It’s very common for people to mix up the two, as both are garments made according to your specific measurements. To make it even more confusing some companies market made-to-measure suits as “tailored suits” and many bespoke tailors also make made-to-measure suits… 

In this article we are going to give you a basic understanding on the terminology; we'll take a look at:

  • What a made-to-measure suit is
  • The steps in the Schoffa made-to-measure suit process
  • What a bespoke suit is

Made-to-measure or su misura - using an existing pattern as the starting point

A made-to-measure suit is typically measured by using an existing pattern as a base and altering it according to the customer’s measurements. Using an existing pattern makes it possible for the customer to have a “try on”-suit on during the measuring process, which makes it easier for the customer to visualise the suit and to communicate preferences regarding the fit.

The making of a made-to-measure suit at Schoffa

1. The use of the suit guides the choice of fabric
At Schoffa, the made-to-measure suit process always begins with a discussion with the customer regarding the use of the suit. This makes it easier to choose the right fabric from hundreds of alternatives and to consider the choice of colour, as well as the features of the suit.

2. Suit details
After the fabric is chosen the customer will have the opportunity to choose the details of the suit; ranging from the lining and buttons to pocket style and lapels. 

3. Taking measures
After the customer has given his thoughts on the suit and the fitter has explained how the “base” could be improved to fit the customer’s measurements and preferences, the manufacturing of the suit begins.

4. Manufacturing the suit
Made-to-measure suits are usually made in the same factory as a brand’s ready-to-wear suits, which ensures top notch quality and finishing. This is the way Schoffa’s made-to-measure suits are made as well.

The delivery time of a made-to-measure suit is usually five to eight weeks, depending on the fabric, construction and the details of the suit.

5. Second fitting
When the customer’s made-to-measure suit arrives from the factory it is inspected thoroughly by our made-to-measure experts and then a second fitting is arranged with the customer. During the second fitting the made-to-measure expert ensures that the suit fits well, and if needed, some small alterations might be made before handover.

The final alterations are done in Helsinki and usually take a few days. After the alterations are made, the suit is ready to be handed over to the customer. All specifications and measurements of the suit are saved in our system, which makes ordering a second made-to-measure suit an effortless experience.

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Tailored or bespoke

Bespoke / tailored suits are usually made by tailors with premises, for example, on Savile Row in London or in Naples, Italy. So called “travelling tailors” typically do not make bespoke suits nor comply with the traditional requirements of making a bespoke suit.

Everything done "from scratch"
The first step in making a bespoke suit is very similar to making a made-to-measure suit; choosing the fabric and the details. However, when it comes to the measuring part, an existing pattern / “try on”-suit is not used, instead the tailor uses only a tape measurer and a notebook to mark down the customer’s measurements and preferences regarding, for example the fit of the suit.  With the measurements and notes as a base, the tailor will start making a unique suit pattern. When the pattern is complete the cutter or tagliatore proceeds to cut the pieces of fabric that will eventually become a beautiful bespoke suit. The suit will be made from start to finish in the tailor’s studio by one, two or three tailors working on the same suit.

The first fitting
During the first fitting (second store visit) the suit is put together partially using white basting thread, also the lapels have a visible horsehair and cotton canvas. It is also common for the suit to have just one sleeve at this stage. During the first fitting the tailor will mark alterations directly on the suit with chalk (the chalk is later brushed off from the finished garment).

Getting to perfect
At the second fitting, the suit already starts to look like a complete suit but the tailor usually still makes a few alterations to make it perfect for the the last fitting.

A long wait
The process of making a bespoke suit usually lasts between a few months to a year, depending on the schedule of the tailor and the customer and the number of fittings. A typical number of visits to the tailor when making a bespoke suit is around 4-5 times.

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What next?

Regardless of whether you decide to go for a Made-to-Measure suit or a Bespoke suit, I would advice to plan well ahead to have enough time for the fittings and the entire process. Once your first suit is done, the pattern is usually stored to make future orders more straight forward.

With stylish regards,