A lot of men are conditioned to think they have to shell out thousands of dollars for a custom experience thanks to splashy designer magazine spreads. But you don’t need to break the bank to get a suit that fits and makes you look fantastic!
The key is to understand the difference between Made to Measure, Custom and Bespoke suits. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice for your needs:
Most off-the-rack suits do not fit well straight out of the box and require extensive tailoring to get them to sit properly on your body. Added to that, the quality of these garments is often compromised by cheap tactics such as glued interlining.
Fortunately, bespoke tailors can offer you a suit that not only fits perfectly but also looks superb. The price tag for a bespoke suit may be high, but the initial investment will pay off in years of wear and superior comfort.
While MTM is a good option, a custom suit is an even better choice. Unlike MTM, which uses pre-existing block patterns (a 40 regular in Banana Republic is the same as a 42 in other stores), a custom suit involves a second fitting that includes a scrap jacket made of inexpensive fabric to work out the kinks of the pattern and ensure a perfect fit. A custom suit can also include design details like lapel style (notch, peaked, or shawl), pocket type (jetted, flapped, or patch), and button color.
A great suit is made from premium fabrics that fit like a second skin and feel luxurious against the skin. A bespoke tailor can offer an expansive fabric palette, including cotton, linen, wool and silk.
When choosing a fabric for your custom suit, consider where and when you will wear it. For example, a heavier winter worsted wool is best for cold weather and will retain warmth at different rates than lighter summer fabrics like linen or cotton.
Also consider lapel style (notch, peak or shawl) and width, pocket style (jetted, flap or patch), vents, trouser break and pleats. A fully canvassed jacket (as opposed to a fused or glued construction) is recommended for longevity, especially when teamed with functional sleeve buttons and a functioning boutonniere loop. A full canvass construction also helps the fabric retain its shape over time, which is not always true of a fused or glued suit.
The options for your Custom suit are virtually unlimited. From lapel style (notch or peak) to buttonhole color and lining fabric. There are even different kinds of pockets and vents that you can choose from.
MTM suits use block patterns to maintain consistency in sizing – that’s why the same 40 regular at Banana Republic fits the same as in a Ralph Lauren or a Tommy Bahama suit. During an MTM fitting, your tailor will use this same block pattern to alter a garment based on your measurements.
With a Bespoke suit, the fit is based on a single pattern for your specific suit and takes a much more detailed account of body shape and posture than MTM or custom. Bespoke suits typically require more than three basted fittings to ensure the fit. All work is done by hand, except for pockets, facings, and long seams. Bespoke suits are also fully canvassed. They are the highest form of a tailor-made suit.
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the right suit for you. But the fit and style are probably the most important ones. The fit of a custom or made to measure suit is based on a series of measurements taken by a tailor who will make a pattern for you. It takes time and a few fittings to ensure that the final garment fits well, but it’s worth it in the long run.
Many of the new online and e-commerce suit brands (Oliver Wicks, Indochino, Blank Label) offer made to measure suits. They are a great way to get the benefits of a custom suit without the initial cost and hassle of finding an experienced tailor. They often use fused construction, which uses a glued inter-liner instead of a sewn one. This is a tradeoff that will result in the jacket feeling stiffer and less draped than a suit with a sewn in liner.Custom suits