The Basted Fitting: A Hallmark Of Buying A Bespoke Suit

Understanding the basted fitting and its relationship to the bespoke suit making process

As you walk the streets of Savile Row, you can’t help but feel like you’ve stepped back in time. To a time where menswear wasn’t purchased off-the- rack, but when London’s aristocrats would stand in the dressing rooms of Savile Row’s most distinguished tailors and experience the basted fitting.

If you have ever purchased a genuinely bespoke garment, you have likely enjoyed this magical experience where your suit begins to take shape.

Of the three fittings, the basted fitting is the quintessential hallmark of bespoke clothing. Close to 100% of the world’s most famous tailors require this fitting of all of their customers.

basted fitting meaning bespoke suit process

A jacket with white basting thread.

It is called the basted fitting because, at this point, the suit is temporarily stitched together with white basting thread. Although measurements had previously been taken, the basted fitting will be the first time you actually get to try on your custom suit. The master tailor will then use the fitting to fine tune the jacket and trousers, so it drapes perfectly over your body. No shortcuts are taken, and every inch of your body will be examined so that your garment won’t require any alterations.

basted fitting meaning bespoke suit process

| GOING BESPOKE | Brian at his first fitting for an Edward Sexton bespoke suit | PHOTOGRAPHY | by Dominic Sebag-Montefiore

This is also your opportunity to make changes to the item. For many men, it can be challenging to imagine what the finished product will look like during the first meeting with a tailor when you’ll select fabric, have measurements taken, and describe the style you want.

Now that you can visualize the item on your body, you’ll have the chance to make changes to it. Since basting thread is temporary, the suit can be completely disassembled so the tailor can alter the look if you decide you’re not a fan of the width of the lapel, the vent you chose or any other aspect you’re unhappy with.

The basted fitting is one of the most important parts, yet there are a few well-established tailors who don’t perform this step. For those tailors, they believe that if they do their job right, there is no need to waste the client’s time in a basted fitting. Some customers do prefer skipping it, but most enjoy this traditional experience that draws the imagination back in time to an age when gentlemen valued their tailor as much as family and friends.

basted fitting meaning bespoke suit process

Edward Sexton with the jacket used in a basted fitting.

Finally, it’s vital to understand the difference between bespoke and made-to-measure. Although many MTM stores may claim their garments are custom-made, they aren’t. One of the best ways to determine whether an item is custom or MTM is to ask them if they do a basted fitting. If they say no, chances are it’s a pattern altered to fit you, but it’s not an item made specifically for you. It’s the difference between flying first class and flying on a private jet. Once you go bespoke, you’ll never go back.

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

J.A. Shapira
He Spoke Style


Chime In

  • OldManJoe

    Even though my paper pattern has been used several times, JB always does the basted fitting to make sure we are all *still* on the same page. There really is nothing else like this experience.

    • Brian Sacawa

      Indeed. It takes some time, but it is always worth it.

  • Tom B

    Brian: Thank you for this very illustrative post. Question, something I’ve never understood about this level of custom fitting. Your body changes from day to day, even hour to hour, at least mine does. As a professional racer, you were certainly aware of it. We’re not manikins.

    How does your tailor take that into account? As a for instance, your jacket was cut to drape perfectly over your shoulders, but now you’ve done a month of overhead rows at the gym…. (Im being an optimist here!). Now what?

  • Proper Suiting

    Awesome post. My question is this: why is it so hard to find a suit that fits well OTR when I am pretty much a standard 42 Short? My only issues ever seem to be that the shoulders can seem fine at first, but then I will find them either being too restrictive or too loose. For instance, I tried on a 42S Brooksbrothers tux and it looked phenomenal everywhere except the shoulders were tight. Going up to a 44S was absurd in the body fit, but the shoulders were more comfortable. It seems as though armholes are the real nuisance…..

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  • Aunt Mandi

    Every body is unique. A bespoke suit starts with you, not a pattern. The tailor takes his expertise with your shape and preference and creates an entirely unique garment.

    You may have noticed that ready to wear, even tailored RTW, will not compensate if you have a long torso. A less than perfect butt. Shoulders that could use some support. A fitted RTW tweaks the mold. A bespoke suit fits the man.