Suits have been around for hundreds of years going in and out of styles. With so many companies, tailors, and store fronts to choose from, how do you know you’re getting the right one for you? In this article, I will be going over the differences between custom suits and suits off the rack to help you determine what’s best for you.
The term “suit” dates back centuries ago and is constantly evolving from the Frock Jacket to the Morning coat to knee breech trousers to today’s modern business suit. Beau Brummell the godfather of the modern suit redefined the term popularizing finely tailored jackets, double breasted waste coats, and full-length trousers. Although not technically a suit because men wore contrasting colored trousers it was the look and style that our modern-day suit was evolved from
Let’s get this right from the start. A lot of companies out there claim they have “fully custom” or “bespoke” suits. So, I will break down what a true bespoke suit is. The word bespoke was derived the verb “bespeak” which means to give order for it to be made. Makes sense, right? Bespoke suits are the best fitting garments you can get. They require multiple fittings with the unfinished garment ensuring the most elegant fit. Bespoke suits are cut from scratch and each pattern is specifically drafted for the individual buying the suit. Since its made from scratch that gives you full autonomy to make it your own. From the fabric to the lining or lapel size you can even add hidden pockets. Due to the labor intensity of making these suits they can cost around $2000-$10,000 depending on fabric quality and structure and can take monthes to make.
Made to Measure
Next, we have made to measure or MTM for short. These suits are not bespoke but are customizable so people often refer to them as “custom suits.” Made to measure companies take an existing pattern and make small cuts and adjustments usually by machine to customize the fit. For example, let’s say you wear a size 40 jacket but have a slim waste and longer arms. Made to measure companies would take a size 40 pattern make appropriate cuts to accommodate your waste and longer sleeves. This also gives you the option to customize the look. Depending on company you will have different options like fabric, lining, and functional buttons. Made to measure suits require a one time measurement with 3-5 different measurements taken. Although you can customize these suits they tend to not fit well due to machine cutting and poor construction. These types of suits range from $400-$2000.
Off the Rack
Lastly, we have off the rack suits which are pretty self-explanatory. These are the suits well.. that you can go get off a rack of a department store or boutique. These are not customizable and will have various sizes you can choose from. Although usually the cheapest option you can still find extremely high-quality suits off the rack. If you have a very generic body type these types of suits will suffice but buying a suit off the rack and having a tailor make adjustments can be very costly. These types of suits are the least customizable and cost between $200-$2000.
So…. Now the question are bespoke or custom suits worth it??? In my opinion, it depends on your body type, occupation and overall attention to detail. There are some very nice companies like Suit Supply where you can get extremely high quality “custom like” suits for off the rack prices. The nice thing about Suit Supply is they have 7 different fits you can choose, from a very slim powerful cut called the Washington to a more regular casual cut called the Napoli.
For made to measure suits you have to be careful. Certain companies claim they can customize a suit for $399 or less. These types of made to measure suits are not high quality, poorly cut, and you are better off buying off the rack. That being said if you can’t find a suit off the rack that fits or you like the idea of customizing your suit and don’t want to wait months and spend $5000 made to measure is an option. Look for companies like InStitchu that have a multitude of customization options including canvas. You always want half or full canvas. Made to measure suits of good quality will usually range between $799-$1000.
Now, if you have $5000 burning a hole in your pocket and you want the best fitting most badass suit you can find then the Bespoke option is for you. Most of the time you will only be able to find bespoke tailors in large cities like NYC and London, but it is the ultimate option for the perfect suit if price and time is not a problem for you.
I personally have experimented with made to measure and off the rack suits and I will tell you that my off the rack Suit Supply suits fit better than any of my made to measure suits. Suit Supply suits range from $399-$1000 and I have both the cheapest and most expensive and both are amazing quality.
I hope this was informative and helpful. Finding the right suit can be hard with all the options we have today. But, having a well-tailored suit that fits your personality is something that every man should have in their closet. Drop me a question or comment below if you thought this was helpful or if you have any questions.