Made to Measure VS Bespoke Tailoring: The Differences

7 minutes read

Made to measure suits often get confused with bespoke tailoring and vice versa. We take an in depth look into the two styles of tailoring, so that you can see just how different they really are when you’re making a decision on which to choose.

What is made to measure tailoring?

In short, a made to measure suit is an upgrade from a ready to wear suit, where the choice of fabric, lining and design is all yours. For some, made to measure tailoring comes as a good choice made when nothing off the peg ever really fits properly, nor looks as good as you’d hoped. Understanding that time and a measuring tape is better handed to someone with experience and expertise to ensure that the clothes you buy will fit you much better than those ‘off the peg’. If you’re not a standard height or shape, then you’d be better suited to choosing a made to measure suit (Pardon the pun).

A Made to measure suit is initially created by the aid of a computer, from a pre-made block. It is then stitched together by a sewing machine, with some, but very little hand finishing. Enabling you to get a better fit with your own choice of design and fabric from a wide range of options. Made to measure suits take around 6-8 week to make with 1-2 further weeks for any further adjustments that may be required.

What is bespoke tailoring?

A Bespoke suit is for those who want an immaculate fit that is only wearable by the individual. A bespoke suit is hand crafted and offers a weightlessness that bespoke can only create. A bespoke suit is cut from scratch by a highly skilled tailor with years of experience. No computers are used and you have a paper pattern created exclusively for you, which is then marked out onto your chosen ‘bespoken’ fabric and then made into your suit.

A closer look into the differences with made to measure vs bespoke

We’ve broken each process down for both made to measure and bespoke into the various elements from the original appointment, to the fitting process to after care so you can see the true differences between them both.

Your initial appointment

You can expect both appointments to take the same amount of time (Approximately 45minutes to 1hour) with similar questions asked, which consists of your tailor getting to know you and your preferences. Some tailors will ask you what you want and make just that. At Alexandra Wood we fully guide our clients by offering them ideas which are designed to make you look more. We look at your lifestyle, skin tone and natural style to create you a tailored suit that you’ll love.


Made to measure suit measurements 

Approximately 16 measurements are taken for a made to measure suit. Both body measurements are taken, with measurements from an existing suit along whilst noting your configurations, which are explained below:

Configurations are the quirks that make your body different to others. For example:

-Posture (How you stand naturally is very important, to ensure the suit fits the way you stand)

-Arm pitch (Your arms may sit slightly forward or back and this makes an impact on how the sleeve hangs)

-Drop shoulders (Whether one or both of your shoulders slope)

-Prominent chest (Where the lapels may lift off of your chest because you have a large or built chest)

These are just a few examples. There are hundreds to choose from and it’s for the tailor to select which ones will be necessary and really make the difference. These are entered into the CAD machine, along with your measurements to create your unique suit.

Bespoke suit measurements 

Some tailors will vary on the number of measurements taken for a bespoke suit but they’re essentially relatively similar but are all taken from your body, rather than over a suit or with the use of a suit. Your configurations as above are all noted. One of the most accurate changes a bespoke suit can make over a made to measure suit is the chest. For example, a chest dart is cut into a bespoke suit to accommodate a prominent chest. On a made to measure suit, this kind of accuracy is impossible.

Made to measure suit designs 

As a made to measure suit is created by a machine, which limits you to the designs that can be created but the choice is pretty wide and offers what most people could realistically want. As a made to measure suit is created by a CAD machine it depends on the templated blocks that have been loaded into the machine. Here at Alexandra Wood we are constantly modernising our designs to ensure we keep up with both moving trends and demand.

Bespoke suit designs

With bespoke tailoring, the world is your oyster so there really is no limit when it comes to the design. For example, if you wanted three pleats at the back of your suit (God forbid!) then you’ve got it. As it’s hand cut, it’s down to the tailors capabilities vs templated computer designs.

The Pattern Cutting

Made to measure suit patterns 

is made using a computer aided design system. Your design is entered into a computer and is laser cut to precision. Once all of the elements of your suit is cut out (into multiple pieces), its then moved on for a number of skilled tailors to stitch together by machine.

Bespoke suit patterns 

starts with a paper pattern which will then be your eternal blueprint. Any change from future fittings are changed on the paper pattern. From there, your tailor will cut your chosen fabric which will form the first part of your fitting.

