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For decades, Oxxford Clothes of Chicago and Rome-based Brioni have set the standard in sartorial elegance available right off the rack. The cost that is hardest to budget is time, and these ready-made garments eliminate the need for the complex, often tedious fittings that a custom suit demands.
Brioni, whose customers include Britain's Prince Andrew, Donald Trump, Nelson Mandela, and Peter Jennings, has elevated fine tailoring to a modern art form by merging technology and craftsmanship. Along with the state-of-the-art factory in Penne, Italy, Brioni has a tailoring school so masters can teach the Brioni way.
What do you get? Luxurious fabrics, including the finest super-spun wools, cashmere, and baby alpaca, are highly hand-tailored, allowing a suit to mold to the body after a few wearings. Tailoring details such as working buttonholes on the jacket cuffs, button-through flies, even cigar pockets, are often available as an option.
The workmanship is incredibly labor-intensive. An Oxxford jacket lapel has a gentle roll that comes from 1,100 hand stitches that expertly and invisibly connect the jacket fabric to its canvas facing. (The jackets are half-lined so you can look inside and count the stitches.) The Oxxford waist clip settles into the tiniest of handmade buttonholes.
For what you'd spend on a suit like this, you can undoubtedly go to the finest custom tailor in your area. Then again, when you invest in these names, you're buying superb quality with a minimal investment of time.