The Non Bespoke Options

Posted by: on Feb 24, 2012 | 5 Comments

We all know that bespoke is the pinnacle of male sartorial experiences.  But, contrary to popular belief, unless you have truly unlimited funds, all-bespoke-everything is probably not the way to go.  It’s not bespoke or bust.  How about we take a look at a few of the other good options out there.

Sure, a real bespoke suit or pair of shoes, is as personal at it gets.  You are getting a paper pattern or last made and stored for you, fittings and tons of personal attention from the craftsmen making your garments, and almost limitless control over design and materials.  Plus the finished product is (usually) of the highest quality.  But, on the other hand, it tends to be a time consuming and costly process.  Moving down one step would get us to something like made-to-measure.

Made to measure (MTM) programs vary greatly.  Some take a handful of measurement and then give you what is essentially a sized, mass-produced garment, while other will properly compensate for bodily idiosyncrasies and produce a hand-crafted garment for you.  Just do your research before ordering MTM.  And, whatever you do, assume that the garment will need some final tweaking from an experienced tailor.  Even better if this tailor is acquainted with the MTM maker.

Not many people offer the next step, made-to-order (MTO).  Leonard Logsdail, one of the finest bespoke tailors in this country, offers his Logsdail Classic line of MTO tweeds and twills.  I recently took delivery of a MTO tweed sport coat (which you can read more about here) that Len himself then tweaked for me, and the results are fantastic.  There is substantial handwork where the alterations were needed and the fit is outstanding.  All this for less than a third of Len’s bespoke prices.

Then there is good old off the rack (OTR) clothing that you can have a good tailor alter as needed.  I do not think I need to preach too much about this, but I will caution that you buy things of high quality and be wary of so-called silver-bullet purchases that seem too good to be true.

Optimally, you mix all of the above to create a personal wardrobe at whatever budget you can afford.  For example, one of the best dressed gents I know orders his fall/winter sport coats from a Savile Row caliber tailor, has a quality Hong Kong tailor do his summer clothes, buys made-to-order shoes from Northampton, mixes ready-made and custom shirts of various levels, and sticks to ready-made trousers which he says fit him just fine.  He’s found what works for him, instead of being a slave to terminology.

I strive to do the same.

5 Comments

  1. Jeff H
    February 24, 2012

    Still my favorite read of the day. Keep doing what you’re doing, Stephen.

    Reply
    • Stephen
      February 24, 2012

      Glad you’re enjoying it. You’re too kind, really.

      Reply
  2. Derek Guy
    February 26, 2012

    Stephen,

    There doesn’t seem to be a link to the Logsdail story. Can you re-link? Also, if you don’t mind me asking, what’s the starting price for the MTM tweeds?

    Thanks
    Derek

    Reply
    • Stephen
      February 26, 2012

      Link fixed, thanks Derek.

      And the Logsdail Classic stuff is made-to-order, not full MTM. That said, prices start at $750 and you’re getting much higher quality materials and construction than I’ve seen in any other garment in this price range.

      Reply
  3. Mitra V
    March 12, 2012

    Stephen,

    I’m a pretty slim guy – ~5’9″ and 145lbs, and so its a hard market to find anything that fits me remotely well. I recently purchased a 36R blazer from Jcrew and while it fits me better than most options its still pretty bad.

    Any suggestions on where to go? i’ve been looking into Indochino or SuitSupply but can’t really tell if I will get what I am bargaining for.

    Reply

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