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When it comes to suits, there are three options: off-the-rack, made-to-measure or custom, and bespoke.
What’s the difference between these three? Is one superior than the other? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
Everything you need to know about the three main types of suits may be found here.
Off the rack, made to measure, custom, bespoke. If you’ve come across these terms but aren’t sure what they signify, you’ve come to the right place.
If you’ve heard these terms before and have a broad concept of what they mean, but need additional clarification. You’ve come to the right place as well.
I’m going to keep it as basic as possible. I’ll go through the advantages and disadvantages of each type of suit, as well as why you might prefer one over the other.
Off The Rack
This is precisely what it appears to be. Off-the-rack suits can be found in almost any store, including Macy’s, Suitsupply, Banana Republic, and J.Crew.
Machines make off-the-rack suits. They are mass-produced in large quantities. And there’s a lot of variation in terms of quality and norms.
An Express off-the-rack suit will not be the same price or quality as, for example, a Tom Ford off-the-rack suit.
If it’s an off-the-rack suit, a machine is creating it, regardless of whether it’s a big-name designer or a no-name label.
The sizes are all the same. And, unless you can discover a brand that absolutely nails your fit, you should budget for adjustments.
What are the advantages of a ready-to-wear suit?
The most significant advantage is accessibility. You can buy something straight away if you need it.
Drawbacks? There are a few. A mass-market suit is called an off-the-rack suit. And because everyone’s physique is different, it’s nearly impossible to create a suit that will fit everyone properly.
If you buy off the rack, you’ll almost certainly have to spend money on a tailor to achieve a better fit.
Following that, you have a very restricted range of options in terms of suit quality, fabric, and construction.
Also, you receive exactly what you see. You have no influence over any of the suit’s details. We’re discussing stuff like lapel width, pocket style, button colors, linings, and so on.
So, if you’re going to buy off the shelf, my recommendation is to pay attention to one thing in particular. And it is to ensure that the jacket is properly fitted to your shoulders. This is the one area where change is both difficult and expensive. You don’t want to become involved with that.
If you’re going to buy off the rack, the greatest thing you can do is make sure you have a correct fit in the shoulders.
Made to Measure Or Custom
The next form of suit is a made-to-measure suit, sometimes known as a custom suit. A made-to-measure suit is constructed from a pre-existing pattern that is then altered to fit you better.
When compared to off-the-rack clothing, made-to-measure clothing has a lot more gradations, so you’ll undoubtedly get a better-fitting item.
For the most part, made-to-measure suits are still constructed by machines, but some programs do give handmade solutions for specific elements of the outfit.
You have a lot more control with made to measure. You get to pick the fabric. You get to pick the lapel and pocket styles, as well as the number of vents and buttons. Which color would you like your buttons to be? T he lining. Do you want a cuff on your wrist? Do you prefer not to wear a cuff?
The level of control you have will vary depending on the program. Only a few modification choices are available in some cases. Some people have the impression that they are in perfect control.
I’ll say that in the nearly nine years I’ve been in the business, I’ve witnessed remarkable improvements in the quality of made-to-measure programs available.
It’s a fantastic alternative. It has numerous advantages, the most important of which is that you have far greater control. In most cases, you’ll also get a higher-quality clothing with a more tailored fit.
It is more expensive to have something made to measure. You’ll also have to wait longer. From the time you place your purchase until the garment arrives, it can take anything from four to eight weeks.
Then, when the outfit arrives, it will most likely not fit perfectly. You’ll probably need to give yourself another week, if not two, for changes to truly dial in the fit.
If made to measure is within your budget, it is something I strongly recommend. Not only will you have a higher-quality garment and a better fit, but you will also have a lot more control over the customization of your suit, depending on the program.
Finally, there’s bespoke. This is the ultimate, one-of-a-kind option. It also represents the pinnacle of craftsmanship and excellence.
The term “bespoke” stems from the days when a tailor would have bolts of fabric on hand and the client would select one. The fabric was then said to have been spoken for from that point forward.
Unlike a made-to-measure suit, which is constructed from a pre-existing pattern, a custom suit is made from scratch.
The tailor will collect your measurements and develop a completely unique pattern for you.
You have complete and total control over every element with a tailored suit. It is possible to make any little adjustments or customizations.
Bespoke suits are often constructed and finished entirely by hand. However, depending on the program, a machine may play a role in the manufacturing process at some point.
One thing I’d like to mention regarding bespoke is that every tailor will have their own personal style. That could be a particular shoulder style. It could be due to the way the lapel line falls.
To that, I’d argue that if you’re doing bespoke, you should relinquish some control over the stylistic nuances that are unique to the house you’re working with.
You should not, for example, request a soft shoulder when ordering a suit from Edward Sexton. You’re working with the tailor because you’ve done your research, you’re familiar with their history, designs, and styles, and that’s why you’ve chosen them.
What are the advantages of a tailored suit?
You will be receiving a one-of-a-kind item. You have complete control over the look and feel of the design, as well as all of the specifics. You’re receiving something of exceptional value. You’ll receive a better fit because the pattern is tailored just for you.
All of this comes at a cost that can be exorbitant.
You also have a very long lead time, as well as many fittings. After having done bespoke before, I can tell you that there is nothing like a bespoke suit.
However, that level of quality and execution comes at a cost. Bespoke is not for everyone on a budget. However, if you can afford it, you will not be disappointed.
So, you have three options: off-the-rack, made-to-measure, and bespoke.
Which One Should You Get?
If you’re serious about investing in your wardrobe, avoid buying off-the-rack suits, in my opinion.
Even if it costs a little more and takes a little longer to save up, choosing a recognized and high-quality made-to-measure program will result in a far better-fitting outfit.
You will receive a garment of greater quality. You’ll also have more control, ensuring that you receive exactly what you need.
Bespoke is fantastic, but it is prohibitively pricey. I wouldn’t stop you if you can afford it. Another factor is that the finished product takes a long time to arrive.