A custom shirt doesn't just fit like a glove, it fits like skin. Better than skin even, because a custom-tailored garment hides, flatters, and accentuates.
Countless magazines, style guides, and makeover shows sing the praises of having ready-to-wear garments tailored. It can be a great help for anyone who has trouble finding sizes that flatter -- and a really fun luxury for others.
There's a history in a custom-made garment. Like couture, it's special and infused with care and detail. I don't mean to be overly romantic or wax poetic about this, but custom garments are a funny kind of imprint of an individual. Because they're special they can be passed down through generations, like jewelry.
Custom shirts are also a kind of a mark of arrival, like the first suit, first little black dress, first grown-up perfume or cologne.
There are a few places in the Capital Region where you can go for custom tailored shirts. I checked out the process at Caruso's Custom Clothier in Guilderland.
Caruso's seems to be more guy-oriented -- suits and ties neatly arranged in inviting displays in a wider range of fabrics -- the kind of sartorial colors and cuts that make me want to abandon ruffles and skirts and roll my pant cuffs and shop in the men's department (or sneakily borrow from closets). That said, they also do women's wear.
Custom shirts at Caruso's start at $99. Considering most men's dress shirts at Express or J. Crew or Banana Republic can start at $59, that's pretty awesome for one custom made. Prices will vary above that depending on the fabrics. Kim Hoffman, who helped me out on my visit, described the difference in shirt fabrics as being akin to the thread-count for sheets. Higher thread counts allow for a silkier (ish) material, and would be more expensive.
Measurements for the shirt, along with the fabric, collar, cuffs, pocket (everything!) of your choosing are done on premises at Caruso's. The resulting pattern is then sent out, and the shirt is constructed at another site. Custom suits are also handled this way. The suits are pricier, obviously, but they can last you a long time and will keep you looking as awesome as the guys on The Sartorialist for a long, long time. (Give yourself 3-4 weeks lead time for custom tailored shirts -- suits will take longer.)
Custom shirts make great gifts for a new job, first job, birthday, or even Valentine's Day, but If you want to give one you'll need to use a gift certificate so that the gift-ee can be measured at their leisure and pick their own fabric and cut.
You can also get custom tailored garments locally at Amore Clothing on State Street.
Caruso's Custom Clothier
1823 Western Ave. (Westmere Plaza)
Albany, NY 12203
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