Yesterday I was in Melbourne for the launch of The Ugly Duckling Bar, and incidentally had the opportunity to pop into Myer to have a custom suit fitted by Dom Bagnato and his team of trained tailors. During the process I was reflecting on the world of suiting and the differing needs of a suit for each modern gent. This thought led me to writing this quick article, where I explore the pros and cons of made-to-measure suiting and how it fits into the tailoring world.
Before the industrial evolution the majority of suiting was indeed bespoke, because garments (particularly suiting) could not easily be made in factories. In the many decades following the evolution, off-the-rack clothing began to enter the industry and suiting was now readily accessible off the rack and at a much cheaper price. Until the last 10 years, you could only really choose between an off-the-rack suit or a tailored suit; one being affordable and the other being reserved for businessman and those could afford the high price of the tailored option.
Nowadays, made-to-measure suiting fills the void between the two and offers tailored suiting, at a much cheaper price. Although, keep in mind that the made-to-measure option usually doesn't include traditional techniques and multiple fittings; this is now referred to as bespoke tailoring.
Budget and Fit
These two elements in my opinion are the most important in the quest for the perfect suit. Budget is obvious, you'll buy what you can afford. The second point is the fit, easily the most important aspect of the actual product. You can have the most expensive fabrics in the world, but if the fit is lousy, you're never going to look your best, or stylish for that matter.
Made-to-measure suiting caters for both these elements in the most efficient manner by offering a tailored fit at a minimal price, particularly in comparison to bespoke tailoring.
Customisation and Versatility
An obvious advantage of made-to-measure is the customisation options that are available. Most brands will give you a choice in a range of fabrics and styles from the style of the lapel to the fabric in your lining. Indeed sometimes you do find an off-the-rack suit that does fit you well, however more often than not the fabric or pattern isn't necessarily what you want. The fact that your suit is customised for your preferences means that you can base the style for your needs, whether they be business or casual; a great made-to-measure suit can be worn to virtually anything (minus black tie).
Choosing your own suit means you can remain versatile and flexible throughout the summer months no matter what event you are attending. For example, these Dom Bagnato suits could easily be worn to through the racing season, to weddings, and some even to the office. If you want as much versatility out of your suit as possible, opt for a navy or dark grey suit with a subtle pattern and simple styling. A simple style will allow the suit to be worn more often, but leaves you to add some style with accessories (which is great for the races).
The key take home message however is that you should invest your money in 1 or 2 quality, versatile suits rather than buying 5 low-quality suits all of which are for different occasions. With the wedding season and spring racing around the corner, it's perhaps time to consider a wardrobe upgrade,one which will allow you to be versatile, without breaking the bank.
I was really happy with the knowledge and guidance that Dom and his team provided at my fitting in Melbourne. Although you probably won't have the namesake founder sizing you at your fitting, it seems he has passed on a wealth of experience to the rest of his team of tailors.
The made-to-measure offering from the brand is exclusively available at Myer in Melbourne - if you'd like to find our more, simply head to their website.