How do you know a quality suit from an inferior one?
Certain details signal good quality while others are trumpeted as such when really they don't matter.
Whether or not you wear a suit everyday, you likely wear at least one suit to important meetings, interviews and weddings. Spend on what counts and communicate your capacity for success and social awareness.
If you have one suit in your wardrobe, the most versatile is a midnight or dark navy blue, standard worsted wool - its appropriate for professional and social occasions alike.
Suit Details that Matter:
1. Fit Fit Fit
I cringe when I see a guy who unknowingly spent several hundred dollars on a sloppy, ill-fitting suit. Take a look at my fit guide to avoid being that guy.
You'd be surprised, sometimes fit failures pop up in even the most high-end brands.
If the fit is poor, nothing else matters - expense, fine fabric nor elegant detail.
2. Natural-Fiber Fabric
Wool, silk, cotton, linen or any combination of these.
Natural fibers breathe to regulate body temperature, drape better and do not look cheap.
With the exception of the lining fabric, a good suit does not contain any synthetic fibers such as polyester or rayon.
3. Canvas, Not Fusing
This refers to the construction inside the jacket-front that provides structure. Canvas is sewn into the front of the jacket; fusing is glued (or fused), which is easier and cheaper in mass production.
Fully or partially canvased jackets indicate higher-quality construction than fully fused jackets.
Usually a canvased jacket will be advertised as such.
Suit Details that Don’t Necessarily Matter:
1. Functional Button-Holes at the Sleeve Cuff
This detail has no bearing on quality, though it is traditionally a sign of a custom-made suit.
Ironically, working button-holes at the cuff make it near impossible to shorten or lengthen the sleeve.
And there is little reason to ever unbutton your cuff.
2. Super 100s Number
Usually touted as THE quality factor in wool suiting fabric, the S number is not necessarily indicative of the fabric's construction quality. Nor is it at all indicative of the suit manufacture quality.
It is simply a measure of wool fiber fineness - the higher the S number, the finer the wool fibers. The fibers are spun into threads and the threads woven into fabric.
However, a finer super 120s wool fiber, for example, may be woven into a lower quality fabric than, say, a super 110s wool fiber woven with more intricate care.
A better gauge of fabric quality is whether or not the mill name or textile house is noted.
Well-known mills, such as Loro Piana or Carpini, and textile houses from Italy and Japan are an assured way to determine fabric quality.
3. Pick-Stitching along Lapel Edge
This detail has no bearing on quality, though it is traditionally a sign of a custom-made suit and historically hand stitched.
However, it is purely aesthetic.