Buying a Custom Suit Online? Don’t Mess It Up (3 Crucial MTM Lessons)

Updated : Oct 12, 2019 in Articles

Buying a Custom Suit Online? Don’t Mess It Up (3 Crucial MTM Lessons)


What’s up guys? My name is Brock. You’re watching The Modest Man and today, we’re talking about buying custom clothes online with confidence. Now, I’m sure you’ve noticed that over the past few years, there’s been a lot of made-to-measure,
online only clothing brands, popping up and it’s great! I love it! You know I
think made-to-measure clothing is one of the best ways for guys who don’t have
average or off-the-rack body types to find clothes that fit for pretty reasonable prices but buying made-to-measure, especially
you know custom-suits online can be a very painful, frustrating experience and you can waste a lot of time and money and that’s what I want to help you with today. I want to help you, avoid that frustration and buy made-to-measure with confidence. Now before we get into the three tips, I want to clear up some terminology because there’s some confusion about what all these words mean. You know, made-to-measure, custom, bespoke… Here’s the way I understand it. Okay, the word “Custom” is kind of an umbrella term and it can mean made-to-measure or bespoke. It basically just means anything that’s not ready-to-wear or off-the-rack. Now, when it comes to bespoke, it’s kind
of like every square is a rectangle but not every rectangle is a square. Okay, every bespoke suit is technically custom but not every custom-suit is bespoke. A bespoke suit is made from scratch for one individual person. It happens in-person. You’re in the same room as the tailor. It’s not online and they’re making it from scratch. It usually involves, what’s called a Basted Fitting
which is where they make like a mock-up suit from low quality, almost like paper fabric
before they start making the real thing and then once the real thing is done,
you come-in for your first fitting and they tweak it and then a second
fitting and they tweak that until it’s close to perfect as possible. Bespoke is very expensive. It takes weeks or even months to finish and for that reason most guys won’t ever buy a Bespoke suit. Now, made-to-measure is also custom but
it’s not bespoke and so if you see a made-to-measure company, an online suit
company, calling their suits Bespoke, trust me, they’re misleading you, whether
they know it or not. Their suits aren’t made from scratch, okay! A made-to-measure company has a set of patterns. They basically take your
measurements and they find the pattern that they already have, that’s close
to your measurements and they tweak it from there, based on the
measurements or the data that you give them. Made-to-measure typically doesn’t involve a basted fitting and it usually doesn’t involve multiple fittings. You get the final product and if you need to tweak it, you go to your local tailor. Now, that we’ve got the terminology cleared up, I want to take a second to figure out
why this video is even necessary. Why is made-to-measure so difficult? Why are so many people unsatisfied with
their made-to-measure experience? You’ve probably heard some horror stories about buying made-to-measure suits. I’ve reviewed a lot of the popular made-to-measure companies on The Modest Man blog and I love doing suit reviews but every time I publish one, regardless
of my experience, someone leaves a comment below the post, detailing their
horrible experience with whatever brand. I think this happens because making a
suit for somebody, a custom suit for somebody is inherently difficult. It’s more than just about the length of your legs
and the circumference of your neck. Our bodies have a lot of little nuances
that vary from one person to the next and the truth is making a shirt or a suit
that fits somebody really well, isn’t easy. Now, you add to that the fact
that this is all happening virtually. So, you’re submitting your measurements to a
company who then gives these measurements to their tailor who is overseas, probably speaks a different language. It’s like a game of telephone and a lot can go wrong! Now, more often than not what goes wrong, is at the very beginning of the process. The customer “us”, we submit the wrong measurements and we do that because first of all it’s hard to measure yourself and second even if you have help,
we’re not tailors you know and your girlfriend or your mom isn’t a
master tailor so, if they’re measuring you, you know they can make mistakes too. So, a lot of people have really bad experiences buying made-to-measure and I understand that. I’ve been there. I’ve had bad experiences but I want you
to know that I still think buying custom clothes online is a great solution for
shorter guys who want to get clothes to fit for pretty reasonable prices and that’s why I wanted to make this video. I want to help you avoid the pitfalls that
a lot of people experience when they’re buying custom clothes online. Tip Number One: Over-Communicate! No matter what brand you’re working with,
