Many occasions call for the purchase of a new suit. Perhaps you’ve been invited to a wedding, a christening or maybe you’re looking to sharpen up for the office. Either way, a good suit is as a necessary investment for any man’s wardrobe. A cheap suit is almost guaranteed to need replacing in a couple of years, whereas well-designed tailoring can last you 20 plus! So, what should you look out for when buying an expensive suit? And, of equal importance, how can other people tell that you’re wearing the best? CT shirts, experts in suit design, have created this handy guide to what to look out for when buying a suit.
The materials that make the suit can be the determining factor as to whether your suit will pass the test of time.
Look for suits that made from natural fibres, avoiding those with labels that say it has been created with a wool-blend or man-made materials. Polyester, for example, should be avoided. It retains a lot of heat, is less breathable and creases easily. A suit with 100% wool is something that you should look out for — these suits are versatile and ooze comfort. For a lush look, often silk or mohair (a silk-like material made from the hair of the Angora goat) is added and this gives a luxurious sheen to the fabric. For extra movement and comfort, a high-quality suit is often made with a small amount of Lycra to improve its elasticity.
An indicator of the finery of the material is the numerical rating or the ‘Super’. The Super is a way of indicating that the wool is of high quality. The higher the number, the finer and lighter the cloth will be.
One thing that you might not consider is the material of your buttons. Plastic buttons are prone to breakage and chipping — for example, if you brush against a wall or table, it will be the buttons that take the impact. A high-quality material that is often used for making durable and long-lasting suit buttons is corozo nuts.
The design of a suit determines how it fits your body and moulds to your shape over time, it is what makes the suit truly yours. Often, it is down to personal preference what weave is preferred but some are considered higher end than others.
The patterns are created in the suit by interweaving different coloured threads in different ways. The ‘twill’ weave is considered to be stylish — this has a diagonal line of raised fabric and a silk-looking finish. The ‘herringbone’ also gives a smart look— this is an intricate V weave that creates a smooth feel.
A canvassed suit jacket has been created so that it has layers of material that sit between the outer suit fabric and the inner lining. This tailoring technique helps the suit maintain structure and shape.
What you should look out for is a ‘floating canvas’ — this is where the middle layer has been stitched to the fabric loosely so that the suit is able to mould to your body shape and move when you move.
The lining of the suit can be a giveaway as to how well it’s been made. Despite popular belief that an unlined suit is cheaper than a fully lined one, it actually takes more effort to create an unlined suit as the stitching and cut of the material is exposed. However, lined sleeves improve your ability to slide the jacket on and off.
All in the details
Even some shop assistants might not be aware of the tiniest details that can improve the quality of a suit. It can be the tailor’s own way of integrating quality into their work.
The lapels on a suit are the folds that sit either side of the opening across the chest. One detail that can indicate the quality of a suit is the lapel roll — this is the fall and curl of the lapel from the collar to the first button. If the suit is one of many rolled off a production line, it is likely that the lapel will be completely flat against the jacket and the roll will be almost non-existent. In a high-quality suit however, the lapel roll will look like it has been carefully curved — giving the jacket more texture and a better appearance.
The back vents on a suit can determine how easy it is for you to move around and feel comfortable in it. Choose suit jackets with twin back vents on the back of the jacket to improve its flexibility and range of movement.
Stalk loops on jackets are something to look out for too. This is a traditional tailoring feature which neatly keeps your flower stalk tucked away. Although it may not be a necessary feature for everyone, it shows attention to detail that’s likely to be an indicator of a good suit.
Examine the buttonholes. Cheaper suits can often have frayed buttonholes as they haven’t been stitched with delicacy. Small details like this are big giveaways as to how your suit has been made.