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What Are Bespoke Suits? - A Guide From Joseph Abboud

Everyone loves a man in a suit. 

While that might be an overused cliché, there’s some truth to it. For many men, wearing a suit helps them exude confidence and power. It’s an outfit that helps turn heads (especially with the right accessories!)

Here’s the catch: To feel confident in a suit, it needs to fit right. It needs to be the style that you want, with the fabrics and patterns of your choice.

The only way to achieve this flawless look is with a bespoke suit.

Whether you’re a first time suit buyer, or someone who wouldn’t be caught dead in casual clothing, it’s important to understand what a bespoke suit really is. Especially with how muddled the term has become. 

Here’s our guide on bespoke suits, from the history of bespoke tailoring to the bespoke manufacturing process.

What Are Bespoke Suits?

The word “bespoke” comes from the verb bespeak—to speak for something. 

In other words, it belongs to you. 

In the fashion world, bespoke describes tailoring that is completely custom-made for you. It is typically made with the highest level of quality when it comes to materials and craftsmanship. 

Bespoke suits are no different. A bespoke suit is specially made for you—the materials, style, color, fit, and everything else associated with the suit are made to your specifications. 

History of Bespoke Suits

Believe it or not, bespoke suits used to be the only way that men wore suits. Until the 1950’s, higher-quality, ready-to-wear clothing wasn’t commonplace. When men couldn’t afford their own bespoke clothing, they essentially wore clothing that belonged to others who didn’t want it anymore.

Tailors way back when used to keep their practices a secret. The only way new tailors would learn about methods and patterns is if the original tailor sold their practice. In those days, it took far more fittings to achieve the perfect garment.  

The introduction of the sewing machine in 1790 helped speed up the bespoke tailoring process. It even spawned the start of ready-to-wear clothing, but mostly for military uniforms. 

Fast forward to today, and ready-to-wear clothing is everywhere. High quality pieces can be bought straight off the rack in stores all around the world. However, bespoke tailoring is still a popular choice, since it’s completely custom-made and fitted to your specifications. 

What is the Bespoke Suit Process?

The entire bespoke suit process is a collaboration between you and the tailor. It starts with a conversation about what you want the suit to look like. This includes choosing fabrics, the cut, pocket types, lapels, and more. Some tailors may have a preference toward a certain style, but it’s ultimately up to you what you want your suit to look like. 

Next comes measurements. A proper bespoke suit should fit you perfectly. To achieve the perfect fit, the tailor needs to measure you in several different places to create the ideal suit jacket and matching trousers. 

One set of measurements is never enough, though. Once initial measurements are made, the tailor creates a basic jacket and pair of trousers for you to try on at your first fitting. From there, adjustments will be made at subsequent fittings. It can sometimes take up to three fittings to get the perfect bespoke suit, but it’s worth the wait.

The wait varies by the tailor. It can range from a couple weeks to four months from the first fitting to suit delivery.

Bespoke Suit vs. Made-to-Measure 

“Bespoke suit” is a term that often gets used incorrectly. Most often, it’s confused with “made-to-measure”. The two terms seem to be used interchangeably and some brands even promote their suits as bespoke suits when that couldn’t be any further from the truth. 

So, what’s the difference?

We previously defined a bespoke suit as a completely custom suit—the fabrics, measurements, and everything associated with the suit are made specifically for you. 

Made-to-measure suits are essentially the halfway point between bespoke and off-the-rack, which is a suit purchased directly from a company with no alterations or customizations made. 

Made-to-measure suits are predesigned the same way as an off the rack suit, meaning that the styles and patterns are set in stone. You’ll have to choose from what they have. They do allow you to provide your measurements to the company so that alterations can be made. After this process, the suit should fit you properly.

However, made-to-measure suits aren’t always 100% spot on with the fit—especially when compared to bespoke suits. You could end up giving measurements that are slightly off, or some slight nuances in your body composition could be the issue.

A made-to-measure suit can be a good choice in a time crunch. But nothing beats the feel of a custom made, well-fitted bespoke suit. 

Why Choose Bespoke Suits?

The biggest benefit to a bespoke suit is the fit. In the world of suits, fit will always be king. A perfect fit can make a cheap suit look like a million bucks. Conversely, no matter how expensive a suit is, it will never look good if the fit isn’t spot on. 

Choosing a bespoke suit means that you’re getting a suit custom made for your body. It’s not just simple measurements, either. The subtle nuances of your body are taken into account while the tailor builds the suit. 

You also have complete control over fabrics and style. With made-to-measure and off-the-rack suits, you’re limited by what the manufacturer has in stock. 

Lastly, it’s also a more environmentally friendly option, in most cases. Many off-the-rack and made-to-measure options are mass produced and can lead to significant waste. 

Choosing a bespoke suit can be a time investment. But once you see (and try on) the final product, it’s well worth the wait. 

Get Your Next Bespoke Suit from Joseph Abboud

Are you ready to get your own custom-made, well-fitted suit? Joseph Abboud’s bespoke suits are the perfect choice for any occasion, whether it’s an everyday suit for the office or a bespoke suit for a wedding. 

Choose the style you want, answer some of our questions, and schedule your own personal fitting, either virtual or in-person. We’ll make sure you get the suit you’ve always wanted.

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