The Construction of a tailored suit

Manmade canvas

Inside made to measure, a man made canvas is used and the thickness depends on the cloth chosen to make your suit. This gives the upper body of your suit more body and is a little stiffer because of the materials used.

Natural horse hair canvas

Everything about bespoke uses the finest methods, this includes using natural horse hair in the canvas inside your suit (Also called interfacing) this allows for your jacket to move freely and mould to your body, where a stiffer, manmade fibre can’t. It is one of the most important elements of a bespoke suit and makes the most impact.

Finer details

With a made to measure suit short cuts tend to be made to keep the costs down and in a lower priced suit you will be offered, for example: plastic buttons over horne buttons, fake button holes (AKA sham) over real, opening button holes.  You may be offered these at an additional cost. We offer all of the high end touches free of charge.

With a bespoke suit there are finer details such as stitching of the lapels by hand which offer a more hand crafted appearance.

Overall finished Appearance

As a made to measure suit is machine cut and stitched, the overall appearance firm and structured with neat seam lines. There are options such as a full, floating canvas which you find in a bespoke suit but the way it’s made is the over ruling factor here.

Bespoke suits are mainly hand made so their finished appearance is much more delicate. The suit appears just as it is; hand crafted and flows and moulds with your body like no other.

How many suit fittings are needed?

With a made to measure fitting, your suit will come already made and you may be forgiven for thinking that your tailor has simply taken it off of the shop floor. It is because it is made straight to finish, with a few simple tweaks to bring it closer to perfection.

With a bespoke suit, you will have a fitting with a sleeve or two lightly tacked on (stitched) this enables the tailor to remove and re-place it to the best position for your body.

You will see what’s called lots of basted stitches (White stitching all over the jacket) This is lightly holding together all of the components of the suit – The outer fabric and interfacing also known as the canvas.

How long does it take to make a tailored suit? 

Made to measure suits production time

On average they take between 6-8 weeks with a further two weeks for fittings. The process is pretty swift if your tailor has taken accurate measurements.

Bespoke suit make time 

Bespoke suits are usually made in between 12-16 weeks. There is much more technical skill involved and as they’re handmade, the timings can be defined by how much work a tailor has on at the time, the amount of fittings needed and of course the customers availability to attend fittings regularly.

The Finish of your suit 

In a good made to measure suit there should be around a 2’’ seam allowance to let in or out of course. This offers more flexibility for if, you do happen to put on weight.

A Bespoke suit is more ‘tweakable’ once finished. Although you wouldn’t want to mess about with either of them too much after completion, as this will weaken the seams.

In a good made to measure suit there should be around a 2’’ seam allowance to let out or in of course. This offers more flexibility for if, god forbid- you put on weight.

Bespoke will be the same depending on what happened during the fitting process and possibly more.

Aftercare: How to look after your new tailored suit

We advise that with both a made to measure and bespoke suit, that less is best when it comes to dry cleaning. The moisture that keeps the fabric looking so lustrous can be stripped from over dry cleaning, leaving the fabric looking shiny or lacklustre.

It’s always best to wear a suit for one day and then let it breathe for two further days and rotate accordingly.

Made to measure vs bespoke suit pricing:

An Alexandra Wood Made to measure suit start at £1,500 for a two piece suit

An Alexandra Wood Bespoke suit start at £5,000 for a two piece suit

A final synopsis of Made To Measure Tailoring vs Bespoke Tailoring

Final synopsis of a made to measure suit 

  • A made to measure suit is made straight to finish with some fine tuning
  • You will get a suit that is made for you in the fabric and design of your choice
  • Its overall appearance is stiffer, feels more weighty and hovers over your body rather than fitting into every part of your body gently
  • Made to measure is more superior to ready to wear by way of fit

Final synopsis of a bespoke suit

  • A bespoke suit is made exclusively for you with multiple fittings and tweaks until perfect
  • You get a suit that is made for you in the fabric and design of your choice with added finer detailing
  • It is completely hand made from start to finish
  • It is completely weightless and moulds to feels like it’s a part of you

Who is Alexandra Wood?


At Alexandra Wood we have designed & tailored hundreds of professional men’s images to success by creating both made to measure tailoring and bespoke tailoring that is timeless classics with a modern twist; to reveal you at your finest. Alexandra Wood has been featured in GQ, Esquire, Tatler,Forbes, understanding exactly what it takes to get our clients image to the next level.

Book a call to discuss your requirements with us.

Appointments are available in Savile Row, London and in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire.

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