Tailoring Transformation: The Thrifted 90’s Brown DB Suit

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Woah, when’s the last time we did a tailoring transformation?

So I know I told you guys that I was going to stop buying needless stuff which included random thrifted pieces that require massive tailoring.  It definitely worked for a bit, as I was spent my money on more worthwhile things like good restaurants with friends, boardgames, Star Wars Battlefront II, and a couple “upscale” items that we will soon see.  But even I have my weak times.

I found this brown DB suit at a Goodwill in October.  I wasn’t shopping for more menswear, as I was actually trying to find an authentic 90’s DB suit to be Niles Crane for Halloween.  Most of the ones that I had already come across were just too large; I didn’t want something that was oversized just something that had a fuller cut and a lower buttoning point.   I walked out with this brown one since it was the best out of the bunch and it was only like $10 or so.

If you follow me on instagram, you’ll see that I didn’t wear the thrifted suit at all! I actually went with my Vulture DB for the Niles Crane costume since that one was darker and fit the costume better.  Gotta have accuracy right?

Because the suit wasn’t bad (100% wool that was okay quality) I decided to bring it to Ruben to work his magic.  I actually only have one brown DB suit (that’s from Vulture) and I could always use another one, especially since I love browns and DBs.

The jacket isn’t too bad!   Shoulders are slightly extended  but don’t have much padding, so that was one positive factor. The button stance is lower than what I’d like, since I prefer to have my bottom button be on the same plane as the pocket.  It does seem really low sicne you’ll notice that it has been rolled to a 6×1 even though it  actually “normal” has the amount of buttonholes.  In terms of fit, I think it’s slightly long but not dealbreaking.  I just needed to take the chest in a touch and it’ll be ready to go.  Overall though, the jacket feels very cheap; it most likely has glued construction (if at all).

Lapels were nice and wide and even have “lazy peaks”, which definitely make this suit a 1940’s throwback of sorts.  I also want to point out that the suit lacked a vent.  That was a pretty 1990s (and also a pre 1950s) thing to do, so it’s something I’m used to!

If I’m completely honest, I bought this suit for the trousers.   As I stated above, the jacket’s build isn’t great, but the trousers are pretty cool thank to the double forward pleats.  I don’t think I’ve worn any forward pleat trousers other than the  1940s European pinstripe one I wore to Dapper Day.   Forward pleats are British (compared to the America’s predilection for reverse pleats) and are seldom seen on most tailoring that isn’t bespoke.

The trousers have an okay-ish rise, which is passable for me!

You can see that the trousers are full cut, but I noticed that they flared out slightly at the ends when I laid them down.  There was barely anything to let down, but Ruben had done miracles before!

In the end, here’s what I had done to the jacket.  It only cost me around $100, which wasn’t bad.

  • Take jacket in
  • Take in trouser waist
  • Taper trousers (from knee down) to 8″ opening
  • Lengthen and add faux cuff (not much allowance)
  • Button stance rolled to a “normal” 6×2

After Tailoring

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I must say that the suit looks gorgeous now. The jacket cuts a better silhouette, thanks to the extended shoulders and the nipped waist; the trousers are definitely a lot better.  I’m not sure what more there is to say other than to just see the wonders of a skilled tailor.   The color of the suit is pretty dope as the lights in Ruben’s tailor shop didn’t do it justice.  It’s a light brown that is perfect for spring-summer suiting.

If I was feeling nitpicky, I might take it back to Ruben and get the buttons moved outward by an inch  in order to give it a more classic look.  I’m also thinking of lengthening the trousers a little bit, but since there isn’t anything to let down, Ruben might have to do more black magic with it.

In general, I’m pretty okay with it.  I really want more DBs cut like the ones you see at B&Tailor.  They really have that 1940’s design down pat!  This thrifted 90’s suit is fine for now, though.
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For styling, I went pretty simple Ethan combo: striped shirt and a foulard tie. It’s pretty what you’d come to expect from contemporary classic menswear but it’s done in my signature vintage style, thanks to my spearpoint collar and collar bar.  It’s not that hard to do a vintage-inspired style with semi-modern clothing!

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I go back-and-forth in my mind, regarding the length of the jacket. It’s not too bad, but it’s definitely not where I’d want it. Since the button stance is dropped (as the bottom button goes past the pocket line), I feel that shortening it will throw off the proportions of the jacket.  It’s a dangerous game to play, since there isn’t any going back.  Comment your thoughts below!


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Now I am really happy about the trousers.  I think these are the perfect shape: a full in the thigh, but with a gentle taper below the knee.  The pleats are passable, but I think I need to press them again in order to make them more sharp.  Or it just may the cheap ass fabric that can’t hold a line well.   The rise isn’t that high, as I stated earlier, but it’s not as low as stuff you normally find at the mall.

Length wise it’s okay, but I think I may take it back to see what he can do to make it just a tad bit longer. I felt that it was too short when I pull my pants up.  Either way, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to be wearing the trousers way more than the jacket.  You just know that ya boy looooves brown trousers.

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Custom Spearpoint from Natty Shirts, 1950’s Foulard from The Bloke, Thrifted Wingtips

Conclusion

Thrifting suits is a great way to build a wardrobe on a budget, especially if you’re after a vintage or vintage inspired aesthetic.  I wrote a piece on Styleforum that should help you figure out how to thrift intelligently, as I don’t want you to just buy random things!  Again, this suit isn’t perfect (or that old) but I saw the potential in it based on the details alone (forward pleats, lazy peak lapels) and the fact that it fit okay in the thrift store.  If the shoulders were massive, the jacket too long, or if there was nothing to lengthen in the trouser, I’d pass, but it passed the basics of my test.

If I’m being completely honest, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to have buyers remorse after this suit.  I haven’t been buying suits lately  (and have even unloaded some stuff I don’t wear) and the ones I have are usually vintage Brooks Brothers pieces.  I gave this one a pass because I don’t have many double breasted suits (I do have a few odd jackets) and I knew I’d wear the trousers as separates pretty often.   I would have been stuck with the suit regardless, since I bought it for a costume but didn’t use it, so why not give it a tailoring transformation? Worst comes to worst, I’ll have a really expensive pair of cheap, thrifted trousers.  Oh well!

I really should start saving up for that first bespoke suit.  I think that a brown DB will be second, after my dream navy suit.

Always a pleasure,

Ethan W.

@ethanmwong 

Street x Sprezza

Photography by Ethan’s Tripod 

 

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3 comments

  1. Lang TRAN · January 5, 2018

    I agree. The jacket’s length is about one inch too long. The trousers are ok though.

    Like

    • Ethan W. · January 5, 2018

      I’m not sure what I plan to do with it yet…may not be worth getting it shortened if it throws off the proportions!

      Like

  2. Pingback: The Knit Polo | STREET x SPREZZA

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