A Second Try at Indochino : The Navy Blue DB Suit

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It’s been over a year since I’ve purchased an Made-to-Measure suit from Indochino.  Now I realized that there were many issues with my first suit made from them, even though I got measured by their own sales associates in their store.  The suit looked pretty good after tailoring (and  I did get another suit made from them) but I decided not to try them again until I had the money and desire for another suit.  Now that I’ve had sometime to learn more about fit, details, and my overall desired aesthetic, I thought I’d save up and give them other try!  I also realized that I had a gaping hole in my wardrobe: I didn’t own a plain, navy blue double breasted suit.  So I deleted my measurements, got measured by my friend Spencer, and bought a suit on Black Friday.  It’s basically a whole new review on Indochino.

The Navy Blue DB Suit

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We all know that double breasted suits are great and nothing is as classic as a navy blue suit; combining the two is results in something amazing.  I’m actually rather surprised that I’ve never owned a plain, navy blue db suit since it’s a classic and versatile garment.  The fact that it’s a dark, solid color allows you to play with your shirt and tie choices and even frees it up to be used effectively as separates.   You’ll get more use out of this suit than if you got a pinstripe or bold houndstooth one (like I did).  Maybe that’s why The Armoury advocates the blue DB!

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Jim Parker wearing a navy DB jacket with grey trousers.

Even though these are modern examples, there’s something about the DB suit that is very “old school”.  Outside of vintage events or bespoke tailor shops, you really won’t see the DB.  It’s not really en vogue but the rarity of it only plays into its elegance. You’ll instantly have a “vintage” look that you add on with details like ties and shirts.  If you’re going to make your first foray into the DB look, get it in navy.  Save the fun patterns and fabrics for later!

In fact, the DB in the 1940’s advertisement below is one of my favorites and is exactly what I’m looking for.  It’s a classic!

1940’s advertisement

Now let me reiterate here that Indochino (and Black Lapel, Oliver Wicks, etc) is not bespoke.  As I explained in my original review, online MTM only changes an existing house pattern to your measurements; add in the fact that online MTM doesn’t always yield good results, and you have plenty of reasons not to try it.  However, Indochino is the only online MTM that has discounts.  They also make the best cut of DB that allows for wide, horizontal peak lapels and a wider button placement. I’ve explained these DB hallmarks in this blog post.

Indochino Refresher

For those of you who don’t know, Indochino is one of the “big three” online MTM brands that are affordable (ranging from $400-1000).  They provide videos on how to measure yourself, which then is applied to create the “pattern” of your suit.  Note that this isn’t bespoke. They don’t make an original pattern but simply alter their existing pattern for your body type (36r, etc) based on your measurements. Like most online MTM brands, they have a bunch of customizations that you can add from pleats to contrast buttonholes.  Almost all of their fabric options are pretty good, but there are a few “stretch” fabrics that have a bit of elastine.

The main difference between Indochino and other retailers (apart from their awesome DB design that fits my aesthetic) is that they put on heavy price discounts.  For holidays and some random events, they cut their prices in half (or 60% for seasonal fabrics) which means you can get a suit for $400-500 after tax!  Honestly, this does make Indochino feel cheaper since the other brands seldom do price discounts.  For a guy who likes to have a “vintage” sartorial wardrobe and hates spending lots of money, Indochino is the way to go.

Now most people like to discourage Indochino (and online MTM) since the fit is never really quite right. That is true; you’re not going to get bespoke levels of fit from only 15-20 measurements. The online MTM suit can’t correct posture or adjust for sleeve pitch, but it will usually fit better than what you can find OTR. The ability to add extra details is also a plus!  This comes into play wth the double breasted suit since no one makes them anymore; online MTM is probably the only way we can get a double breasted suit without going full bespoke!

The Purchase and Its Issues

So when Black Friday 2016  rolled around, Indochino had a great deal: some of their suits were only $350.  This meant that a MTM suit would be around $400 after tax! That was pretty good to me, so I jumped on it.  Now I wanted a suit that was blue, but not super blue nor dark blue; I really needed a solid color.  So I went with the Bright Indigo Twill fabric shown below. Even though the name was a bit iffy to me, the product photography looked promising and was what I was going for!

