9Tailors’ Samantha Shih Shares the Secrets to Dressing Your Best

The garment guru helps clients suit up for their big day with velvet jackets, classy pocket squares, and expertly hemmed trousers—all custom made.

Photo by Sasha Israel

What do you do when you can’t find your dream job? Launch your own business, according to Samantha Shih. After completing a Chinese studies program, the budding entrepreneur looked for a career that would allow her to be creative, live in Boston, and travel to China. But when her search came up short, Shih decided to use her experience designing apparel for herself to launch 9Tailors, a custom-clothing boutique. Now, 11 years later, the shop owner and her team excel at creating bespoke suits for all body types, dressing everyone from local Super Bowl champs to the city’s most dashing grooms. “Men may not own 10 to 20 suits like their fathers did, but they’re paying attention to fabric and fit, and want to look their best for special occasions,” Shih says.
“Guys are having such a moment.”

Tell us about the suits you design.

So, [to start], we have casual suits. They’re meant to be [worn to] a cocktail hour or a rehearsal dinner. Then we have semiformal suiting, which consists of a three-piece suit. I always advise on a three-piece suit [for grooms] because if you take off your jacket and you’re wearing a two-piece suit, 99 percent of your male guests are going to be in the same outfit. The vest helps elevate your look and separate you from your guests. For clients who are getting married in a glamourous venue, a tuxedo is perfect. We recently launched a collection with the Patriots’ McCourty twins. For [their tuxes], we did what I call “festive formal,” which has a bit more color than the traditional black or navy tuxedo. We did a royal-blue brocade jacket with black satin trousers and a maroon floral jacket with black trousers. They’re more fun!

What else can grooms wear to stand out from the crowd?

Men’s suiting is more playful than ever, with bold color choices from gold to green. Select a hue that complements the style of your wedding. Pick a suit in a deep wine or a burgundy for a vineyard setting, for example, or an emerald-colored suit for a rustic wedding. Mixing textures can also give your outfit that extra bit of personality. Mock-croc, [or faux crocodile skin], is having a big moment right now, so try a caramel belt or luxe, licorice-colored shoes. And, instead of a solid-white dress shirt, opt for a micro-pattern with geometric shapes and circles, or a floral pattern.

How do you create matching yet distinct looks for same-sex couples?

I always use the analogy that you want to look like you’re part of the same boy band; they have the same colors and theme going on, but it’s not the same exact look. I tie their suits together with a vest. Let’s say groom number one is in a navy suit and groom number two is in a lighter blue suit. I’ll [pair] a lighter blue vest with the navy suit and then a navy vest with the lighter suit.

Can you make suits for women, too?

We have a small but growing segment of women who are looking for suiting. Women and female-bodied clients [want] to look just as good as their partner on their big day, and they don’t want to look like they’re wearing their dad’s suit. So you have to pay attention to the personality of the fabric. A fitted suit should have more structure. Fresco and gabardine wools are good choices. For oversize blazers or trousers, choose a bamboo or a wool with a touch of silk so that it drapes beautifully.

What should clients look for when making sure their suit fits properly?

Check that the jacket’s shoulder seams end at the shoulder bone. There should be no bumps or dents from the shoulder pad to the sleeve. The body of the jacket should skim the torso, giving a slimming effect. In a trim jacket, the button may pull gently, but there shouldn’t be creases at the waist. Then, do the sit-down test: If the pants are too snug, [try widening] the legs. And don’t be humdrum about hemlines. Some clients like their ankles to show, and others do not. The shorter you go, the narrower your pants have to be.

132 Lincoln St., Boston, 617-286-6135, 9tailors.com.


Accidents happen. Thankfully, Samantha Shih has a quick fix for your most dreaded fashion mishaps.


Turn your trousers inside out, and unfold the hem. Get strong packaging tape or duct tape, then roll it so the sticky side faces out. Refold the hem, and press the tape between the two layers of fabric.


Soak a towel or a napkin in seltzer water. Then, lightly dab (don’t rub) the stain. The seltzer may not remove the stain, but it will lighten it and prevent it from embedding deeper into the fabric fibers.


If you don’t have access to a needle or the right colored thread, try using a safety pin. Fasten the button and the buttonhole with the pin.


If they are completely ripped, there’s no emergency fix. But that just means you’re having a really good time at your wedding!

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