Michael Parr has always loved clothes.
“When I graduated from WVU, I went directly into sales and marketing,” he said. “I used to speak about clothing and how to dress at business sales meetings.”
When I met him, he wore a royal blue, white-pinstriped jacket lined with Van Gogh’s “A Starry Night.” The jacket had a contrasting white lapel and white buttonhole stitching. Blue marble buttons were also stitched in white.
“I met a guy one evening after a presentation who mentioned custom clothing,” he said, continuing the origin story of his company, Michael’s Custom Clothing. “I was interested. And then a different guy—that same evening—suggested I consider selling custom clothing. That was 23 years ago.”
Sounds expensive, right? Parr insists it isn’t.
“I can tailor-make entry-level suits that won’t cost much more than ones from a ready-to-wear suit store,” he said.
I immediately thought of my husband and his suit-uniform.
“So, why not shop some high-brow retail shop?” I asked. “Why would I want a clothier?”
Parr smiled broadly then replied, “Because you get me.”
Parr said that he sits down with clients for a good half hour to 45 minutes to understand who they are and what they need.
“I learn about you, and listen to your likes and dislikes, what matters to you,” he said. “We talk about how you dress on a daily basis, for functions, and events. I bring try-ons, and show shirt swatches and my Italian Geoff Nicholson ties. You pick your own fabrics. You and I can look at over a thousand suits, and it’s fun!”
It was fun checking out all the options, fingering the Oxford cloth and the silk, gazing at rows of colorful sample materials. Parr offers a plethora of fabric choices ranging from wool to cotton to cashmere, personalized silk lining—half lining or full or cuff, different colored buttons and stitch threads, functioning button holes (the sign of a good quality suit), lapel color, collar style, shape—the list goes on and on.
“Shopping doesn’t have to be a nuisance,” Parr said. “Men shouldn’t spend their money on clothes that don’t fit well or that they don’t really like. Once I have your measurements and size, then it’s simple.”
Measurements include the chest, seat, shoulder pitch and slope, posture stoop, leg and calf curvature and size, arm bicep and wrist.
“Measurements are so detailed that, when we do the final fitting, alterations aren’t usually needed,” he said. “But if so—even down the line when you gain or lose weight—I can make adjustments.”
Throughout our conversation, Parr emphasized the importance of a good fit—and how men often wear ill-fitting clothing.
“Any advice?” I ask, still thinking of my husband.
Parr nodded and straightened his shoulders.
“Class is timeless,” he said. “When people get too edgy, that messes up the whole look. I always wear a pocket square—it’s where my personality shows.”
Parr withdrew his tablet and pulled up a computerized interactive display that allows clients to see a virtual look.
“If a client doesn’t have the time, or doesn’t want to browse through everything, if he wants me to pick the style, then I can do that,” he said. “I see the big picture in clothing and the details.”
Parr sat back and crossed his arms. He recalled a few of his most memorable clients, such as a groom-to-be.
“As we were talking, I caught the nickname he had for his fiancé,” he said. “I had her nickname embroidered under his collar. Brought him to tears. And the bride loved it. It was a nice surprise for both of them.”
He also offered the example of a financier who had to dress for a party.
“For his dinner jacket, we chose a white paisley shawl collar with white ivory buttons, and a white mambo silk lining,” he said. “I embroidered ‘007’ under his collar.”
Not all his clothes are suits, tuxes and formal. He offers casual apparel too: sport coats, pants, shirts, ties, topcoats and car coats.
“I love clothes, but really, the best part of my job? I sit down with guys who are on top of their game and just kind of pick their brains,” he said. “I get to be around some really cool people in our community, and it’s a blessing.”
For more information on Michael’s Custom Clothing, contact Michael Parr at 717-979-0130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Men aren’t generally known for their fashion sense. As a public service, Michael Parr offers the following tips:
- Don’t buy too big or too small.
- Your suit shouldn’t need a belt, which is worn as an accessory.
- Never wear a belt with suspenders—the look is redundant.
- Sleeve length should show at least a quarter inch of your shirt.
- Jacket length must cover your rear-end.
- Do not button the bottom button in a single breast suit.
- Tie should not hang below the belt or above the waistline.
- Pants—flat front, no pleats.
- Pants should hit the top of the shoe.
- In a professional environment, always wear socks.