There is a lot more to purchasing your clothing than simply small, medium, and large. Buying clothes off the rack is easy, you’ve done it hundreds of times! But going to the tailors can be an unnerving experience, in part because there is hardly anyone in the store, and also because sometimes the people in sales are straight up snobby. Don’t worry though, we’ll teach you what to say and what to look for.
When shopping, there are three main tiers when purchasing clothes that aren’t the basics (t-shirts, jeans, etc.); these tiers are ready to wear, made to measure, and bespoke.
READY TO WEAR
Ready to wear basically means that these clothes were made for the general market. Usually these clothes come in sizes you may be familiar with: small, medium, large, extra-large, and so on and so forth. Because of this mass market appeal, clothes that are ready to wear are generally non-customizable and very convenient to purchase. That is not to say that the quality of these garments aren’t good, it’s just that these clothes weren’t made to fit you. Ready to wear can range from a button down shirt from Walmart to a luxury Italian brand like Prada, but here are a few things you can still look for:
- Slim Fit – when a shirt off the rack says “slim fit” it basically means the shirt is a little tighter on the sides of your torso and gives a slimmer look to your frame. This cut is slimmer than your standard, more box-like cuts of clothing.
- Fitted – when you see something on the rack that says “fitted” you can assume that the shirt is not only slimmer in the torso area but also in the sleeves. If you’re a guy that likes working out and desire definition in your clothing, opt for the fitted shirt.
- Chest Size(s) – the measurements are for the circumference of your chest, the chart below is just a general idea of what to look for when you’re purchasing a sports coat or suit.
MADE TO MEASURE
You can think of made to measure clothes as the middle ground between ready to wear and bespoke. Typically, made to measure clothes use an existing pattern or silhouette, then alter them to fit your body’s specifications. When it comes to fit, there are a few things you can do with made to measure clothing to make it more customizable, such as: jacket length, sleeve length, shoulder width, and armhole size. Here are a couple things to look out for:
- Sleeves – the master cutter or tailor will make sure the sleeves are just the right length, suit sleeves should be half an inch to one inch shorter in length than your shirts.
- Shoulders – see if you can ask for “soft shoulders.” It makes a suit look more natural.
If you want your wardrobe to be in the upper echelons of the menswear game, go bespoke. Bespoke means that a completely new pattern or silhouette is created specifically for you! That’s right, you get to have your suit exactly the way you want it, from the design to the fine details. But buyer beware, bespoke is for ballers. Here are some things that can make your suit even more personalized:
- Buttons – if you’re going bespoke, make sure your buttons are of the highest quality. Look for something called Corozo buttons (a natural looking pattern) in horn, bone, or shell material.
- Hand sewn buttonholes – ask for hand sewn buttonholes. The beauty is in the detail as every bespoke suit will look different (individualized) if they’re made my hand. See if you can ask for the Milanese buttonholes!
- Pic-Stitching by Hand – your lapel will look like it has more texture and it won’t be completely smooth. Machines can pic stitch as well, but when done by hand the pic stitching will be a bit imperfect, displaying craftsmanship.