A Gentleman’s Attire: The Art of the Bespoke Tailored Suits

Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

Like many Chinese communities in Asia, Malaysia is no stranger to trained masters in the old ways of tailoring. One such tailor is Montana, a tailor that has inherited his father’s skills with years of tutelage, continuing this art that is becoming more and more scarce. There is so much that does into making a suit, from initial conception, measuring, mending and even wardrobe management.

Paul | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

Montana: Exclusive Tailoring Since 1987

Montana is owned by tailor Paul Chong, located in Paramount, Petaling Jaya, who learned his tailoring skills from his father. Tailors such as these look meticulously to ensure their clients every need is met, with a wide variety of customisation for bespoke suits for not only men, but women too. From the choosing of the right material, lining and cutting to lapels and buttons, each element adds a different style and purpose, and all these take the hard work of a master tailor to produce well.

Cutting | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

Measurements And Cuttings

Before you chose the materials, you first take your measurements to ensure everything fits right and it all begins with measuring your body with rope and tape. Once it’s taken, a paper mould is created with the measurements.

“We use a paper mould to for two reasons. Firstly, it’s the measurements, but secondly, it’s also so that we have our clients’ sizes. We save these paper moulds so that its easier for us to create another suit for the client without them having to come in for measurements again.”

Material | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

Material: Cotton And Polyblends

The next step in the process is by choosing the right material for you. Montana is known to carry a wide range of materials to suit your need, depending on the purpose of your suit, be it casual or formal. Cotton is considered a more breathable, absorbent and sustainable material, which is best if you’re looking for something comfortable in the tropical weather. There is also polyester which is a synthetic fibre that although does not breathe well, repels water but does not wrinkles easily. There are also many materials that may be a blend of cotton and polyester as well.

“Cotton is a much lighter material which makes it great for our weather in Malaysia but can wrinkle easily. Most people think that cotton is an inferior material but that’s not true. It depends on what you want it for. We use cotton to make shirts, but we also use it to make jackets and suits because it suits our weather and function.”

Merino Sheep | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

Material: Wool, Cashmere, Angora, Mohair and Vicuna

To put simply, wool must come from animal hair, but may be known by different names according to the species. Merino wool or what we commonly refer to as “wool” comes from the Merino sheep, which is known for having softer coats making it one of the most popular materials. Wool can wick moisture from the skin, repels moisture and is more durable.

Cashmere Goat | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

Cashmere comes from Kahsmir goats, is softer than wool and is also known to be seven times warmer and is considered a luxury product. Thing to note is that there is summer cashmere that you can wear in warmer weather too.

Angora Goat Mohair | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

Mohair wool comes from the Angora goat and is quite similar to Merino wool, but has a certain sheen to it, making it a more luxurious material compared to Merino wool.

Angora | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

Angora wool, although not from the Angora goat, comes from the Angora rabbit. This heat retaining fibre is considered one of the best for making thermal wear.

Vicuna | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

Vicuna wool comes from the Vicuna, an animal native to South America and is considered the most expensive of the specialty wools. They sell for about USD1,300 to USD3,000 per yard and is considered the finest of fabrics with unmatched softness and finesse.

“Wool is one of the best materials for clothing as they can be very light and beautiful. It is a common misconception that all wool is hot, there is also summer wool or lightweight wool that we have made for many of our patrons. The material may cost a bit more but it’s worth it.”

Cutting & Lining | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

The Purpose Of Lining

Suit linings are made with a few reasons, most importantly is because they add weight and structure to a jacket. In the past, a material that is hardy is normally chosen as it protects the jacket itself from wear, tear and stretching. It also makes the jacket more comfortable to wear and easier to put on. These days there is a wide selection of linings to choose from, with a variety of patterns chosen for contrast.

Lapel Button Hole | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

Customisation: Lapels, Cuffs, Buttons, Pockets And Initials

The next step in the suit making process involves the sewing and customisation. The most common customisations would be the type of lapel, which most commonly are the notched lapel and the peak lapel.

Cuffs | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

Cuffs are also commonly customised, with the most common being the barrel cuff, which can be single or double buttoned. These do not require any additional contraption, as compared to French cuffs which are seen to be more elegant, which is completed with cufflinks.

Buttons | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

Buttons are also an important choice for suits and come in a huge variation. where a choice of one, two or three buttons being the most common. As a rule of thumb, for a three-button jacket, you always button the top, sometimes button the middle and never button the bottom.

Pockets | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

Pockets are another highly customisable item, which is especially important for suit jackets. For example, common types of pockets include an inner lining pocket for pens, or an in-seam cigar pocket. For trousers, secret compartment pockets make the trousers more functional and aesthetically pleasing.

“We create inner pockets in our front trousers, so your car keys are separate from your wallet. This way your wallet won’t be scratched by your car keys.”

Initials | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

Initials are considered one of the more refined customisations, usually with the owner’s initials hand sewn onto the cuffs of the shirts or trousers, adding an understated elegance.

Measurement | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

First Fitting, Second Fitting

Once the materials are chosen and customisations selected, the patron goes for their first fitting to ensure the general cutting and size match. The next step would be the second fitting which is usually done after 2 weeks for any additional alterations.

Wardrobe Management | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

Wardrobe Management

Montana also provides an additional layer of service called wardrobe management, which helps you plan out how often you should wear your clothing, as well as how many suits you need, each catering to specific occasions.

“Of course one suit is enough for the casual wearer, but we help our patrons plan their wardrobe. We usually advice base on how frequent they would need to wear a suit, perhaps one casual, and one formal. Most people can do great with two or even three for business, which they can cycle and use. We would generally advice for one to be in black, grey or blue; a pinstriped one, and a checkers one. For shirts, we recommend 5 for daily business wear, this way it doesn’t get old too quick, which is honestly a good form of investment.”

Lining | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

Dos & Don’ts

There are many ways to ensure your suits go the whole nine yards, and these are a few rules to follow: –

  • When it comes to buttons remember: always, seldom, never.
  • When travelling fold your suits inside out.
  • Don’t leave your suits in the car, the temperature will damage it.
  • Dry clean your suits after 3 wears or if smoky.
  • Most importantly, find a good dry cleaner.

Tie | Montana Tailors | Food For Thought

The Montana Experience

One of the best parts with the tailoring at Montana is that they have been in the business for a long time, showcasing their expertise. From the choices of material you can choose, from more affordable varieties of cotton and wool to the luxurious Italian linens, the wide variety ensures that any design you can think of, they can make.

“We want to ensure that everyone is able to find the perfect fit when they are looking to make a suit which we aim to assist. We can customise suits for every occasion, from formal black tie event ones, to formal business wear to casual wear for everyday use. Let us help you find the perfect fit.”

29, Jalan 21/1,
Sea Park,
46300 Petaling Jaya,
+6012 253 8727


Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic and drinks writer and is the editor of independent publication Food For Thought. He has been a freelance journalist for the 15 years and has previously worked as a lawyer and in digital marketing. He currently is the Principal Consultant of A Thought Full Consultancy, a food and beverage marketing consultancy.

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