they’re gonna ask you for some data and it could be a bunch of
different body measurements. They could ask you to measure an
existing shirt or suit that you already own or they might just ask you for your
height and weight and a couple of photos. Give them what they ask for but then I
recommend also giving them a lot more. So, what I do is, I actually keep a folder on
my computer. I call it my made-to-measure swipe file
and it has all of my pictures of me, wearing different suits along with my thoughts and comments and complaints about those different suits and I send this to new companies that I’m working with along with whatever other measurements they ask for because I want them to know the problems
that I normally run into with suits and shirts. Maybe they’ll be like “Okay, you know thanks but no thanks, we’re not going to look at all this extra information.” But you never know and it’s always better to
give them a little too much than not enough. So, Tip Number One, “Over-Communicate” Tip Number Two: Get Measured Professionally! You’re going to want to get your actual measurements from a professional tailor just one time. So, you have them ready when you have to
submit your measurements to a brand. It’s much better than trying to measure yourself or
trying to get a friend to help because let’s be honest! Even if you follow the
directions in the videos and you know the pictures and the tutorials that
these made-to-measure brands put out. It’s still hard, you can still make mistakes. So, I recommend going to your local tailor. You can go to the same person
who hems you pants and tell them, you know, I want my full body measurements. Write them down and then you have them. Now, before they measure you.
Be sure to tell them, how you like your clothes to fit. If you want your clothes to fit a little snugger. Be sure to tell them that! Same thing with like the length of your
sleeves and pants. If you prefer, your sleeves to be cropped a
little shorter, your pants to have no break. Be sure to tell them that, before they measure you. So, Tip Number Two, “Get Measured Professionally!” Tip Number Three : “Use Multiple Garments”, when you’re measuring! A lot of brands, instead of having you to submit your body measurements, they’re going to ask you to measure a shirt or
a suit that you already have that fits pretty well and the problem with this is, you know the reason you’re buying a made-to-measure is probably because you don’t already have a shirt or
a suit that fits perfectly. That’s the whole reason you’re getting a custom shorter suit. So, what you can do instead of just finding your best fitting shirt for example and measuring it, find like your three best fitting shirts and combine
the best measurements from all of them, to create your ideal shirt that doesn’t
exist yet. So, if you have one shirt that’s a little too tight
across the chest but the sleeves are perfect, take the sleeve measurement from that shirt and then upon your other shirt the sleeves
are too long but the chest is perfect, use the chest measurement from that shirt. So, don’t just take the
measurements from one garment, take the best measurements from all of your garments. And my last tip is this, “Don’t Settle!” Okay! Buying made-to-measure is not some magic solutions. In fact, I’ll tell you right now, be honest. It’s probably not going to work out
the first time you try it and this is why a lot of people you know, they buy a made-to-measure shirt or a suit and it arrives and it doesn’t fit that well or maybe it fits okay and they’re like “Huh, made-to-measure
isn’t for me.” I’m telling you that it takes some
patience but it is worth it and you might have to try it a couple times and this kind of goes back to my first tip about
“Over-Communicating”. So, when your shirt arrives, take a picture
of yourself wearing the shirt, send it back to the company that you’re working with their customer service email and say “Hey what went wrong here?” You know, Did I do something wrong? Did your tailor misinterpret with the measurements? Did something get lost in translation? A lot of the times, especially if you’re
a first-time buyer from a company, they’ll offer to remake it, like if
something is wrong but can’t be fixed. Like the shoulders are too wide, they’ll remake it for you. They value a long-term customer and they want you to come back for more so they want you to be satisfied. So, that’s my last tip is just never settle for a
made-to-measure shirt or suit that actually doesn’t fit that well. Keep trying until you get it right! Once you dial-in on your measurements,
it’s just like printing shirts and suits. Okay! So, it gets a lot easier and I think it’s
worth the effort. Alright! I hope that gives you a little more confidence on
buying made-to-measure clothes online. If you have any questions or if you want to
share your experiences with this, leave a comment down below and
until next time, “Stay Stylish!”

