I have the following sentence:

No suit you buy off-the-rack will perfectly fit you. It has to be made-to-measure, or you will have to get it adjusted at a credible tailor. It is better to get it right the first time.

However, I am unsure whether I should use off-the-rack, made-to-measure, or simply off the rack and made to measure.

  • Have you looked in any reputable dictionary? Collins may be useful for your first question. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 12 '17 at 22:07
  • Could you elaborate more Edwin? – code_legend Sep 12 '17 at 22:17
  • You want me to look it up for you? (I've already done so, but ELU requires evidence of reasonable research). / I think there are difficult subtleties with this particular example, though I won't mention them unless some basic research (examples Collins gives) is posted. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 12 '17 at 22:31
  • Sure I do acknowledge I need to make some effort on my own. I look it up on Collins and it says “A hyphen is the punctuation sign used to join words together to make a compound, as in 'left-handed'. People also use a hyphen to show that the rest of a word is on the next line.“ Basically what I am getting is if the word comes after the noun than it is not neccessary to use hyphens, but if it comes before the noun than it might be needed to add clarity – code_legend Sep 12 '17 at 22:59
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    I meant look up "made to measure". – Edwin Ashworth Sep 13 '17 at 22:08

You could remove all the hyphens from your example sentence and it would be correct.

However, if you want to precede your suit with a compound adjective, hyphens would be required. For example;

"You should buy a suit which is made to measure. If you do so, then you'll've bought a made-to-measure suit."

  • Thanks Chris, but I wonder is the second part of your sentence redundant? If you do so, then you'll've bought a made-to-measure suit." – code_legend Sep 12 '17 at 23:56
  • Yes, logically the second sentence in that quote is redundant (it's actually two sentences). The purpose of writing it was simply to illustrate the difference between where hyphens are necessary, and where they are not! I could have written the two quotes separately, but just decided to put them together to show the contrast together :) – Chris Melville Sep 13 '17 at 7:18
  • I see, and thanks for making the contrast. However, to avoid redundancy, how would you simplify these sentences? – code_legend Sep 13 '17 at 10:24
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    ELU prefers answers backed by supporting references; without them, answers look like (and may be) mere opinion. / In this case, OP should have looked up "made to measure". – Edwin Ashworth Sep 13 '17 at 22:08
  • I looked up made to measure and it says "fashioned to measurements specifically required : custom-made" and so does this definition not blend in with the sentence. I am trying to stay as objective as possible. – code_legend Sep 13 '17 at 23:29

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