India Part 3: My First Tailored Suit

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After settling into Delhi my first day in India, I remembered a very important errand that I wanted to try and get taken care of while there.  My brother is getting married in April, and I need a suit.  All of the groomsmen are getting custom suits made, and my brother gave me a few options for getting mine done.  I could fly back home and get fitted where most of the other guys were… obviously not going to happen.  Or, take advantage of traveling in the developing world where labor is cheap, and get a suit made at a respectable tailor in a country like India.  India, and Delhi in particular, has a good reputation for getting custom suits made for dirt cheap.  I asked my friend Mehar who I met through Couchsurfing for a recommendation since he seemed like an expert on the area.  He took me to a place in the main bazaar of New Delhi.  IMG_5089

I went in and talked about the design.  My brother had sent me a very specific set of instructions about the buttons, lapels and style of jacket, trousers and vest.  I had photos and color swatches as well.  The tailor then had me look at several fabrics, each one of higher quality than the previous one.  As it turned out, the most expensive fabric was the one that seemed to best match the swatch my brother had sent me, so I went with it.  This is my brother’s wedding, and I need to look good.  With all of the data in the hands of the tailor, it was time to talk price.  With Mehar present, I was hoping not to get ripped off.  The total for a completely tailored three piece suit came to 9000 rupees which is about $180.  It sounded like an amazing price to me.  Such a suit would run about $600-$700 in the States.  Mehar concurred it was a good price, and so I accepted the tailor’s offer.  Every inch of me was then measured.  It went way beyond inseam, waist size, and shoulder width.  They measured from my collarbone to my waist to get the vest right.  They measured the circumference of my chest, thighs and upper arms.  This wasn’t going to be a suit off the rack with a couple adjustments .  This thing would fit me, and me only, like a glove.  The tailor said he would make me into a gentlemen with this suit, and I would be very happy.  In return, he hoped I would make him very happy… implying a nice tip.  He told me to come back in four days for an initial fitting, which was perfect because that’s when I would return from Shimla.  So I left, and trusted all would be well.

Fast forward four days…

I got back from Shimla, and was really looking forward to checking back at the tailor’s shop to see the progress.  The suit was just handstiched at that point, and the collar not finished, but the point was to make sure the measurements had been correct, and the suit fit.  So how did it come out?  It looked and felt incredible.  I thought I looked like one of those douchebags on the red carpet with the perfectly fitted suit.  It was so form fitting, but not tight.  I could move my arms and shoulders around, and the suit moved with me.  I think with a white dress shirt and tie it should be up to snuff with what I need.  The crappy photo below really doesn’t do it justice.IMG_5086

I think I tipped the tailor 1000 rupees which is like $20.  I didn’t even catch his name, but here he is with me when I picked up the final suit.  I’ll have to remember to post a photo in a couple months after the wedding.IMG_5098

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