How to Spot a Quality Suit (2024)

Often what distinguishes a well-made suit from all the others is simply a matter of details. Generally speaking, the more handwork that goes into a suit, the better the quality and, naturally, the higher the price.

In a world where industrial technology allows manufacturers to produce suits in a few quick steps all automated by machines, old-school handwork is a good litmus test for quality. You can generally assume that a clothier who takes the time and effort to do things by hand is also not cutting corners when it comes to things like quality of cloth, linings, threads, buttons, etc.

The good news is, handwork can be seen and felt by the trained buyer. Here are a few things to look for to determine if a suit is well-made or not.

1. Hand-Made Button Holes

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Also called “Milanese buttonholes”, these are very sharp and sleek. It takes roughly 45 minutes to finish one hand-made buttonhole, but it’s worth every minute for how much cleaner they look than their rough-edged, machine-sewncounterparts.

2. Smooth Lapel Roll

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One of the advantages (and signs) of a hand-set chest canvas in a jacket is thesmoothroll of the lapel. Rather than a cheaphard-pressed crease, the roll creates a nice fluid dimension to the garment that will eventually form to the shape of the wearer.

3. Self Lining

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An unlined jacket is actually more difficult, and expensive, to produce. All ofthe interior seams have to be clean-finished (since they are visible and exposedagainst the body) and larger pieces of suiting fabric are needed for the front panel facings (where much cheaper lining fabric is typically used).

4. hand-Set Collar

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The collar is the the most important piece of the jacket in terms of balance and fit. A good jacket has a collar that has been eased and set by hand. Flip up the lapels and take a look. Often times, on a high quality jacket, you can see hand stitches at the base. In the case above, notice the little “fold-back” of the glenplaid fabric over the collar felt. This method is almost always done by hand; the fold-back is actually seam allowance which would allow a good tailor to re-cut or re-shape the collar after a fitting,if needed.

5. Genuine Horn Buttons

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If a suit maker is using cheap plastic buttons to finish their garment, then you can assume they are doing things cheaplyelsewhere as well. A good suit has genuine horn buttons (usually buffalo horn). Also, the front buttons should be sewn with a thread shank (a stem of twisted thread) whichprovidesspace for the fabric to drape in between the button and the garment when fastened.

6. Surgeon's Cuffs

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Back in the day, functioning sleeve buttons were a sign that a jacket was tailor-made for the wearer. It showed attention to detail in terms of construction and style. Today, however, it is being replicated on off-the-rack garments to signal quality, despite all the other mass-production elements and the general fact that it makes it much more difficult to alter the sleeve length.

7. Seam Allowance

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The majority of the cost of a suit comes down to the amount of fabric used. This means that cheap suits contain very little, if any, additional fabric under the seams to be “let out” by a tailor. A well-made jacket has ample seam allowance to accommodate for alterations, should the wearer gain a few pounds or need a little more breathing room. Notice the 1/4 lined jacket above: the center back seam has a good inch of extra fabric and even the side panel seams have room to play with.

8. Pic Stitching

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Those little “puckers” around the edge of the lapels, those are all done by hand. Pic stitching is purely aesthetic, but it shows an attention to detail and craftsmanship. If they are a little imperfect and slightly inconsistent, that’s okay; there is beauty in imperfect handwork. On another note, this photo also shows another beautifully handmade buttonhole.

Thanks for reading.

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier



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How to Spot a Quality Suit (2024)


How can you tell the quality of suit fabric? ›

The higher you go, the more fragile the suit. While judging fabric quality requires experience, one of the fundamental ways to test is by scrunching the fabric swatch in your fist. If it bounces back into shape easily, the fabric is of decent quality.

How can you tell if someone is wearing an expensive suit? ›

Quality of Materials. Expensive Suit: Expensive suits are typically crafted from premium materials such as high-quality wool, silk, or cashmere. These materials offer superior comfort, durability, and a luxurious feel.

How expensive should a good suit be? ›

Mid-level suits range from $800 to $1,500. They're usually made of all natural fabrics and will be custom-made to fit you. High-end suits are usually $1,500 and up. They're often bespoke suits, meaning sewn from scratch, and always use all-natural materials.

Who makes the best quality suit? ›

The Best Suit Brands, According to GQ
  • The Red Carpet Specialists: Armani, Ralph Lauren, Thom Browne, Tom Ford.
  • The All-American Upgrades: Brooks Brothers, J.Crew, J. ...
  • The Globe-Trotting Tailoring Geeks: Anglo-Italian, Drake's, Ring Jacket, Saman Amel.
  • The Funky Upstarts: Factor's, Giuliva Heritage, Husbands, Stòffa.
Apr 1, 2024

What are expensive suits made of? ›

Just be aware that high-quality suits can be made of wool, cotton, linen, silk, cashmere, mohair, and various blends of these materials. Lower-quality suits tend to be made with synthetic cloth, such as microfiber.

What is the most expensive suit material? ›

Both rarer and more expensive than cashmere, a fabric that expresses true luxury. Vicuna is the most expensive suit material in the world. It is water-resistant, breathable, has natural UV protection, and a luxurious feel.

What is the highest quality fabric? ›

Sea Island cotton, vicuna, alpaca, cashmere – these are expensive, top quality fibers available in limited quantities. You will not necessarily spot them in next fashion season. Premium fabrics are timeless and do not need help from the fashion industry to stay in demand. A good example is vicuna.

Can people tell the difference between a cheap and expensive suit? ›

Generally, yes. If you don't have an expert eye, you might not know why, but the guy in the better suit will simply look better. You'll just think he looks really good. You might not think you're recognizing an expensive suit, but really you are.

Is $200 good for a suit? ›

It really depends on your budget, and how often/hard you're going to wear your suit. If you're looking for a workhorse suit that you can rely on 2-3 times/week, a $200 RTW number will not last. You'll end up buying a new one every six months.

Do polyester suits look cheap? ›

You bet they do. We'll say it one more time for effect: polyester suits look cheap. You know that shiny suit (you've seen them) that looks a bit stiff (like plastic) and doesn't seem to ever want to drape softly? That's your polyester suit, ladies and gents.

How can you tell a suit is bespoke? ›

  1. I'd say the biggest single difference that premium bespoke makes is something you can't see—the comfort felt by the wearer. ...
  2. Potential for a perfect fit—I mean Perfect.
  3. Small armholes.
  4. A high end bespoke jacket almost always has much smaller armholes than RTW.
Dec 16, 2020

How many wears should a suit last? ›

Wear a different suit to work every day for two weeks and reset the rotation. Dry clean every 6 months or when dirt/stains are visible. Replace every 5 - 10 years. By that logic, you'd get at least 130 " wears" and 10 washes out of a suit.

What is considered an expensive suit? ›

Buying An Expensive Suit That Suits Your Style

The result is a luxuriously light fabric that is flexible enough for all seasons. The Expensive Suit ranges from $1,000 and up and will typically be either custom-made with the best fabrics or designed by one of the best designers.

How much is a good quality men's suit? ›

The standard suit: $501–$1,000

Most men will be comfortable in this price category as the value for money seems to offer a good balance.

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