Bespoke vs Made-to-Measure Suits: What’s the Difference?

In the world of menswear, the terms bespoke and made-to-measure are often mistakenly regarded as synonyms, even though they speak to vastly different suit-buying experiences. Made-to-measure refers to clothing cut and sewn to your measurements from a predefined pattern, while bespoke clothing is patterned and cut, usually by hand, with a specific client in mind. If you’re considering the purchase of a custom-made suit, it’s important to know the level of quality, customization, and fit each option provides.

What is Made-to-Measure?

The fastest and least expensive suits you can find are ready-to-wear. You’re probably already familiar with the buying process: You scour the menswear department in search of something you like in your size, then you pull a suit from the rack and hope it fits. While ready-to-wear suits offer the speed and convenience implied by the name, they’re made in a factory and produced for the mass market—and often fit that way. You can tailor ready-to-wear suits for a better fit, but you’re still working from a pretty generic mold.

Made-to-measure suits are a step above ready-to-wear in both customization and fit. After you select a particular style of suit, a version of it is created for you based on your measurements. Some made-to-measure providers stitch together garments out of pieces of fabric that are pre-cut in different sizes, while others cut the garments from fixed patterns.

The Advantages and Limitations of Made-to-Measure

A made-to-measure suit will most likely fit you better than ready-to-wear clothing. You’ll also have some control over the selection of custom details such as color, fabric, and cut—certainly more than you’d have with a ready-to-wear suit. A made-to-measure suit, while generally more expensive than its off-the-rack counterpart, will cost less than a bespoke suit.

It costs less because you’re getting less—less craftsmanship, less commitment to achieving a perfect fit, less focus on your individual preferences, and far less control over the finished product than you have with a bespoke suit. A made-to-measure suit is customizable only within a limited set of predefined options. Since it’s made from a mass-produced pattern, there are only so many ways it can be personalized for you.

If you purchase multiple made-to-measure suits, you can also expect a lack of consistency from suit to suit, just as you’d find with ready-to-wear clothing. Sometimes a made-to-measure suit will fit well, while sometimes it will need additional tailoring to look custom-made.

What Is a Bespoke Suit?

bespoke suits are patterned and cut to precise measurementsIn the world of tailored menswear, bespoke refers to clothing that is designed, patterned, and cut for one particular client. The practice rose to prominence with the tailors of Savile Row in nineteenth-century London, who would set aside fine fabrics for the exclusive use of certain clients; those materials would, in other words, be spoken for. In that era, England’s renowned tailors hand-crafted some of the world’s most sophisticated and elegant clothing; today, that same high level of customization and fit is what distinguishes a bespoke suit. Purchasing a bespoke suit is a unique process, which begins with a consultation about your wardrobe needs. You’ll discuss style options, select your fabrics, and choose special customized features. Precise and detailed measurements will be taken to ensure the best possible fit, then a pattern will be created from those measurements exclusively for your bespoke piece.

The Modern World of Bespoke Suiting

A bespoke suit represents an investment of both time and money. It will almost certainly be more expensive than a made-to-measure suit, and it won’t offer you the grab-and-go convenience of ready-to-wear.

However, for those with both the means and the desire for a sophisticated and eye-catching wardrobe, ordering a bespoke suit offers an unparalleled experience. You’ll be granted a high level of control over every element of your look, complete with hand-crafted personal details like patterned linings, pick stitching, and buttonholes. A bespoke suit utilizes the expertise and knowledge of professional stylists, designers, and tailors to create a look for one person: you.

In addition to helping you build a versatile professional wardrobe, a bespoke designer can create an outfit for a special occasion or present you with an array of everyday garments that match your individual style. Whether for work or for leisure, bespoke tailoring will allow you to create dynamic, customized looks.

The Knot Standard Difference

Experience the Knot Standard differenceKnot Standard falls in between made-to-measure and bespoke, offering the fabric and customization choice of bespoke with the speed and pricing of made-to-measure. When you visit a Knot Standard showroom to experience the superior benefits of custom clothing for yourself, a knowledgeable stylist will consult with you about your preferences before using state-of-the-art technology to take comprehensive measurements, from which a pattern will be created. Your stylist will walk you through over seventy different customization options for your suit and provide you with access to seven thousand premium fabrics shipped directly from world-renowned mills in Italy and England. The individual pattern of your garment will be cut by laser for the most flattering fit. Depending on the pattern, the fabric will be either laser-cut or hand-cut, then assembled by hand.

Once your garment is ready, your stylist will contact you to come in for a fitting, at which point any necessary alterations and adjustments will be made. At the conclusion of the process, you’ll be the owner of a custom suit created solely for you, designed and tailored to your precise measurements and specifications. In terms of quality, fit, and customization, made-to-measure clothing can’t compare to the Knot Standard experience.