The Basics of Bespoke Tailoring

When you think of an attire for men that can be customised, completed within a given time, and affordable, the way to go is bespoke tailoring. But does bespoke tailoring offer value for money? How can one begin the process of getting a bespoke suit?

All these questions will be answered in this article.

The basics of bespoke tailoring

Sometimes, there is confusion about the term “bespoke”, as many industries misuse the word. Since bespoke describes the premium customisation of products or services, marketers have used the word so much that its original meaning seems to be lost. We must begin with defining bespoke tailoring so you won’t get caught in the jumble.

Defining bespoke tailoring

Put simply, this is a conventional hand-making style of producing clothes based on the body shape of the individual. This implies that the pattern of bespoke tailoring follows body measurements of the person for which the attire is made. Let’s make it more explicit. The tailor will measure the perimeter of the:

  • Waist
  • Chest
  • Legs
  • Arms
  • Back
  • Seat

In addition, the tailor considers the armholes position and the shoulder gradient. Since clients have different body symmetry: some stand very upright, some have rounded backs, and others are bent forward, the tailor will balance the front and back sides of the customer’s body while making the suit.

The pattern of the attire is formed around these measurements and unique body shapes. So the tailor begins by drawing a vertical line (the first step to getting a pattern drawn) on a brown notepad. This vertical line designates the back seam of the jacket. And this line will take a curve just like how the customer’s back is shaped – from neck to seat.

What will really show that a suit is bespoke, seeing that the term has been used wrongly? Often, what is offered as custom or bespoke is, in reality, made-to-measure. However, a truly bespoke tailor is known to sew clothes on their premises-located workshop. And customers usually have an in-person collaboration with them. A genuine bespoke tailor will gladly and proudly show customers where they make their clothes and should show how much they know their work. Take caution when a tailor’s workshop is not close by, customers cannot access their workshop, or there’s is a third party that measures for and handles customers’ needs for the tailor.

Bespoke vs made-to-measure

These two styles of cloth making are similar in individualistic production – designed the way the client’s body is shaped. Made-to-measure garments do not have a pattern developed from the ground up. Rather, the measurements obtained are used to change an already existing attire. Most of the time, these suits come out well. This is because, theoretically, a ready-made pattern can be adjusted to accommodate the unique body shape of the client. You will find a lot of made-to-measure attires that are less pricey factory-made. Some other made-to-measures are hand-made, yet they are nothing like bespoke suits. This is because an existing suit pattern is modified to fit the wearer. Most importantly, a made-to-measure suit will resemble the design brand for made-to-measure attires. On the other hand, a tailor and customer will work together to get a bespoke suit made, and the wearer’s preference can be adapted to the pattern developed from scratch.

Occasionally, made-to-measure suits are presented as bespoke by shop assistants. Their motive may not be wrong as they may be unable to identify the difference. It is easy to tell apart what is bespoke from the made-to-measure type by simply asking for the fittings. While bespoke garments get tested for fit many times, the made-to-measures do not undergo any fittings. What they do is get the measurements, use them to alter the garment and have it delivered straight on.

Why make bespoke tailoring a choice?

You can indeed get off-the-rack options or made-to-measures that will be a nice fit. There are men that like clothes originally made for other people but will fit them well. But think of how exhilarating and sweet it is to have a hand-made garment for yourself. This is one good reason you should go bespoke. Think of it as a way to reconnect with the old craft of the middle age in a modern-day world. The thought of getting a bespoke suit can be compared to asking a shoemaker to make shoes for you – it feels very personal. And it is this personal touch that many men with an eye for clothes enjoy. Going bespoke is a truly satisfying way to own a piece that is exclusively made for you. How on earth will you see someone else wearing that same attire? Never!

