The Proper Suit Review: Exceptional

When OTC and Proper Suit first sat down to create a suit that could be used as a core wardrobe staple, we wanted to first see what Proper Suit had to offer.  Our first article highlighted the founders, Richard and McGregor, and ran through the initial fitting and selection of suit style, details and fabrics.  Needless to say, we looked forward to checking out the finished product.

We received the suit a few weeks ago and, after making some tailoring tweaks and testing it out on the road, at meetings, and on the cocktail circuit, I can say that the OTC Proper Suit is outstanding.  It feels and fits like a custom suit should, is well built and – most importantly – has perfect shoulders.  As you should know, the shoulder is the cornerstone of any suit and if the shoulder does not fit well, nothing else really matters.  The natural shoulder of this suit is spot on; it fits well and allows for just the right amount of movement.

The components of this suit are well designed and well thought out.  The jacket itself fits very well, is trim but balanced and provides overall proportion to my frame.  The full canvas interlining gives it a soft drape and lightly structured construction.

The jacket’s sleeves are a tad longer than they should have been, but perfectly useable.  They look just fine but show very little shirt cuff.  Having chosen the option of working “surgeon’s cuffs,” the longer sleeves are here to stay.  This, by the way, is why Proper Suit typically does not recommend working sleeve buttons on an initial order.  The cost-prohibitive fix is to take the arm off at the shoulder and shorten it from the top down.  As it turns out, I like the longer sleeves on this suit.  They give it a less formal air and actually make the jacket feel slightly more contemporary.

I did have to make one significant alteration and have the jacket’s sides let out; it was simply too tight.  Proper Suit’s policy is that they will reimburse tailoring expenses on a future order, which is fine with us.  They are a small company and want to develop lifelong “member” customers.  After letting out the sides about 1 ½ inches and letting out slightly the rear of the armholes, it fits perfectly and is a joy to wear.  My tailor, by the way, was very impressed with the quality of this suit.

The suit’s trousers are almost perfect, my only complaint being that they are a touch too long.  It’s a complaint of perception, because most people have said they look just fine.  Again, an unexpected outcome has been a less formal and more contemporary feeling suit.  A particular feature of note is the jetted flat front trouser pockets recommended to me as a way of avoiding the annoying “elephant ears” effect of puffed out pocket openings common to flat front trousers.

The trousers’ hems are finished on the inside with cloth tape, which both helps to weigh down the pant leg and provides reinforcement against heel wear.  A nice touch.

An equally distinctive feature unique to Proper Suit is the hidden cell phone or wallet pockets stitched into the rear left inside vertical seam of the jacket.  By moving this pocket under  the left arm, the weight of the phone is carried by the shoulder and does not offset the line of the jacket.  Half the time I forgot I was even carrying anything the pocket.

An OTC reader who also ordered a Proper Suit had the following to say: “It was great being able to pick the liner color and the design of the pocket piping.  Any options on the suit that I was not completely sure of, McGregor walked me through and explained the pros and cons of each option.  While they typically do side vented jackets, the folks at PS were able to accommodate my request for a center vent at no extra cost.”

These are suits for the long haul – well designed and made well.  Ours possess a pleasant balance of classic and contemporary and feels substantial.

Proper Suit likes to advertise that their suits are as good as, or better than, name brand suits that cost much more and are supported by extravagant advertising budgets.  It’s a big claim, and they can back it up.  The quality construction, design and attention to detail place these suits in a class by themselves.

OTC is thrilled with this suit and looks forward getting a few more.  We also plan on picking up some sports coats. We highly recommend Proper Suit.

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  1. lastylemaven

    Overall, looks pretty good. But suit lapels should cover the points of the dress shirt; these do not. Also, not sure I would have gone with a brown belt. Those minor things aside, nice suit.

  2. He went with a brown shoes, he has to go with the brown belt.

    The belt and shoes have to match….brown with brown, black with black.

