Every once in a while, I’ll get an email from a reader asking which companies I think offer the best value in tailored clothing. It’s impossible to answer, as so much depends on the buyer’s needs. What kind of style does he like? What’s his body type? How often does he plan to wear his suit? What kinds of things does he prioritize? Buying clothes is never just about getting the best quality for your money – it’s about developing personal style – so recommending something is difficult.
If pressed, however, there are two companies I particularly like. On the lower-end of the price scale, there’s Suitsupply. Their marketing is God awful, but if you can get past the presentation, they offer nicely made, half-canvassed suits and sport coats for about $500. With a huge range of styles, from their structured Washington to the softer Havana, they have something for almost anyone.
If you have a bit more money to spend, Sartoria Formosa is remarkably good – and perhaps the closest you’ll get to bespoke Neapolitan tailoring without actually going bespoke. Formosa is an old Neapolitan tailoring house located across the courtyard from EG Cappelli, in the city’s seaside shopping district of Chiaia. They’re a small workshop, with maybe only a half dozen people working in-house. Most of what they do is bespoke, but they also offer ready-made suits and sport coats for about $1,400 – $1,800.
Formosa’s RTW line is made the same exact way as their bespoke commissions, with the same construction, quality, and trimmings. The obvious difference is that RTW uses standard patterns, whereas bespoke involves making something special from your specific measurements. Although, I’m not sure it matters much unless you have special requirements or very exacting needs (David Isle did a comparison once of Formosa’s two offerings). At least on me, the ready-to-wear fit nearly perfectly – a touch extended across the shoulders and roomy across the chest, it has a similar style to my Steed jackets, but is built with even less structure. The waist is also nicely nipped and the quarters sweep out. With the straight-cut, slightly wider lapels, the silhouettes falls in line with many of the Southern Italian styles that are popular today, but still remains strongly classic.
In addition to ready-made, they also have made-to-order and made-to-measure services. The latter mostly involves simple modifications (nothing asymmetric or 3D/ balance related issues, unless you’re able to see Formosa’s head cutter Dionisio in Naples or NYC). The first allows you to change things such as the fabric and pocket style, which is nice if you want to get something not currently in-stock. Once you’ve nailed your size (I’m a 37 chest, but take a 36 in Formosa), building a wardrobe is as simple as choosing which fabrics you like from swatch books. They’ll even take CMT orders, where you supply your own fabric, if you’re a cloth hound.
At the moment, the line is only available at No Man Walks Alone (who sponsors this site, although this isn’t a sponsored post and I’ve been writing about them for years). The pricing is a bit tricky, however. NMWA offers 10% off full-retail items with the code DWW10, and an automatic $100 tailoring credit applied at checkout. With all the discounts, you’re looking at $1,400 to $1,800 for suits and sport coats. Not cheap, but if you like that soft, Neapolitan style, but don’t want to pay bespoke prices, these might be your best option for value.