How To Buy Made-To-Measure Suits Online
Online MTM companies offer great convenience and potential for superior fit and construction. Yet, bear in mind that the measurements needed are much more intensive and the price is often higher compared to a ready to wear (RTW) suit.
When heading to a tailor shop or store, this service is provided and you’ll be measured by a professional. However, a reason that made-to-measure suits are cheaper online is that you’ll need to provide these yourself.
Nevertheless, the best made-to-measure suit websites are aware of this and accompany you along the way. This can come in the form of graphics or even videos as you provide your measurements.
Ideally, this is best done with a little help as taking your own measurements can be difficult.
Taking Measurements Of Yourself
As mentioned above, some sites help you take measurements more than others. That said, Black Lapel offers a very detailed and narrated guide when taking your measurements to ensure that it’s accurate. Indochino offers a similar experience but without a voiceover.
Therefore, consider looking at the measuring process you’ll need to go through beforehand. Can you do it yourself or will you need a friend to help? Are there clear instructions for each measurement? Better yet, are there videos detailing how to take each measurement?
An important thing to remember is that the measurements you take may vary from company to company. Some have proprietary systems, others abide by classic methods that haberdashers have been using for centuries. Don’t make an assumption one way or the other, as it could royally mess up your suit!
You can use our full guide to taking suits measurements to help you on your way.
Why Buy Made-to-Measure Suits?
Overall, the benefits of made to measure tailoring speak for themselves. Unlike off-the-rack suits, you won’t have to find a way to conform to the industry’s attempts at standardising sizes.
In reality, very few of us actually have a body type that corresponds to the templates laid out by ready-to-wear sizing. Although it’s presentable on most of us, it’s usually far from the perfect fit.
As such, a made-to-measure suit ensures an excellent fit for your suit so you can be sure that you look your best. Even someone with the ideal body type will benefit from made-to-measure services.
Why Is Made-To-Measure Cheaper Online?
However, made-to-measure is labour-intensive as the manufacturer is crafting or assembling suits for a single size. This renders it much costlier than off-the-rack formalwear.
Yet buying a made-to-measure suit online brings those costs down by reducing overheads. Rather than having to hire an expert, you’ll be taking your own measurements.
Furthermore, the brand doesn’t have to invest in renting an expensive location but solely depends on warehouses and manufacturers. Consequently, clients have a much stronger buying power and will be able to access better materials and costlier construction methods.
Nevertheless, bear in mind that even online made-to-measure needs a higher time budget than a RTW suits. Even the quickest turnaround time for a MTM suit will be about two weeks. By comparison, getting a RTW suit online will only take about a week to ship at a maximum.
Inform Yourself On Construction
Any suit company will tout the quality of their fabrics and will often use them as the metric by which price differences are made. That is to say, “nicer” fabrics mean higher prices.
This is completely legitimate, but it only tells the “parts” story of the cost of your suit. The other part of the story? Labor.
Suits can be made using fused, half, or full canvasses. In a nutshell, these are synonymous with low, medium, and high in terms of price. Your online made-to-measure suit will likely be half-canvassed, but it’s important to check this information before buying. You may also be given the option for a full canvas, which is oftentimes the wiser route to take despite the additional up-front cost.
Be Aware Of Return / Remake Policies
Most MTM companies don’t take returns like RTW companies will. This is understandable as the merchandise was made specifically for you and is thus not resell-able, so be sure that you’ll be able to design a suit that you’ll enjoy wearing. Do they let you customize the design of the suit to your liking? Does the fit on the models look like something you’d want to wear?
However, many do offer alteration credits or even remakes if the suit requires work to provide a good fit as you’ll learn below.
As with ready-to-wear companies, you’d do well to read many customer reviews to learn about others’ experiences. Was the overall quality good? If something went wrong quality-wise, would the company offer to remake the garment? If people are generally happy, chances are you will be, too.
Will I Need Alterations? Yes!
A common misconception is that made-to-measure suits require no alterations because they’re being made specifically for you.
As it happens, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it’s highly likely that you’ll need alterations. Don’t forget that your suit is being made from a block pattern, not a custom one!
This is another area in which it’s important to be familiar with a company’s policies:
MTM companies generally offer an alterations “credit” up to a certain dollar amount (typically $75-$100), but the amount varies by company. If the suit requires too much work, some will even offer complete remakes of the suit from scratch.
For instance, Black Lapel has its Flawless Fit Promise while Indochino has a similarly named guarantee where you can even have it altered in-store.
In most cases, you’ll have to patronize a local tailor for this, and you’ll get reimbursed after the work is done.
Be absolutely sure to keep your alterations receipts and follow the company’s policies so that you can be properly reimbursed. If you need suggestions on finding a tailor, see our guide on how to find a tailor.
Can You Buy A Bespoke Suit Online?
That’s debatable. Fully custom suits are available online, but we’d predict that bespoke tailors would bristle at the thought of a true bespoke suit being made without a cutter present to take measurements and discuss fit and style.
Our feeling is that the custom process is best experienced with a tailor as opposed to on the Internet. This isn’t necessarily because of improved accuracy of fit, athough we’d feel more confident doing this in person than on the web.
Instead, it’s because the custom / bespoke process is a special one, and flipping through fabric books while discussing your fit preferences in person with a cutter is an experience every guy should have at least once.
Now that you have read our guide to buying suits online, consider perusing some of our related content: