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How a Tailored White Linen Suit Became the Most Versatile Piece in One Woman’s Wardrobe

Why women need to try this essential men’s secret to a sense of ease

suit tailor Courtesy of SinAbrochar Photo/Unsplash

Having a personal tailor might seem rarefied or even redundant these days, but it’s actually particularly vital. An exceptional tailor helps you evolve. He or she unveils a sense of self-knowledge that could otherwise take years of trial and error, maybe even some therapy. But enlightenment comes in unexpected forms, and sometimes that form is a fine linen or lightweight wool. You feel it with every step.

When I had a white linen suit made last year for Pitti Uomo, the celebrated (and much-missed) Florence-based menswear event that I cover, I never expected it to become the most versatile clothing I own. It is white, after all. A suit that specific usually isn’t a breeze to wear in any situation, and Italy felt like the only place I would. But I kept wearing it—in the city, in the countryside, on planes, at home. Now I’m tossing it on regularly during transcontinental quarantines and having another made in new fabrics.

Being at ease in tailored clothing speaks volumes about a man’s character. It doesn’t matter where he’s going (or not going), tailoring is a testament to integrity and has an appeal that most women will agree on. In fact, it’s one of the reasons women want to wear tailored clothes themselves. Beyond the confidence a finely made suit brings, you can imagine the effect it has on packing, morning routines, even sanity itself. A transformative suit is subtle and nuanced in the ways that you are—or at least the ways you want to be.

suit construction

Having a suit made is the ultimate exercise in customization.  Courtesy of Christian Erra/Unsplash

For me, this understanding came through the NYC-based tailor Jake Mueser. He has a knack for restraint, and any man he dresses achieves that balance of refined ease. That quality, and the desire to feel feminine without the constraints of women’s design, are what led me to him. I find most women’s clothes too fitted—armholes too high, collars too small, buttons misaligned. A life-clarifying uniform can put all those compromised clothes to rest.

But having clothes made can be more intimidating than a first date. Will a tailor get you? Will he appreciate you? He will know your measurements. Let him be your guide, and remember that a suit made for you, by hand, will improve and simplify your life. The process alone will spur a more personal connection to your clothes. Tailors care about beauty in life. They nurture relationships—with the fabric mills, with button suppliers and with you. They help you face each day with individual stride. And if a suit feels like too deep of a dive, begin with tailoring’s gateway drug: the blazer.

Mueser suggested we start full speed with a suit, and in two breezy fittings I had a clear uniform. The suit was loose and natural, the linen unlined. It looked like it was made to be worn. We made the jacket longer to sit below the hip, where men’s jackets typically do. This made me feel more elegant than women’s shorter jackets ever have and negated bust woes, like when fabric rises with every move. The sleeves were wider than the norm, allowing more movement and any shirt beneath. The silhouette was trim enough without nipping at the waist, which, I’ve learned, usually makes jackets move awkwardly.

measuring tape

Taking careful measurements allows a bespoke suit to fit like a second skin.  Courtesy of Jennifer Burk/Unsplash

The trousers, too, were designed like men’s to sit high on the waist (unquestionably flattering on any woman), with adjustable tabs to add a dash of old-world refinement (and an unencumbered, belt-free life). The tapered leg draped above the ankle bone, perfect for Italian furlane slippers. If the women in your life have yet to swap heels for velvet slippers, well, they can thank me later. It’s these small details that make the difference between a “power suit” and an empowered suit.

I never imagined I’d be at my most relaxed in a suit, but tailored clothes are an extension of yourself. They take into account how you live and what matters to you. Like artisan bread or biodynamic wine, some of the greatest luxuries are done properly and purely. An intuitive tailor connects you to your highest self, which is why a handmade suit is one of life’s great pleasures—for men and women alike.

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