Explore Proper Cloth, a major player in online menswear. Not the cheapest, but far from the priciest. Explore their style as I share my honest experience.
At this point in my style journey, I’ve become a bit of a skeptic when it comes to digital custom and made-to-measure clothing. For any number of reasons, I just can’t get the fit I want.
Some of the time, standard tolerances and my body measurements don’t line up. That usually results in something being billowy on my frame.
Sometimes, it’s a case of fabric — measurements in say, linen, are much different than in a heavier Oxford cloth.
Other times, it’s straight-up my fault as my attempt at designing a streamlined fit ends up just being too darn tight to be comfortable.
They’re not the cheapest of the lot but are far from the priceiest. So, when they connected about building an outfit in exchange for my honest, balanced opinion, I was interested to see what was possible.
A Tech Company That Happens to Sell Clothing
At the time, fashion and style weren’t at the top of mind for him, But, having access to bespoke suitmaking in Asia, with world-class fabrics at a fraction of the price of traditional European maisons, was appealing.
As a technologist and electrical engineer by training, he saw the potential to deliver these quality goods to the US market, and to do so online. So, Proper Cloth was born in January 2008.
At first, they were exclusively an online shirtmaker, with limited options on customization and fabric. But, the interest was there, and the business began to scale.
They opened a retail showroom in 2016 and a larger location in Summer 2021. Some of the success was due to the early adoption of the intersection between technology and fashion.
Indeed, much like it’s said Starbucks is a tech company that happens to sell coffee, Proper Cloth could be a software company selling suits.
Indeed, the technology angle is impressive. Slick layouts, next-level UX design, and targeted SEO are hallmarks of the brand. Google “quality men’s dress shirts” and they’ll be on the top row.
Same goes for suits. (Although, admittedly, this could be the algorithms on my browser directing me back, knowing I’ve searched the brand a few times in researching for this piece).
There’s a beautifully built-out blog extension of the website covering almost any question on fit, fabric, and style. They also lean heavily on influencer marketing.
What’s more impressive, though, is how the company has been able to scale through sales revenue and resist the temptations of venture capital or private equity.
While the $150,000 investment Skerritt secured from friends and family is certainly nothing to sneeze at, it pales in comparison to some others. Indeed, competitor Indochino has gone through multiple rounds of funding, securing millions at a time.
That Proper Cloth has held their own and is everywhere online should be indicative of a good product, right?
Order Process and What I Chose
To get your best fit, many online clothiers have rolled out a home try-on program. You’re sent a garment in off-the-rack suit sizes and then work with a fit specialist to dial it in.
So, that’s exactly what I did.
I ordered both a size 36 and 38 jacket. It’s important to note they’re only offered in Regular sizing, so be prepared for a conversation around that. (If you’re reading this website, there’s a good chance you’ll need it shortened!).
It’s also important to note the brand will place a temporary, $200 hold on your credit card when you order this kind of garment.
The try-on garment arrived five days or so after I placed the order, and I got on a call a few days later. We reviewed the fit preferences, and my specialist updated my profile accordingly. I was, however, able to go in and check the exact measurements afterwards.
With my specs in line with what I thought they should be, I got to the fun part of this process: selecting an outfit.
The further along I go in my style journey, the less ‘bold’ I become in my suit choices. I want something that fits and with maximum versatility.
Yes, as nice as a suit with a pale green or pink Prince of Wales check can be, it’s kind of a one-trick pony. And while Super 130s or 150s cloth is a joy to put on, it begins to wear around the seat and crotch area after five or six wears. Super 110s, while not nearly as luxurious, is far more practical.
That led me to the Allen suit in Vitale Barberis Canonico Super 110s in a Charcoal Grey. It’s easy-wearing and easy to style. I went for a single-breasted model (the website lists it as double-breasted, but you can customize how you want) with 3.5-inch notch lapels.
The jacket itself is soft-shouldered with a sewn fully canvassed construction. This will hold the shape and help the garment drape cleanly. It is a $150 upcharge, though. However, I’d only experienced half-canvassed garments before and wanted to try it out.
