When my friend Tina invited me to join her for a Tom James appointment last Thursday, I had to see what it was about. Usually, a Tom James wardrobe consultant visits a customer’s office or home, but this was a sample sale in their New York offices, where customers could choose fabrics from the ends of bolts to be made into suits at a significant discount.

I fell for a Holland & Sherry fabric that would have cost $1025 in a suit (at a discount), but Tina stayed firmly within her budget. She chose a $499 suit in bright navy. I liked Victoria, her consultant, for not trying to push her toward something more expensive.

The entire experience was very business-like: here are the fabrics, here are the styles, here are my recommendations. Victoria even finalized the paperwork with us at her desk in her cubicle. For people who hate shopping or don’t have a lot of time, this is definitely the way to go.

I came away with an unexpected bonus from the experience: a custom shirt for $89. Usually they cost much more, with required minimums. True to form, Victoria didn’t even pressure me to buy more than one, which made it a true deal.

My shirt will be ready in 6 weeks. (For people who need immediate gratification, this isn’t the way to go.) Of course I have high expectations, but I’m trying to be realistic. If it isn’t perfect, that’s the end of the story, which is what I can expect for $89. Tina, on the other hand, can have as many corrections made to her pattern as necessary to ensure a perfect fit.

The measuring process was fascinating–definitely not the pseudo “custom fitting” experience I had for the Thomas Pink promotion. The person who measured me even used the equivalent of a leveler to determine how much I hunch when standing normally. For customers who hunch significantly, Tom James compensates by reducing the length in the front. I also discovered that my right arm is an inch longer than my left.

I can’t wait to report on the results. Look for “Tom James Part II” in January.