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First time MTM buyer: Black Lapel vs Proper Suit vs Thick-as-Thieves vs other?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

TL;DR version:

I'm looking to buy my first MTM suit. I've lurked on this forum quite extensively for a couple of months and searched back-threads for opinions, and three names that have bubbled up to the top are: Black Lapel, Proper Suit, and Thick as Thieves. (I'm also very tentatively considering Indochino's Premium and Vincero lines.) However, I'm still a newbie, so I've got a few very general questions:

  1. How do the materials/construction compare? (Proper Suit Super 120 Imported, Black Lapel Super 110 + Full Canvas, and whatever Thick-as-Thieves offers)
  2. How do the cuts/styles compare?
  3. Do the advantages of being measured by a professional (e.g. via appointment with Proper Suit) outweigh price/material/construction advantages offered by Black Lapel (if any), which requires self-measurement? (As I understand it, Thick-as-Thieves does self-measurements, but can also perform in-person measurements for LA locals.)
  4. And finally, are there any alternatives to these three?

 

Contextual version:

So this will be my second decent suit. All I've had have been cheap $300 OTR suits from Macy's (and other similar department stores), which served me well enough for job interviews and such (I work mainly with startups and entertainment, so jeans + T-shirt was considered to be normal office wear).

 

A month or so back, however, I bought what I consider to be my first good suit: a Brooks Brothers 1818 Madison-fit peak lapel tuxedo, purchased for a wedding which I was a part of. It fit me absolutely perfectly, practically no alterations needed, not even sleeve length, and I got so many compliments during the wedding that I've decided that it was time to add at least one good suit to my wardrobe. And I didn't want to go OTR this time, not because of fit -- since BB suits apparently fit me really well -- but more because of price and any hidden details I might miss due to inexperience. Everything I've read on SF and elsewhere has pointed me towards a solid navy suit for my first, so that's what I'm looking for.

 

As I mentioned above, I've narrowed the list of potential provider to the three companies listed above, but I am by no means certain about them. Here are my reservations:

  1. Proper Suit offers in-person measurements, but it's the most expensive option by far and it has the fewest number of reviews or word of mouth praise. Also, I don't know much about how/where they get their fabrics or make their suits. Can anyone fill in?
  2. Black Lapel is the most affordable and seems to have earned near-universal praise, but the material for the solid navy suit is Super 110 (vs Super 120 for Proper Suit), the jackets are half-canvassed (unless I pay extra), and they require self-measurements, which I'm not sure I'm doing correctly. I'm sure I could request full canvassed construction and Super 120 or 130 for the suit, but the self-measurements are my biggest uncertainty since I've never done them before.
  3. Thick-as-Thieves appears to have a lot of word-of-mouth praise here on SF, but no online reviews at all. However, I've also read posts claiming that their style only suits a slim body shape, which I'm not. (I'm not fat, but I am fairly wide: 42" chest on a 5'8" body.)

 

My budget is about $1,000, which is enough for a Level 2 suit from Proper Suit, but I'd obviously rather pay less, so Black Lapel's and Thick-as-Thieves' pricing at ~$500 per suit appeals to me, as well. Are my choices sound? Or is there a better buy from another provider for $1,000 (or, preferably, $500-$750)? Or should I just go with waiting for a Brooks Brothers sale and picking up an 1818 at a steep discount?

 

Either way, thanks for all your help!

 

P.S.

I live in Los Angeles, so if anyone can recommend a good custom tailor in LA near Santa Monica, Pasadena, or Hollywood (the places where I spend the most time), that would be great!


Edited by Locke42 - 3/6/13 at 1:55pm
post #2 of 27

If you are fitting perfectly in a BB Madison cut suit, I would just buy one. Any attempt at MTM is unlikely to be better than perfect-fit OTR, and could turn out a lot worse. Since this will be your first suit (let's not count the tuxedo as a suit), it is unlikely you will require anything unusual, so you really won't be taking advantage of the customizable aspect of MTM.

post #3 of 27

BTW, not that we don't trust you, but can you post some pictures of the tuxedo so that you can get some 3rd-party verification that it does, in fact, fit you perfectly?

post #4 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by msulinski View Post

If you are fitting perfectly in a BB Madison cut suit, I would just buy one. Any attempt at MTM is unlikely to be better than perfect-fit OTR, and could turn out a lot worse. Since this will be your first suit (let's not count the tuxedo as a suit), it is unlikely you will require anything unusual, so you really won't be taking advantage of the customizable aspect of MTM.

My first 6 MTM jackets with a local tailor all had flaws which required multiples fixes (and some I eventually just accepted). I started with MTM to get a better fit since OTR simply did not work well for me. If you get a great fit from BB and you're only looking for for a basic suit it seems you have an easy solution.

This forum can get pretty esoteric on all matters related to classic menswear and tailoring. Sometimes a great fitting suit (even if half canvased) is more important than "super 120s"/surgeons' cuffs"/"pagoda shoulders".

