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Off the rack vs Made to measure vs Bespoke suit

You need a suit!
You can choose from off the rack suits, made to measure and bespoke suits, but what are the key differences between them?

How are they different and which option should you go for?
Let us share with you the key differences to help you make a more informed decision!

Off the rack suits

Off the rack suits can be inexpensive but ironically, they can be expensive too! The price is often determined by the brand and the quality of the materials used. Sizes are predetermined and styles are usually made by machines. To achieve mass production, very few manufacturers will produce their suits by hand or sewing machines.

Majority of off the rack suits are fused, not canvassed. Manufacturers prefer the fusing method as it saves money and time (fusing is done by gluing the interlining to the wool shell using heat). However, fused suit jackets lack the support and structure of the canvassed suit jackets.

Alteration is almost always inevitable if you buy an off the rack suit, despite it coming in many patterns and styles. This is so as it can accommodate only that many different body shapes and sizes. Always budget some additional amount of money on alterations if you buy an off the rack suit. It is also advisable to have some
good tailors that can make the necessary alterations for your suit to make it fit you perfectly.

You will have the least control amongst the three options.

Made to measure suits

Made to measure suits are predesigned but are altered to fit your measures. Made to measure suit is usually made by hand, but it can be made by a machine as well. Fabrics are often of a better quality than off the rack suits but may be of a lower grade compared to bespoke suits.

As the suits are adjusted to your measurements, they are of a better fit than off the rack suits. Prices can be comparable to off the rack suits but are usually lower than bespoke suits.
When buying made to measure suits, expectations would have to be managed as made to measure is not the same as bespoke tailoring.

The degree of control varies considerably. However, it is very possible to get a perfect fit.

Bespoke suits

The ultimate tailoring experience is a bespoke suit. This experience will cost you a lot more but you will get a suit that is one of a kind. If done right and with high quality materials, it can even last you a lifetime.

These suits are designed and made by hand by experienced cutters and tailors. You will have to go through rounds of fittings where your measurements will be taken and the suit will be altered until if fits you perfectly. Hence, be prepared to spend more money and time if you opt for the bespoke experience!

As you can expect, going bespoke will offer you the full control.

Now that you have a better idea on what the differences, decide on which would be more suited for your requirements!

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Guide to buying your first suit

There will be a moment you will need to get your first suit.

Your first job interview, your best friend’s wedding. Or being invited to some ballroom event.

A well-fitted suit with correct details will generally do the trick. With the correct rules to follow, getting your first suit isn’t hard at all.


You are buying a suit for the first time. So not only does it have to fit you well, it has to.

You are confused by the many details you can choose at your tailor.

By definition, a suit is a combination of a jacket and a pair of trousers in the exact same fabric. If both pieces are closely similar and not identical, it is not a suit. To others, it is sloppiness on your part.

Colour and pattern

I would recommend sticking to a classic color without any pattern. This will provide you the ease of matching easily with most shoes and accessories.

– Charcoal is for guys that are young and hope to look more mature

– Navy is for guys that are old and hope to look younger

I strongly do not suggest following flamboyant patterns, colors and styles you see actors wearing in movies. Unless you are a fashion genius, not many guys can don that flashy look well. You really just want to be presentable, not flashy or prominent.

If you are adventurous and really want something, I will suggest choosing subtle patterns. However not many first-timers can pull this off.


Never be contented with a suit that do not fit you. We will suggest buying a suit only if you feel comfortable with a tailor.

Only with trust and communication, can you and your tailor produce a suit with optimal fit.

Below some some points to help you get the small but important details right.

Shoulder fit

The shoulder fit is the most important aspect of a suit. The suit should usually be half and inch beyond your shoulder.

Good tailors would usually add a small piece of canvas at the edge of the shoulder pad so the sleeve fall naturally. If you have muscular shoulders, I will suggest finding a tailor that do this to avoid ugly creases at the shoulder edge.

Torso fit

Always do the fist test during fittings, the front of your suit should always have enough room to fit a fist comfortably.

For guys with pot belly, the most common mistake many tailors make is not measuring the front part of the belly.

By not doing so, your suit will be too loose in the front and too tight at the back. In some extreme cases, your jacket will appear too short.

Jacket length

All you need is to stand straight and keep your hands to your sides. The length of the jacket should reach about the knuckle of your thumb.

Make sure the jacket also cover the lower curvature of your butt. However, for shorter guys, this rule does not apply if your jacket is looking too long. So do make sure you consult your tailor on the optimal length.

Points to highlight to your tailor

Even good tailors are humans and might occasionally miss out on some details. Do highlight to them the following for them to deliver a better suit.

– Uneven shoulders: This is especially so for people with prior surgery on their shoulders.

– Shoulder bones protruding from upper back

– Caved in inner-chest

All these information should be sufficient for a first timer. Yes, the entire process is a game. You have rules to follow and if you are following this article, you are in to win the suit game.