Are bespoke Italian suits worth your time and money?

Illustration by Mark Bird

Illustration by Mark Bird

What am I doing here?

That was the question I asked myself as I labored, for the umpteenth time, up the stairs to a tailor’s workshop off the Via Toledo in Naples. It was 9 a.m. on a sweltering morning in late June, and I was feeling hot, bothered and mildly resentful.

My clothes were stuck to my skin, my nerves reeling after a high-decibel standoff with a taxi driver and my brain stubbornly cycling through all the other ways I could have been spending the morning: relaxing on the balcony of my Gio Ponti-designed room at the Royal Continental Hotel, taking in the world-class art collection at the almost-deserted Capodimonte Museum or enjoying a high-speed ferry ride to one of the nearby islands with the prospect of lunch under a canopy of lemon trees. But no. My two friends and I were here to get suits made, dammit, and that’s what we were going to do.

The initial plan, sparked by an invitation to a wedding in France later that summer, had sounded like a breeze. We would spend 10 days in Naples, bookended by the two major fittings required to get the tailoring process started. Then we’d go our separate ways, and return a few weeks later to pick up the completed suits and do final adjustments. Then, we’d fly to Paris and show up on the big day in our custom finery. (Yes, I know: If I were reading this, I’d want to slap me, too. But I was having a bit of a midlife moment and, you know, YOLO.) Read more..