What we talk about when we talk about clothes.

This is a blog post for the new guy. For the young professional who has just started to build his wardrobe. For the jeans-and-t-shirt-wearer on the verge of sartorial transformation. One of the first steps in learning to dress is learning the lingo.  Wondering what sartorial even means? Bespoke? Well, read on, this is your quick and dirty guide to knowing what your tailor is talking about. And, as one of our Facebook fans put it, knowing is half the battle.

Defining the Terms


Sartorial just means related to clothes, fine tailoring, or dressing well. Use sartorial where you might say clothing-related. Example: Instead of saying, “My friend Keith is obsessed with all things clothing-related,” say, “My friend Keith is obsessed with all things sartorial.” Smoother, right?


Bespoke refers to the way things are made. In clothing, bespoke refers to the traditional method of tailoring a suit–the tailor uses one canvass to construct a suit for one man. It is “spoken for” by one customer only. But it doesn’t have to be clothing. You can say bespoke about anything that is crafted by an artisan with a spirit of individualized customization.  You’ll sometimes see our goods referred to as bespoke, and while our business model is slightly different than the one tailor, one canvass, one customer version, we certainly offer a highly custom product. More on what “custom” means below.

Off the Rack or Off the Peg

This is the term for clothing bought “as is” from a retailer. It was made in stock sizes and mass distributed.

Made to Measure

If you buy a MTM suit, you’re buying a garment made from pre-set patterns. The tailor responsible for your garment has a collection of stock sized patterns which can be adjusted to a certain degree. That suit will fit better than off-the-rack of course, but it’s not quite the same as a truly custom suit.


Astor & Black’s  garments are made from unique patterns created for each customer. Our professionally trained clothiers take exhaustive measurements, which are then given to the master tailor to create your own precise pattern. This affords  you the absolute best fit possible and a piece of clothing truly made just for you.

Fully Canvassed

A fully canvassed jacket has a full layer of canvas underneath the wool (or other suit fabric). This is the foundation of a high quality piece.  It holds the shape of your garment.  Overtime, the canvass conforms to your body shape, creating a fit that just gets better with age. This is why you’ll sometimes notice that an old suit appears to fit better than a new.  All Astor & Black’s suits come fully canvassed at no extra price.

Join the conversation: What terms are missing from our list? Is there anything else you’d like to see us explain? Comment here to let us know.  


Categories: Timeless Wardrobe Tips


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2 Comments on “What we talk about when we talk about clothes.”

  1. October 22, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    Jeff, Are you referring to the Super __’s number that is often mentioned when discussing cloth? Know this: the higher the number, the better the raw material that is used to make the cloth.

    Be mindful that there can be descrepancies in these Super __’s numbers depending on the fabric mills’ spinning, weaving and finishing techniques. Looking at two fabrics from the same mill, a Super 200’s fabric is always going to be better than a Super 150’s. But if they are from two different mills, the number becomes much less relevant.

    Does that help?

  2. Jeff
    October 22, 2011 at 4:16 am #


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