I came across this question in the archives that should clear up any concerns about whether to go for off-the-rack, made-to-measure, or bespoke suiting.

I’ve been reading more and more about suits that are made-to-measure versus those that are true bespoke. The price difference between the two categories can be quite staggering as well, with true bespoke selling for more than twice the price of MTM.

I was wondering if you could clear up what exactly the difference is there, and whether you think that a true bespoke suit is worth the investment relative to MTM.

True bespoke can be worth it for a person who can afford the cost, but certainly not necessary for a great fit.

Suits (and all clothing, for that matter) are made from patterns. Bespoke suiting involves having a suit pattern made specifically for you. It also requires multiple in-person measurements and fittings. Every step of the process is fully customized.

Made-to-measure is the middle ground between bespoke and “off the rack”. MTM has a few pre-made patterns, but you can customize it according to your specifications (wide chest but narrow torso, one shoulder higher than the other) and preferences (extra wide lapels, functioning button cuffs, tapered pants).

It’s not fully custom, but close enough for most guys.

If you’re an average-sized guy of normal means and you’re looking at buying a new suit, I’d definitely go MTM over bespoke.

But wait!

Don’t discount off-the-rack suiting, though. Again, assuming you’re an average-sized guy with regular proportions, most of the time, you can find a well-fitting, ready-made suit.

(There’s a good chance you fall into this “average size and proportions” categorization.)

It’s mostly about finding the brands that work for you, your body type, and your personal preferences.

So, final answer

Try on ready-made suits from different stores. Get a feel for the variance in fits across brands. Land on a few that fit you best (see this article and this one for more fit details).

Second, if you want special customizations or have certain preferences, check out MTM.

If money ain’t a thang, you have fine taste, and are able to find a great tailor, explore bespoke.

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10 Responses

  1. TJ on

    I hope to one day go bespoke but for now, it’s mostly OTR with the exception of one MTM suit I have from Indochino. If you’re going to go OTR or MTM you also have to figure out which brands work for you. I know a lot of people who say they’ve gotten terrible fits with Indochino for example, but mine fit pretty well out of the box with minimal tailoring.

  2. Simon on

    So far cost has prevented me from anything other than off the rack. However my wife has been making alterations on these garments and making them as good as made to measure.
    I have come across this site recently tho http://www.tailor4less.com/en-uk/ which is making me give serious consideration to a made to measure suit.

  3. Gazman on

    Some MTM ops try and pass themselves off as bespoke – for the added prestige and because they know many customers do not know the difference. Their deception is aided by the media, which are generally also ignorant of the difference. When challenged as to why they refer to themselves as bespoke when clearly they are not, these outfits often use a very loose and broad definition of the term ‘bespoke’ to justify their position.

  4. Liamoliver on

    I strongly opt for only bespoke clothes. The fit and comfort which is achieved from bespoke garments is unbeatable. I personally have refurbished my wardrobe with bespoke collection and I thank Manning Company Bespoke tailors who helped me achieve the real luxurious feel. You can have a look in to their extraordinary features at http://www.manningcompany.com and judge yourself.

  5. UTexasex on

    Southwick (albeit they only advertise fully canvassed MTM suits) have been making my suits for the past two years, and I would put them up against any bespoke suit on the market. I have gone into the store to pick up my suits, after they had been finished, and they fit so perfectly, I picked out a shirt and tie, and headed off for a business meeting I had postponed to take care of any tailoring that might have been needed after delivery. This attributable to the knowledge of the sales associate who has the know how to take all the measurements that would be used in a bespoke suit. I understand that Southwick is expanding its fabric line to include more Loro Piana, and I only wish they had included more Zegna fabrics which two of my five Southwick suits had been made of in the spring of 2014. I spent two years and close to $30K on Samuelsohn crap where they could not even line up the windowpane lines on one of their expensive sport coats (this happened twice).
    I started doing some hard research for fully canvassed suits other than what Samuelsohn had to offer and cost less. I found out that Southwick was making the clothes for Ralph Lauren Black or Purple line (which ever is the most preppy and elite), Hickey-Freeman for older men, and Brooks Brothers 1800 line, MTM, very all business, strictly bankers and financial executives. But, for us who are now retired and lived life a little bit more recklessly in our youth and in our youth, I would pick, union made in America Southwick and choose from either their own fabric lineup, which is very good, Holland and Sherry, Scabal, Loro Piana, and maybe Zegna cloth. You will walk away, if you have a genius sales associate who gets out his triangles and curves, along with his tape, and if you have a suit in your closet you like, bring it in. Southwick will copy it. Bespoke from MTM…that’s why I have been choosing Southwick for the past two and a half years, and unless they break that confidence, they have a customer in me for life.