In Review

Made-to-measure shirts, T-shirts and trousers: bespoke online tailors reviewed

Web-based tailoring companies now offer made-to-measure clothes at affordable prices

Custom tailoring used to be the preserve of high-rollers and the aristocracy, but a new breed of online company is putting made-to-measure shirts and trousers within reach of the many not the few.

There are a few differences: instead of visiting a wood-panelled shop on Saville Row you have to submit your own measurements via a website, and any adjustments involve posting garments to and fro. But you end up with clothes made to your exacting specifications - and, with your details stored online, you can re-order at the touch of a button.

Spoke: bespoke trousers and polo shirts

British company Spoke has recently added formal trousers to its range of chinos, shorts and polo shirts, all of which come in a large permutation of sizes - not strictly made-to-measure, but the very next best thing.

The new “Smarts” are cut in Italian wool from Piedmont or a summer-weight linen blend, available in a range of blues and greys. They join several styles and weights of chino, from business-ready “Sharps” to water-resistant “Bulletproofs”, and a broad palette of colours, from the conservative to the outré. Polo shirts were added to the range last year.

How it works

You answer a short questionnaire, providing standard measurements such as height and weight, as well as how you normally wear your clothes. The “fit finder” then calculates your custom size. As well as waist and leg length, it includes one of three builds - A, B or C - which determines the cut of the trouser leg, from slim to generous. The garments are then made in Europe, from European fabric.

What they cost

Trousers are priced from £89, polo shirts from £59 and shorts from £69.

How they fit

The range of available waists, leg lengths and builds mean there’s little practical difference between Spoke’s system and true made-to-measure - and the trousers are attractive and well made. Each style of trouser does fit in a slightly different way, however, so you may need to tweak your specifications accordingly (Sharps, for example, have a narrower build than the more casual Heroes). Polo shirts come in a slightly more limited range of sizes, but unless you’re a particularly unusual shape you’ll find a fit that works. The fabric is 100% cotton in an attractive pique weave.

What if they don’t fit?

You can return any item within 100 days for any reason, using the label provided, for a refund or replacement. Delivery is free in both directions.

Son of a Tailor: bespoke T-shirts

Based in Copenhagen, Son of a Tailor makes truly bespoke T-shirts to your precise measurements, which you can customise with various different design cues. A small range of “classic colours” - white, black, navy and two shades of grey - are complemented by regular seasonal specials, which come and go throughout the year. Cotton T-shirts are available in two grades of fabric - heavyweight (200g per square metre) and medium (150gsm), and with either short or long sleeves. Lightweight merino wool T-shirts (135gsm) come in three colours - grey, navy and black. Like Spoke, Son of a Tailor has also recently branched out into polo shirts, but only in blue, white and grey.

How it works

You can calculate your ideal size in three ways: either by answering a questionnaire, measuring your body or measuring an existing T-shirt that fits you well. The process then shows you the recommended pattern, which you can tweak if, for example, you prefer a shorter sleeve or a longer body. Once saved to your account, the size can be applied to any T-shirt or polo shirt, and you can decide whether to add pockets, folded sleeves or a monogram, and specify the style and shape of the neckline. The patterns are then laser cut and sewn in Portugal, using American cotton or Australian wool.

What they cost

T-shirts start at £48 for one or £36 each if you buy five. Polo shirts are £72 for one or £54 each for five.

How they fit

Using the sizing questionnaire and manually tweaking the resulting pattern based on measurements from an existing T-shirt produced an excellent fit, which could be perfected by adding or subtracting 0.5cm here and there for subsequent orders. The T-shirts look and feel very well made and the cotton shows no sign of shrinking, twisting or pilling after several washes.

What if they don’t fit? You can return any item that doesn’t fit for a free replacement.

Proper Cloth

Proper Cloth makes bespoke formal and casual shirts in a vast range of fabrics in all colours, patterns, grades and weights. As well as specifying precise sizing, you can choose from several collars, cuffs, fronts and buttons, and various tailoring styles, such as tucked or untucked, darted or flat.

How it works

You answer a series of questions, some of which are obvious (your height, waist and chest sizes) and some less so (your ethnic origins), and Proper Cloth’s algorithm works out the perfect shirt size. You can tweak it manually, bringing it into line with existing shirts that fit you well, specifying up to eight measurements and eight other design choices. An extensive style guide on the website helps you negotiate the niceties of each option - for example, what style of collar meets your needs. Your shirt will then be made to your exacting requirements.

What they cost

From £71.50 per shirt. Proper Cloth is an American company, but will price shirts in pounds and include VAT on your order, so your parcel won’t be intercepted by customs. Shipping to the UK is £13 (or free on orders over £178).

How they fit

If you measure carefully and compare with your existing wardrobe, your first attempt is likely to be the best-fitting shirt you’ve ever worn. And, as with Son of a Tailor, you can easily tweak subsequent orders for absolute perfection.

What if they don’t fit?

You can return a shirt to be altered or remade, and even send photographs of yourself wearing it so the tailors can see what changes need to be made. There is no charge for the alterations, but you will pay for sending the shirt back to the US. If your first order consists of two shirts or more, Proper Cloth recommends that you have one made first, try it on and then tweak the measurements for the rest of the order as necessary.

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