“Bright Indigo Twill” as pictured on the Indochino website.

Since I wasn’t a fan of the fit of my previous Indochino suits, I decided to delete all my old measurements and start new.  So that makes this one practically a new Indochino review as I will be trying the home measurements instead of getting measured at their showroom.  Spencer followed the videos on the website and completed the 18 or so measurements that they needed.  I prefer a high rise, the crotch and rise measurements were definitely off as they were taken from my belly button.  I received an email from Indochino where they said to check for mistakes (their ratios were off) but I responded saying that this was intentional.

After putting in my measurements, I selected the fabric and began work on my customization options.  Since my aesthetic has changed in the past year or so, I decided to be a bit more garish adding things like pleats and patch pockets.  Here are all the customization I requested:

  • Red Foulard lining
  • DB (wide Lapels)
  • Patch Pockets
  • Single Pleats (no double pleats unfortunately)
  • Cuff (emailed asking for 2″ cuff)
  • Side Tab adjusters without belt loops
  • Suspender buttons
  • Pick stitching
  • Pen Pocket
  • Functional Lapel Boutonniere hole
  • functional sleeve buttons

These details would give me the pseudo 1930s/Italian suit that would work perfectly in my wardrobe.  However, some issues were apparent on arrival 4 weeks after I placed the order.  The suit was too damn blue.

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You can see that the jacket and the pants fit extraordinarily well (with the exception of the pant length) but the color is just wrong.  It’s practically the same color of the lining of the product detail, not the actual suiting cloth! A suit in this color would not  be the versatile, classic garment that I needed.  It might work if  you’re looking to get Instagram famous and partner with Aldo and sprezzabox as a #dapperbro, but it’s not for me.

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Amazing details on the side adjusters, singe reverse pleat, and the pick stitching but it’s still an ugly color.

I immediately gave them a call and explained the issue to them.  The Indochino rep apologized for the color discrepancy and offered to remake the suit in a better shade of blue.  I eventually decided on their Premium Navy Suit (95% wool, 5% cashmere) after they recommended it as a “blue that is still navy blue but not too bright or too dark to be black”.  They said that they would be able duplicate my customizations for the new order except for the lining, as they had sold out.  I went with a purple jacquard paisley instead.

To account for the length issue, I went to my tailor and measured the trousers.  After consulting with the amazing Mr. Tran, we determined that the pant length would have to be reduced by 2″.  I sent this into Indochino and the remake was started.

4 weeks later, I was still dissappointed.  The jacket and pants fit perfectly (the length was corrected) but it was not to my liking.


The new jacket (left) lacks pickstitching.

Pants are flat front and lack the pleats.

I called Indochino yet again and explain the situation to them.  I may have gotten away with keeping the jacket, but you literally can’t create new pleats on trousers.  I then learned that if you choose pick stitching as a customization, these details are present on the lapels, patch pockets, hem, and even the pants.  That would mean that adding pick stitching myself would be expensive (and an arbitrary detail) for my tailor to make.  I must commend Indochino for their customer service, since they decided to remake the suit again. After almost 3 months from placing the original order, I was finally satisfied.

The Suit

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About time right?  Everything looks great!  The jacket fits well, the pants are slim/straight, and nothing was tailored after opening the box. Compared to my first ever attempt, this takes the cake.  I guess that’s what you get when you have a friend who loves menswear measure you instead of a sales associate who probably didn’t know much about fit.  As you can see, even the pants are the right length.  I normally take every suit to the tailor, but this required no alterations.  I can’t speak for everyone (especially since people like to hate on Indochino for bad fit and quality) but I was very impressed.  If only I received this suit on my first try.

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You can see how easy it is to wear some fun pieces with a navy blue suit.  Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to wear floral ties and tiny collar shirts. Instead of going the “modern” direction of styling or the “italian way”, I went with my typical 1930’s style method: striped spearpoint collar shirt, deco stripe tie, “exploding” pocket square, and collar bar.  In terms of shoes, I went with tassel loafers to further emphasize my modern take on the 1930’s style.

