I REMEMBER it with painful clarity, my first suit-buying experience.

My 16-year-old self is standing in a high street store in a Belfast shopping centre. Beside me, my mum is frantically raking through a rail of suit jackets, while I squint at her out of the corner of my eye, shaking my head.

Why was Mum with me? God only knows. I suspect it was because she was footing the bill, but still, I shudder at the fact that during this trip, part of my induction into the world of men, I had my mother with me holding my hand – metaphorically at least.

The suit is the only item on the shopping list that day. It has become a necessity because of a spell of impending work experience. Despite the fact that the brief is so short – or perhaps because of it – the two of us manage to turn the normally pleasurable experience of shopping into an embarrassing, head-shaking train wreck.

On one hand, there is Mum, who is far from adverse to an extended shopping trip. From the start she is agitated, eager to get it over with. On the other, me, 16 years old and about 9st dripping wet. I am completely indecisive, not knowing what I want but absolutely sure about what is “horrible”.

We are in that shop for hours, or so it seems. “That one is too dark,” I say. “That one’s too big, too colourful, too naff, too tight …” And on it goes.

Mum takes over. “This one,” she insists, thrusting a jacket at me. It is a black number with a very fine pinstripe. I screw up my face, furrow my brow, but the jacket is forced over my shoulders all the same.

It's big, boxy, hangs off me like a wet towel and, worst of all, it has lilac lining. I look in the mirror – black, pinstripe, lilac. I am a cross between Ian Paisley and a pimp from the Bronx. I hate it.

“It’s horrible,” I say.

“It’s fine,” says Mum.

“It’s really not,” I shoot back, but we are past the point of no return. Mum has that look in her eyes. The decision is made. My first suit is bought and paid for and I leave the shop feeling like I’ve been mugged.

This unfortunate memory pushes its way uninvited into my mind as I walk towards my appointment at Walker Slater’s new Glasgow store in the Merchant City.

Walker Slater, for those that don’t know, are tailoring experts who specialise in Scottish tweed. If anyone can knock this unreformed fashion disaster into shape, it is them.

At least I know what I want this time around – even if I don’t have the exact fashion vocabulary to express it. In my head I visualise a sharp city suit that I can wear to work, something that says "business" but also has some flair. To go with that I want an outfit that I can wear at the weekends and I am thinking of a country-casual look.

That’s where Kean Martin and Michael Dixon, manager and assistant manager of the new Walker Slater store, come in.

“We work to four main blocks,” explains Kean. “The Martin, the Edward, the Francis, and the James, although we do have others. In a very basic sense, these blocks are designed to suit certain body shapes. So, for example, you,” he says, giving me a quick once-over, “are a classic Martin shape. You are slim and would probably prefer a more modern, fitted style of tailoring.”

To be fair, he’s bang on (although he forgot mention good-looking … obviously an oversight).

“But that doesn’t mean you are limited to the Martin. The Edward is a little roomier in the leg and jacket, but it is still cleverly tapers at the waist. It is a classic cut but with subtle details like the wider lapels that give it a bit of extra flair.

“The Francis too has a very modern feel with slim-fitting trouser and a single-breasted jacket with peaked lapel,” he adds. “The James, meanwhile, is for those looking for a much more traditional style, so perhaps an older gentleman would go straight for a James.”

Michael is tasked with pulling together my outfits so we set to discussing what I am looking for. “Why don’t we just take a wander through the shop and see what you like?” he suggests.

It’s more a case of what don’t I like. The store is an emporium of good taste, packed full of quality pieces, although I quickly see a suit that I want to try on. “I saw you looking at that one as soon as you came in,” says Michael, explaining that the suit in question is "a Martin in herringbone lambswool”.

“It is one of our best-selling suits,” adds Kean, who explains that there has been an increasing trend towards the more modern, slim-fitting suits.

Why? “James Bond,” he says. “Daniel Craig wearing Italian-style suits, which are very slim-fitting and tapered at the waist, has really pushed this trend. You will see a lot of Italian-style touches in this suit, like the sleek silhouette and the high buttons on the waistcoat.”

“We will tailor the trousers to sit right at the top of the shoe so that you get that sharp, Italian look that doesn’t break over the shoe,” adds Michael.

The next step is where I suspect many aspiring fashionistas fall down – accessories. “The key is to not to be too matching,” says Michael. “A lot of people will choose a tie then go for a matching pocket square but it is better to go for a pocket square that isn’t too similar but that picks up some of the same colours.”

With that in mind we opt for a Persian orange tie with white polka dots and a cool Paisley-pattern pocket square that is predominantly oatmeal and blue but with flecks of orange. For the shirt I choose a very sharp white shirt with a fine pinstripe.

To top it off we pick out the Cheaney Teign brogues in brown. They look fantastic and, like everything I try on, they have a real feeling of quality. They are the type of shoes that you could walk in for 10 years before they wear out.

I am delighted with the overall look, I feel business-like and confident but the fabrics are comfortable so I wouldn’t have a problem wearing it to work.

“Let’s look at the country gent outfit then,” says Michael.

Tailored trousers with perhaps a knitted jumper on top is about as far as I had thought it out, but Michael takes control. He goes straight for a Shetland wool cardigan, paired with brown Shetland tweed trousers cut in the Edward style. For underneath, he picks out a shirt with a very subtle green check. I am keen to go full hipster, so Michael selects a beautiful retro-looking bunnet and red tweed bow tie.

“With the cardigan, wear it shorter so that it sits higher, giving it a more contemporary look,” suggests Michael. “Leaving the top button and bottom button undone also gives it an added touch of style.”

I will be honest, I would never have put this outfit together in a million years, but it really works. I even have a customer in the shop come up and tell me it looks great, but in hindsight she might have been a plant. Whatever the case, it works and I am soon strolling through the shop like I own the place. Now I can finally get rid of that black and lilac pinstripe number that’s been haunting my wardrobe.