    I am not sure how would Proper ensure that the lapels cover the points of the shirt…considering that shirt points varies….

  3. Guest – You actually made the point I was going to make, which is that the shirt collar is the issue, not the jacket. While ideally, there will be an unbroken flow of shirt and jacket, a smaller collar is not necessarily inappropriate.

    The shirt used in the pictures is from Brooks Brothers and does in fact have a lower, and slightly smaller, collar that I typically wear. However, I think it’s still appropriately proportional to my face and neck.

    Regarding the belt/shoes point, it is always appropriate to match one’s shoes to one’s belt. Some folks only wear black shoes/belt with a navy suit, but I, being from New England, go for the Boston look: always opt for brown.

    Thanks for all the comments!

  4. OTC: Looks good overall. However, in addition to the jacket waist that needed to be let out, the trouser fit looks a bit tight around the bum and thighs. It appears to be what’s pulling your side pockets open. Also, I think the sleeves are just a little /too/ slim, so much that it’s barely accommodating your shirt cuffs. The fit of that and the aforementioned are creating wrinkles in both areas that could be avoided were they a little looser. I realise that may not gel with the tastes of the young and fashionable (of which I am only one of those), but it’s just my opinion.

    McGregor and Richard: If you’re reading, this is just constructive criticism and I hope you don’t take it as an indictment against you. I still can’t wait to work with you guys on the official “Nouveau Vintage” suit. 🙂

  5. Hey Jovan,

    Thanks for the feedback. The picture of the jetted pocket is actually a bit distorted as I had to twist somewhat to both highlight the pocket and hold the jacket out of the way, causing the pockets to pull open a bit. The fit of the trousers around the waist and hips is actually great – not too tight at all. My issue with standard slash pockets is that for flat front trousers to fit me properly, the tailoring often results in the pockets puffing out a bit. The jetted pockets on Proper Suit trousers are for me, a great option.

    While I agree that the fit of the sleeves is touch trim, I don’t particularly mind. The shirt used in the shoot has particularity stiff double cuffs, which does make for a tighter fit. With a barrel cuffed shirt, there very natural fit at the cuff. For the next suit, I might opt for a slightly wider arm, but not by too much.

  6. Ah, I see. In that case my comment still stands about the sleeves. Maybe the fabric itself is just a bit wrinkle prone.

    Funny, though I’m supposed to be subscribed to anything I comment on here, I never get a message when anyone replies.

  7. Statler & Waldorf

    Oh, I see.. ill fitting sleeves and lengthy trousers are now part of a “contemporary look”…

    And the sides were missed by 1 1/2 inches?

    I know that you’re new to the fast custom (not to mention real bespoke, which despite their marketing jargon, ProperSuit is decidedly not) world, but the above facts fly in the face of your comments that the suit fits very well and is balanced….

  8. S&W, thanks for sharing your thoughts, though I see no reason for your rather snarky tone.

    First off, I am not new to either the fast custom business model or bespoke. I can only gather that you have not taken the time to either read the previous installments of the PS review – which outlined in some detail the expectations of the Proper Suit suit – or in fact, read much of this site.

    Let’s a get a few things straight. First, this is a blog, therefore we are welcome to claim anything we wish. I did not, however, claim that the jacket’s sleeves were “ill fitting.” I said they were a “tad longer than they should have been.” I then went on to clarify that the sleeve’s length and that of the trousers, were off by degrees too small to materially matter.

    Yes, the jacket was cut too narrow by about 1 1/2 inches. Had you bothered to read the second installment of the review, you would have seen that our expectations for this suit were specifically defined by the brand’s market position and price point.

    Given all the variables that go into the production of a suit like theirs, the suit, as delivered, was near perfect. To me, the reviewer; the suit indeed fits very well and feels balanced. While I had expected a more tailored fit, what I received does feel less-formal and precisely fitted, and is to me more “contemporary” in overall appearance.

