The History of Bespoke

imagesYou may have heard of the term bespoke to refer to men’s suits, but do you know its origin? The term bespoke comes from the word bespeak which means “to speak for something”. It now has a special meaning “to give order for it to be made”. Bespoke clothing is the opposite of off-the-rack clothing which you purchase in a store. The term first popped up on Savile Row, which is the epicenter of bespoke clothing.

Savile Row is a street in London often called the “Golden mile of tailoring”. This street was built around 1731. During the late 18th century tailors started taking up shop on the road. Tailors still occupy these streets today charging from 2000 to over 3000 British pounds. The street has started to feature ready-to-wear clothes to appeal to those unable or unwilling to pay for expensive, custom suits. By the 1990s, many of the tailors were struggling to find clients in a world where fashion was easy to buy from a store shelf. Three tailors revitalized the bespoke style for these modern shoppers. The three tailors were featured in Vanity Fair and publicity around bespoke grew.Unknown

There is a gray area between ready-to-wear and bespoke: made-to-measure. These types of outfits are made when the tailor alters the standard-sized pattern to better fit the customer. Fittings are needed for both bespoke and made-to-measure. Handmade was often the distinctive factor of bespoke but now many made-to-measure garments feature a personal touch.

If you ever happen to travel to London, put Savile Row on your list of must sees. The history of bespoke started there and continues on after centuries.

Bespoke Vs. Made-to-Measure

This infographic from Executive Image Consulting provides a great cheat sheet about the differences of bespoke and made-to-measure outfits. Bespoke refers to custom men’s suits, often handmade, and generally quite expensive. Made-to-measure is not quite bespoke but also not ready-to-wear (outfits you buy pre-made, such as in a store).

Made-to-measure garments feature some amount of tailoring and personalization, though not nearly the amount of bespoke. Bespoke offers almost limitless options for customization, which is why the prices can get very high. If you are looking for something custom, but a little less pricey, then made-to-measure offers customization up to a point. Learn more about the differences and similarities to these two tailoring methods from the infographic.

bespoke_mtm_infographic_final

Why Tailoring?

Good-Fit-vs-Bad-Fit-400-AOMAll of us have likely bought a piece of clothing only to find out it doesn’t fit exactly how we wanted. Ill-fitting clothing is a problem for many people. Ready-to-wear clothing was made to fit general sizes, not specific body types. We end up having to compromise, whether getting something a little too tight or too loose, too long or too short. Nothing seems to fit just hw we want. Tailoring offers the chance to get a piece of clothing that is made just for your body type and just to your specifications. For important pieces of clothing like a suit or wedding dress, it is ideal to get it tailored.

Ill-Fitting Suits

Many men are wearing suits that do not fit their body type. Generally, they opt for a suit that is much too big for them. This causes the wearer to look more bulky than they actually are. A properly fitting suit from a tailor will accentuate the wearer’s best assets like shoulders or waist. An ill-fitting suit adds imaginary pounds to the wearer, and does not look very professional. Investing in one tailored suit will make you realize just how good you can look in the right clothes.

Parts of the Suit to Alter

There are a few parts of a suit that you want to pay careful attention to. Making sure the lengths of these sections will ensure a proper fit. These include jacket length, the shoulder, trouser bottom, sleeve length, and collar. Your tailor will know exactly what these issues are and will make sure your suit fits you exactly how you want.

What Can’t Be Tailored

Most items can be tailored such as pants, dress shirts, suit jackets. But items like sweaters and knit items are much more stubborn. Sometimes it is better to just get a new, better fitting sweater then spend a lot to get it tailored.

Check out the comprehensive article from the Art of Manliness website about how a good fitting suit should look.

No Shave November

UnknownHave you participated in the annual “No Shave November” event? It takes place each November, most likely thanks to alliteration, and requires participants to do just one thing: not shave the whole month. It is open to both men and women, though it is likely more geared towards men. Learn about the origins of this interesting event.

Origin

No Shave November started as a Cancer fundraising idea by two friends in 2009. The idea was to have people forgo shaving and instead donate the money they would have spent on grooming. The idea is also to embrace our hair, which many Cancer patients lose during treatment. It started as a Facebook page with only 50 participants. The event grew in popularity and in 2013 the American Cancer Society partnered with No Shave November to raise even more funds and promote Cancer awareness. They are now a web-based, non-profit with a large fanbase.

How to Participate

It’s easy! Grow your hair freely during the month of November. Donate the money you would spend on grooming to help the fight against cancer. You can sign up solo or as a team on their site (http://www.no-shave.org/#!get-involved/clse). You can also donate straight to the American Cancer Society or purchase No-Shave November gear with proceeds going to the ACS. There are shirts, hoodies, and bracelets. Use the hashtag #LetItGrow to show your support on social media sites.