7 Distinctions Between Made To Measure & Bespoke Suits
What's the difference between Made to Measure (MTM) and Bespoke?
With the resurgence in popularity of menswear in recent years, partly due to a combination of popular TV shows such as Mad Men and Suits, innovative online menswear companies and social media influencers, men have never had so many options when it comes to their dress clothing.
Unfortunately, the words made to measure, custom and bespoke get used too ambiguously by large brands and crafty marketing campaigns it leads many men astray. These types of large menswear brands are best known for ready to wear (RTW) or off the rack suits, meaning they are mass produced. This article isn’t about ready to wear or off the rack suits, rather I just wanted to point out another distinction of true custom, made to measure and bespoke suits.
The true differences between made to measure (MTM) and bespoke come down to 7 key distinctions. Of these distinguishing points above all is quality and price. The quality of any men’s garments is heavily influenced by its material, style, and how it is crafted to fit the wearer. So let’s take a look at these 7 key distinctions.
1. Pattern Making
Made to Measure Suits: Your unique measurements are used to create a custom pattern within a computer aided design (CAD) program. This pattern is modified to produce a suit fit and style that you selected. Then this pattern is cut from your selected fabric and is ready for the next phase of suit construction.
Note: Not all made to measure (MTM) suits are created equally. Some MTM companies actually take your measurements and will adjust the closest fitting size to fit you. For example, if you normally wear a 44R they might tailor a 44R jacket to your measurements. You should avoid those types of MTM outfits. One way you can tell is by how many measurements they require. If they only run with 5-7 measurements … that’s not a good sign. For comparison, we need 18 measurements!
Bespoke Suits: A custom pattern is created from your unique measurements and body shape. This pattern is hand made and requires more measurements and notes than a made to measure suit. For example, the curvature of your back, slope of your shoulders, if one shoulder is lower than the other, this all gets taken into account here. The pattern is hand drawn and cut.
Note: Not all bespoke tailors go into the same depth of detail when creating a bespoke garment. Definitely do your research ahead of time. Being burned on a $400 MTM suit is easier to swallow than a $5,000 bespoke suit.
Made to Measure Suits: Traditional brick and mortar made to measure outfits might have one initial fitting and set of measurements. Then a final fitting to see if you require alterations.
Online MTM companies don’t do fittings. We only require your measurements and body shape profile to craft the perfect suit for you.
Bespoke Suits: A bespoke fit requires multiple fittings while the garment is being made. Depending on your tailor and their level of detail you could require as few as 2 or as many as 5+ fittings. This is where bespoke has a leg up on made to measure, but is it worth the hefty premium? Only you can decide.
These generally start out with a baste fitting which is a very early stage of garment creation. Possibly a forward baste fitting. Then a Fin bar Fin fitting, basically the final fitting. Each fitting a revision of the previous getting closer to a more perfect fitting garment.
3. Fabric Selection
Made to Measure Suits: Most MTM tailors feature a hand picked selection of fabrics from 1-2 fabric mills. A mill refers to the textile factory / mill where the fabrics are created. Some more, some less. It really just depends on the MTM company you’re dealing with. This doesn’t matter a whole lot, except to offer a wide selection of fabrics and to offer multiple price and quality points.
Bespoke Suits: Bespoke tailors typically offer a large selection from 5-10+ different fabric mills. This is because bespoke is a more unique and custom experience that is catered to each individual customer. This comes at a hefty price though, more on this in point 7.
4. Design / Customization Options
Made to Measure Suits: A list of customizations / options that you can select or adjust for your suit build. Some MTM tailors offer more customization, some a lot less. We allow many customization that include: the type of jacket construction (fused, half canvas or full canvas), suit style/fit (slim, classic or loose), lapel type (notch or peak), pick stitching, pocket style (normal or slanted with optional ticket pocket), # of jacket buttons (single or double breasted), type of buttons used (plastic, horn or shell), # of jacket vents (none, 1 or 2), sleeve button functionality, pant pleats (flat/none, 1 or 2), pant cuffs, and jacket liners.
Keep in mind that not all MTM tailors will offer this much customization. We believe in making this experience as custom as possible and offer you as much customization as possible.
Bespoke Suits: There is no defined list of what you can or can’t do. A true bespoke tailor will hand craft your bespoke suit. Customization is limitless, only your imagination can hinder you here. If you can think of it your tailor should be able to do it. Remember, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. The more crazy your customizations, the more it’s going to cost you.
