collars.
As for your MTM / Custom point, I think that’s subjective and depends on how you define custom. If you want to define it in the traditional sense, you’re correct – they aren’t custom and there was no custom pattern or basted fitting. But that’s not the only way to define it – they (and other bloggers as well) are happy with custom meaning that they have the ability to accommodate any request whatsoever. I don’t really know enough to weigh in on this debate.
“Custom” is a nebulous term these days. Calling anything that isn’t made from scratch and doesn’t include a basted fitting and multiple subsequent fitting “bespoke” would be lying.
From my experience, people are using “MTM” and “custom” interchangeably these days.
PopcornJones77 (@PopcornJones77) says
Agree, Brock. Both MTM and bespoke are “custom,” in the sense that you get to make choices about the design of your suit. But you generally get far more design choices with bespoke than with MTM, but KS, to its credit, does a good job of offering a fairly long list of design choices compared to other MTM firms. They do try to accommodate esoteric requests.
That said, I’ve seen too many MTM firms describe their stuff as “custom” (perhaps hoping/assuming customer doesn’t know difference between MTM and bespoke) or even claiming they offer bespoke.
* KS uses a lot of technology to pattern and cut their fabric. I suspect KS’s factory uses a patterning/cutting process similar to the one used by HSM in this video, though I’m told KS machine sews their half/full canvasses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-9dVK1lk8U
* Bespoke, at its best, tends to pattern and cut the old-fashioned way. English Cut’s Tom Mahon is a wonderfully extreme example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7MzAziwgeU. KS is not doing this.
Caveat emptor! That said, I’m very glad that we’re seeing a mini-renaissance in the number of firms that offer fairly decent MTM services at decent price points between RTW/OTR and bespoke prices.
Justin, kudos on getting MTM firms even to compete in your “fit challenge.” I look forward to seeing what other firms are able to produce, and I genuinely hope you end up getting loads of custom suits that will give you decades of happy wear.
I’m not sure, but my guess is the bunching on the sleeves behind your biceps may be function of (a) the suit’s sleeve pitch (which could be corrected by reattaching the sleeves at a more felicitous angle) and also (b) the fact that your arms aren’t spidery-long (the longer the arm, often the cleaner the drape assuming proper sleeve pitch). It doesn’t seem like the bunching issue is a deal-breaker, though. I’d be curious to know whether KS had any feedback to your fit issues.
Justin Gage says
“your arms aren’t spidery-long” – that’s for sure!
Jake H. says
I would agree with Popcorn’s sentiment on this specific suite.
– Shoes are too much of a sharp contrast between the suit
– The curve of the jacket is too definite (maybe it’s the photos)
– Brining up the pants would indeed create a “taller” illusion
– Jacket length seems OK-does not appear too long
I see you’re a student at NYU. Might want to check out bespoke suit makers Bindle And Keep. They do fantastic work and are reasonably priced.
THORNTON FLEET says
I looked up Brindle & keep. They cater to the transgender community. Is this the one you’re referring to?
Workmanship looks good; not sure if its the camera angle or what, but i would shorten the jacket length a bit (to the first thumb joint) as well as the crotch height to make legs appear longer.
George Evans says
Just noting that shorter jacket and tighter thigh are on trend, so I wouldn’t call those details a fault. Overall you look good!
Arthur in the Garden! says
I am 5’2″ also, Nice to know there is a fit out there!!
As a guy who’s 5’1″ 145, very excited to see the rest of this review series!