9 Tailoring Terms Every Man Should Know

Getting your first suit made can be a bit intimidating. While a great tailor will take all the guess work out of your experience, it helps to know some basic terms about tailoring. Tailoring is a time-honored tradition that takes decades to master. With that commitment comes an entirely different language. Here are the most important terms and phrases to understand so you can ensure a truly Bespoke experience.

9 Tailoring Terms Every Man Should Know

Getting your first suit made can be a bit intimidating. While a great tailor will take all the guess work out of your experience, it helps to know some basic terms about tailoring. Tailoring is a time-honored tradition that takes decades to master. With that commitment comes an entirely different language. Here are the most important terms and phrases to understand so you can ensure a truly Bespoke experience.

Balance

Definition: adjustment of back and front lengths of a jacket to harmonize with the posture of a particular figure
Explanation: While it may appear that your suit jacket is completely even around, it’s only designed to look that way. Your tailor will cut the jacket depending on your posture to ensure an even and snug fit to your specifications.

Bespoke

Ravi Sehgal Bespoke Tailor Tailoring Terms

Definition: made to individual specifications; dealing in or producing custom-made articles
Explanation: Bespoke is the general term for custom made items. Suits, shoes, and coats can all be Bespoke.

Double Breasted

Ravi Sehgal Bespoke Tailoring Terms Double Breasted Flickr CC Robert Sheie

Definition: having one-half of the front lapped over the other and usually a double row of buttons and a single row of buttonholes
Explanation: DB suit’s give a “classic” look to a modern man’s wardrobe. Double-breasted jackets have peaked lapels. This makes your chest look wider and shoulders broader while creating an hourglass shape that draws the eye. Popularized by gangsters in the 1920’s and 30’s.

Drape

Definition: the way a fabric hangs on a person
Explanation: The drape is very important to understand and watch out for. Your tailor will take the lead on this. When you see an ill-fitted suit, what you are actually seeing is the drape. How that suit fits on his body.

Handle

Definition: how a textile/fabric feels when touched
Explanation: This is where you need to get involved. Remember, this is what you’ll be wearing. And you have to feel comfortable with how the material feels on your body. Especially your pants and short material as they come into direct skin contact. Feel the material before agreeing to use it.

Made To Measure

Ravi Sehgal Bespoke Tailoring Terms Made to Measure

Definition: Garment made from a pre-existing stock pattern that is altered to fit the customer’s measurements
Explanation: This term confuses many. Made to Measure suits are made from an existing pattern and adjusted to the client’s measurements, often by a machine. This is what you see in department stores. Bespoke pieces are fully hand-made and the pattern cut from scratch. Truly customized.

Pleated

Ravi Sehgal Bespoke Tailoring Terms Pleated Pants

Definition: a fold of definite, even width made by doubling cloth or the like upon itself and pressing or stitching it in place.
Explanation: Pleats would be considered “old school” by today’s fashion standards. Pleated pants create a more loose look around the waist and crotch area in front of your pants. Pleats are creases on the front of the pants, with two of them on both sides. Be aware, that this look is very classic and rarely seen today.

Single Breasted

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Definition: having a front closure directly in the center with only a narrow overlap secured by a single button or row of buttons.
Explanation: Easily the most common and modern jacket today. Usually quite a bit lighter than double breasted due to less fabric being used, the single-breasted look is the way to go if you’re looking for a modern bespoke style.

Taper

Definition: to become smaller or thinner toward one end
Explanation: While tapering may have gotten out of control with the recent skinny jeans craze, tapering in suiting is quite common essential to ensure a great fit. Tapered pants should fit comfortably at the thigh and taper to a narrower ankle.