Most men don’t see themselves in the league of those ordering bespoke pieces. This affects men who even have an above-average taste for clothes. One major reason for this lack of interest in bespoke tailoring is the cost. But some men can buy bespoke attires. So why the hesitation? The fact that bespoke suits are not already existing makes it tough for men to decide or choose. And this is the edge made-to-measure clothes have – the reason for their popularity. What makes it easier is you can feel and try on these garments since they are ready-made. And if you are adjusting them, you can understand what to expect before deciding finally.

Do you know there are bespoke tailors with a brand? And ordering a bespoke suit from them is safe as you can get a piece close to what they are known to provide. Yes, the suit will be adjusted to your shape but following your unsymmetrical contours. However, going bespoke is entirely an individual-centred approach. This is what a bespoke suit is all about! Sometimes, many men choose bespoke attires just for business functions. It is only a small number that prefers suits different from the normal. And for this reason, many bespoke suits have a very original look.

What are the advantages of bespoke attires?

  • The tailor does a minimum of two-time fitting. This means the suit is adjusted such that the final attire fits perfectly well.
  • Hand-made suits are made and cut by the hand of bespoke tailors. This gives a fit that’s both comfortable and improved.
  • A well-made bespoke suit offers the best individual style and quality in hand-making.
  • It is possible to get an endless option of shape, style and fit when it comes to bespoke tailoring

What are the disadvantages of bespoke attires?

  • Two fittings come with bespoke suits. So a client has to be physically present at the tailor’s three times. And because making bespoke suits is time-consuming, you may need to be close to the tailor always or visit them several times.
  • Sometimes, bespoke tailors outsource work to other traditional tailors to meet deadlines – this results in a difference in handwork quality. Again, when the tailor is in a hurry, the quality of the piece may be compromised.
  • Having a clear expectation of the attire may be difficult where you’re using a new tailor. The only exception is if they are strongly recommended.
  • There is sometimes the issue of not being able to express your exact needs to the tailor. Also, the tailor may not understand what you need specifically. This often end up in not achieving the intended perfection.

What is the procedure for getting a bespoke suit?

It is done in stages, which will be discussed below.

  1. Select a garment. The initial step is deciding how you want your attire to look. Choices range from a complete suit to a pair of pants, an overcoat or just one jacket. What is your preference? Knowing this makes it simpler to select a garment. Put into consideration the garment details: fabric type, cut and structure.
  2. Pick a style. The common styles are English and Italian. But you and your tailor can create something special. It can be a go-between the above styles – remember the garment is yours. But should you prefer the Italian or English style, work with a tailor that’s proficient in the style. Generally, you should know what you want and be able to tell your designer. The clearer you make your wishes, the better and easier it becomes for the tailor to work it out; so far they are well trained and ready to perform your wishes. It’s not uncommon to find your tailor agreeing to your initial specifications of a suit, only to see a first fitting that’s far from your desire. Where you find it difficult communicating your exact needs, choose a tailor that sews the styles you find appealing.
  3. Plan your budget. All the money in the world will not go into making a bespoke suit. However, a bespoke garment produced traditionally will cost more than other garment types. Consider your readiness to invest that money and time. Travelling costs may be more overtime, except you will have fittings done over employer-sponsored business trips. Most importantly, finding a tailor in your area may save you more money and time. Besides, some of them are very good at their craft; you never can tell.
  4. Pick a tailor. After selecting your preferred style, the next thing you should do is choose a tailor. You can look for one in your local area or over the internet. There are tailors on Instagram. However, what happens when the tailor that catches your fancy lives several kilometres away from your home? Every country has got bespoke tailors who are either specialist English or Italian designers. Knowing your preferred style can help in the search for a tailor, especially via recommendations. Your taste should be very clear.

Bespoke tailoring thrives on expressive communication from start to finish. Because they speak the same language as the tailor, one cannot say that communication won’t be an issue; it is sometimes challenging. The challenge is even more when you partly understand or totally don’t understand the language of your tailor. Expect some tailors to speak little English.  To help in the explanation of what you want, go along with pictures of the garment you love. Alternatively, go with someone experienced in tailoring and able to translate the language. You can discard these options if you are ready to go with a tailor that makes your favourite styles or one you got via recommendations.

