Knowing your Bespoke from your Made to Measure is the challenge for today gentlemen! Bespoke seems to be everywhere and (shudder), used interchangeably with ‘made to measure’. But, here at Alexandra Wood Bespoke, we’re clear about the difference!
Here’s the Alexandra Wood Bespoke Tailoring guide to bespoke and made-to-measure suits.
You might also want to get familiar with some of the terms before you read on so here’s a little directory of what’s what in the world of fine tailoring:
A unique pattern is created for the customer. The suit is hand cut and hand finished
Made to measure:
The pattern is cut from a master model or standard block and adapted
The interfacing within the jacket to hold its shape. It’s essentially the internal construction of the jacket. The canvas is ’free floating’ in a bespoke suit and usually ‘fused’ in made to measure.
Free Floating Canvas:
A floating canvas is usually created with natural fibre materials such as wool and linen. The canvas itself usually consists of 3 layers and takes skill and experience to create and insert into a bespoke suit.
A fused canvas is made with a man-made fabric. Essentially it can be fused (or glued) to the front of a jacket, instead of free floating. This type is much cheaper and takes less skill to incorporate.
A bespoke suit lightly put together with large temporary stitches in preparation for fitting(s).
SO WHY BUY A BESPOKE SUIT:
A bespoke suit is a labour of love and artistry. You don’t just buy a bespoke suit; it’s more of a lifestyle experience. It’s the fashion equal of the ‘Slow Food’ movement if you like.
So, in the context of bespoke suits it’s something that’s ‘(be) spoken for’ in person. Each suit is made for one client only, with the cutting and fitting of the suit usually done on the premises.
And, right now there’s a tangible shift in how we buy and appreciate clothes. There’s the scent of change in the air. Discerning buyers are investing in quality pieces that suit (pardon the pun….) them and their lifestyle. From where Alexandra Wood Bespoke Tailoring is standing on Savile Row, that’s great news. Bespoke suits start at £3,750. Not cheap, but then fine art never is…
The Initial Consultation
When it comes to a bespoke suit, there’s a lot to do before you even choose a design or fabric! At an initial consultation your tailor will consider your body shape and your lifestyle. They’ll also take into consideration how and when you’ll wear your bespoke suit. Measurements are also taken. At Alexandra Wood Bespoke Tailoring we take over twenty measurements, configurations and detailed notes. Perfection takes time!
It’s also about the personal detail. So, if you want design details that are unique to you, now would be a good time to say so. Let your imagination run riot! Remember though, the suit should make a flattering statement about you. It should highlight your best features and, give you the confidence to ‘walk tall’!
For made-to-measure the 1-2-1 consultation is much more streamlined. You’ll usually choose a design and styling options from a limited range. Basic measurements are completed either by a tailor or a sales assistant.
Choosing the Fabric
The sky’s the only limit when it comes to choosing fabric for a bespoke suit. That said it’s important to make sure that it’ll look and feel right when made up into a suit. And, by right we also mean right for the occasion. So, let’s talk examples. You may love the current velvet revival. It is after all fabulous made up as a ‘smoking jacket’. But, let’s face it; a velvet jacket just isn’t going to cut it at an investment bank. Although, if you’re a ‘creative’, it might just work; somehow it won’t look out of place amongst the Shoreditch ‘glitterati’.
Generally a 10 or 12 ounce weight fabric is good for a bespoke business suit. Pure wool or Pure Wool with 1% cashmere is a gorgeous luxury choice that will take you from business to banquet. And, the Super 120 and Super 140 fabrics are fantastic for quality.
When it comes to colour, the darker more sober colours work best for business. But if you’re the creative who can rock a red jacket any day of the week, go for it I say.
When it comes to lining your suit think about how and when you’re going to wear it. Silk is gorgeous for special occasions but is delicate. Viscose is much more resilient for every day. But you can get playful with pattern. Go wild with a personalised print or bold with a single bright block colour. The choice is yours.
How about fabrics for made to measure? There’ll still be great fabric choices available, but usually less choice. Normally there’s a predefined selection available within a price range.
With a bespoke suit remember, the pattern is unique to the client. It’s usually a paper pattern drafted and cut by hand, based on your individual measurements. It’s also saved for use with future suits that you have made and adjusted as necessary for you. What’s the advantage? It ensures a fit like a second skin. And, it’ll allow for those slight digressions in weight and shape in the future.
At Alexandra Wood Bespoke we use 20+ measurements to create this pattern.
Made to measure suits are usually cut and made using a basic ready-made pattern. It’s adjusted before cutting using the client’s basic measurements and chosen styling details. At Alexandra Wood Bespoke, made to measure differs to allow for more extensive adjustments. It makes a good alternative to a bespoke suit and prices start at £1,110.
Cutting the Cloth
The tailor will always cut the cloth for your suit by hand. They’ll then assemble the “canvas” (internal construction of the suit). For made to measure the canvas is ‘free floating’ and made with natural fibres.
They’ll use large basting stitches to do this. As they’re temporary stitches, they’re easy to remove and they don’t put any stress on the cloth. This is important for fittings to ensure that the tailor makes the right adjustments.
Also, the cloth and all the associated pieces are dampened with a sponge and allowed to dry. This protects against shrinkage when your suit is dry cleaned. Important!
With made to measure these finer details aren’t present. The canvas is fused and uses man-made fibres, with the cloth usually cut by machine.
A first fitting usually takes place about 4 weeks after the initial consultation.
There may be up to five fittings to ‘fine tune’ your bespoke suit. Between these fittings, your tailor does the necessary alterations identified at previous fittings. Remember this is ‘slow fashion’ and bespoke is not a process that’s rushed. A bespoke suit will usually take from 2 to 4 months for a perfectly fitting item. Sounds like too long for just a suit? Well, the end result will be worth it. Trust me.
Made to measure suits will usually need only one fitting before making up. There’ll be no basting stitching and little or no hand stitching on the finished suit. The finished suit is often completed in as little as 2-3 days.
So there you have it gentlemen. The guide to bespoke versus made to measure. The final question or consideration, is when to choose bespoke and when to choose made to measure. I leave the final choice with you gentlemen.
Please contact us if you would like to discover more about your options.
We offer appointments in Savile Row and Hertfordshire.