53 Comments

  • Brock, what do you think of Indochino? I just got a suit from them, and it fit nearly perfectly! After hearing all the negative stuff about MTM on line, I was pleasantly surprised.

  • Boom! This information is something every guy needs to know before he tries any MTM program. It's a process, not a product. It takes some time and even a couple of tries to get things dialed in. That doesn't mean guys should settle – because any company worth its salt will alter or remake a garment until it's great, and then continue to work with the client to fine-tune the pattern from there. Going in eyes wide open can make it an incredible experience.

  • Hey Brock, this is really a quality content! Thanks for this. I had one thought though, should you wear shoes when you ask your tailor to give you full body measurement?

  • Definitely agree with the last point. When I first started buying MTM shirts, I think it took me three attempts before I got a good fit. Even now I tweak the odd measurement, but it's definitely worth it. I'll never go back to off the rack.

  • black Lapel sucks they are quickly turning into indochino. built a crap suit and the "stylist" who measured me wrong in person kept insisting it fits right and remake is not needed

  • Hey Brock, just read your latest indochino review and I have a question regarding measurements to get the best fit. If I were to input a shoulder measurement, would the shoulder part of the jacket fit similarly to an off the rack of that measurement? So let's say I measure and enter 18". Would it fit like an OTR with 18" shoulders? Also for measurements such as wrist or neck, did you submit measurements to skin, or measurements with a finger between tape for breathing room? Thanks!

  • I've taken bespoke pieces and given them to MTM people and just told them to use those measurements. You get what you pay for though. I'm lucky in that I've built up a relationship with a Savile Row trained tailor and have several suits and other pieces from him. His prices are very reasonable as he works 'off Savile Row.' I wouldn't go online made to measure though unless you wanted a cloth that isn't available in your local store. If the cloth you want is in a local store buy the nearest off the rack and get it altered.

  • excellent advice, conclusions I reached after several mishaps.

    I will add that, if the custom clothier asks only for body measurements, also send them measurements of your favourite garments and insist they look at them.
    There is no guarantee that they translate your body measurements into a jacket that fits they way you want it.
    But knowing for example the measurements of your best fitting jacket, gives you the option of duplicating it, which is a far safer option.

  • Enjoyed the video & subscribed but was wondering why not just order suits on line "off the rack" and then take them to a tailor? Sure it may cost a bit more but A) time is money too B) certain things are just plain worth it and C) if you are wearing lots of suits you probably are making decent money so why torture yourself with the interest "guess and hope" game?

  • my solution, im going to the store that does the MTM. there is an indochino in Canada that is hours away from my home.this vid was great and taught me stuff and confirmed my worries. one problem is some of us are on diets so the measurements change a tad some times

  • hey modest man
    ive been looking at itailor as an mtm program online what company would you recommend

    great chanel just subbed

  • love how you cleared up the difference between bespoke and MTM, and what MTM is. i think that tailored off the racks suits also count as custom, no?

  • Why don't you always specify all the final dimensions of your garments? If you call out exact shirt dimensions you can buy a perfectly fitting garment from any MTM place the first time and every time (after you dial it in). Although most places don't ask for garment dimensions I've found they accept them via email after you order. If something is ever off you just send them a photo and the problem is over. If you've specified the half armhole at 9.5" and it's 9" what can they say other than sorry we'll send you a new shirt? Unless you are sending all of the dimension with your photos and comments what do you expect them to do? If you're telling them stuff like the shoulders on this jacket are 17.25" and are too wide then why don't you just say make the shoulders 17"?

  • One of the biggest problems is that the suits are not always made exactly to the measurements submitted. In one case I received a jacket where the chest and waist were fully 2 inches less than submitted.

  • I just ordered my first ever made to measure suit from Oliver Wicks and I wanted to share my experience. I’m on the shorter side, so no off the rack suit has ever fit remotely well. I got my suit about 3 weeks after ordering it and I gotta say I am very pleased with the experience. The support team was very good about listening to me describe the fit I was looking for. The suit arrived with a totally wearable fit. Sure a few things were a bit off, but OW offers up to $125 in alteration reimbursements. I also reached out and described the imperfections in great detail, and the support team helped make notes on my measurements so that the next suit will be even closer to a perfect fit.

    If any of you are looking to buy a suit from them, use my referral link for a free made to measure shirt (they normally cost around $150!) https://www.oliverwicks.com/secret/4ad9300db83118c1a13aa4e402389706

    Also feel free to message me if you guys have any questions!

