When searching for a tailor made suit you have certainly come across such terms as made to measure and bespoke tailoring. What does ‘bespoke’ mean? What does it mean if a suit is made to measure? This article will guide you through this tailoring jargon and clarify how made to measure vs bespoke suits look like.

Bespoke tailoring has a long history that dates back to renaissance, when society started to realise that clothes are a sign of wealth and power. The word ‘bespoke’ in itself means ‘ordered to be made’. 

Made to measure came later, providing a less expensive, quicker tailoring solution that carries some disadvantages, but also benefits when compared to bespoke.

Bespoke tailors are usually small independent family businesses, whereas Made to Measure is typically offered by large luxury brands: think Zegna, Corneliani, Reiss, Boss, Hackett, and others. Independent tailors have recently also started offering made to measure tailoring, in addition to bespoke services.

When debating whether to choose bespoke or made to measure tailoring you need to bare in mind the key areas of difference: fit, timing, price, and customisation possibilites.

Here is a short summary of how made to measure vs bespoke suits fare:

– Fit: bespoke fit much better than made to measure
– Time: made to measure takes a lot less time than bespoke
– Customization: bespoke offers almost infinite possibilities to customize your garment, much less so with made to measure

Fit

Bespoke tailors draw a unique paper pattern by hand. Made to Measure tailors use an existing pattern and make some basic modifications to it. However, it’s more complicated than that.

Bespoke tailors take 25-30 of your body measurements to create your pattern. Every bespoke tailor has their opinion on how a suit should fit, something that is referred to as a ‘house cut’ or a ‘house style’. For example, Savile Row tailors tend to cut with larger allowances while Italian tailors cut closer to the body. A customer won’t know the ‘house cut’ until he comes in for the first fitting, which means that there are more fittings at different stages of the process. Usually, bespoke tailors have anything between 3-5 fittings before the semi-finished garment is approved by the customer. It is best to choose a tailor whose work you have already seen in photos or on other people to minimise the need for follow up fittings.

When it comes to made to measure the basic modifications to the pattern would normally be around jacket/sleeve length & waist circumference – although that can vary from one brand to another, some may also be able to adjust chest & shoulder width. 

Some brands will make your suit accounting for all the modifications in the process of making the garment, others will only add the alterations after the garment is made. Always opt for the ones that are able to deliver the garment with your measurements accounted for in the making. Why? When it comes to the length of the jacket, there is only so much you can shorten it before the buttons & pocket placement is out of proportion to the length, for example.

Bare in mind that when it comes to Made to Measure an existing pattern of one brand may fit you better than that of the other. Variations between brands are typically in how generous they are in the chest & sleeve areas – these are typically not the areas that can be adjusted with made to measure tailoring. It is best to try patterns of various brands to see how they feel as a starting point and ask which modifications to the block are possible, before deciding on which brand to go ahead with.

Overall the fit of a bespoke garment will always be superior to that of a made to measure garment. As bespoke tailoring accounts for many more aspects that make a dramatic difference to how well the suit fits, such as shoulder angles, sleeve angles, posture, shoulder width & so much more.

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