What kind of a grown man doesn’t own a well-fitting suit?
No kind of gentleman, to be sure, and certainly not you. Which is why it pays to see the right guy for the job, whether it’s your first suit or your "really, another suit?"
You’ll find those guys here, in our roundup of Chicago’s five best custom suit shops.
Why go made-to-measure? Think about it this way: every man is shaped differently, and no man is perfectly symmetrical. So that off-the-rack 40 Regular? There’s about a 100% chance it won’t fit as well as a garment that was literally cut for you.
Below, you’ll find the shops doing fit right, with an eye for quality and impeccable service to boot. From the tech-forward and affordable to the high-touch and personal, consider all your angles covered.
Photo: Alex Maier
Walk into this tiny West Loop shop and you’ll leave with more knowledge about clothing than you probably need, want or asked for. You’ll discover the subtle differences between Italian and British tailoring. Learn about thread counts. Touch fabrics so fine you’ll wish your very hand was rendered from them. Owner Zach Uttich is a man of details, and it shows. “We’ve been force-fed fast food when it comes to clothing for a very long time,” he says. It’s an all but fitting remark given that BLVDier does the suits for The Alinea Group — specifically, Alinea, Next and the Aviary. Consider yourself in good company.
211 N. Green St. www.blvdier.com
ESQ promises on its website that every stitch of every garment will be made by hand. All the linings are custom, too: they’ll put graphics or photos of your choice inside any jacket or pair of pants. Conceivably, you can design an entire outfit here, right down to the shoes. They offer custom footwear from any kind of material, advertising that there are no limitations. And they do great with athletic or abnormal builds: former Chicago Bears Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett are reported to have shopped here.
555 W. Jackson Blvd. www.esqclothing.com
If you’re the type of style-minded gent who looks to street-style snaps for inspiration, then you’ll wanna know Hall Madden. “There’s more and more interest in it [custom suiting] because of social media,” owner McGregor Madden says. “Now that guys are taking more and more photos, guys have to have an online presence. Guys are starting to really care about how they look and the number one thing about how they look is fit.” That’s why Madden and his staff are meticulous about their alterations, tailoring a suit two or three times before a customer leaves with a garment bag in hand.
358 W. Ontario St. www.hallmadden.com
Photo: Barry Brecheisen
The Chicago showroom has eight stylists on staff. The idea: once you find one you like, you keep ‘em. Just like a barber. And Knot Standard’s level of modernity is unparalleled. While most clothiers require that you return each time you buy a garment, Knot Standard encourages the busy shopper to make purchases online. Once you have your measurements, it’s easy: pick and click the fabrics, buttons and threads you desire, and they’ll take care of the rest.
220 W. Illinois St. www.knotstandard.com
Balani Custom Clothiers
Training at Balani — which opened in Chicago in 1961 and now has seven locations across the country — isn’t just some method for onboarding new employees. It’s ongoing. Trends in the clothing industry are always changing. As such, employees at Balani constantly train on new techniques, fabrics and styles so that customers are wearing garments that feature threads, cuts and even buttons that corner the newest trends. “People like to express themselves and have some personal innovation in the garments they select,” Sonny Balani said. “We’ve got a lot of different details that we can do like doing a different color button hole, lapel and accenting threads.”
55 W. Monroe St. www.balanicustom.com
Main Photo: Alex Maier