LL Bean Plain Weave suiting jacket

I’ve been in the market for a simple navy suit, but have been putting it off since I had no upcoming events or parties that required such a suit. Then summer began, and again, I found myself looking for reasons to get one. I knew it would come in handy for years, and I was open to different fabrics but wanted one I could wear for all seasons.

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Luckily I came across the L.L. Bean signature plain weave suiting in navy. The cotton twill fabric is perfect for summer but still substantial enough to hold its own during San Francisco’s mild winters.

I’m usually a little nervous ordering off-the-rack suits online since sizes often differ and I hate the back-and-forth exchanges I’d have to endure if I picked the wrong size. Fortunately the suit fit true-to-size, so I had no issues.

The BEFORE

ll bean plain weave signature suiting - before alteration

Just to be clear, the suit fit correctly in the shoulders and waist, but I wanted to go that extra step and make sure the fit was perfect. It’s difficult to tell from these iPhone photos (I forgot my camera that day), but the suit was a little too widely-proportioned for my body.

I took a trip to my local tailor, Miguel, over at Townsend Street Tailors here in San Francisco.

ll bean plain weave signature suiting - pinning alteration

The AFTER

We slimmed down the seat of the pants, the legs, and the arms. I also had the jacket’s body taken in to achieve that more tapered look. Lastly, I shortened the arm length and the inseam to have only minimal break.

ll bean plain weave signature suiting - after alteration

A lot of work, I know. It wasn’t cheap either… but I believe that buying the correct size suit is only half the effort. If one invests in a suit, one should go all the way to ensure the best fit. Otherwise you’re stuck with a good-looking suit that wears you instead of the other way around.

ll bean plain weave signature suiting - after alteration

ll bean plain weave signature suiting - after alteration

I’ll leave you with this: Be prepared to invest in some tailoring if you want the suit to fit like a glove. Know what you want before going to the tailor, or else he/she will alter it according to how he/she thinks the suit should look. Educate yourself, figure out what looks best on your body, and you’ll know how to direct your tailor.

Overall, I’m happy with my purchase and the jacket has now become my go-to sport coat, so this was definitely a worthwhile buy. If you’re in the market for a navy suit, this one should be on your short list.

PUBLISHED July 7, 2010


Barron is the Founding Editor of Effortless Gent and the Cladright Association. He's from San Francisco but currently living in New York. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr.



  • http://twitter.com/coenthusiasm Paul Munford

    excellent stuff my man. ive been waiting for someone to pull this before and after tailoring post off. major props

  • http://twitter.com/SkipBrooks9 Skip Brooks

    Great Job!

  • http://twitter.com/SkipBrooks9 Skip Brooks

    Great Post! Well done!

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  • Sam

    I was very worried when I scrolled down and saw the pre-tailoring, iphone photos – for the first time I was questioning your decision….of course the rest of the post clarified things nicely!

  • http://twitter.com/honorthytailor Shidi

    Awesome post. I was just having a discussion yesterday with some friends about tailoring, and the difference it can make. I might need to get this in khaki.

    HonorThyTailor.com

  • http://twitter.com/honorthytailor Shidi

    Sorry Paul, I didn't mean to reply to you. I pushed the wrong button.

  • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

    Thanks Shidi. I like these tailor-related before/after posts because fit is so important and many people don't take that extra step. Your site is a great example of what's possible. Thanks for your comment.

  • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

    Thanks Paul. I've been wanting to do something like this for a while. Hopefully the suit's ill fit was obvious enough in the before photos. Appreciate you checking it out.

  • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

    Hi Skip, I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for your comment!

  • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

    It's just a little clever photo positioning to make you think twice about my decision making, haha. Glad you stuck with me long enough to scroll down a bit further. Thanks for your comment, Sam.

  • Kris

    With the working button holes, how did you shorten the sleeves? Was it done at the shoulder seam, or was there enough fabric to work with at the end?

    This is a common need for me, and I was recently told by my tailor that sleeves with working buttons couldn't be shortened.

  • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

    Hi Kris,

    Normally, shortening would be done at the shoulder seam. Luckily for me I only needed to take it up around 3/4″, so there was enough room at the cuff to shorten it there.

    Typically, sleeves with working buttons cannot be shortened EASILY, though it can be done. Since the tailor has to shorten it at the shoulder, it can often cost significantly more. Hope that helps.

  • B_chukka

    L.L.BeanSignature just posted a link on their facebook page to this article on your blog…..VERY COOL!

  • http://www.facebook.com/l.l.beansignature BC

    Check it out….

  • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

    Very nice. Thanks for the heads-up!

  • KWu

    Would you mind sharing about how much additional cost it tacked on to the cost of the suit to get all the tailoring done? I recognize it’ll be different for everyone depending on their location (I’m in NYC) but it’d be nice to have a ballpark idea of how much you think it’s worth putting into tailoring when compared to the original cost of the suit (50% more? 80%? same $ for tailoring as for the suit itself?)

    Thanks!

  • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

    Hey there,

    Well during this particular visit, my total cost was $95. I also got a lot of work done, altering practically every part of the suit: arms slimmed and shortened, jacket sides tapered, legs and seat slimmed and hemmed. Everything was shrunken just the right amount so it fit perfectly. I believe the suit in this example was $185, so 50% additional cost.

    It really does depend, like you said. There are lots of factors including location and the tailor’s skill (which can be more expensive, the better he is.) I actually wrote an article on tailors over at Primer Magazine here: http://bit.ly/a0G8Fm

    What it boils down to is this: Find a suit you love at a price you are comfortable with, knowing that you must take it to a tailor to have it fit perfectly. Let’s say your budget is $300, look for a suit in the $200 – $250 range, knowing you have $50 – $100 in tailoring covered.

    There is no optimal ratio and honestly, good tailoring is always worth the extra cost no matter the price of the suit. You can buy a $6000 Tom Ford suit but if it’s 3 sizes too big, it won’t look good. On the other hand, you can buy a suit at H&M, have some basic alterations done for a negligible price, and come out looking like a million bucks.

    Thanks for the great question!

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  • Bottlebeck

    Great suit and just the color I’m looking for!  I’m standing up in my best friends wedding (she’s the bride; I’m her best man) this August.  Maybe I already know the answer to this question, but do you think this suit is appropriate for a summer wedding?  I plan to wear it with a yellow shirt, bow tie and cognac-colored shoes.  Thanks!!

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Definitely! Assuming she doesn’t want you to wear something ultra-specific, this is a great choice.

  • Jay

    Thank you for this :) What does slimming down the seat of pants do?

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hey Jay, sorry I missed this. If there’s lots of room in the seat, it doesn’t look as slim and proportioned as everything else you’ve taken in. Since the legs were taken in, we have to take in the butt area too. It was very slight in this case.

  • jason

    Ive been looking for a suit just like this but it a two button. This is a three button, yet your pictures show only two… Did they remove a button or is it cleverly hidden?

  • Farnarkel

    Hmmm, seems a bit tight around the waist – “The Dreaded X” (see http://effortlessgent.com/sport-coat-suit-fit-mistakes/)

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      You’ll notice how I’m standing (weight on one leg, shoulders back and down, hands in pockets, head slightly forward). When you’re wearing a fitted suit, you’re bound to get pulling at the fastening point as you move.

      The dreaded X I was referring to should not be seen when standing “straight with arms at your sides” … in the paragraph directly above “The Dreaded X”.