Fits perfectly and lasts forever? Myths about custom clothing

Custom clothing is simply clothing that is made one at a time. Or is it? There are many legends about made-to-measure suits and clothes. We present the most common myths and get to the bottom of them.

Perfect fit

Theoretically, a tailored suit fits very well. Perfection is probably not achievable, but in any case a fit that satisfies the customer 100 percent – unless you want to call it perfection. In practice, however, it looks like tailored suits often do not satisfy 100 percent in every area of fit. There are suits where the jacket fits really well but the pants only get 8 out of 10 possible points. Or the jacket fits perfectly when standing, but when you sit at the table or in the car, it pinches under the arms and tightens at the back. Tailors can only ever fulfill wishes to a limited extent. A slightly wider cut, soft fabrication and snug fabric feel different than a tight-fitting suit made of hard tweed. The more precisely you brief the tailor, the greater the chance that the suit will fit the way you want it to.

Perfect look

At an event, I told a fashion retailer that the suit I was wearing at the time was 20 years old. She looked at him and replied in a pitying tone, “Yes, you can tell.” In her eyes, my suit was old-fashioned. I myself thought this suit was beautiful, but I realize that others not only don’t think it’s beautiful, but might even find it hard to believe that this is supposed to be a suit from the famous Savile Row. Made-to-measure clothing (and shoes) have their own aesthetics, which often do not reveal themselves to people who form their taste exclusively on the changing trends of fashion. Most who see Lorenzo Cifonelli in one of his suits would judge him to be well dressed. This is because he looks good as a man and his suits look attractive even by modern standards. I saw a picture on Instagram the other day that showed the tailors of a famous Savile Row tailor shop standing in front of their workspace in their tailored suits. I suppose the average suit buyer would not classify most of these gentlemen as well dressed. Just as it is not clear to normal fashion consumers why Prince Charles is considered extremely well-dressed by many “sartorialists”.


Custom clothing lasts a lifetime and sometimes even longer. We know the stories of British aristocrats marrying in their grandfather’s “morning coat” or wearing their father’s tweed suit. These stories are not made up. However, they are generally about garments tailored in the beginning or middle of the 20th century from heavy woollen fabrics. Today, if you have a business suit made from super lightweight super 180 S fabric and wear it often, you will probably outlive this piece. The service life of clothing generally depends on how often and how intensively it is used, whether it is off the rack or sewn by the tailor. Of course, care also plays a role. It doesn’t hurt to hang the suit on the hanger after each wear. It is also recommended not to wear suits, jackets and especially pants without interruption every day and not to dry clean them too often.


One of the main advantages of tailor suits is considered to be that they follow the figure changes of the customer. Meant is not the case that the customer accepts, here the change is never a problem (although aesthetically not always satisfactory). Rather, it is about the client gaining weight, for example, through strength training. The Potsdam men’s tailor Kathrin Emmer says: “I still cut about 2-2.5 cm on the trouser seams and on the jacket 2- 4cm fold, depending on the position of the seam. That should definitely be enough for one size larger, if it goes well even two. However, my experience is that the tailored suits conceal a figure change of +/- 1 size well even without alteration and always grow a little with the wearer.” Most tailors like to alter the garments they have made for customers at some point. James Whitfield in Berlin does this free of charge within the first year. And after that? “If someone wants something remodeled 10 years later because they’ve gained weight, I would definitely charge for that.”


Custom tailors sometimes advertise that they create unique pieces for the customer. This is true with regard to the pattern, for each customer tailor designs its own cut. However, few customers have truly original pieces made at the tailor, most customers order very conventional suits, jackets, pants and coats. Which probably has to do with the fact that tailor customers tend to have conservative tastes. As for the fabric, custom clothing is not unique, because almost always the customer will choose something from existing collections. Even if he finds the last suit length that still exists of a fabric, there will be more people who also wear that fabric. However, the smaller the weaving, the less likely you are to see “your” fabric on someone else. If you want a true one-of-a-kind tailor, you would have to have a weaving mill create and weave your own design. This is costly, but entirely feasible.


Those who switch from custom clothing to men’s tailor, are accustomed to the fact that all the suits that are delivered after the first, are identical in terms of dimensions. Of course, the suits fit minimally different with each fabric, but since the made-to-measure clothing stores the cut digitally, it remains the same. Until the customer wants something else or – this happens – the design of the basic model changes. Some custom tailors, on the other hand, are not able to reproduce the suits from the cut. In my experience, German and Austrian tailors get it best; Kathrin Emmer in Potsdam, for example, reproduced very accurately a double-breasted suit that I liked very much. In London, on the other hand, I have seen it very often that the suits are extremely different. Also other tailors, although they always use the customer’s measurements once determined, draw a new cut each time. This is then optimized during the fitting process. The result is then really “bespoke” for each suit, but the suits always differ in detail from previous ones.