When Charlotte Stockdale wanted to make a grand entrance at the Met Gala in 2016, she commissioned the Savile Row tailor Huntsman to create a formfitting white-tie-and-tails ensemble—a women’s formal outfit in a traditionally men’s style. The stylist turned fashion entrepreneur (one of many notables, including Coco Chanel, Katharine Hepburn, Daphne Guinness, and Nicole Kidman, who’ve been fitted by Huntsman over the years) clearly capitalized on the sense of confidence and authority that comes with wearing exceptionally tailored clothing. She also emboldened us with her sartorial boundary-pushing. This year, as suits make an especially strong showing on runways from New York to Paris, it’s time to feel the empowerment that goes with bespoke attire and bespoke or customizable accessories. Once you have a suit jacket made precisely for your shape and style, handcrafted to minimize your flaws and accentuate your assets, you’ll never go back to off-the-rack.
Tailor Made: The Stylish Suit Every Woman Needs
Now in its 169th year, Huntsman is one of a number of top tailors offering women’s bespoke suits. Ordering a suit from the London-based house begins with a meeting with a cutter in the Savile Row flagship store or at the brand’s New York pied-à-terre, for measurements and to select fabrics, lining, buttons, and more. (Huntsman’s cutters also travel to key cities internationally year-round to meet with clients privately.) The initial garment usually requires three fittings. Prices for a bespoke suit start at about $7,400.
In Paris, the go-to source for women’s bespoke suits is Cifonelli, which has served some of the world’s best-dressed men for decades. Located in a by-appointment salon on the Rue Marbeuf, the Cifonelli house is run by fourth-generation cousins Massimo and Lorenzo Cifonelli, who meet with clients, take their measurements, and cut the patterns that are sewn by a team of well-trained, in-house artisans. These days the two are often on airplanes, traveling to meet with clients in locations from Singapore to Dallas. Suits start at about $7,000.
For true Neapolitan tailoring, Isaia is an insider’s secret: The men’s suits brand will make women’s suits and tuxedos, as many women have happily discovered when accompanying their male partners to shops in Milan, New York, or San Francisco. Isaia will make women’s smoking jackets, suits, and tuxedos in its signature luxurious and colorful fabrics, precisely to the customer’s liking. Bespoke jackets start at $3,925.
Greater Goods: Chic Leather Accessories for Every Occasion
A few favorite leather-goods houses (including Goyard, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Moynat) create bespoke luggage, but it requires patience: It typically takes three to 12 months for the final product to be delivered. The same brands also customize handbags, and Louis Vuitton, for example, offers a made-to-measure program for its signature Capucines handbags. Buyers choose from 26 colors of leather or crocodile, plus numerous linings and details. Priced from $3,000 to $100,000, the bags are ready in about five months.
Asprey will customize almost anything, from leather jewelry boxes to crystal, and its ever-evolving handbag collection (bespoke crocodile handbags start at $5,000) offers a fashionable array of choices. To assist clients in decision-making, the British brand has bespoke-services boxes in its London and New York shops that contain samples of leather and exotic skins, hardware, and embossing options, all of which can be used to create bespoke bags, luggage, and leather goods. Products are handcrafted in the brand’s workshops on London’s New Bond Street.
Sole Artist: The Coolest Custom Kicks
John Lobb has been making bespoke shoes and boots for women for about 150 years. The process begins with a meeting with the company’s master bootmaker, who takes copious foot measurements and hand-sculpts the shape of the customer’s foot in hornbeam wood. A trial shoe is created and modified before the final shoe is made by hand. The entire process takes from 8 to 10 months, and prices start at $7,300.