Hello. After struggling with poorly fitting OTR suits (I can't seem to find a suit with lapels that lay flat on my chest), I've decided to give MTM a try. I'd like half- or full-canvased and am looking to spend $500 - $800. With that, Black Lapel and Proper Suit seem to fit the bill. From what I've read here, and elsewhere online, they both seem to get good reviews and I'm having trouble deciding between the two. I'm wondering if anyone has experience with both and would be willing to make a recommendation or discuss the relative pros and cons of each. Thanks!
Black Lapel or Proper Suit?
Yeah, I explored a few different sizes hoping that would solve the problem. Unfortunately, every suit I've tried that fit in the chest was too big elsewhere, including the shoulders. I spent an entire Saturday going from store to store in downtown Seattle and probably tried on a hundred suits ranging from a 36S to a 42R, with no success. Several of the salespeople and tailors that helped me said that the problem was a combination of a large chest (relative to my shoulders) and unusually good posture :) The people who seemed honest and knowledgable all said "sorry, we just don't have anything that can be altered to fit you properly." The people at places like Men's Warehouse all said "that looks perfect!" and were happy to try and sell me a poorly fitting suit :)
I went through a similar decision process, and ultimately went with Proper Suit over one of the purely online MTM vendors, on the theory that the in-person fitting (which is a combination of starting with try-on suits in standard sizes and making adjustments, and taking lots of measurements as well) should result in a better fit on the first try than a purely measure-yourself operation like Black Lapel, Indochino, etc...
I just got a FedEx notice - mine arrives next Wednesday.
You should also check out forum member Kent Wang - the suits look to be an even better value than Proper Suit (I didn't discover Kent Wang's MTM suits until after I'd already ordered with Proper Suit). I may try KW for my next one.
I went with ProperSuit initially because I'd done online MTM before (no one good, just a random Thailand-based online operation) and it turned out terribly, so I felt that the in-person fitting would be a big help. I have problems going OTR because my shoulders are very wide (44 chest, 21-21.5" shoulders), and they were able to turn out a product far better than anything I've found for the price (some Isaia/Zenga/Canali coats seem workable, but they'd cost significantly more, even on sale).
For the record, I have no affiliation with ProperSuit other than being a satisfied customer who paid (full price) for two suits and has had a drink with Seth, who does the fittings here in DC. My first suit needed some alterations (sleeves and pants were way too long, jacket waist and seat were very tight), but they nailed the shoulders and there was enough fabric to take care of everything else, so it was all fairly easy and they credited the alteration cost toward suit #2. Likely going in for #3 and #4 next month.
Let me know if you have questions or need any more info - I'd be happy to help.
ETA: I've also referred two good friends their way, with positive results.
Thanks for that feedback. One of my concerns with proper suit is that they don't show what fabrics are available at the $750 or $850 levels and I'm concerned that I'll end up spending more than I can afford to get nice fabric. Did you two find that they had a good selection of lower priced fabrics and that they were of good quality? Thanks again.
I haven't looked at the fabrics they're using for entry level these days. My buddy Dave recently went with the $850 level and got a navy wool/mohair with some texture in the weave that's nice a airy, and not at all shiny. I regretted not finding it before him. His suit is about 3 months old, and he reports it's holding up well, as is my 14 month old entry level and my 10 month old second suit.
Hope that helps.
I'm pretty new to judging suits & fabrics, so I'm probably not qualified to add much of value, but I do specifically recall that all the Lora Piana fabrics they had at my fitting were in the $1250 bracket, whilst Kent Wang has them in his $855 bracket (hence my comment about relative value above - I can't comment on anything other than the brand name in this case, so YMMV :).
The try-on suits at my fitting were all in the essentials charcoal that jgeldner mentioned above, and I thought that was quite nice -- that will probably be my next suit.
I do wish that Proper Suit had more info online - more photos of completed suits, construction details, and fabric swatches. Mine arrived just today -- haven't had time to do more than a very quick try-on, but my initial impression is that they nailed it pretty well.
What's not mentioned in the review I wrote up was some of the evolution of their business that I talked with them about. When they first started, they were doing something similar to Indochino and having people simply enter in measurements online, which turned into a disaster for them. As you can imagine, that generated a lot of returned suits. Also, they weren't too crazy about where they were initially making suits and there were complaints about quality of construction. That was a few years ago and they've since implemented quite a few changes.
They've worked to find better production to do full-canvas only construction and insist on having the shoulders of every suit hand-sewn (you can alternatively have the entire suit hand-sewn for $250 more). To work on the fit issue, they've switched over to only doing in-person fittings, which allows them to gauge your posture and account for your shoulders. I wouldn't say I have a particularly problematic posture or severely sloped shoulders as I'm able to wear many jackets off the rack and look OK with a few minor tweaks (sleeve length, waist suppression), but I think having someone thinking about making such adjustments for you if you need it would be beneficial -- no matter who you go with.
thesilentist -- your review was actually one of the things that convinced me to give Proper Suit a try. Yours, Off the Cuff DC, and The Midwest Style. I still think they need to do a much better job of informing the public about them, well..themselves, but I thought those three reviews did a pretty good of portraying the process and resulting quality.
