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What is the difference between ready to wear/off the peg and Made to Measure and full Bespoke Suits?

The perfect answer has been given at The English Cut and we replicate this here verbatim..

If you can not afford bespoke...
I happen to believe that a bespoke suit is worth its high asking price, or else I would not bother selling them. They look better, they fit better, and they last years longer than their competition. It is really that simple.
Even so, £2000 [about $4000 USD, at time of writing] is a lot of money, let us not kid ourselves.
Luckily for suit lovers everywhere, with modern technology there are now some really good ready-to-wear, manufactured suits being made, starting at only a few hundred pounds. Fifty years ago, suits that were both good and cheap did not exist. The tech simply was not there.
So regardless of your budget, you have a lot of options. Here is the basic hierarchy to consider:

1. A totally machine made, off-the-peg suit.
These cost around £100 to £600. The production systems for these is so slick, a suit is literally made in minutes. My first boss, Mike Wigglesworth of Redmayne once very kindly took me to visit a clothing factory to witness this mechanization. What sticks in my mind the most about that day, apart from the disconcerting efficiency of the machines, was the fact that designer-label brands were coming off the same production line as the “apparently” far less exclusive makes, such as Marks & Spencer (For the money, the British high street retailer, Marks & Spencer makes as good a suit as anyone. I rate them highly.
With machine-made, all manufacturers have pattern designers who create a basic pattern which, in “their” interpretation, would fit most people. So what you’ve got to do is be guided by the fit and the feel of a jacket around the neck and shoulders. Make this your priority.
If you’re in-between sizes, get the larger size and pay a high street alteration tailor £20-£30 to have it taken in or whatever. Don’t fool yourself that just because it is a Hugo Boss or Armani it’s a better fit than than the Marks & Spencer. Does not work that way. Forget the cost, just be honest with yourself. Like I said, pay attention round the neck and shoulders.
2. Made-to-measure.
Not to be confused with "bespoke". What you are getting is the same machine-made as Number One, but the basic pattern will have slight alterations made at the factory to improve the overall fit. Expect to pay anywhere between £450 to £800. You will also get more possibilities to personalize the suit, pocket details, style etc.
Bear in mind the guy who measures you may only have been in the job for a few weeks, or even a few hours. He’s only running a tape around you and ticking style boxes on the order form. So don’t expect miracles.
There are high street chains that offer this service, and even proper tailors as well. A.J. Hewitt, an excellent tailor, is a good example. The principals, Tony Hewitt and Ravi the Tailor (yes, his real name) offer true bespoke that is up there with the best. However they also offer made-to-measure. This in no way compromises their bespoke suits, they’re just simply allowing their customers the option of only climbing halfway up the sartorial ladder.
Ultimately with made-to-measure, your suit is at the mercy of the manufacturer. But at least with having an experienced cutter like Tony or Ravi to measure you, there is far less chance of disappointment.
3. Hand Made Off-the-peg.
These are made by hand, and yes, the quality is generally very high. But it is still an assembly line. It is just using humans instead of machines, cutting from generic, standardised patterns, not your own individual measurements.
Yes, the button holes will be hand-sewn, just like "bespoke". Yes, your coat will be made with a "floating" canvas, just like bespoke. But the assembly line will still be cranking out twenty five "Size 40s" in a single shift, unlike bespoke.
That being said, it is still quality stuff. And you can order the suit in the morning, and be wearing it by the afternoon. The fit will not be half bad, either.



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  1. How does a fully constructed, tailored Jacket differ from semi constructed or unconstructed jackets?
  2. What is a Semi constructed Jacket? How do unconstructed, semi constructed and fully constructed jackets differ?
  3. What is an unconstructed Jacket? What is the difference between a fully constructed and an unconstructed Jacket?
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