Compare this look to the vintage menswear advertisement I included above.  The suit may be modern, but the styling is “vintage”!  It results in an outfit that is way different when compared to how the majority of people dress today.  Hell, you rarely see anyone in a DB suit or jacket!

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Let’s talk about fit.  The I kept saying earlier, the jacket fits wonderfully.  There’s enough waist suppression to give me a figure, but it isn’t too tight.   I neglected to take pictures of the back, but its as smooth as it can be.   You can see there is slight pulling at the button, but I can always get that fixed.  The sleeves are the perfect length, showing just a sliver of shirt cuff.  You can see that one sleeve seems to be longer than the other, and I’m not sure if this is the jacket’s issue or if one of my arms is really that long.  Jacket length is spot on which means I don’t need to shorten the length (which is what I usually do with thrifted jackets).

Pattern wise, they haven’t really changed much since the first time I used them.  They still have low armholes, which is a shame.  The fit of the arms is still good though!

Lapels are amazing.  They’re 4″ at the peak and are mostly horizontal. I’m not a fan of slim peak lapels or extremely curved ones because they seem to be the most “modern”. If you compare my lapels to the vintage advertisement, you’ll see that they are mostly identical.  Notice that Oliver Wicks and Black Lapel do not look like this, even if they are touted as having “wide lapels”.  They’re not inherently bad, but they just don’t fit my aesthetic.   Lapels are one of the most important details to me and the fact that Indochino makes the best affordable MTM DB that fits the bill means that they have my business.

I’d also like to say that the shoulders are lightly padded to give it some formality and structure, which is further emphasized by the roped shoulders.  I would’ve preferred a natural, soft shoulder without raised sleeve heads, but that’s not the Indochino house style.  I’ll probably have to go bespoke for that!

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Patch pockets are great and I love having them on my jackets.  I know that they are a “casual” detail and that this is pretty much a business suit, but I added them anyway. I put things into my pockets all the time, whether they’re my wallet, keys, or my hands!  Jackets should be worn not preserved.  Plus the lack of flaps make them practical for easy access. I do wish they added the patch pocket on the breast though.  I would also like to see how well they match the fabric for patch pockets if I were to get a striped or checked suit.  I guess I can try it when I save up again!

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The paisley lining as well as my monogram. Good attention to detail for the pocket lining as well!

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Pants time.  The waist fits me  very well and the side tab adjuster compensates for any little fixes that I have to make.  I’m pretty impressed that they started doing actual Side adjusters ; they initially put the pull-tabs in the back, which I find distracting and odd.  The fact that they’re finally on the sides is much more classic detail. Hell, tailors like Ambrosi do it that way.

Suspender buttons are present but not always needed if you have the side-tab adjusters.

The pleat is sharp and gives me much needed thigh room while the pants are still considerably slim/straight.  I’ve never had MTM trousers with pleats but I think I could foresee myself returning to this detail, especially since I’ve praised pleats in my writing.

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Just check out that high rise!  Note how slim-straight the legs are, even with the pleats present! It should be a testament to Indochino, since they are able to craft pleated legs with slim pants.  Luckily the pants aren’t too slim, with a 8″ leg opening.  These are how “modern” pants should fit, in my opinon.  I’m very happy with how they turned out.  No tailoring needed!

Premium blue navy Indochino suit, custom spearpoint shirt from Natty Shirts,

1930’s stripe tie (eBay), AE tassel loafers (eBay)

Conclusion
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While I am very happy about the way my suit finally ended up, I am still unhappy by how long it took to get to me.  I ordered this suit in late November during their Black Friday sale and I barely got it at the end of January.  If they had simply photographed the fabric accurately or made sure that all of the customization were transferred accurately to the remake, I would’ve received it a lot sooner.

I can criticize the process and bad product photography, but I have no qualms about the fit (which is where a majority of Indochino’s criticisms come from).  Thanks to all these details, I don’t have a DB suit that looks like it was tailored down from the 90’s. Instead I have an amazing, gorgeously navy blue suit that can almost pass for the ones worn at Pitti Uomo.  It has wide, horizontal peak lapels, a great button stance, and high rise that perfectly meshes what I love about modern and Golden Era tailoring. The update on the side-tab adjuster placement makes it even better.

