The Perfect Fit: Custom Shoes and Shirts

Well-fitting clothes and shoes are imperative for a well-dressed person. While many people are able to buy off-the-shelf clothes that fit just fine, others may need to hire the services of a trusted tailor for alterations. Tailor-made and made-to-measure are additional options. When talking about bespoke or made-to-order, the subject is often a suit or a jacket, but the focus here will be on the basics of any wardrobe: shoes and shirts.

The terms “bespoke” and “bespoke, bespoke” have very different meanings. Bespoke items require extensive in-person measurements with customer input regarding materials to be used, style, color, preferred fit, and all other aspects of the finished shoe or garment. This is followed by hours of effort by skilled craftsmen to turn the client’s desires into reality.

Conversely, consumers of made-to-order items provide their own measurements and choose from a list of materials, styles and features. Being a much more streamlined process, these items are then ordered from online merchants.

One of the first steps in creating a bespoke shirt is selecting the type of fabric and color. (Dragon Images/Shutterstock)

Because measurements are nowhere as exacting as those required for made-to-order items, made-to-order items are a good choice for consumers who generally find ready-to-wear items look good on them. That being said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with off-the-peg shirts and shoes. Custom items simply guarantee a precise fit and/or a wider range of materials, styles and unique touches for the ultimate professional appearance.

Bespoke and made-to-order items are more expensive than ready-to-wear items, but the difference is clear.

Custom made-to-order shoes begin with the consumer selecting the desired style. Then the size and options (color, lining material, outer material, tassels, monograms, etc.) are provided. The shoes are assembled and sent directly to the consumer. For many, this represents an ideal way to get truly unique footwear.

Courtesy of John Lobb
Custom shoes are the ultimate option, but for those who can fit regular sizes, custom shoes are an attractive and more affordable option. (Courtesy of John Lobb)

On the other hand, the process of ordering custom shoes takes a long time, which is not unreasonable considering that the finished product will be wearable art. It requires a conversation about preferred materials, finishes, and the style of shoe to create. This is followed by a discussion of fit preferences and the conditions under which the shoes will be worn.

Precise measurements and drawings of all aspects of the feet are made – some shoemakers actually make a mold of the feet. Custom shoes are a good way to address scenarios such as one foot being taller or wider than the other; some studies suggest that up to 60% of the population have mildly mismatched feet.

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Whether it’s having shoes or shirts designed to fit, the success of the effort is 100% dependent on accurate measurements. (goir/Shutterstock)

For comparison, a classic bespoke Oxford-style dress shoe from the London-based company John Lob costs around $1,630, while a similarly styled shoe made to order from Idrese costs about $335. Of the two, the custom-made shoe is actually quite competitively priced compared to off-the-shelf shoes.

When considering price, it’s important to note that while custom shoes tend to be of very high quality and construction, custom shoes will be exactly what you want. They will fit like a second skin and with reasonable care will still look great even after decades of use.

After the shoes are created, the customer is brought in for another fitting to assess the fit and overall look. And after the initial order, the process of ordering subsequent shoes can be greatly streamlined, especially if molds of the customer’s feet have been created.

Fashion Design Studio. Man Tailor Holding Dark Scarlet Cloth And
A bespoke tailor can turn a client’s vision of the ideal shirt into reality, taking into account small details such as yarn preferences. (Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock)

Just like with shoes, the three factors that determine the quality of a shirt are materials, craftsmanship, and precise measurements. Here too, the most demanding consumers have two options: made to order or made to measure.

As expected, the investment of time and money is higher with bespoke, which raises the question of why anyone would choose this route. The answer is that the bespoke process ensures a perfect fit on the body, which clearly shows that the shirt was designed for the wearer. This is important for consumers whose physique does not conform to the norm, such as athletic people who may have broad shoulders combined with a narrow waist.

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Taking and using accurate measurements is the key to perfectly fitting clothes and shoes. They are crucially important for the tailor or shoemaker to create personalized items. (Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

An additional consideration is the fabric; a good quality ready-to-wear garment will be made in large quantities, using materials and methods that result in the highest profit for the blouse. Factors such as the climate it will be worn in are probably never considered, meaning the same shirt could be worn in Miami or Moscow.

However, the fabric of a made-to-measure shirt and some made-to-order shirts may be specified to account for local weather conditions to ensure wearer comfort.

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One of the charms of bespoke shirts is the ability to specify absolutely every aspect of the item, from buttons to fabric, and more. (Luca Querzoli/Shutterstock)

After Turnbull and Asser takes 18 measurements and considers the posture of the customer, the customer can choose from over 1,000 fabrics, as well as many options of collar, cuff, button, pocket and thread (all of which have an impact on the price) . The company also offers made-to-measure shirts and ready-to-wear shirts. A typical off-the-shelf shirt from the company costs around $365, while a similarly styled tailored shirt costs around $425, which is well worth it.

Whichever avenue you choose, dress well!

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