  1. Making your bespoke suit. This is achieved via these stages:
  • The first fitting. A good number of traditionalist tailors provide double fittings. A small number will do a single fitting if the patterns that have already are successful. Each stage in the development of the garment is viewed through the fitting. It opens the eyes to changes that need to be implemented. During the first fittings, darts will be cut in the cloth, but there’ll be no pockets. The fabric will not carry any buttonholes and sometimes no sleeves. It is typical for English tailors to do fitting with two sleeves. But for continental European tailors, fittings are done without or just one sleeve.

Over there in Mid-European countries, Austria and Germany, tailors typically leave the shoulder seam open to allow for pinning based on body shape. This isn’t common with English tailors; they only do it when required. At this stage, the tailor’s lookout is symmetry and balance; for the client, it is to be sure the tailor is following the plan. Fundamental changes to the garment can be done at this stage.

The first fitting is typically a tailor’s guide to making the perfect suit. But the client would want to see what is being done since they’re not fully convinced yet that they can get a bespoke suit. During first fitting, it is uncommon for a client to notice that a single rather than double-breast is what they want. This change is possible – even if it’s going from single-breast to double-breast, so far extra fabric is used in forming the new pieces at the front. A linen waistband is used to produce the pants at first fitting. Afterwards, this is substituted for the waistband made out of the choice fabric. And as for trousers, they will be held together by needles; there won’t be any hooks or buttons yet.

  • The second fitting. Here, after changes must have been observed, they will be corrected by unfastening the pieces that make up the garment. As required, the tailor will recut the garment to make little to major adjustments. But typically, the second fitting involves very few adjustments, such as making the waist tighter or altering the shoulder width. The tailor will go ahead and cut pockets, but the buttonholes will remain uncut. This is important so that balance adjustments won’t lead to a mismatch between front buttons and buttonholes. Moving forward, the tailor will add lining and have the trousers complete all the necessary parts: fly, hooks and buttons.
  • Where sleeves were not added in the first fitting, it will be done in the second fitting. At this point, the garment has seen much progress in its production. If serious changes are to be made at this point, it will take much time since it’ll involve taking out the lining. This doesn’t mean changes cannot be made, but it’s critical that both tailor and client have an understanding of what they want to achieve with the garment. Post second fitting; continental European tailors will complete the pants.
  1. Getting your finished bespoke attire. The tailor will work for weeks or months to get the suit ready, following how much work they have to do. It takes a long time to finish the suit as the lining has to be sewn by hand, plus other intricate works. Even buttonholes have to be completed using hand. Where the fly comes without a zip, it has to be handstitched as well.
  2. As part of finishing, the final pressing has to be done. Sometimes, tailors whose customers come from far places will send the finished suit in a box to their clients. However, it is typical of tailors to have their customers try on the suit once more – it makes them glad. Even after the second fitting, there may be some minor changes to be made to the suit. The most common alteration is in the length of the pants or sleeves. This is not so much of an issue if the customer stays nearby, but it’s a big deal when the customer lives a long distance away.

Final thoughts

For hitch-free bespoke tailoring, you should know your exact needs and how to make your tailor understand that. Where you don’t have a preference or taste, hold off contacting a bespoke tailor. When you are not certain your tailor understands what you have ordered, or you have some hard time working with them, kindly cancel any plans to make a suit. It won’t make you feel good working with a tailor you dislike.

Anyone would expect so much after investing a good amount of money. However, bear in mind that bespoke tailors are not magicians. Yes, they know their craft but don’t have superpowers. How good or bad the suit will come out will come down to several factors, including your posture, fabric of choice, and the tailor’s experience.

When you keep learning about bespoke tailoring, you will be more comfortable ordering bespoke suits near me.

So, what type of bespoke attire have you got? What kind of garment would you wish to have as bespoke?

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