Decoding Men’s Custom Clothing


We all know that when it comes to men’s clothing, the more perfectly tailored the fit, the better. But how one achieves that can vary, and as the experts at Huntsville, Alabama-based menswear store Roosevelt & Company note, the buzzword “custom” is frequently used as a blanket term for a number of tailored-clothing techniques, causing confusion among the differences between bespoke, custom, made-to-order, and made-to measure. To help those seeking an ideal fit understand their options, they’ve outlined the differences between each sartorial approach here, shedding light on what sets them apart and why the outcomes (and pricing) can range so widely.

Made-to-order: “The process of made-to-order has seemingly found a home amidst various websites and price-conscious brands seeking to take advantage of the growing trend in customization, offering a handful of fit adaptations and a focus on a handful of select style changes,” the sartorial sages at Roosevelt & Company say. While this selection can streamline the process, “Many find less value in paying a premium for ‘custom’ pieces that aren’t truly built to fit,” so customers can end up trading quality for “a thinly veiled layer of customization.” Still, there is a place for this option: When it comes to accessories, Roosevelt & Company finds that customers benefit from being able to choose their preferred combination of width, leather, finish, etc.

Made-to-measure: “Offering a superior option to ready-to-wear or an off-the-rack garment, made-to-measure pieces are constructed to fit each customer individually by taking a pre-determined pattern and adjusting that pattern based on the client’s own measurements,” Roosevelt & Company says of this popular tailoring technique. Made-to-measure garments often provide several points of customization, a range of styling and fabric options, and are a great solution for those seeking to solve fit issues that aren’t easily addressed by alterations.

Custom and bespoke: “The term ‘bespoke’ derives from a time when 17th-century tailors would not only craft every aspect of the requested garment on-site, but would also house a library of fabrics for the client to choose from, quite literally setting that cut of fabric aside for the client, which then became ‘spoken for,’” the Roosevelt & Company experts say. While the cost of the bespoke process can be prohibitive for some, Roosevelt & Company assures that authentic custom clothing is still alive and well, and attainable for those seeking a standout wardrobe and genuine custom fit. Differing from bespoke only in the extent of its process, custom clothing offers a wide array of style and fit specifications that are used to build a pattern specific to the client’s needs and wishes, which means the overall quality and range of fit is much higher than those offered by other methods.

Photograph by Kadie Pangburn. TSG Tip 282 from Roosevelt & Company in Huntsville, Alabama. Roosevelt & Company is featured in The Scout Guide Huntsville. Find more tips about men’s clothing and read about men’s clothing trends in the Roosevelt & Company Journal