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Bespoke vs Made to measure: How to tell the difference

29 July 2016

It’s easy to get confused by the terms ‘bespoke’ and ‘made to measure’. Unhelpfully, the Advertising Standards Authority once declared there to be no difference. This has allowed those selling made to measure to claim they are bespoke when actually they are not. At Fielding & Nicholson, we are delighted to offer you the best of both options. This post will explain how the processes work, where they’re different, and help you to decide which will work best for you.


The Savile Row definition of bespoke

In London tailoring, ‘bespoke’ has always been used to describe the ultimate in a personalised garment-creating service. Historically, Savile Row was the place to go.

No corners will have been cut in the way your bespoke suit is made. Each step of that process is unique, slow and painstaking. Everything is created from the ground up to your own very personal requirements, dictated fully by your physiology, lifestyle and taste. Your measurements are taken and a pattern constructed from scratch. There are little or no limitations placed on the cloth to be used, or the style to be cut, or indeed any of the finishing details, from lining to buttonholes. The fit is checked meticulously – before, during and after. Nothing is rushed. It takes time and care.

A second skin

The result? Wearing bespoke is like wearing a second skin – a skin in which you become more fully yourself. This skin shows you to your best advantage: years younger, more svelte. Dapper. Elegant. The garment moves with you. And that’s why once someone starts wearing bespoke, they rarely return to off-the-peg.

The fine art of tailoring – a labour of love

When you buy bespoke, you’re really investing in the artistry and artisanship of someone who probably had a longer training than your doctor. A tailoring apprenticeship entails the slow acquisition of expertise - in reading the lines of the body, in assessing the drape of a fabric, in ingraining the skills of hand-stitching. Such skills and know-how accumulate through diligence, perseverance and patience.

And the process of bespoke is another world compared with any other garment-buying experience. Personal. Discreet. Thoughtful. Precise. And time-consuming: 40-50 hours will go into creating your suit. The fit will be assessed several times mid-process.

Made to measure

If bespoke is beyond your pocket, then made to measure is a more affordable option that still includes a marked degree of customisation. As before, your measurements are carefully taken, but used to adjust a pre-existing block pattern so that the resulting suit’s fit is several steps above one bought off the peg.

Partially customised

You will generally be offered a set range of cuts/patterns to choose from, and a more limited choice of fabrics and finishing details. Some parts of the made-to-measure process may be worked by machine, some parts still hand-stitched. There are fewer personal fittings than bespoke, and fewer or no tweaks to the fit along the way, so the process relies quite heavily on the accuracy of the initial measuring up.

Generally, computer-aided design (CAD) and other technological advances have closed the gap between the price of ready to wear and made to measure. However, bespoke, with its personalisation of fit and style will always be the benchmark for the best in handmade garments.

Your first step towards defining your style

At Fielding & Nicholson, as well as our Elegance bespoke ‘Savile Row’ service, we offer two versions of made to measure: Gallery and Icon. Please call us on 020 3814 0459, or click here to book your initial appointment. We’ll be delighted to help you.



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