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  • Writer's pictureNiels Strohkirch

Tailor Made Shirts Online -Oxymoron or Reality?


I am sure you have seen various online advertisings, where webpages from all over the world offer “Tailor Made Shirts Online”. Some do even promise “bespoke tailoring” online. But, can a real tailor made shirt be simply ordered online? I mean, in the first round of an order and not as a re-order? And if so, how is it done?

Let’s start on the “legal” side. The term “tailor made shirt” is not protected respectively, not protectable and hence, even a shirt produced in a cheap “sweat shop” could be advertised as “tailor made”. No questions asked. The phrase could also simply impress, that an “educated” tailor is overlooking the mass cutting process. And anyhow, how is a tailor or even a master tailor be defined? How do you become a master tailor? Who is eligible here? Different to a PhD or a Professor title (I discount the non-official or grey ones here) the process is non-organised in most parts of the world, and literally anyone can claim here to be a “master tailor”. Germany, for example, is an exception, where you need to go through many years of practical and theoretical training before you are allowed to call yourself officially a Master-Tailor (Scheidermeister). But, in Asia, this is for sure not the case and just anyone can call himself a “master tailor”. Only after the work is done, one will be able to see whether its done by a “master tailor” or a young apprentice.

Having said all that, whenever you read about the term “tailor made”, online or off-line, you must take it with “a pinch of salt”. In it’s original form, a tailor made shirt is indeed measured, cut, sewn and fitted, tailored to your body. And of course, the right fabric makes a big impact as well. Your first ordered real tailor made shirt will be imperfect and needs fine tuning adjustments while you do a fitting and that defines the term “tailor made shirt” in my opinion. The skill of a tailor putting a considerable amount of time and craftsmanship on a specific piece of material, to make a perfect fitting of a tailor made shirt that fits you perfectly. A unikat, literally, means no two are exactly the same. That defines the term “tailor-made” shirt, more than the brand name and material quality.

Coming back to a “tailor made shirt” online. If you cannot be physically present, for the first order of your shirt, then it would be almost impossible to achieve a 100& fit, as the fitting process cannot be performed. And other issues too could be quite difficult. Let’s start with the fabric. Although you can read about the texture of the shirt fabric, and what sort of cotton it is, for e.g.“Egyptian Cotton”, regardless, how good it may looks on the screen, nothing is as good as touching the fabric and seeing its colour and structure.

The next challenge, is to figure out the right sizing. Typically, most online tailor shops, give you the choice, to either take your own measurements or follow a given sizing chart. Taking your own measurements, will give a good chance of a well fitted “tailor made” shirt, if correctly performed. But, you cannot take the measurements yourself. Therefore, you will need someone to do it for you, by following a well prepared measurement guide, but there can be inaccuracies too. Using this simple piece of measuring tape correctly, is an art, and it takes time to learn, how to do it right. Of course, you could use the service of an experienced tailor, if you can find one, and if the charges are not “outrageous” but it can still be an issue, when it is not clearly indicated, whether your body measurements taken, have been already adjusted measurements. Every tailor has his own way of taking measurements and hence, this can cause difficulties.

The sizing chart gives a clear picture, of what an “L” size shirt, looks like, but what if you need the arm size to be longer, than that of the chart, or if you would like to have the left cuff, an inch bigger than your right cuff, because you wear a big wrist watch, on your left arm and a cuff too small, will not go nicely over the watch? You can only contact the online retailer and ask them regarding their flexibility to adjust your cuff accordingly, everything else will be a challenge. On the other hand, if the suggested sizing works well for you, then this will be a “perfect fit” for you.

In this modern times, a simple self measurement or sizing charts are outdated. Nowadays, you can be measured online via your webcam, which works astonishingly well, but the process takes about 15 to 20 minutes, and many users do not feel comfortable, posing in front of their webcam in tight clothes not knowing who might be watching. As good as the result is, it did not establish itself as a viable option for online measurement yet.

The latest trend in the online world is to give “fitting advice”. The user is guided through a couple questions, like height and weight than he/she makes a tick at the body shape shown which is the closest to his/her perceived own body shape (but, are we really honest here?). Based on this information, the user is getting a sizing advise. This works quite well for casual shirts, polos and t-shirts, but it has it’s limitations when it comes to a proper fitting collar size, to ensure a perfect tie fit or arm lenght. With all this information given, it delivers many times much better results, than taking your own measurements or just guessing your size.

Having written that, many online shirt retailers, put up, that their customers, have an almost endless choice of design options, which is true. The amount of options, some online shirt retailers offer, are simply amazing, plus the way you can “design” your shirt online is very progressive. I prefer to see given designs in a store or at least in a good picture online, rather than all these indefinite options, as it simply tires me out, most of the time. But this is a personal perception, and I am sure that many online users strongly disagree with me.

Now, coming to the end of this article, for me, the main difference between a “tailor made” shirt, ordered online and one where you take the personal effort to drive to the outlet, where you are able to see, touch and feel the fabric, discuss about the design and get measured by the tailor is the touch for the fabric and fitting.


Ordering “tailor made” shirts world wide online on the internet is a great thing and with thousands of competitors, just a mouse click away, and they offer all kinds of different fabrics, designs and budget opportunities. But ordering online has advantages and disadvantages too, as the opportunity to touch and feel the fabric is not possible and the necessity of taking measurements, on your own, can be a tricky too. The biggest potential set back is the right fitting, and if this is not achieved, the process of shipping back and forth is quite tedious and time consuming. On the other hand, if this works well, and you have trust in the shop then a “tailor made” online shirt can be a good buy. Yes, “tailor made” shirts online are an oxymoron. But, does it matter when the result of fitting and fabric is sufficient for the customer and you can grab a bargain online?

Important notice: If you order from a different country, always keep in mind, that potential duty charges and GST/VAT charges could be applicable on your shipment, even when the shipper is offering a free shipment term. Ensure that you find out about the rules and regulations, before you place an order or you may end up having a costly experience.

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