A good suit is hard to find. Everyone has different tastes, different requirements and of course varying body shapes, all of which must be taken into account when finding the perfect suit.

If that isn’t enough, you still have to choose between made to measure (MTM) or ready to wear (RTW). Sounds a little overwhelming, doesn’t it? Well luckily for you, there’s no need to worry!

We’ve enlisted Melbourne-based tailor Carl Navè to shine some light on the key differences between MTM and RTW suiting. After almost 20 years of working in the tailoring industry and being immersed in the world of menswear, it’s fair to say Carl has seen some great looking suits and some pretty bad ones. So when Carl speaks, we listen. Here’s what he had to say…


As the name suggests, made to measure is made for you based your unique measurements. Sometimes they are cut from an existing block or size, but I prefer to create an individual pattern for both jackets and trousers to ensure an even better fit. The main advantages of MTM are:


Based entirely on your measurements and posture a made-to-measure suit should fit like nothing you have ever worn before. A good suit should sit as close to the body as possible without being uncomfortable. It should also accentuate your features and hide the odd sin or two.

Cloth selection 

A good tailor will have a great variety of fabric to choose from based on the occasion, the season and your taste. You should also be able to select your lining and buttons.


As the suit is entirely custom made, you can personally pick many of the details. From the style of the jacket, through to the width of the lapels, pockets and many other personalised details.


A well made to measure suit should be fully canvassed. This refers to the inside of the jacket and how the structure is put together. A half canvassed jacket or fused jacket, otherwise known as adhesive, are more commonly seen in mass produced garments. A full canvas construction, which is made from 100% horse hair, a natural fibre, will last much longer and will feel much more comfortable on the body.

Some of the downsides to made-to-measure, which are always worth keeping in mind, are:


A made to measure suit will take anywhere from 4-6 weeks, or sometimes longer depending on the season, and will require 2-3 fittings at least. You will need to make yourself available for these fittings and also allow plenty of time for the suit to be completed.


A full canvas made-to-measure suit will cost anywhere upwards of $1200 with a superior pure wool cloth. Understandably, this may not be in everyone’s price bracket, but do keep in mind that you do get what you pay for.


Also known as Ready-to-Wear, if you can find your perfect size in either a regular, long or short fitting, then you may be one step ahead already. There are plenty of excellent quality suit labels that use beautiful fabrics that reflect the current trends. Some of the advantages of buying off-the-rack are:


When purchasing off the rack, your garment is usually there in the store, ready to take away with you. A good menswear retailer or tailor can make minor adjustments if needed.

Standard Sizing 

Lucky enough to be a standard size? Then you’ve already won the battle! Many stores offer online shopping, making it even more convenient to shop with them. However, sizing may vary from brand to brand. So its best to stick with what you know fits you well.


If you are a fashion aficionado, most local and international designer brands are RTW.  Buying from designers means you’ll be making a statement, and be ahead of the pack when it comes to trends.


Off-the-Rack prices start as low as $200. Be mindful that these will probably be inferior quality and possibly a blend of wool and synthetic fabrics. A well made off-the-rack suit will probably set you back close to $1000. Unless you are a savvy shopper and manage to pick one up on sale.

In summary

So, regardless of whether you are purchasing off-the-rack or from the best tailor in town, make sure that you are choosing a cut, a style and a cloth that meets your needs suits your body shape and reflects your personality.

Talk about a wealth of information! After wrapping up these points, Carl and I began chatting about style, and he left me with one last piece of sartorial goodness:

‘True style is individual.’ – Carl Navè

If you liked this article, be sure to check out our other article with Carl Navè on the makings of a well-fitted suit here.