Getting a suit tailored in Colombo can be a daunting task if you don’t know what to look for and where to go. Here’s our guide to suiting up in Colombo.
FYI: This one is pretty long, but there’s a lot of useful info in there.
Off The Rack Vs Tailored
Suits weren’t really a part of our culture until the British came over and made it a thing, but it’s our go to formal wear for weddings and functions. The two main types of suits you’ll find are off the rack (ready made) which are constructed based on general body types, and tailored suits which are made to your specific measurements. OTR suits are fine, but we’re focusing more on the latter and where to get your suit tailored depending on your budget.
Fused Vs Canvassed (Jacket Construction)
Once you've decided on getting a suit, the very first choice that you’ll need to make is to go for either a fused suit or a canvassed suit. This should really come down to two factors: budget and frequency of wear. The main differences here are price, longevity and fit (to a certain extent).
Image courtesy of blog.gotstyle.ca
The latter of the choices refers to a layer of horsehair canvas underneath the fabric shell. This canvas holds the shape of the suit and keeps it from deforming and allows the suit fabric to drape properly and mold to your body over time.
Fusing is an interlining that is heat pressed (glued) to the fabric of the suit. While this doesn’t drape quite as well as a canvassed suit it also costs a lot less and here in Sri Lanka this is the most common type of suit you’ll find.
Long story short, if you’re willing to spend upwards of Rs. 50k or you wear a suit frequently, we’d say investing in a canvassed suit is a good idea. But if your budget isn’t quite as high, fused suits are perfectly fine and we’ve got some great tailor recommendations below.
When it comes to suit styles, the decision almost entirely comes down to personal preference, but the most common styles you’ll find are the one button, two button, three button or the double breasted suit, with the latter being the rarest and possibly hardest to find here in Colombo. Whichever you choose, go for higher armholes for better range of motion.
You’ll also need to decide which type of lapel you’re going with, whether it be notch, peak or shawl. The notch lapel is probably the most contemporary of the styles with the peak lapel giving a more old school look and the shawl generally being reserved for tuxedos.
Image courtesy of www.primermagazine.com
The vents at the back of the suit offer both a stylistic touch and some functionality. You can go with a single a back vent, double side vents or no vent at all. We’d generally suggested going with either the single or the double since it offers better rage of motion and ventilation.
Fabrics and Colours
As a general rule of thumb, if your tailor doesn’t know the composition of the suit fabrics, go to a different tailor. When it comes to suit fabrics, wool is the most sought after because of its resiliency, physical attractiveness, insulating ability, comfort. On the other end of the spectrum would be polyester blends which tend to wrinkle more and drape poorly. Again, however, you’ll find that 100% wool and wool blends tend to be pricier than the others.
Image courtesy of www.primermagazine.com
When it comes to colours, navy, grey/charcoal and black remain the most contemporary with the former two being the most versatile. Our suggestion would be to go for navy first and then grey or vice versa since they can be mixed and matched to get three looks with two suits.
At the end of the day the single most important factor when it comes to a suit is the fit. In general sense you should go with a fit that’s comfortable and suits your style. Most tailors will ask you to choose between three fits;
Image courtesy of www.mytuxedocatalog.com
- Slim fit
- Tailored fit
- Regular/Classic fit
Of these, the slim fit would be the tightest while the classic fit would be the loosest.
Once you’ve chosen the silhouette you’ll need to check the fit at these key points;
- chest and waist
- pants and seat
I could go into detail about each one, but these infographics by Oliver Wicks basically cover everything you need to look for. Ideally, the suit should fit seamlessly with no visible wrinkling or rumpling.
Colombo has quite a number of tailors but finding a good one can be a real challenge. We’ve looked at a number of factors and narrowed it down to five picks that cover a range of price points.
Bespoke tailoring isn’t really a thing here, but KIITO is probably the closest thing we’ve got. They have some of the best fabrics around and some highly experienced tailors. KIITO is also one of the few places that offers half canvassed suits.
The catch, however, is that they’re also probably the most expensive with certain fabrics like their Zegna, Holland and Sherry range starting from Rs. 200,000. That being said, they do have fused suits which start at Rs. 22,000 so it’s worth having a look either way.
S&T are the new kids on the block, and they look to offer some great value for money. They don’t tout the Bespoke tag, but these guys offer great customization and customer service so you talk to the tailors directly and tell them exactly how you want the suit to fit.
They’re also very reasonable in terms of pricing with their entire fused range priced between Rs. 20,000 – Rs. 40,000 depending on the fabrics. If you’re really picky and feel like you’ll need multiple fit-ons, these guys are a great bet.
From what we've heard, O:LIVE are the dapper new kids on the block. Judging from their FB page, and a couple of friends we spoke to, they dress a bunch of local celebrities, and also did the suits for the most recent Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka edition. They do bespoke suits, have rave reviews, and also appear to have normal wear like mens' shirts, tailored pants, saris and dresses. We'll have a full review of them up the next time we swing by
This one probably didn’t surprise anyone, but the fact remains that they’re well known for a reason. You probably won’t be able to get involved to same extent as the previous two but these guys are tried and tested.
They’re also your best bet if you need to get a suit off the rack in a hurry since they’ve got the best selection of styles and colours of ready-made suits. Envoy also offers half canvassed suits which start around Rs. 50,000 which is honestly not a bad deal at all since they’ve also got some great fabrics to boot.
We picked Navavi as our budget option here, but honestly there are a bunch of others like Hercules Tailors and Raheem’s which offer similar prices. Navavi charges Rs. 10,000 for tailoring and gives you the option of either choosing one of their fabrics or bringing your own, but either way you’re looking at spending under Rs. 20k. They don’t offer the best customer service, but their stuff is still pretty decent and a good deal for the price. They’re also your fastest option of getting an existing suit altered.
A well tailored suit can both accentuate your best features and show a touch of personal style. With the wedding season looming, the best advice we can give you is to get a suit before you need a suit.