There’s no substitute for a nice suit; a well-fitted suit can convey different types of personalities, from powerful and authoritative to cool and chic. But this is only possible if your suit actually fits you. While there are hundreds of off-the-rack and ready-to-wear options, the best and only way for you to get a suit that fits you is to get a tailored suit.
The Difference Between ‘Custom’ and ‘Bespoke’
When we talk about tailored suits, there are two words that are commonly used to describe them: custom and bespoke. The two words, albeit similar, are actually quite different, although this doesn’t stop a lot of tailors to use the words interchangeably.
When we say ‘custom’ (or, in some places, made-to-measure), it describes an off-the-rack or pre-set patterns that are then cut and altered depending on your measurements. This is the more common suit that people get, and while it’s a great way to get a suit tailored to you, it’s still based off of pre-cut material. Often, custom suits are also machine made, which makes for a ‘mass produced’ vibe to the suit. Which isn’t to say that custom suits are ugly: a good tailor can take an off-the-rack or ready-to-wear suit and custom-fit it in such a way that it will look and feel as close to a bespoke suit as possible. Custom suits are also a fraction of the price of bespoke suits, making them the more economical choice, especially if you were getting multiple pieces.
Many shops nowadays offer online custom suits, where the customer inputs their measurements in a website and sends it to the company, where they work on whatever sizing you provide them. While extremely convenient and easy, this means that you don’t get to fit your suit before you receive the final product; any missed measurements and you’ll have an ill-fitting suit that you’ll have to take for alteration again. Of course, some companies will provide a free alteration service should your tailored suit not fit on the first go, but this means waiting a few more days before you can wear your suit.
However, if the suit fits, then it makes it easier for you to order more suits from them in the future. Again, there’s nothing wrong with a custom suit, but if you have the money and you want to get a suit that is perfectly fit and completely tailored to your unique tastes, you’re going to have to get something bespoke.
‘Bespoke’ suits, on the other hand, are suits that are hand-stitched completely from scratch. The word comes from ‘been spoken for’, and bespoke suits are the highest-quality of suit that a person can get. Instead of pre-cut patterns, tailors will show customers a swatch book of different types of (usually) expensive fabrics, consult with them regarding patterns. Bespoke suits often take several weeks or even months to complete, with multiple fittings and measurement takings. In terms of vibe, look, style, and feel, bespoke suits are completely tailored to your personal likes. There will be nothing else like it on earth, and nothing else will fit you as well as a bespoke suit.
Bespoke suits cost thousands of dollars, but this usually comes with a few perks: first, many haberdashery’s will fly out their tailor to wherever you are and take your measurements personally. This ensures that the person making the suit is also the one taking the measurements, ensuring high-quality sizing and minimizing mistakes. These fly-in tailors will also provide you a swatch book and advice on what type of fabric would be best used for the kind of suit you’ll be buying. These tailors are usually decades-long veterans, so they’ll know exactly how to sew with needle and thread by hand, and are usually familiar with any kind of fabric you choose.
If you’re going to a brick-and-mortar haberdashery, you’ll likely go for multiple measurements and fittings over the course of your suit construction. This will help the tailor figure out all possible nuances of sizing, especially with how your suit fits you when you’re moving or in different positions (i.e. how your suit fits when you’re sitting down or when you’re reaching up, etc.), something that custom suits, especially ones you order online, won’t usually measure for. These places will almost-always offer free ties to match your suit, from classic silk and cotton to more exotic and playful ties like needlepoint and cross-stitch.
So, How Much is a Tailored Suit?
Tailored suits, whether custom or bespoke, are going to cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. But hey, you get what you pay for: remember that off-the-rack and ready-to-wear suits are tailored to fit as many people as possible by using average measurements and cuts. This means that it doesn’t take into account the unique shapes of people’s bodies. Off-the-rack and RTW suits are almost-always going to sag or hug parts of your body where it shouldn’t, and if it’s bad enough, will really underline how ill-fitting the whole thing is on you.
So yes, you’re going to have to shell out big bucks for a nice suit, but trust me: it’s going to be worth it
How Much is a Custom Suit?
Entry price: $500
With the prevalence of online ordering, custom suits have now become commercially-available to people all around the world. Plenty of haberdashery’s offer customization via online channels: simply take your measurements (or have a tailor/seamstress take it for you), send it to their website, and you’ll get your suit in a few days/weeks. The entry price for custom suits is around $500, although it can cost more depending on the fabric, the amount of alteration needed, and, of course, shipping and handling.
How Much is a Bespoke Suit?
Entry level: $2,000+
Depending on the fabric you choose, the pattern, the fit, and other accoutrements, a basic, entry level bespoke suit from a reputable tailor will cost you around $2,000. Some bespoke tailoring companies will send a tailor to wherever you are and take your measurements there, ensuring that your sizing will be as accurate as possible. Of course, you’ll usually have to pay a nominal amount for the tailors plane ticket and hotel stay, but this is usually part of the final price. Turnaround times vary, but expect to get your suit after several weeks/months, depending on how many fittings you go for.