Clothes make the advisor. You tailor financial solutions for clients. The same rules should apply to your appearance.

What it is

A custom suit, made with fine fabrics and craftsmanship, and fit to your precise form and posture. A tailor starts with a series of measurements, and then consults with you on colour, fabric and cut. Next comes a rough fitting with an unfinished suit from which the tailor makes a second series of adjustments, including sleeve and cuff length, chest fitting, jacket length, and adjustments to the trouser waist and seat. Then comes a final fitting. It takes between 25 and 40 hours to complete a garment. A true bespoke suit is a step up and involves at least four fittings.

Why you need it

Bespoke suits “feel like a second skin,” says Giovanni Nicoletti, owner of The Tailor Shop in Calgary. It drapes smoothly, with no bulges, and accounts for every contour. Off-the-rack suits, by contrast, are made for the average body type within any given size. A rack suit lets an alterer take in a little fabric here or there, but tweak options are limited.

How it helps

The benefits are part physical, part psychological. Bespoke suits look great—every angle fits and flatters. Pat Cocco, master tailor at Seville Tailors in Burnaby, B.C., swears the garment can appear to take 20 pounds off the wearer because gaps and bagginess are eliminated.

That’s all part of a professional image, but just as important, “When you look good, you feel good,” says Cocco. When you shake someone’s hand and your jacket moves with you—no tightness across the back or digging into your armpit—it makes a difference.

And, let’s face it, your clients expect you to look professional, but more importantly financial. So dressing the part is the finishing touch.

Good to know

When selecting fabrics, stick to bolts from England and Italy, acknowledged worldwide for producing the best suiting. If you’re partial to tweeds, you’ll want a Scottish or Irish product. “You also want something classic,” says tailor John Der Shahinian of Arthur in Montreal. Big panel checks may be in style now, but given the cost and fact that custom clothes last decades if properly cared for, traditional colours and weaves—twill, mohair, bengaline, herringbone and nailhead—are a more sound investment.

Have your tailor make a personalized paper pattern, rather than modifying a standard pattern, so you have something on file for future orders.

Confirm your lining will be canvas so it won’t shrink and will move naturally. Most off-the-rack suits use a synthetic, fused lining, glued to the fabric. After several cleanings, those fabrics shrink and pucker.

How much

$2,000-$4,000, but costs vary depending on the fabric.

Who can help

Many local tailors can craft bespoke suits, but ensure you’re getting the real deal. Tailor Pat Cocco notes people often confuse custom-made with made-to-measure. With made-to-measure suits, you typically get one measurement and then receive the finished product. There’s less detail and attention, and limited alterations.

Tailor John Der Shahinian cautions against suit-makers who take a measurement and then ship you a suit without any try-ons; it’s almost impossible to get the right fit, and it’s barely even made-to-measure.

Stuart Foxman is a Toronto-based financial writer.