If you’ve been in the market for a new suit at least once in the past few years, you probably know your options: Fully custom (or bespoke), made-to-measure, or “off the rack”.
In this ongoing series, I won’t necessarily comment in depth about the particular company, or the details of the suit characteristics beyond what is necessary.
What I want to focus on in this series is fit: How it fits right out of the box, what turned out perfectly, and what I need to alter to get to 100%.
Hopefully this series gives you more confidence in ordering made-to-measure suiting in the future. And if you have any questions along the way, let me know.
Today, we’re checking out the Oliver Wicks suit.
Editor’s Note: In August 2015, Dragon Inside rebranded to Oliver Wicks… new name, but same great team and product.
The Buying Experience
One thing I loved about placing my order with Oliver Wicks: the measurement process.
Having my measurements taken can be such a hassle, especially since you need someone else to do them for you.
Oliver Wicks, on the other hand, allowed me to measure my best fitting suit. It’s much easier laying a garment flat and taking its measurements, instead of having your wife (or friend, or beloved pet) take yours.
The ordering process was simple and intuitive, and all the little customizations you’d expect from online custom suit makers were available.
Most (if not all) of their fabrics are woven by well-known fabric mills in the UK and Italy, and all production is Europe-based.
Suits are half-canvassed, although you have a full canvas option for a slight upgrade (59-99 USD).
Soon after customizing my suit selection and placing my order, Oliver Wicks started the cutting process, and the package arrived at my door in a little over three weeks.
I chose an 8 oz. olive green wool and linen Comero fabric, great for summer, and supposedly more wrinkleresistant because of it’s higher wool content (54% wool, 46% linen), but that’s yet to be observed.
I went with more casual detailing as well, since I don’t often wear suits in a formal setting. I also plan on breaking this suit up to maximize its versatility. So instead of welt pockets, I went with patch… and while peak lapels are traditionally a bit more formal, I love how they look, so I chose them (and went with a wider version, though not too wide, ~9cm). I also asked for minimal shoulder padding to reflect a more natural silhouette.
Since this is a warm weather suit, I asked for the jacket to be half-lined, which means only the sleeves and front panels have lining. And while you can add other customizations such as contrasting thread, buttons, lining, etc., I opted out of anything too kitschy, knowing I’d probably regret it later.
Side Note: Remember kids, keeping it understated and classic is always best.
You don’t always need something as obvious as contrasting thread or flashy flourishes to stand out. Sometimes, all you need is a juxtaposition in the levels of formality (patch pockets with peak lapels), or a subdued shade that’s just a tad different from your typical color (dark green instead of navy or charcoal).
The trousers are pretty standard; no pleats, 1.5” cuff, 15” leg opening, which I’ve found to be perfect for my measurements. Considering how a slim fit pant is cut, if you know your ideal leg opening measurement, you can almost guarantee how the trouser legs will fit.
One feature I’ve never seen before—that, to be honest, I thought was a mistake when I first saw it—is the protective band sewn one millimeter below the bottom of the cuff.
I wasn’t sure what it was at first. I reached out to Oliver Wicks, and here’s what they said:
“The protective band is placed 1 mm below the fabric by design. This reduces the friction between the wool and shoes, and in turn allows the pants to be let out in the future, without the risk of showing signs of wear on the fold.”
They also offered to have it completely hidden the next time around if I preferred that, but considering it’s barely noticeable, I’ll probably keep it there. It will just prolong the life of the fabric anyway. Win win!
What Fits Well
I was incredibly surprised at how well this suit fit right out of the box. Like I mentioned in our first MTM showdown article, I want my jackets to fit like armor (as opposed to a shapeless sack); it should hug my shoulders, chest, and torso without feeling restrictive or overly tight.
The jacket does fit like armor and hits at a perfect length (i.e. my butt is covered). The sleeves are perfect as well, which makes me happy since these are functioning buttons and shortening the sleeve wouldn’t have been easy. The shirt’s sleeves are a bit long, but that’s my shirt’s fault, not the suit’s. 😉
The trousers sit right above my hips and the inseam length is spot on; I requested little to no break, and that the cuff graze the top of my shoe.
What Needs Altering
I don’t need anything altered with this suit; everything fits as expected.
If I wanted to nitpick, there’s a teeny bit of extra fabric in the back, and the sleeves may not be rotated to the same degree as my natural posture. I’ll probably send detailed photos to Oliver Wicks so they’ll know how to adjust for next time.
A word of warning: My experience may be unique. You shouldn’t always expect your first suit to fit perfectly right out of the box, especially if it’s your first time working with that company.
In fact, I always tell readers to set expectations and know that, most likely, you’ll have to hit up your tailor to get the fit juuust right. And if you spend 500+ USD for a custom suit, it’s worth it to visit your tailor so your new suit fits perfectly.
While you shouldn’t expect a completely perfect fit the first time, I think it’s completely understandable to expect something close.
In this case, I don’t have to make any adjustments at all. With some of our other MTM Showdown features, you’ll see it varies greatly depending on the company (and perhaps a bit of user error… it’s not always 100% the suit maker’s fault).
Here’s the best way to avoid that large margin of error:
1.) Measure thrice, record once.
Yes, thrice! As in three times.
What I mean is, double- and triple-check your measurements to make sure you get them right. And then, if the company sees any discrepancies — they often will; it never fails, in my case — they will ask you to remeasure. Make sure to also triple-check your work when remeasuring.
2.) Over-communicate with your suit maker
Keep the lines of communication open with the customer service folks. Let them know how you’d like your suit to fit — more traditional? more fashion-forward? more slimmed down? trim but not tight? — and send photos of you in your best fitting shirt and pants to give them an idea.
They’re not mind readers, after all. The more information you can provide, the better.
Get One Of Your Own
This is the olive green linen and wool suit I reviewed above.
In case you do need alterations after ordering your Oliver Wicks suit, they’ve got you covered for 365 days and up to 125 USD credit per suit.
They’ll also adjust your digital pattern (just make sure to let them know what was adjusted, and how many inches / cm were taken in or let out).
What are your experiences with MTM suiting?
- Tried it once, loved it, never looked back?
- Bad first experience, never doing it again?
- Decent experience other than a few hiccups, willing to try once more?
Let me know in the comments below.
If there are other online MTM companies you are curious about and want to see, let me know in the comments as well.