Wearing a suit isn’t quite as common as it used to be, but this deficit has created a kind of novelty that is making them special once again because putting on the right suit, whether it’s for a job interview or wedding, offers a new level of confidence. For most, this ideal suit can be found on the rack, with certain minor modifications, but for others, the best way to purchase a suit is to buy custom, because then it will be perfect, not only looking good on you, but also reflecting your personality. To learn more about custom suits, we spoke to Ralph Lauretta, the General Manager of Sal Lauretta’s for Men in Midland Park, NJ.
Sal Lauretta’s for Men goes back four decades to the 1930’s and across the ocean to Sicily. “My grandfather was a tailor back in the day when they didn’t have clothing off the rack, you had the tailor make them for you,” Lauretta told me. Ralph’s father Sal Lauretta
began working for Ralph’s grandfather (also Ralph) when Sal was 12 years of age, eventually immigrating to the US together in the late 1960’s. Once in the states, they spent some time working separately in custom tailor shops before opening Lauretta’s Dry Cleaners where they would tailor clothing prior to opening Sal Lauretta’s for Men in 1974 right next door.
In that time, the store has witnessed suit trends change and cycle back. While the current standard for suits nowadays are two button with side vent and flat front pant, Lauretta explained how classic looks are really coming back. “As far as formal goes, we’re doing a lot more shawl collars, peak lapels, double breasted suits,” he said. “Not on the rack but custom made, we’re doing a lot more double breasted again.” Custom suits can be the ideal option for those looking for that specific look. More than that though, custom suits are a great solution for those who are smaller or larger and therefore have trouble finding that specific size. There are also those who have problems with posture which may affect the way a suit lays on your body. All these are good reasons for considering a custom suit.
If you’re going to go custom, the first thing you look for is quality, and when talking quality, where your suit comes from is key. This is something Sal Lauretta’s takes very seriously. “We are still avoiding the Chinese market,” explained Lauretta. “All our custom clothing has been made in North America or in Italy. Chinese clothing is definitely getting better but it is by no means approaching the level of a good North American or Italian suit.” While most of us may not notice the difference in quality, to a trained eye, “you can smell a Chinese suit a mile away,” said Lauretta.
Compared to a ready-to-wear suit, a custom suit can cost you 20-30% more depending on the fabric or other customizations, which is to be expected if you are looking for those extra details and precise fit. “Canali, one of our biggest vendors, cost around $2,000 off the rack, and a custom Canali is about $2,500-3,500,” said Lauretta. At Sal Lauretta’s, designing a custom suit requires 25-35 measurements, after which you choose the fabric, of which they have upwards of 4,000 to choose from at any given time. Those measurements and details are then sent to the suit manufacturer who assembles the garment and then sends it back to Sal Lauretta’s unfinished. From there, the client comes in for an initial fitting, during which the tailor sees what tweaks may be needed, and also mark the sleeves and pant bottoms for the final length. “More times than not the customer’s garment will be perfected and ready to wear by the third visit to our store,” explained Lauretta.
When that suit is ready, you are not just wearing a garment, but something uniquely you, both in shape and concept. You will look in that mirror and smile, not just because you look good, but because you feel good.
Sal Lauretta’s For Men
621 Godwin Avenue, Midland Park, NJ 07432