Off the rack and off the peg

Off the rack and off the peg are idioms that mean the same thing but are used in different parts of the world. We will examine the meaning of the phrases off the rack and off the peg, where they came from, and some examples of their use in sentences.

Off the rack describes clothing that is mass-produced for the public. Many garments constructed of the same fabric and sewn in the same pattern are made for the general public. Off-the-rack clothing is generally designed to fit the largest group possible. It is not tailor-made for a specific person to his or her measurements. The image is of clothing hanging on a rack in a store. Another term for off the rack is ready to wear. Off the rack is primarily an American idiom that came into use in the mid-twentieth century, and may be used to mean anything that is produced for a mass market. When used as an adjective before a noun, the term is hyphenated as in off-the-rack.

Off the peg also describes mass-produced clothing for the general public. Off the peg is primarily a British idiom that came into use in the very late nineteenth century. The image is of clothing hanging on a peg. Off the peg is also used to mean anything produced for a mass market. When used as an adjective before a noun, the term is also hyphenated as in off-the-peg.

Examples

While that’s good news for manufacturers of informal wear, from Bermuda shorts to jeans and T-shirts you buy off the rack, local menswear tailors will not be pleased to hear it. (The Business Times)

Back then, we embroidered flowers on our off-the-rack jeans, let our hair grow long and wild, sewed fringe onto our denim jackets — anything to distinguish ourselves, make us stand out from the pack. (Philadelphia Magazine)

While you can get some great tailoring on the high street right now, unless you’re built to model-sized specifications, chances are an off-the-peg fit will always be a little off. (GQ Magazine)

The more left-leaning members veer towards the casual — with extra socialist points for corduroy — while Tory men tend to have their off-the-peg suits pinched and tucked. (The Financial Times)