5. Facetime with Tailor
Made to Measure Suits: Minimal or none. At a brick and mortar store you may talk with a salesmen who will take your measurements. For online outfits (like us) you will need to take your own measurements following our easy measuring guide or go to your local tailor to have your measurements taken.
Bespoke Suits: If it’s a true bespoke operation you should be meeting and talking directly with the tailor constructing your garment. Some bespoke outfits skip this step and relay information to a tailor. The tailor is the one crafting your garment, so you should really try to figure out if you’re talking with the tailor. If not, you should find another bespoke operation where you can meet with the actual tailor. We don’t see the point in paying extra for bespoke if the tailor isn’t actually present to ensure the greatest fit possible.
6. Time Commitment
Made to Measure Suits: It takes approximately 10 minutes to measure yourself. Then as much time as you take to decide on your suit customization options. After placing your order it takes on average 3-4 weeks to receive your custom suit.
- 10-15+ minutes for initial order placement
- 3-4 weeks for delivery
Bespoke Suits: This is where bespoke and MTM differ a lot. Your bespoke tailor will measure you the first time for a set of base measurements, this takes approximately 10-30 minutes. Then you’ll talk with your tailor about your needs and what options you want, another 30 minutes to an hour later to place your order. You’ll need to schedule an appointment for a baste fitting approximately 2-4 weeks after your initial order was placed. Another appointment for a forward baste fitting, 2-3 more weeks out. Then a final fitting 1-2 weeks out. Some bespoke outfits involve more fittings, some less. In total it’s a large time commitment to meet with your tailor multiple times during its construction. From start to finish a bespoke suit takes on average 4-8+ weeks for delivery.
- 30-90+ minutes for initial order placement
- Multiple fittings / adjustments
- 4-8+ weeks for delivery
7. Price / Investment
A quality suit is an investment in yourself. You wear it to look professional, handsome and elegant. With advancements in technology you don’t have to spend a fortune for a quality suit. Many $500 MTM suits have a superb fit and high quality fabric that competes or outperforms a $2,000 bespoke suit.
Made to Measure Suits: MTM can be found for as little as $200, and as high as $1,000+. Quality varies wildly among MTM outfits as the internet has provided startups an easy route to market. Things to look for in a quality MTM outfit include: a large number of measurements (15+), large selection of fabrics, more customization options, and a price point that reflects this. For example, the $200 MTM suit is probably a gimmick where they’re altering existing garments to your measurements. We’ve found the sweet spot for quality and price is in the $350-700 range.
- $200 to $1,000+ (varies wildly in price/quality)
- Best quality/price point is $350-700
Bespoke Suits: Also varies wildly in price from as low as $1,500+ to as much as $10,000+. At the lower end of the spectrum you’ll receive less attention to detail and lower quality fabrics. On the contrary, anything over $5,000 is for brand name or reputation and crazy customization. The sweet spot for bespoke is in the $2,000-5,000 range.
- $1,500 to $10,000+ (varies wildly in price and quality)
- Best quality/price point is $2,000 to $5,000
Conclusion - Getting the Perfect Fit
Nothing is created equally. At the end of the day it’s our own responsibility to make sure we receive a perfect fit by doing our homework and due diligence before buying clothing.
In my personal opinion, made to measure is the best value for your money if you can wait 3-4 weeks for a suit. If you need a suit next week you’re stuck with an off the rack or ready to wear suit. Off the rack suits that cost more than $500 are a rip off, you’re better off purchasing a MTM garment. Any MTM garment over $1,000 is also a rip off, you’re almost in bespoke territory.
I hope these 7 distinctions between made to measure and bespoke were helpful to you. Again, as men it’s on us to be educated and responsible for how our clothing fits. I want to educate you first and foremost. I got into this business to stop my fraternity brothers from being ripped off by the Name Brand suit companies using misleading flashy jargon some marketing director came up with.
To wrap this up, here’s a quick summary of MTM and bespoke.
Made To Measure Suits
- Made to your body measurements.
- Customization options such as buttons, liners, etc…
- Great fit – better than mass produced off-the-rack suits.
- From $200-1,000+.
- Delivery in 3-4 weeks.
- More precise custom fit suit. Several follow up fit adjustments while the garment is being constructed.
- More customization, get your initials hand sewn in your cuffs.
- From $1,500 to $10,000+
- Delivery in 4-8 weeks.
While our name Fraternity Suits implies that we cater to fraternity men, we cater our custom menswear to all men. When you get measured, select all the different customization options that make your suit unique, and wear your custom suit for the first time you are really joining an elite group of men – welcome to our fraternity, Fraternity Suits.