October 25, 2014

Artisans: Joseph Wendt, custom clothier

The owner of Joseph Wendt Custom Clothiers tells men how best to suit up.

Alex Stafford

 

Joseph Wendt

Custom clothier and owner, Joseph Wendt Custom Clothiers

Age: 46

Years in the business: 30

Years in Southwest Florida: Two

 

When custom clothier Joseph Wendt walks into a room, he can usually tell who suited themselves and who got professional help.

“The difference is the fit. It’s so difficult to get that perfect fit with a suit you buy off the rack,” says Wendt, who has worked in men’s apparel for three decades.

Sitting in his new studio in Naples, relaxed into the deep recesses of a leather chair, Wendt thumbs casually through a book of luxe fabric samples. Around him, beautiful men’s sweaters, shirts and ties—in fabrics so soft or silky it’s hard not to want to touch them all—sit patiently, waiting to be tried on.

“See this one? This is really nice for winter around here. It’s light enough for Florida,” he says as he points to a featherweight gray wool with a slight red fleck. It’s handsome—the kind of thing a modern Don Draper would wear. “But I only make one with each fabric. It’s a small town; you don’t want to run into anyone else with the same suit.”

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The cornerstones of Wendt’s business are exclusivity and service, but his natural eye for design and his perfectionist’s approach to fit bring clients back year after year. And although he’s seen the apparel business change considerably, he maintains one thing—the need for a great suit never goes out of style.

 

Making a statement

“I love the power of a three-piece suit. You don’t see them that often, so when you do, it’s like, wow. I like to put on a three-piece suit and my wife gets all dressed up and we go out together and it’s an occasion. Clothes can make something an occasion; I think a lot of men miss that.”

More than numbers

“When I meet with someone, I do more than take their measurements. I look at their entire profile—do they have a bad shoulder that makes them stand one way or another? What kind of work do they do? What kind of social events do they attend? It’s getting all of those details and putting together outfits that will work for them.”

Forgoing fit

“Fit is so important and it’s hard to get with a department store suit, but I understand that young guys just starting out need a bunch of suits and maybe have to go to Men’s Wearhouse or a department store. If you do have to buy off the rack, make sure you spend time to have it properly tailored.”

Loosening up

“The trend I’m really glad to see go is the super-tight-fitting suits trend. Almost no one looks good in a super-tight suit, even if it was made for you.”

Picky=Loyal

“I like it when customers are really particular because I’m really particular, too. Really particular customers always become loyal customers because they know they can come here and be really picky.”

Suiting up, powering up

“I think a lot of men don’t realize the tremendous power of dressing well. It’s an absolute advantage when you utilize it. Clothing is psychology. It’s a visual psychology versus a verbal psychology, but it’s totally psychology.”

Improvisational suiting

“I once flew all the way to Chicago to see a client and I forgot my tape measure—that was pretty embarrassing. I had to use some twine we found and then measured it against a construction ruler.”

 

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