  • Phenomenal overview! Thanks for the insight! I just ordered my first MTM suit and I'm pretty happy, I need a few slight alterations but I can't wait for the next one.

  • (Coming from someone who sews) this is good general information. Couple corrections: basting is the stitching of or the process of a baste (like you baste a turkey)
    The measurements are going to be wrong no matter who measures you. If it’s not the tailor themselves measuring you, then you’re just getting close enough for the tailor to make an educated guess at what your suit should actually measure. Perfect example: in the past two weeks I’ve sewn 4 dress shirts. Same measurements, but different sewing patterns. They all fit totally different. The arm hole is different sizes, the shoulder seam sits on different parts of my shoulder, the neck sits in different places. Even though they were all measured before I started sewing.
    Professionally measured is still a very good point of advice, but don’t expect it to be completely spot on just because it was a tailor who measured you.

  • Getting professionally measures sounds sensible… but then, you're obligated to buy at least something from them, right? I mean, getting them to write down the measurements for you and saying, "Thanks, I'm ordering online" would be kind of unethical.

    I'm just wondering why tech can't scan my body and measure me properly (I know mtailor claim to do this with video – I might try them… but still doesn't seem quite complete).

  • I picked up a MTM suit 3 days ago and my general advice is: Avoid online completely to save you lots of work and misunderstandings. I had mine made in-store at a bespoke tailor who offers MTM too. Surely it can't be too hard to find one near you, many tailors have jumped on the MTM train.

    On the fit: Everything concerning width was perfect from the start, i must say that i am 1,88m (6,2") at 85kg, so suits fit naturally well with me. They deliberately left the trouser length and sleeve length longer so they can adjust them after the first fit.

    Advantages
    A: You get professionally measured in store.

    B: When the suit arrives you can tell them then and there in person and actually show them right away what you don't like and what should be adjusted.

    This is very advantageous because when you go to the fittings keep in mind that you can bring your own shoes to the store, the ones you will actually wear the suit with! Trouser length very much depends on how the trousers fall on your preferred type of shoes(!!) On the internet you would have to post pics for them and hope for the best.

    C: You don't have to bother with shipping and longer waiting time as they would usually adjust it within 2 days.

  • is it better to stick to one company to order MTM? so you can adjust the measurement that you give them from shirt to shirt to get the best fitting result after 2 or 3 shirts? it depends on the consistency of the tailors

  • Great video. I wanted a new MTM suit for my daughter's graduation, so assumed that I'd buy two, the first would end up being an OK fit and I'd wear it to work, but using THAT suit as a template I could subtely adjust the measurements/lengths/pockets etc to get the perfect suit. It's a bit like giving yourself a fitting for your suit and ending up with a near-bespoke experience.

  • Waiting when 3D scanning becomes dirt cheap and built into cellphones, so you can send a precise body scan to a MTM company, and they can create very accurate 3D model of a suit and model it in a 3D software using physics engine to see all the wrinkles etc. Then they send you a 3D interactive demo, you suggest some corrections, if any, and finally they just print out all the measurements and create the suit.

  • Hi Brock, Have you seen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32rbuLFbVWk (ZOZOSUIT) for taking automated, accurate MTM measurements? Might be useful . . .

  • Great video, Brock! You offer a lot of good advice here. My first MTM suit had several issues, but it was worth the effort in the end. In my case, the suit looked good in the mirror, but the arm holes were very restrictive. When it came time to remake the jacket, they used photos to help dial in the issue. Your suggestion to be proactive and give them more information than they ask is excellent advice! I have learned a lot from watching your videos. Thanks so much for helping us out!

  • Custom made shirts online have always produced unpredictable results for me. The main problem has been the measurements I specified are not the measurements I receive on the shirt. The 16" collar I requested is actually 15". The sleeves are an inch shorter than I requested. When I point this out they point to the small print in their guarantee and say they will only correct something that is at least 1.5" off the specified measurement. This wastes a lot of money.

  • Fair and constructive criticism by the host.
    Bottom line…if going the MTM ..go in person for at least the first time.
    …..side note…some great tailors in NYC work with Samuelsohn and/or Coppley….World class suits and fits for under $1000, many under $700
    I know, for some an in-person visit, is not an option…..so, buy OTR..make sure the shoulders fit..and pay for tailoring adjustments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *