Updated: Aug 29
Made-to-measure and bespoke are two terms often used interchangeably when it comes to custom clothing. However, understanding these concepts' critical differences can significantly enhance your shopping experience. This article will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the distinctions between made-to-measure and bespoke tailoring.
What is the difference between bespoke and made-to-measure? Should I choose made-to-measure suits vs bespoke suits for a job interview, a formal dinner, or even as a groom? Understanding different tailoring methods can help you figure out the difference between bespoke and made-to-measure and learn which suit is best suited for your social or professional needs.
Off-the-rack tailoring methods refer to manufactured suits that are sold in retail shops or malls. These suits won't necessarily provide a good fit because they are manufactured to the average male size, weight, and height. There isn't any tailoring done here, no bespoke or made-to-measure options, although you can pay extra to modify an off-the-rack suit.
However, even an off-the-rack suit is costly. You can buy a suit made from high-quality wool for thousands of dollars, but if you're paying that premium price, it might be worth investing in custom tailoring right from the start with a bespoke vs. made-to-measure suit.
Sometimes it can be cheaper
You can get a good quality suit straight away
The suit won’t fit well, and it might look “cheap” because of incorrectly sloped shoulders or arm holes
Made in assembly lines so you get something fast and cheap, but it shows
Custom tailoring refers to any situation where a suit is customized to your needs but there is still a difference between bespoke and made-to-measure custom tailoring. Made-to-measure is one step higher than something off the rack, made using a base pattern, while bespoke suits are the absolute peak of personalized measurements and tailoring.
The sizes are based on your fit and frame
The price might not be as high as you think compared to an off-the-rack suit you have to get fixed to fit
There is a wait time for bespoke or made-to-measure suits because they are custom-tailored
Made-to-measure vs bespoke
Of the custom tailoring options, there are two categories that are often confused but represent distinct opportunities:
Made-to-measure suits use patterns that are already cut based on industry sizes. You can only choose from the available fabric options but they can make minimal adjustments to the pattern, such as length, to better fit your body.
The critical difference between a made-to-measure suit and an off-the-rack suit is that anything off the rack has already been assembled, so if you go into a shop and you put on a suit that is then fitted with pins or marks where adjustments will be made, that's an off the rack suit. By comparison, if you go in and have measurements taken and a suit is made using a pattern in those measurements, it's a made-to-measure suit.
This option gives you a faster turnaround over bespoke suits
These are significantly more affordable than bespoke suits
You get a more precise fit based on your personal measurements
There are limits to the fabric and design options
Bespoke suits are the epitome of custom designs. This is the highest quality suit you can purchase, with the end result being something perfect for the red carpet. Bespoke tailors charge a hefty commission but the experience is memorable, and you know that you are getting the absolute finest design, fit, and feel.
An expert tailor will often take over 25 measurements to determine your proportions, body shape, and posture. This takes into account any asymmetry you have in the slope of your shoulders or the length of your arms.
Every part of your suit is made from scratch, which means you get expert advice from the tailor with whom you are working, and you can give your opinion on what features you want. This includes things like higher armholes, exact positioning for your buttons, thinner lapels, or a higher fit on your waistband. Everything is within your control.
You have complete control over customization in terms of fit, fabric, and style
The suit will be made to fit your body exactly, without any pre-existing patterns of suits modified only for the length
It takes a lot of time to make a bespoke suit, so plan ahead.
Price, price, and price, so expect it to be a hefty investment, but one that is well worth it
The table below provides a quick view of the differences between made-to-measure suits vs bespoke suits:
Available after several weeks of custom tailoring
Available almost immediately
Ultimate precision and fit for your body
A better fit than off-the-rack, with personal measurements used
Highest customization options
Limited to existing designs and patterns
Choosing between made-to-measure and bespoke tailoring comes down to factors like your budget, your needs, and the type of suit you want. If you are on a strict timeline and you need something right away, a made-to-measure suit is much faster. Similarly, it's more affordable, so if you are on a tight budget, that might be the way to go. But if you are looking for the ultimate customization with a wider range of designs and patterns and personalized fit, you want bespoke.