Made To Measure vs. Bespoke vs. Ready To Wear
Suit shopping especially for first-timers who want to invest in higher-end wardrobe essentials can be overwhelming. Whether you’re a veteran gentleman or an amateur looking to finally replace your sweats with more complex pieces to elevate your style, it’s important to know the difference between bespoke, made-to-measure and ready to wear because depending on the fit, fabric quality and/or occasion your suit shopping for, this basic terminology is worth knowing.
Let’s begin with the two most incorrectly used terms, bespoke, and made to measure.
Bespoke and made to measure (MTM) are similar in the sense that they are meant to fit the client more precisely, however, the level of precision in the final fit and overall quality wildly differs due to the amount of labor used in each make. Typically low to mid-range fabrics will be used in MTM in order to make it a more cost-effective option for consumers. When boiled down, the biggest difference lies in the pattern making process and often the finishing.
Made-to-measure is a ‘custom suit’ that is cut, usually by machine, from an existing block pattern, and adjusted according to the client’s measurements. Block patterns are usually a set of paper patterns that have been designed for a variety of chest sizes and starting points for each garment. Once a client is measured a block pattern is selected that most closely corresponds with the customer’s measurements. It is then altered to match the customer’s measurements. The garment is constructed from this altered pattern. This results in a more exact fit especially for body types that don’t fit the ‘off-the-rack’ measurements, which is most men as true body symmetry is rare.
Made-to-measure allows for customization which you can’t get from ready-to-wear as well as an improved fit, however, made-to-measure always involves some form of standardization in the pattern-making and manufacturing. Typically you’ll find the majority of Made-to-measure garments are constructed with large amounts of machine work in order to keep production times between 1-3 weeks.
The ‘Bespoke’ in bespoke tailoring is derived from the word bespeak (to be spoken for) and is essentially a very English definition of a tailor arranging and handcrafting a suit specifically for you.
The main difference and reason why the bespoke suit is so valuable and rare nowadays is that the pattern is made from scratch based on the individual’s specifications and is 100% handcrafted usually by one person (or one person that specializes in each task ie, drafting, cutting or buttonholes). As a result far more attention to minute fit details including multiple fittings during the construction process.
Bespoke Tailoring allows for the most detailed perimeters of the suit to be altered which cannot be done with a made-to-measure suit. It is commonly said that bespoke tailoring has the ability to hide the client’s own ‘imperfections’.
Bespoke tailoring is achieved through a series of fittings:
‘The Baste fitting’
This is to test that the tailoring is going in the right direction. It is called baste as the cloth basted together using white basting cotton.
At this point, the suit will look much more finished. Forward baste fittings are a good way of measuring the progress of the suit, but it is also an opportunity to finalize some important choices – width lapels, buttons, more shaping
The fin-bar-fin ‘nearly there fitting is carried out if the customer has an unusual figuration or some other good reason for a third fitting. At this point the layered fittings will create the most precise fit for the client.
If you have a perfectly symmetrical body then ready-to-wear is the optimal choice for you but chances are you don’t. Ready-to-wear, also called off the rack, is simply a garment that can be bought in-store, straight off the rack, and is meant to be worn immediately without tailoring.
The upside is that it’s a quick, cost-effective purchase, an easy catch for beginners who want to elevate their wardrobe or people looking to shop on a budget, however, when it comes to suiting this is something that you should invest in. It will be the best purchase in your wardrobe and can be utilized for any business-related or “dress code” occasion. No matter what choice you go with when suit shopping makes sure you make a selection that creates a healthy balance between comfort and style.
What you see is what you get, so to speak.
It is the easiest way to suit shop, however, the downside is it will never fit you quite right even if you get it altered afterward. It is very rare that mass-market sizing is an absolutely perfect fit. And even if you think it fits you perfectly it most likely doesn’t as a professional tailor would notice little details that you may not.
Comments are closed