Not all bespoke suits are the same. In fact, not all bespoke suits are actually bespoke
suits. There is so often confusion about the difference between off the peg, bespoke
and made to measure suits. Leeds based tailors Crown to Cuff unpicks this debate,
so you can be clear about what you’re buying.

Nobody wants to be ripped off when they’re investing in a high end product.
Ultimately you want to know if you are paying the right price for a good quality
product. Here’s our run-down of what to expect.

What’s an off the shelf suit?
Let’s start with off the shelf. This one is self-explanatory: you try a suit on in a shop,
and you can buy it there and then, off the shelf. This is the cheapest option. You
might then go and get some alternations done, but there are no patterns involved.

But what about if you want a more personal cut, something fitted to your body
shape? The next step up from off the shelf are made to measure suits, which use a
base pattern modified in various places to fit your specific measurements. Finally,
bespoke suits are created completely from scratch and offer an infinite number of
design and fitting options.

Let’s explore in more detail, what to expect from made to measure and bespoke
suits. (Leeds based Crown to Cuff Bespoke offers both.)

Bespoke versus made to measure suits
(1) Suit pattern
Made to measure suits utilise standard suit patterns but are created from modified
versions of these patterns, to ensure a better fit for the client. A master tailor will
make a number of modifications to standard measurements such as shoulder width,
jacket length and size of the armholes.

Bear in mind that the number of modifications made can vary enormously between
different tailors and tailoring companies. Any fewer than five or six modifications
means the additional cost you pay for made to measure over off the shelf suits may
not be worth it. However, a made to measure suit with a large number of
modification points can rival a bespoke suit for quality of fit.

Bespoke suits require no pattern modifications, as a completely new pattern is made
for every single client. A higher level of skill is required to create bespoke suits as they
take into account subtle nuances of the client’s body – such as the arch of the back,
the slope of the shoulder, and the curvature of muscle groups across the chest and
back – alongside all the standard measurements. Creating a unique pattern also
allows for much more flair in terms of style and design.

(2) Number of suit fittings
Made to measure suits usually only include two or three fittings. The first is to take the
initial measurements for the pattern modifications and to discuss design options.
The second is a “final fit” once the suit has been made. Then depending on the
accuracy of the measurements and client preferences, there may be another fit after
final adjustments have been done. There are usually no fittings during the creation of
the suit.

Bespoke suits, on the other hand, require multiple fittings throughout the creation
process. Firstly, there is the baste fitting, modelling the cloth with the white basting
cotton. The second is the forward baste fitting, progressing to a fuller design with
width adjustments that can be made to the shape, lapels and buttons. The third is
the ‘fin bar fin’ fitting, roughly translating as ‘nearly there’, for the final touches. Each
fitting is done at a different stage of the tailoring process, with each fit building on
top of the previous one to achieve a more precise fit as the suits progresses. Multiple
fittings also give clients the chance to follow progress and give tailors the chance to
incorporate modifications along the way.

(3) Range of fabric choices
‘Made to measure’ companies usually only offer a curated selection of fabrics from a
couple of different mills. The number of mills on a tailor’s supplier list is important
because it will signify the range of choice available to a client, in terms of variety,
quality and price points.

In contrast, most bespoke tailors offer fabric from seven or more mills, giving their
clients much more flexibility and a huge library of fabric to choose from. Crown to
Cuff suppliers include Holland & Sherry, Cloth Dormeuil, Smith & Co (Woolens) Ltd
and Brook Taverner. View our full fabrics supplier list here.

(4) Number of customisations available
There are a fixed number of customisations available with made to measure suits,
providing an efficient checklist. For example, our clients can customise their tailored
suits by adding more buttons, picking a pocket style, vent options and varying the
cuffs and trouser pleats.

Bespoke suits allow for unlimited choice. The design is completely unique to you,
offering infinite customisation options and allowing you to create a real statement
suit design limited only by your imagination!

(5) Meetings with the tailor
In most made to measure companies, you will not meet with the master tailor.
Instead, your fittings will be done by a sales assistant, who will pass your details on to
the tailor. The experience level and training given to these assistants can vary hugely.

When buying bespoke, you should always expect to deal directly with the tailor who
will be designing your suit. This ensures that they have context and insight from your
fittings to inform the production process and guarantee the best possible cut and

Crown to Cuff is different. Our master tailor Gareth Beckwith likes to meet with all our
made to measure and bespoke clients. Providing the best possible client care is at
the heart of what we do, and that’s why The Wedding Guide UK recently named us
‘Best Customer Service’ in the ‘Menswear’ category at the Wedding Awards 2018.

If you would like to discuss the creation of made to measure or bespoke suits,
Manchester and Birmingham customers can contact us today on 07734 703066 or Leeds customers can pop in to our Leeds store.

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