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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
He Spoke Style