When shopping for a great suit, price doesn't always equate to quality. Sometimes you are paying for the fancy label inside the suit and not necessarily the make, however, you may also come across a well made suit at a great price. How can you tell the difference? Here are the things you should be looking for when shopping for quality:
The fabric should be from a well known mill that specializes only in high quality sustainable fabrics. Colors tend to be more vibrant with richer hues throughout. Patterns will be uniform and precise. Stay away from synthetic blends such as polyester unless they are used to serve a functional purpose such as non stain suits.
Always ask the shop specialists where the fabric is milled, if they cannot answer this question, the suit should stay in their store. Also beware when shopping department stores and the big box retailers, they are licensed to use "brand names" that they are designing and producing. You are literally paying for the label inside the suit.
Every suit you purchase should have some form of canvasing in the construction, either half canvased or fully canvased. This ensures the integrity of the suit for years to come. When a suit is canvased, it will conform to your body over time, feeling better and better as it ages, like a great leather shoe. The only time this rule is null and void is when purchasing a fully unconstructed suit.
Never purchase anything that is fused or glued no matter how great the deal sounds. One trip to the dry cleaners and the suit will bubble. Again, always ask the store specialist if the garment is fused or not. The majority of the time, department stores and big box retailers will only carry fused garments, which is why you can purchase a $5000 suit for $500 with them. Generally, these suits will not last.
This can be tricky but the stitching should look strong and streamlined through the entire suit. Up until a few years ago, pick stitching along the edge of the lapels was a mark of bespoke suits, but that has changed, you can find pick stitching on many off the rack cheap suits. A true hand worked pick stitch wont be as noticeable as a machine pick stitch, however, this also depends on the fabric quality and may look more prominent on finer weaves, always ask the tailor or specialist when in doubt.
If going with a completely handmade suit, look for slight "imperfections" along the stitch lines. Roll the lapel over to look for slight "holes" where the basting thread was used. This will be especially prominent on superfine fabrics such as Super 150's and above.
The lapel should roll nicely from the top all the way to the first button and should not be completely flat against the jacket. It should feel slightly firm and soften over time.
Make sure you go to a professional dry cleaner that you know. They will recognize a well made suit and know exactly how to clean and press it without compromising the integrity of the construction. If you don't know one personally, we can always give you recommendations.
Pockets should lay nicely against the fabric. Patterned fabrics should line up neatly from the jacket to any of the pockets.
Keep the pockets stitched closed so you are not tempted to carry items in them which will cause the fabric to stretch and lose its shape. Ask your tailor to add a hidden mobile phone pocket to the lining when making the suit jacket to prevent using the pockets.
The buttons should be horn, shell, or mother of pearl. Although more fragile, they make a big difference in the look of the suit but need to be handled with care. For a more durable button, opt for high quality resin.
You can change the entire look of your suit by upgrading your buttons. This is a very simple and affordable process that your tailor can help you with.
Have a suggestion for a blog post? You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barakat Bespoke always welcomes any questions or comments you might have.