How To Spot A Cheap Suit

6 ways to tell a bad quality suit from a good quality suit

How do you spot a cheap suit? This has got to be one of the most common questions I get. Every style writer, journalist, and blogger has written articles on how to spot a good suit. Few have covered the cheaper side of things.

Unfortunately, the average person can spot a cheap suit a lot easier than one that’s of superlative quality. What’s important to stress is that price and quality aren’t mutually exclusive. As an example, you can easily find a really well-tailored vintage suit on eBay for a fraction of the price of a machine-stitched knockoff from the sweatshops of Dhaka.

The biggest issue these days is that the little tricks for spotting hand-tailored suits in the old days are no longer applicable thanks to a rapid expansion in the number of online MTM clothiers who use the least expensive and poorest quality, offshore manufacturers. Things that used to be a hallmark of custom clothing like pick-stitching, monograms and working buttons on the sleeves are now available from every Tom, Dick, and Harry who woke up one morning and decided to launch a menswear brand. You cannot possibly tell me that a poly-blend $99 suit with those details is the same quality as a $5,000 wool suit from a heritage maker.

STYLE DEFINED: What does MTM stand for?

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, how do you spot a cheap suit? Here’s what to look for.

1. Fit

The fit of a cheap suit is usually subpar. Either it was purchased off-the-rack and has a fused polyester lining glued to a man-made fabric or, if it’s MTM, it’s likely so poorly crafted that it’s either far too fitted or looks like it used to belong to someone’s dead uncle.

2. The Buttons

Even a well-made RTW suit will have horn or bone buttons. The cheapest suits will have plastic buttons, and they will likely break very quickly. If they do have buttons that look to be of better quality, look at how they’re fastened. Are they actually sewn into the suit well, or do they use a cheap plastic anchor on the inside of the jacket?

STYLE DEFINED: What does RTW stand for?

3. The Lining

Some cheap suits are still made from wool. However, rarely are the linings. In most cases, the lining will be made from polyester or a blend that not only drapes poorly but can even make sounds when you move.

4. The Shoulders

A good suit will drape perfectly over the shoulders, but a cheap one will look like someone threw football pads under your jacket. You’ll begin to see creases, and the shoulders will lift up looking like you missed the shoulder pads from the 80s.

5. Can It Be Altered?

One way that mass manufacturers save money is by using as little fabric as possible. If you notice that there’s no room to let out the suit, chances are the maker wanted to pinch a few pennies.

6. Overall Appearance

A poorly constructed suit will never look as good as one that was crafted with care. But remember that price isn’t always a determining factor when it comes to the quality. Take a look in the mirror. Does it need a ton of work to look good still? If so, move on because that suit likely isn’t for you.

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

J.A. Shapira
He Spoke Style

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Chime In

  • Tony_Ieradi

    Thanks. I look forward to reading your articles. May I suggested for the uninitiated (like myself) that somewhere in the article that you spell out what MTM and RTW mean? I think I knew, but I had to look them up.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Thanks for the feedback, Tony. We’ve got posts dedicated to defining some of the most common menswear acronyms, including these two. Have updated to include those links!

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