Mine arrived with a few issues - completely coincidentally, I'm going to be in Portland this weekend, where I can meet with the fellow who did my fitting and see if we can work them out.
The 1st one I've had for about 4 months or so, the 2nd for 2 months. I wear them every week as part of my regular rotation and they are holding up well.
The first one needed the sleeves lengthened a little bit and the tailor I had do it actually gave the jacket a big thumbs up, especially when I told him the price.
I've been inquiring about their 2.5 roll and also see they have half/quarter/no lining options so am looking forward to scheduling an appointment after tax time.
So, as I mentioned above, my Proper Suit arrived with a few issues -- the shoulder width seems to be pretty good to me (and it's certainly very comfortable), but either the sleeve pitch is off, or they failed to adjust for my forward-pitched shoulders, or my lower right shoulder (both issues which we discussed at the fitting), causing lots of rippling in the back sleeve, and an unsightly lump on the shoulders. When I met up again to go over the issues, some of the things he said left me feeling like he was just trying everything idea that came to mind (it's too tight in the chest (it's not), no the shoulders are too narrow (they're not), no those are "comfort creases" (no such thing)). The jacket is also significantly longer than I expected from the fitting (I'm now wishing that I had taken a back length measurement of the try-on jacket).
I also ordered a shawl collar tuxedo with a 7cm (2 3/4") lapel width - slim, but not ultra-skinny, after discussing lapel widths with the fitter for a couple of minutes. Unfortunately, it turns out that they don't actually have any width options in the shawl collar -- they only do a single width, a too-skinny 2". Apparently, he got confused about what I was ordering, because I only found out after it arrived that they'd taken my order for something they don't actually produce.
A button also came off within hours of receipt (judging from the thread left behind, someone might have gotten too close with the thread snips when trimming the thread).
To their credit, they're going to remake the jacket due to the mistake during the fitting (I'll be going with a peak lapel, wider than 2", instead, for proper balance), but so far it's been a somewhat disappointing lesson in double-checking *everything*.
Other than that, it's beautifully made. The trousers are a little long, but otherwise spot on.
They did some special features for me like butterfly lining (back innerseams finished with piping matching the lining too!!!) and custom vest pretty well. They'll do just about anything though if you ask and give em pictures. Side tabs aren;t on website yet but they'll do it if you ask. They're daks tops not buckle. Maybe they should give choice. Don't have cell pocket like Propersuit though.
Fit came out great cause I sent a pic of my body. Was worried, some pictures showed dude with collars coming off neck. Didn't happen, fits like it should. Tailored fit is pretty modern so get standard if you want something traditional. Can't even think of doing slim fit this is my limit. Might do tradional next go round but this isn't tight or anything, just a lot more slick and modern looking than I'm used to. Go well for parties and stuff. Armholes are high. Had to adjust sleeves though they came out a bit short. Measured them from where they told me (not from jacket with shoulder padding) maybe they need to adjust the way they do that. They cover alterations and stuff so it was easily fixed. Just give em a pic of your receit. I didn't get working sleevecuffs though so maybe the guys that did would have to get remade.
Got swatches before buying. They send 3 a time for free. Fabrics are lightweight year round stuff mostly. I got the navy whcih is almost midnight its pretty dark.
Talking to the owners and the lovely ladies from their "concirege" service was great. They're all really cool and nice.
I dunno give em a try. Worst case you don't like it they'll refund you. But I liked my suit alot so I didn't. I get compliments in it all the time. Girlfriend says I look "hot" hahaha so can't complain eh?
Hope it helps you.
I will try to be very unbiased in my research but I am sure some will creep in. I believe both have received a lot of good reviews, and I have seen/experienced work from both. But I believe Black Lapel has a better bang for your buck. Especially when it comes to customization, they will literally try anything you ask them to do. Black Lapel also has the best customer service I have ever dealt with (and I have dealt with a lot in suits, and other companies alike). Also, if I may say, I own 7 bespoke suits and a bespoke overcoat, and can honestly say Black Lapels fabric and construction are closer to a bespoke quality than any other online M2M I have ever used or seen the results of.
Also Proper Suit, charges more for the same or lesser quality than Black Lapel. In construction Proper Suit charges extra for premier bemberg. Something that a suit company really should never do, and Black Lapel bemberg is probably my favorite thing about the suits as I would say it is just under the bemberg used in my bespoke suits and equal to some. They also charge a lot more for handmade construction which Black Lapel already does for free. And as I said before black lapel will do anything as far as customization you want for free. Which proper suit may or may not charge you for.
I think the nail in the coffin is with proper suit you meet with someone, but as this is a comparison of online M2M I would suggest going to a bespoke tailor shop and ordering a M2M from them. It will probably be around the same price as Proper Suit and will be measured by a true expert who crafts the suits or has been working along side the person who crafts the suits as apposed to someone who just takes your measurements and goes over customizations. Hope this helps, good luck!
I also do not know proper suit's return/alteration/remake process. But Black Lapel will work with you until you are 100% satisfied (and they really mean that) while donating the returned/remade suits to charities for underprivileged kids needing suits for job/college interviews which I think is pretty awesome!