I maintain that Indochino makes the best DB suit for the best price. That’s probably due to how picky I am over details.  Suit Supply did bring their DB back, but their lack of high rise (or even pant measurement) makes it very unappealing.  Plus, Suit Supply way over budget at $500 before tailoring.  Compare that price to this suit, which cost $400~  without tailoring.  That’s still very affordable, costing about the same price as vintage 1930s/1940s suit in great condition.  If you’re like me and you want to mesh vintage with modern tailoring, then Indochino is the way to go!  However, I’m still waiting for the day I can try full bespoke.  Made-to-Measure is NOTHING  compared to getting a handmade garment cut for your specific body.

I’m still on the hunt for an even more classic DB or even a company that allows for more customizations for an affordable price.  So far Indochino takes the cake, but I’ll definitely keep you guys updated as I move along!  If you have any recommendations, please let me know!  Comment below if you have any questions or suggestions.

Always a pleasure,

Ethan W.

Street x Sprezza

Photography by Vince H. 

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14 comments

  1. Pingback: Indochino Review: Blue DB Suit « Fashion
  2. Dan Roan · February 6

    Ethan – your experience mirrors mine very closely. I never did Indochino, but back on 2014 I wanted to have a MTM tux made for my wedding and ended up using Black Lapel. The reason I went with them is because they let me design my own formal vest (something I’ve never heard of in the rest of MTM companies and something hard for me to find as an odd item in RTW), lapel width and even shape of the shawl on my jacket.

    I went to NYC just to get measured in person, and the suit came some weeks later, but there were some major fit issues with length of the pants, length of the vest and jacket, sleeve pitch, and the details of the vest design had been altered. They remade my entire tux and I got the second try a month or so later. Unfortunately there were still some fit issues – the sleeve pitch somehow got even worse, it had too much suppression and the chest pocket was inexplicably like 2 inches wide. The vest though was much better and exactly as I designed it off vintage ads. I didn’t have 1-2 more months to keep trying to remake unfortunately and the big issues were tailorable so I took them to get altered. In the end I’m still moderately pleased with the result, and I can’t see any other way I could have gotten a tux made in this way. But my take on MTM is this: if you have time to get it wrong (a few times), RTW doesn’t fit you well, and/or you want something that isn’t available in the RTW world, MTM can be a good choice. But I see guys saying all the time “I want a MTM suit so it will fit me perfectly” which is a statement I find to be not close to as simple as it seems. This is compunded by the fact that many guys don’t have the experience to know when something isn’t right (the first time I was told that my fit was great, when it was not) and it perpetuates a falsehood about MTM automatically beating RTW.

    In any case, I like your suit and the result you got. Keep doing your thing. Cheers, buddy.

    Like

    • Ethan W. · February 6

      Dan,

      Thanks for reading! Damn, I’m sorry that had to happen. It’s tough when RTW doesn’t have the detail that you want. MTM is definitely an investment in both time and money that not many are willing to make. I approach it as more MTO than MTM but I am lucky that the suit fit me.

      Like

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  10. Burk · July 8

    I’m glad that this worked out for you. I’d advise avoiding them for shirts though. I tried to buy 5 shirts. Ten months later, I finally canceled after they told me that they lost my measurements. I made 6 visits to the store. Every time, they would re-make my order and when the order came back, the last issue would be fixed, but something new would be wrong. I don’t mean a little wrong. Big stuff. Like the front buttons won’t button because the chest is too small, or the arms are tighter than a blood pressure cuff, or the shoulder extends a half inch over my shoulder. I can only imagine the clown factory that they are running that makes this possible.

    Like

    • Ethan W. · July 12

      That’s incredibly disappointing. I haven’t used Indochino since this post, so I can’t say if they will be accurate again! Your issues definitely point toward that reluctance for me to try online MTM again though. Something more personal and more QC will be better, I’m sure.

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  11. Pingback: Why You Should Consider Vintage Ties from the 1930s-1940s | STREET x SPREZZA
  12. Nate S. · 20 Days Ago

    Did you get to keep the old suits that needed to be remade or did you have to send them back?

    Like

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