THREE SUITING TERMS EXPLAINED: Off the Rack, MADE TO MEASURE, AND bespoke
You have decided to invest in a suit. Great job! You are spoilt for choices when you visit the mall. You try a few suits, but something is off and you cannot put a finger on it. You try size M. The jacket looks like a generic box on you. Size S feels like acupuncture. You ask for help and phrases like ‘Off The Rack’, ‘Bespoke’ and Made to Measure’ are thrown around.
Confused? Look no further. We'll explore the three main options you have when it comes to finding your dream suit: off the rack, made to measure, and bespoke.
Off the Rack
This one might be a bit self-explanatory, as “off the rack” implies just that. These suits are the ones you buy from the retail stores, going through the given choices and sizes. Of course, it’s certainly possible to find quality off the rack items if you are a standard fit size, but this can be labor intensive and frustrating, and it doesn’t allow for much individuality (i.e. you do not have any autonomy in choosing the features of the suit, barring the colour and the size).
Made to Measure
If you’re seeking more options for customisations but you’re price-conscious, choose a made-to-measure suit.
Here's what to expect with made-to-measure suiting:
At SuitYourself, buying a made-to-measure suit means it’s constructed based on your measurements and you have comparatively more choices and vote in the fabric and features of the suit. This tailoring is based on the measurements that your SuitYourself Style Guide takes during your first visit, as well as an analysis on your posture. The final touch is the customisations such as the lapel and vents. Your Style Guide can help you select from the range of options depending on the occasion for the suit and your style preference.
The final option is ‘Bespoke’, which is considered to be the most premium level of suit making that is made for you and only you. The customisations of a bespoke suit are only limited by your imagination.
There is no correct way of making a suit (If there were, it would be Bespoke!). Each type of suit has its pros and cons. To decide which is the best suit for you, let’s evaluate the options based on 5 parameters - Control, Fit, Quality, Time and Price.
This is the key difference between the three types of suits. Off the rack suits are made in bulk, in factories usually, and are available across sizes. Your degree of control for these suits is a Hobson’s Choice. If you are not a stickler for how you want your suit (you should be), then what the market offers you, should suffice (it shouldn’t).
With Made to Measure suits, you have a a certain degree of control with regards to your suit. While this is not ultimate control, it is still much better than nothing at all. You can choose the number of buttons, the kind of fabric, the fit, the colour and a few aspects about the style.
Bespoke suits come with the highest possible degree of control. It is only limited by what you can think (or speak!) A tailor will carefully craft your suit by hand, and every step is unique to the customer, from the pattern and thread colors to the lapels and buttons.
The rule of thumb for fit is, a fitting $100 suit makes you look sharper than an ill fitting $1,000 suit.
When you buy off the rack, you choose from the available sizes. It goes without saying that you may not have found that perfect fit. The logical step after buying a suit from off the shelves is to get it altered to suit your body. But then, there is only so much your neighbourhood alteration person can do.
For a better fit, a made to measure suit is always a better option. Though you will not meet the tailor who makes your suit, your body measurements will be taken by trained Style Guides, and the final product will fit your body well.
Bespoke suits fit like a glove. Or a second layer of skin. You meet with your tailor, who get first hand knowledge of your body’s silhouette and the suit will account for every curve, every muscle. You will have multiple fitting sessions before the final product is handed to you.
Essentially, the fabric and material of the suit make up its quality, while workmanship is also an integral part. Most of the off the shelve suits are factory made, and there is no personal touch to it. They’re made in bulk, so the have a uniform like connotation to them. You have no choice in the selection of fabric for off the rack suits.
When getting tailor made suits, you generally have more options in terms of fabric. The selection varies between made to measure which usually has fewer fabric options (not to be confused with colour options) and bespoke, that has a larger pool of fabrics (including branded ones) to choose from.
Sometimes, you need a suit for your wedding three months down the line. Sometimes you need it for a job interview, three days down the line. Time is a cruicial aspect in deciding where to buy your suit from.
Off the racks suits are ready in a few hours, assuming you get some alterations done.
Made to measure suits usually take a few weeks to get stitched and are worth the wait, since they are made as per your body’s major measurements and would fit better than an altered, off the shelf suit.
Bespoke is a lengthy process, requiring upwards of six to 10 fittings throughout the construction of the garment, and a wait time of six to eight months. This means it isn’t feasible for many, unless you have the funds and the time required to do so.
The previous parameters would have painted the picture for the pricing of the suits.
Off the rack are the cheapest suits because one size fits most. They are made in bulk and are sold as any other garment.
Made to measure suits are slightly pricier than their ready made counter parts, since they are made specially for you, but the difference usually is just a few hundred dollars.
Bespoke suits up your style to the new level. They also down your wallet to a new level. Expect shelling out a few thousand dollars for a bespoke suit.
The Bottom Line
All three categories of suits have their pros and cons. If you are going to wear a suit once and need it in a few days, off the rack is the place for you. For more regular users on a budget, made to measure is the perfect option. If you take your suits seriously and do not mind paying a considerable amount, head over to a reputed bespoke tailor.
If you're looking for a fuss-free experience, where you can have quality, custom, tailored suit without breaking the bank and be guided through the suiting process - SuitYourself welcomes you to our showroom.