This may disappoint some, but lining options on Proper Cloth jackets are rather limited — solid colors are pretty much it. But, I found a maroon one to be quite a nice contrast for the sober jacket.
Also of interest were the grey ‘smoke’ buttons, which I found to be quite useful with any type of shoe.
Trousers were of medium-high rise, with a single reverse pleat and 1.75” cuffs.
The final price for the suit, without the canvassing, was $895. With the canvassed piece, $1045.
Also, based on where I am in my style journey, I find myself wearing a lot of the same kind of shirts. In fact, I’d probably do very well with no more than five dress shirts in some premium fabrics. But, as I was styling a more conservative suit, I wanted to have a little fun with the shirt.
While a grey suit is kind of a blank canvas and most shirts (especially a pale pink) look nice, a medium Bengal stripe fit the look I was going for. This fabric from Thomas Mason is the right weight and opacity for year-round use.
It is a premium, luxury cloth yes — but, the versatility means the cost-per-application is far less than, say, a solid purple dress shirt from a high-end designer. Proper Cloth’s website has a useful snippet of information about each of their fabrics, giving you some idea of how it would wear.
The shirt is also where the UX and the excellent rendering engine come in. The fabric is a pretty clear rendering of what your shirt will look like.
It’s easy to click through. The collar changes size, the buttons change color, and the cuffs change their shape.
I found myself playing around with it and creating some rather outlandish designs. But then, the awesome task of bringing you, dear reader, a fair and objective review brought me back to my senses, and away I clicked once more.
The final price for the shirt, in this fabric with mother-of-pearl buttons, was $190
The First Fit
Proper Cloth’s ship time for shirting is about two weeks, which is excellent. They manufacture in Vietnam, which has become a hotbed for excellent tailoring done almost unbelievably fast.
The fit on the first shirt, though, was… meh.
The waist was a touch full for my preference, even as I’ve recently started adding a touch more room to the torso to allow for room in the ribcage. Standard tolerance (meaning the amount from your waist to the shirt) is about 4” for a ‘slim’ fitting shirt.
If you’ve got a 32” waist, go for about 36” on the waist. But, as I mentioned at the outset, the fabric itself can play a significant role in how something drapes. While that amount of room might work for a heartier Oxford cloth, it was too billowy for a thinner dress shirt.
While darting in the lower back could probably correct that, what couldn’t be fixed was the tightness I felt across the yoke of the shirt. Even though I knew we’d gotten the correct shoulder measurements and I re-measured them myself, the yoke piece wouldn’t sit cleanly and became quite uncomfortable.
Try as I might, I couldn’t figure out why that would be. The fabric from Thomas Mason was nothing short of excellent, after all.
Similar, unusual issues happened with the first take on the suit as well. While the shoulder seam sat cleanly and I was quite happy with the minimal structure through the shoulder, the balance of the jacket was off by quite a bit. By ‘balance’, I mean the way the front quarter sits in relation to the rear of the jacket.
While one could, if going full bespoke, have the front and back of a jacket the same length, that’s usually not the case. In many cases, you’d actually want a little variation — with the front being longer than the back. But, this was too much.
To my eye, it appeared to be an unnatural slant. However, the front and back of the jacket measured exactly what the fit specialist and I had asked for. This was very odd, indeed.
Additionally, the trouser fit was just too full for my preference. We can chalk this up, too, to how fabric drapes across the body.
Proper Cloth genuinely wants you to get a good fit. That’s why they offer a complimentary remake if the garment isn’t to your specifications. So, after some back and forth, I was able to get on a video call with a fit specialist and work through the issues.
With me standing in my kitchen and adjusting my laptop just so, Nimit Mehta (I’m going to shout him out here) was able to figure out that adjusting my neck posture back about 0.3” would mitigate the issues with the jacket.
We also slimmed the leg line a little to clean up the excess cloth.
The Second Time is (Mostly) a Charm
Just like the first time, the order was fulfilled quite quickly, just under three weeks from placing the order to arrival at my door.
