Made to Measure Business Shirts - How to Save Money by Buying Online
What is a Made to Measure Shirt?
A made to measure shirt, or MTM, is a business shirt that is made to the buyer's own measurements, customized from a pre-existing pattern. It differs from a bespoke business shirt, in that it's customized to fit the owner, but it isn't made from a unique pattern. It's also common that MTM business shirts are machine finished, whereas bespoke shirts are usually finished by hand, owing a greater level of craftsmanship to each garment made.
How to Save Money Buying Business Shirts Online
Nature of online retail
The very nature of online retailers allow people like you and me to purchase a great range of products at highly reduced prices. Factors such as a large targeted market, no costs of any physical retail locations and a generally high turnover rate for popular websites means the prices are typically much lower than those of actual retail stores. Even with shipping included, you'll find most online retailers will provide the same or comparable product at a lower price than other alternatives.
Frequent sales and discounts
The virtual nature of online retailers allow them to have sales or discounts very often, without the associated costs of print, tv or radio advertising that physical stores are burdened with. Thus they are able to sell slow moving or overstocked items more regularly, at the benefit to you. Many made to measure retailers have membership accounts too, allowing you to subscribe to their emails to find out when their sales are on. In my experience, sales from sites such as these rotate among different styles, so don't be disappointed if the item you want isn't on sale straight away, just be patient and hope for the best.
Customization is Key!
Ability to customize
With MTM business shirts, almost every part of the shirt can be customized before you order. By choosing only the options you desire, you can save a LOT of money on the final purchase price. What kind of fabric you choose will have the most averse affects on the final purchase price, so it would make sense to use lower quality fabrics on shirts you would intend to wash and wear often or on garments that will see heavy use.
Promotions for first-time buyers
Many made to measure business shirt websites offer promotions for first-time customers or, less frequently but it has happened to me on occasion, returning customers. They basically subsidise your first purchase in order to show you what kind of product they sell, and the type of quality you'd expect from future purchases, or if you're a loyal returning customer, thank you by giving you a discounted purchase. I recently got a very appreciated returning customer discount from a local MTM retailer (a completely free shirt with matching cuff-links!) that perfectly exemplifies this point.
What To Avoid
Sure, it can be a whole lot of fun adding monograms, different coloured buttons with different coloured hand-stitching, an edgy collar and the finest Egyptian cotton shirt with a thread count so high you'd rather sleep in your business shirt than get changed, but don't forget these little items add up to the final price. Although some MTM retailers have customizations such as these added into the price, many don't, so be very clear on what will, and what won't cost extra. It'll save you a headache when you see the total before confirming the order, and having to start the process all over again.
Buy single items too often
Remember that because you're buying made to measure business shirts online, it's going to get delivered to your address. And because it's being delivered, it's usually going to cost you money, although there are some online retailers that offer free shipping or have promotions throughout the year to the same effect, so keep your eyes peeled! When ordering, try to buy 2 or 3 items to negate the cost of shipping per item purchased, as it can often add up if you're a returning customer.
Never-ending fabrics to choose from!
Choosing the Wrong Fabric
Most business shirts that you'll find at your local mall aren't of the highest quality to be boldly honest, fabric wise. If you're comfortable with what is quite standard, don't choose a fabric with an insanely high thread count. Yes, it will feel amazing and have extra benefits depending on the type of fabric you choose, but it does cost extra. The fabric you choose is actually almost the whole cost of a made to measure business shirt, with the rest being shipping and handling, processing of the garment, and any extras you decide to add.
Some MTM companies I've used
- Modern Tailor - A great selection of fabrics and styles, with reasonable shipping. They were the first one I tried and still use them today. Good for first-time buyers to test the waters.
- Pick a Shirt - They've recently updated their website, and it's looking better than ever. Very nice quality shirts, although not as much variety as that of Modern Tailor.
Not Doing Your Research
Like every decision you make, it should be a calculated move. Research about the topic you're viewing is an important part of most purchases, and it can save you money when purchasing online. By going to comparison websites, you can quickly check if there are any deals occurring at the time, and read product reviews. These product reviews are your best friend, as the biggest judge of these MTM business shirts are often those savvy to the savings and increases in quality that can be offered by made to measure shirts. The fashion world sure is picky at times, so some reviews can be very scathing, so it's good to check if a certain user has left anything other than hate on reviews just to get some perspective.
To date, I've only used three or four online MTM business shirt services but hope to try them all out for a better overview on the whole industry. So far, I've been extremely satisfied with the products, but each to their own. If my shirts wear out any time soon, you could expect me to try out retailers I haven't dealt with yet.
The Choice is Yours
By buying made to measure business shirts online, you can often save money as compared to buying a normal business shirt off the rack at a local retailer. The range of customization choices available to you, and the added shipping fees also need to be taken into account, and if you're not careful, can turn what could've been quite a significant savings into just another purchase.
By bundling purchases in the one delivery, you can also save money per purchase rather than buying them separately at different times throughout the year. Hopefully this will help save some money for those of you who need to wear business shirts almost everyday like myself, as I know I certainly have!
© 2011 James Steadman
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