Need A New Custom Suit? Get One From This Female Tailor In Katipunan
In her studio on Katipunan Avenue, Bianca Cordero is challenging the notion that only male tailors can make custom-made suits, while women like her are better off sticking to gowns.
One famous client helped the female tailor prove the naysayers wrong. “My first client was Derek Ramsay. I was his stylist, and since he had a lot of TVCs that required suits, I had to make custom for him,” Cordero says. “He is very particular with cut and fit, and I credit him for the attention to detail I have right now when creating suits.”
She continues, “When he started posting photos of the suits I made for him in social media, a lot of other people started inquiring. That’s how it all started.” Now, her roster of celebrity clients has grown to include Alden Richards, Nico Bolzico, Billy Crawford, James Reid, and Coach Chot Reyes, but a bigger bulk of her business, which is powered by word of mouth, comes from grooms and groomsmen.
With more men in the market for custom-made suits, Cordero shares the finer points of having one made, from cut to color, custom details to cost, and why a female tailor like her may be the best choice for the service. (Hint: It’s all in the details and the personal touch.)
“The first thing I ask my client is, ‘What kind of cut do you prefer?’” Cordero shares. “If you want something that can last well over five years, go for tailor-fit. It will always be a classic.”
She suggests opting for a more comfortable fit—not too loose, not too boxy, with flat, sloping shoulders, and not too heavily padded—rather than a super-skinny silhouette. “The tailor-fit cut is slim and contemporary but it has room for comfort. For the pants, go for slim and straight, and not too tapered on the ankles,” she says.
For Cordero, suiting is all about proportions and more dependent on body type than sartorial whims. “For petite guys, we need to accentuate the torso, so I suggest a shorter coat length and a one-stance (single-button) design with slimmer lapels. Double-breasted and three-piece suits are certainly not the best choice as they tend to drown petite guys. I also recommend shorter pant lengths, one that is cut well in the ankles and more of a skinny fit,” she says.
For regular or average-sized guys, she suggests two-stance (two-buttoned) suits or double-breasted suits with wider lapels and tailored pants.
“For the heavier guys, we only use single vents. I highly recommend three-piece suits because it would make them look thinner. No wide lapels, just regular ones. And for the pants, just regular fit ones,” Cordero adds.
The tailor also notes one key element that men overlook: “Lapels create an optical illusion and you can play with it to enhance a client’s features or body type,” she says. Skinny guys should go for thinner lapels, while shorter men should opt for peak lapels to create a more vertical look. Fit men can go for wider lapels and taller men can be playful with shawl lapels because they do well to soften the silhouette.
Another piece of advice worth heeding is to skip off-the-rack shirts. “I usually prefer that we also customize the shirts. Shirts that are too loose tend to [bunch up]. The length of the sleeves should be three-fourths of an inch longer than your suit cuffs. I’m very particular about this, so we really encourage our clients to have custom-made shirts with their suits,” she says.
When she was starting, clients only wanted suits in three colors, black, blue, and gray, and the three remain viable today.
A black suit is very formal (though Chinese clients veer away from this), and Cordero especially recommends the color if you are investing in your first custom-made suit.
“We see blue suits for garden weddings, hotel receptions, and corporate events. But a gray suit, for me, is the most flexible. It can go from beach weddings to smart casual, cocktails, day or night. You can dress it down with jeans or chinos. You can pair it with black or brown shoes,” she says.
Cordero also shares how suit colors have expanded beyond these neutrals. “The trend is shifting even for grooms... My bestseller right now is salmon pink suits,” she says, noting how there is an upsurge in pastel suit requests. Deep colors such as teal, hunter green, and midnight blue are also on the rise, while maroons and burgundies, hot a year ago, have since been on the wane.
However, much as we want to explore more colors for suits, some rules are sacred: “I recommend lighter colors for skinnier guys as darker colors tend to weigh them down. For heavier guys, I suggest darker colors to trim them down.”
The Custom Details
The best thing about custom-made suits is having the power of having the details done to your specifications.
“Our clients tend to request more lightweight material with a higher percentage of wool, because of our weather. For my more gym-buff clients, they prefer stretch fabrics, so they would have movement and fewer restrictions,” Cordero says.
“Since more and more weddings are held outdoors, more clients also prefer thinner linings. Heavy lining creates a stiffer, more formal look, so we use basic fusing to create lightweight suits,” she continues. “This way, clients can opt to dress down their suits with jeans or chinos, once the special occasion is over.”
“Pants for me are also a good way to add interesting details to your suits. Don’t be afraid of double-pleats, as it gives comfort especially when seated and provides a streamlined allowance for space,” she says. Her clients are very particular with pant pockets, too, asking for visible to virtually hidden pockets “to avoid bulges.” Cuffs are also in high demand.
Another custom detail that is often overlooked is the make of the jacket cuffs. Cordero suggests functional cuffs as a noteworthy upgrade as this makes rolling suit sleeves possible, should you wish to channel your inner Miami Vice. Cordero notes that functional cuffs come without added cost.
Despite all these details, a custom-made suit by Cordero only ranges from P15,000 to P24,000, which is as affordable as high street off-the-rack suits.
But if you want to get a custom suit at the lowest price possible, Cordero reminds clients of two things: “For me, the cost greatly depends on the fabric and lead time.”
“If they want a certain material, I am very transparent with their cost implications, so I leave the decision to the clients,” she shares. While most of her clients are willing to invest in good fabrics, Cordero says not all expensive fabrics work well with our climate. She suggests suiting fabrics such as Connelly, Australian wool, Armani cashmere, and tropical wool to get the most bang for the buck.
“If it’s rush, of course, we would have to charge more. We had a client once that requested for a suit with an overnight lead time. Naturally, we added an additional 50 percent on top of our usual charge, which is still relatively reasonable,” she says. “So, if you want lower cost, I suggest you have an appointment three weeks before your event.”
Of note, the service requires two regular fittings. However, for loyal patrons, there is only one fitting or sometimes none at all since Cordero already has their measurements. “They sometimes just call to have a new suit made,” she reveals.
Finally, the greatest benefit of having custom-made suits done is the room for adjustments. “We usually leave three to four inches room for adjustments. This is good for guys who religiously go to the gym or who are on a strict diet because their suit can expand or contract with them,” Cordero says. Alterations cost between P1,000 to 2,000, which is a small price to pay to keep wearing your suit for thicker or for thinner.
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