Now, I wouldn’t suggest gambling to have it ordered, say, a month before your buddy’s wedding, but it can be delivered expediently.
The fit of the suit is much, much better. The jacket is perhaps the best-fitting I have in my closet.
The shoulder seam sits where it should. The sleeve length is excellent for my preference — not too much shirt cuff, and not too little.
Nimit and I spoke again a few weeks before starting to write this piece and discussed perhaps adding a little room in the chest, as the jacket lapel could pull slightly when adding a thicker pocket square into the breast pocket. But, we ultimately decided against it.
The jacket length is also just about perfect, and a reminder of why I go custom whenever possible. Even dropping the neck posture by 0.3” dramatically changed how the garment sits.
The trouser fit is good, but perhaps not perfect. Some of it has to do with weight fluctuation, as I’ve (unintentionally) dropped 10-15 pounds since taking delivery of the suit. But, this is an easy alteration if it becomes a long-term issue, and I wear braces with my suits anyway.
I would consider returning to a slightly lower trouser rise as well.
The shirt fit is also much better, but not perfect. The torso drapes well but doesn’t billow. It’s long enough to stay tucked in all day. The sleeves, though, are still a little full and will require some alteration to get dialed in.
I quite like the Proper Cloth aesthetic. It’s clean. Minimal. Versatile. All hallmarks of my own personal style. The minimal shoulder structure is fantastic and should work for most men, though I’ve yet to see how large a structured jacket from Proper Cloth would be.
The lapel gorge might be aggressively high for some. But, at only 5’7” and change, that position actually helps me appear taller. So, it works well for me.
I’ve come to appreciate pleats in my trousers, though a single pleat is as far as I’ll go in a suit. Curiously, though, one can only choose reverse pleats and not forward pleats. While I probably would have gone for the reverse anyway, it would be nice to have that option.
While Proper Cloth offers dozens of Bengal striped shirts, I like the slightly wider option here.
The cloth from Vitale Barberis Canonico is widely available. At Super 110s, it’s not going to be the most luxurious fabric in the world. And, it doesn’t have as much depth or character as perhaps I’d like.
However, it’s a fantastically versatile and durable fabric, and I can make the trousers my ‘menswear uniform’ pair without fear of them fading or pilling.
That said, Proper Cloth does have a pretty wide selection of fabrics at all different price points. If you’d like a higher-end Loro Piana, you’ll be able to get it.
Here’s where I’ll pick a few nits. At least online, Proper Cloth has limited lining options. While I don’t go too trendy with my linings, I’d like a few more options and some patterns thrown in.
Additionally, the lining feels perhaps a little inferior in comparison to similar suits I have at this price point.
Secondly, I understand monogramming is a big deal in custom menswear. You can throw in nicknames, quotes, or whatever you want. It’s a little something extra making the suit special and truly feel like yours.
My initials on the Proper Cloth suit were simply stitched into the lining. My Enzo Custom suit has an actual patch, with my full name, stitched into it.
Wrap-Up and Verdict: Is Proper Cloth Worth It?
At first, I was a touch skeptical. While the suit is fully canvassed, yes, over $1,000 for a Super 110s charcoal suit appears a pretty steep ask. My Enzo Custom one is at Super 150s for just $100 more. And, at first, the fit wasn’t amazing.
However, the more I thought about it, my position began to shift.
First, Proper Cloth is willing to go above and beyond to get the right fit. Adjusting things like neck posture is really to do hard online, and Proper Cloth not only identified it but pulled it off. It’s now one of my best-fitting suits and is a pleasure to pull on.
Additionally, the more I thought about it, the more I began to accept a point of diminishing return when it comes to fabric. A Super 150s suit and a Super 110s suit might look a little different, even though they cost about the same.
The 150s might have a little more depth, character, and pizazz. But, you’ll be able to wear that 110s suit far more often, and perhaps for even longer.
That, coupled with the dedication to customer experience, makes a trip to Proper Cloth well worth it, in my opinion.
What MTM suit brand would you like for us to try out next? Let us know in the comments!