What is tailor made? Definition and examples

If my suit is tailor made, the seller or tailor created it according to my preferences or instructions. The seller created it just for me. The terms custom made, made to order, and bespoke also refer to goods that were made specifically for one customer.

Tailor-made goods may also refer to a purpose. In other words, they are made with a specific purpose, rather than person, in mind.

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Image created by Market Business News.

If a person is well-suited for a job, i.e., ideal for a job, I might say: “You are tailor made for that job.” This article focuses on the meaning of the term when referring to goods made for a particular person or purpose.

MacmillanDictionary.com has the following definitions of the term:

“1. Extremely appropriate. 2. Tailor-made clothes are made by a tailor to fit a particular customer. 3. Designed for a particular person or group of people.”

Tailor made and off the rack

When we buy clothes, we can either pay somebody to make them for us or buy them in a shop already made. If a jacket, for example, is hanging in a shop and I walk in and choose it there and then, we say it is off the rack. That jacket was made with no specific customer in mind.

A tailor-made jacket, on the other hand, was made with a specific customer in mind. People in the UK, Ireland, and some other parts of the Commonwealth may say off the peg rather than off the rack.

Native English speakers may also say off-the-shelf for mass-produced goods, i.e., whoever made them did not know who would end up buying them.

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Image created by Market Business News.

Tailor made vs. tailor-made

When the term is followed by a noun, in other words, when it is an adjective, we place a hyphen between ‘tailor’ and ‘made’. When ‘made’ is the passive of ‘make,’ we don’t use a hyphen. Look at these two sentences:

“That is a tailor-made item.”
Tailor-made is the adjective for item (the noun).

“That item was tailor made.”
The word made is the passive form (past participle) of make.

Tailor-made software

This refers to software that has been created specifically for one user, company, or organization. It contrasts with mass-produced software packages. We also refer to it as bespoke, custom, or custom-made software. In business, you may sometimes hear the term COTS software. The letters COTS stand for commercial off-the-shelf.

The software package Microsoft Office (Office), for example, was created for the mass market. Millions of people across the world have Office on their desktop and laptop computers.

Wikipedia.org says the following about tailor-made or custom software:

“Since custom software is developed for a single customer it can accommodate that customer’s particular preferences and expectations, which may not be the case for commercial off-the-shelf software.”