How To Tell A Quality Suit

3 / 8
2. The design. Make sure to choose something that is timeless so you'll wear it with pride 20 years from now.

4 / 8
3. The Details. From the way the pockets come together, to the drape, the buttonholes, and the boutonniere loop. Each of these small details often have the biggest impact when it comes to how you look.

5 / 8
3. The Stitching. Examine the quality of the craftsmanship and look to see how the suit comes together.

6 / 8
2. The Lining. The cheapest quality suits will have a fused lining. The highest quality suits will have a full canvas or at least a half canvas.

8 / 8
There you have it!

The 5 hallmarks of a good quality suit

Half the store seemed to be on sale. Buy one, get one free. 50% off everything. There is no limit to what the bargain-bin suit stores will do to earn your business. They do this because if they give you a good deal, they know you’re going to keep coming back. Know why?

Because with regular wear, you’re going to need a new suit within a couple of years once this one falls apart.

DON’T MISS: How To Spot A Cheap Suit

As a style writer, I always get asked for shopping tips from friends. My advice is always the same: Avoid. The. Sales. If price is a concern, go vintage. The next question I inevitably get asked is how do I tell if it’s a good quality suit. Here’s how.

tell good quality suit

1. The Fabric. Regardless of where you buy your suit from, fabric quality is vital. If the tag says anything about a “blend,” or has words like “polyester,” or “man-made,” run. Run away as fast as you can. Instead, the only words you want to see are “100% Wool” or better.

We won’t get into the Super numbers like Super 150s, but wool should be the baseline fabric of any suit. Next, you want to examine the type of yarn and where it’s from. Italy, France, England, the United States are all good options. Bangladesh, China, and other regions like it, and you’ll want to move on.

2. The Lining. A fused lining that’s held together with glue is about as bad as going for a $99 polyester suit. The cheapest quality suits will have a fused lining. The highest quality suits will have a full canvas or at least a half canvas.

tell good quality suit

| BRIAN WEARS | Michael Andrews Bespoke suit, Peter Millar shirt, Seaward & Stearn x HSS tie, Drake’s pocket square, Rolex watch, Carmina loafers | PHOTOGRAPHY | by Rob McIver Photo

3. The Stitching. The ability for mass-manufacturers to replicate what used to be hallmarks of a custom suit has never been greater. With that said, you still want to examine the quality of the craftsmanship and look to see how the suit comes together.

If you had heart surgery, you’d probably want to ensure that your surgeon did an excellent job closing you up. You’d want the doctor to use a high-grade material, so it didn’t rip open, and you’d want them to do a nice even stitch to avoid jagged scarring that makes you look like a war hero sewn up on the battlefield. The same goes for the way your suit is sewn together. Look at the quality of the stitching. Not just the actual material but the technique used and how it all comes together.

tell good quality suit

4. The Details. From the way the pockets come together, to the drape, the buttonholes, and the boutonniere loop. Each of these small details often have the biggest impact when it comes to how you look. Machine-sewn pockets aren’t as sturdy and will wear quickly when utilized. Stiff lapels without a slight roll are a hallmark of a cheap suit. Plastic buttons can break, and even horn buttons that use plastic anchors can fall off in the middle of your board meeting.

Small details are usually what the cheaper suits skip in quality. The hope is no one will notice, but believe me when I tell you people will absolutely notice if it causes your suit to start looking worn if buttons are popping off or the fabric is beginning to look shiny or ragged.

tell good quality suit

5. The Design. If you watched Hannibal and saw Mads Mikkelsen wearing a bold bespoke suit from Garrison and now you want one that’s similar, remember you are buying it based on aesthetics. If you’re going to purchase a beautiful rust colored suit with a distinguished check pattern, make sure it’s going to last.

Even if it’s a basic navy suit, the last thing you want is to leave the store with a great navy suit and have it look four shades of blue by next summer. Look at the design. How is it dyed? Is it even and are the colors vivid? Will they fade? Is the pattern perfectly done across the suit, or do they misalign where the fabric was cut? Bottom line: look closely and pay attention.

tell good quality suit

Bonus food for thought. Finally, trends are popular, but so are Big Macs and Budweiser. None of that means they’re any good. Although some of the best suits will follow trends and fast fashion, the best dressed men will stick with classics that will look good today, tomorrow, and twenty years from now.

And that’s why it’s so important to buy a high-quality suit over one off the sale rack. A great suit will last more than 20 years, whereas that cheap one will have to be replaced every few years. Do the math and tell me which is a better investment.

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

J.A. Shapira
He Spoke Style


Chime In


    No friggin’ ticket pocket on the beauty you’re wearing! Saints be praised!

    • Brian Sacawa

      You’re killing me.

  • PeterK1

    Some quality and mid-level suit makers are starting to incorporate small amounts of polyester in “stretch wool” mixes. Any thoughts on that?

    I disagree that a fabric woven in China or Bangladesh is necessarily poorer than one from the US or Europe. Any mill can skimp on raw materials or care in weaving regardless of where it is located. Or conversely, a mill in China could use the best wool and weave with great care and attention to quality. Does anyone think Apple iPhones are poorly manufactured because they are assembled in China?

    Brian has it right – look at the details. Look closely at the fabric to see if it is good quality. Good suits will often name the mill or company the fabric is sourced from (e.g. Zegna, Loro Piana). That night be a better indicator of quality than a country of origin label.

    • Brian Sacawa

      I’ve tried some of these stretch mixes before. They’re definitely interesting and comfortable, but I question whether or not they’d last as long as something more pure. Only way I’ll find out is if I buy one and wear it a bunch.

      Hear you on your disagreement – it’s certainly possible. This post is meant to be a primer for the guy starting to think seriously about a MTM or bespoke suit. In either case, staying in the known fabric sandbox is always the safest bet.

      Always appreciate the comments. Cheers.

  • Paul Loudon

    I’m enjoying your contributions to the site J.A; especially the colourful illustrations.

    It’s good to have a “quality checklist” as it were, when buying. I find I get too excited by something that I like the look of and forget to check these details! I have noticed in the last year or so that a lot of OTR items have little things, like a loose thread, a poorly attached button etc, that I have to attend to shortly after purchase. In contrast, garments that my father bought more than 10 years ago are still going strong.

    • Brian Sacawa

      My issue with a lot of OTR also pertains to little things, but in general, it’s little design details that ruin the whole garment for me. A lapel that’s a little too narrow. A contrast-stitched sleeve button hole. I understand retailers do this to be different and stand out in a sea of clothing, but if you’re looking for something super timeless, that’s not the way to go.

  • JW Fashion!

    Hi there,

    I completely agree with you that it is worth investing in a quality suit and your tips were spot on. Good quality suits can be very expensive and if you’re young (18-25), you may grow out of it before you have worn it out. I believe you should wait until you are in your mid twenties before thinking about purchasing a good quality suit. Once you’ve reached your mid twenties though, go for it! The two points you made that have stayed with me are to look out for the design and the stitching. From past experience, the stitching seems to be very important. Cheaper suits can wear out very easily if the thread count is low or if the stitching is not done with good quality thread. Like you mentioned, if you’re planning to buy a suit that will last a while, never buy one that is100% polyester or acrylic, wool is the way to go. Man made materials do not breathe and therefore are not nearly as comfortable to wear as wool. It is also important to buy a suit that fits well so that you feel comfortable. It is amazing how a well fitted quality suit can make you feel about yourself.