Maybe buy a few more good suits that fit, then use the extra money on good fitting shirts and nicer shoes. When you've had more experience, try an MTM jacket in a fabic you can't find at retail and start your road to financial ruin (just later).

just my $02
post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your reply!

Quote:
Originally Posted by msulinski View Post

If you are fitting perfectly in a BB Madison cut suit, I would just buy one. Any attempt at MTM is unlikely to be better than perfect-fit OTR, and could turn out a lot worse. Since this will be your first suit (let's not count the tuxedo as a suit), it is unlikely you will require anything unusual, so you really won't be taking advantage of the customizable aspect of MTM.

I totally would (I'm very happy with my tux), except that a BB 1818 suit of any cut is more expensive than any of the options listed above ($1k vs ~$500 to $850) unless I find one on sale. And even on sale, it's probably the same price or more expensive than a suit from Black Lapel or Thick-as-Thieves, even if I go for the fully canvassed option.

post #6 of 27

Also regarding super-whatever fabric, generally speaking, the higher the number, the worse the suit will wear. If you are getting a plain navy suit, chances are you will be wearing it a lot, so you want it to last.

post #7 of 27
Most times the higher numbers are "super" at wrinkling
post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by msulinski View Post

BTW, not that we don't trust you, but can you post some pictures of the tuxedo so that you can get some 3rd-party verification that it does, in fact, fit you perfectly?

Ok. I only have one shot of me in the dressing room (from when I got it), and a couple taken at dusk during the wedding. Judge away!

 

 

Dressing room pic.

 

 

I'm the one in front on the right.

 

 

I'm the one on the left helping the other guy with his suspenders.


Edited by Locke42 - 3/11/13 at 5:30pm
post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by bertie View Post

Most times the higher numbers are "super" at wrinkling

 +1 on this.

post #10 of 27
I'd say try Black Lapel with the budget you have.
post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by msulinski View Post

If you are fitting perfectly in a BB Madison cut suit, I would just buy one. Any attempt at MTM is unlikely to be better than perfect-fit OTR, and could turn out a lot worse. Since this will be your first suit (let's not count the tuxedo as a suit), it is unlikely you will require anything unusual, so you really won't be taking advantage of the customizable aspect of MTM.

I totally would, because I'm very happy with my tux, but an 1818 BB suit is more expensive than any of the MTM options. Even on sale, it probably still costs as much if not more than Black Lapel (even with the full canvas option) or Thick-as-Thieves.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by msulinski View Post

BTW, not that we don't trust you, but can you post some pictures of the tuxedo so that you can get some 3rd-party verification that it does, in fact, fit you perfectly?

Sure. I only have one dressing room photo of me in the tux; the other two were taken at dusk during the wedding. Judge away!

 

 

I'm the one on the right. (Not the tiny one in the background.)

 

I'm the one on the left, fixing the other guy's suspenders.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by msulinski View Post

Also regarding super-whatever fabric, generally speaking, the higher the number, the worse the suit will wear. If you are getting a plain navy suit, chances are you will be wearing it a lot, so you want it to last.

Oh really? I thought higher number meant better quality thread. So I should go with the Super 110s? Why are higher numbers more expensive then?

post #12 of 27
Fit is king. Go RTW if the garment requires minor adjustments (hemming trousers, slimming trousers, taking in jacket waist and sleeve length) only.
Wearing half canvassed jacket is fine, nobody will recognise that... Also wearing a fusing garment if it's fit isn't a sin.
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Locke42 View Post


Oh really? I thought higher number meant better quality thread. So I should go with the Super 110s? Why are higher numbers more expensive then?

The "super" numbers were developed as a marketing tool with wool producers trying to out do each other by producing increasingly fine wool. As far as I can tell, some RTW makers started labeling their suits with these numbers implying a quality characteristic.

If you follow this forum for a bit (or London Lounge for even a few threads) you will find that there is no correlation between the "super" number and the quality of a wool fabric for tailoring purposes. Many folks here prefer to know the weight of the cloth (in ounces or grams per square yard/metre) as well as the type of weave in determining the right cloth for a particular use (i.e. heavier flannel or tweed in winter, lighter fresco/linen/wool in summer).

Spend a little time reading the unfunded liabilities thread her in CM and you will get a better idea of what I am talking about. You can read hundreds of posts about selecting, buying and tailoring fabric and you wil not find mention of the the "super" number. The reputable fabric mills in the UK and many in Italy don't even tell you what the super number is when you buy their cloth as basic fabric.
post #14 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by msulinski View Post

BTW, not that we don't trust you, but can you post some pictures of the tuxedo so that you can get some 3rd-party verification that it does, in fact, fit you perfectly?

So I posted pics. How's the fit look?

post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 

Sorry to bump. The whole "newbie probation" thing held my post for two days. Anyone care to critique the fit of my tux based on the pics above?

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