    OTC is very honored to call Jon Green, perhaps the preeminent bespoke clothier in the US, a good friend. He and I have talked at length about the various definitions of construction when it comes to clothing. Jon’s suits start at about $9,000, and are entirely handmade; even single stitch. That’s real bespoke.

    We are not talking about that kind of bespoke; and to even infer that there is a comparison is, frankly, silly. As there is no legal definition of “bespoke” when it comes to tailoring, PS or any other brand can call themselves whatever they want – including bespoke.

    “Custom” is another term of art that defines nothing in terms of a process or product – other than that it should fit well.

    So, once again, thank you for the interesting comment. Perhaps next time you could loose the condescending attitude and be part of a more pleasant conversation.

  9. Daniel

    Will you be reviewing your future suits with them? I’d like to see how they adjust your next suit based on your alterations on this one, and how consistent the 3rd, 4th, etc. suits are once you get your first perfect fitting suit.

  10. Daniel – Great question; yes I will be reviewing additional suits. I also plan on testing out a couple of sport coats, so I’ll be able to assess fit and consistency over several garments.

  11. Mark Levine

    In two of the pictures, your right lapel seems to buckle a little bit (as does the lapel of my new suit). Perhaps this is not something to worry about — at least when it is as slight as this?

  12. J. A. Denlinger

    Overall – very nice looking suit. I like the weight of the fabric you chose and the shoulders do look great. Can you divulge the PS fabric level?

    With respect to the collar of the shirt you’re wearing (per prior comments), it appears to be a BB Ainsley, which I have once and for all decided I don’t like (personal preference) for the very fact that its collar points never seem to fit under the lapels of my suits (always just a bit too short).

    I agree with you that the sleeves are just touch long (maybe 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch) and they do appear to be a bit tight in the forearm – but very ballsy move on your part to go with working cuffs out of the gate. The dark brown buttons are a really nice touch. With respect to the lenght of the trousers, I can’t tell if they are little long or not due to how you are standing in the photos. If I had to call it, I’d say that the left leg looks a smidge long, but again, this could just be your posture for the photos.

    I’m just curious, but any idea how the measurement through the body of the jacket was so off? The amount by which the sides needed to be let out seems a bit alarming to me (perhaps I’m overreacting).

    Thanks for the great review (actually, the entire series). I’m thinking that I’ll give PS a try and your results/comments should prove helpful in dailing in my fit. Looking forward to hearing about and seeing your future endeavors with PS.

  13. J.A.D. – Thanks for the thoughtful comments. First off, Richard, of PS, let me know that he probably measured the body a touch too close, and the overall cut of the jacket was trimmer than I realized.

    While, it sounds like a big deal, the fit issue was quickly corrected and was not too much of a big deal. This is the risk of dealing with a remote tailor – but one that is worth taking in this case. Overall, the PS suit is outstanding.

  14. Woodrow

    So if they make a suit that doesn’t fit correctly,you have to pay for the alterations yourself? Is that right? You can only get credited toward a future purchase?

    This doesn’t seem like a place I’d want to do business with. I know the company line about developing a long-term relationship, but that has to start with a suit that fits, for the original price. Without that, it’s a non-starter. I can’t think of any other maker that would refuse to make good on the first suit at the agreed selling price. That would definitely result in a short-term relationship and moving to a new vendor for the next suit.

  15. Woodrow – Yes, that is correct. They credited the cost of my alterations toward a future purchase, likely to be this summer.

    While I understand your dislike of this approach, please remember two things. First, I was fully informed of this policy up front. Second, this is still a start-up, financed by the two founders.They made it very clear to me when I delved into this policy, which I did, that this was a policy based on economic constraints, pure and simple.

    I was fine with it on the first order and understood the realities of creating from scratch such a capital intensive business. That said, once updated, I expect all future orders to need no alterations. I will be sure to report on order #2.

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