How to tell an expensive suit from a cheap one | Sartoria Lab (2024)

Is it the fabric, the construction or the cut? The answer is: It’s everything and more! A careful combination of them all makes for a truly great suit. Alexandra Wood, award winning Savile Row tailor discusses...

How to tell an expensive suit from a cheap one | Sartoria Lab (1)


The fabric has to be high quality or it lets the entire suit down. But how can you tell?

Most expensive suits should be made from at least a pure wool. If you want quality, never choose polyester mixes.

Ideally you’re looking for anything above a Super 100s wool. This means the fabric is smoother and has less thread count per meter, making it super soft and luxurious to touch and feel. A super 140s wool, or anything above this number is beautiful but simply impractical for most regular occasions.

How can you tell a nice fabric? It should be soft and supple, with some bounce. A cheap fabric will feel almost squeaky to the touch and feel a little rough and can’t create the shape an expensive fabric can.

Think Glossy. Sheen not shine!

How to tell an expensive suit from a cheap one | Sartoria Lab (2)

Cut and fit

Too tight or too baggy makes for an ugly suit. A suit should gently hug the body, so that it enhances your assets.

For me, there is a perfect equation for a suit. These are some of my main points:

•The shoulder line should fall at a near perfect right angle, so that the armhole seam is hugging the end of your shoulder.

•There should be a light curve into the waistline, that defines your shape. The jacket should skim the bottom of your bottom. This allows a flattering cut, rather than a short jacket which cuts you off at exactly the wrong spot.

•Tapered trousers, not super slim or skinny!

(I have an endless list, but this will get you going...)

How to tell an expensive suit from a cheap one | Sartoria Lab (3)


Buttons. Dull, plastic buttons are a real no no. They should be natural horn buttons, with a little gloss. This really makes a suit look classy and give it the finishing touch it needs. For super sharp, opt for a button with a slight contrast. (Think tortoise shell for example).

How to tell an expensive suit from a cheap one | Sartoria Lab (4)

The construction

There’s no doubt about it. There’s cheap canvas and there’s quality canvas and this is what gives a suit its oomph. When it’s cheap, the suit is limp and lifeless. When it’s quality, it’s got shape and life.

A classy suit will mould to your body. This is particularly the case with a bespoke suit, which has a canvas made from natural fibres, such as horse hair.

On a cheap suit, the canvas will likely be glued, making the overall suit look very stiff.

So, what is a canvas? The canvas is situated in the chest area of the suit jacket, in between the outer fabric and the lining and gives the suit its elegant shape (or not)

These days you have multiple choices of construction from completely unstructured, half canvas to a full canvas and they all have different results. So what is important is that A-you’re choosing the right construction for you and your body shape and B- all of the other boxes are well and truly ticked.

How to tell an expensive suit from a cheap one | Sartoria Lab (5)

Say no to Gimmicks

For me, I don’t particularly like contrast button holes, or garish buttons. It makes a suit look cheap. Keep it timeless and classic and you’ll win every time.

Alexandra offers both made to measure and ready to wear suits for Men. Using cut, style and colour to truly enhance your best features. She can be found at

Thanks so much to Alexandra Wood for enlightening us as to what makes the difference between an expensive suit and a cheap one.

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How to tell an expensive suit from a cheap one | Sartoria Lab (2024)


How to tell an expensive suit from a cheap one | Sartoria Lab? ›

The construction

Can you tell the difference between cheap suit and expensive? ›

Flimsy plastic buttons and button-holes or pockets that don't work are common on lower-end suits. Cheaper suits often have polyester linings that don't breathe and feel less comfortable against the skin. They also won't have special cuts and hand-sewn pick-stitching.

How can you tell if a man's suit is expensive? ›

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.

How can you tell if a suit is high quality? ›

A high-end suit will usually have a fair amount of handwork in it, that means, the lining is sewn by hand. You can check it on the sleeves, you can check the armhole which should be set in by hand, and you can look at the little details and see whether it's a hand stitch or a machine stitch.

What are the characteristics of an expensive suit? ›

Craftsmanship and Attention to Detail

These suits are often handmade or undergo extensive hand-finishing processes. Expert tailors pay close attention to every element of the suit, including hand-stitched linings, functional buttonholes, and carefully finished seams.

Can people tell if your suit is expensive? ›

Typically it's given away by things like the patterning, the fit, the stitches, the buttons, some peculiarities about the collar and lapels. The pockets. It is very easy if you know anything about suits. Then again, there are people who wear them every day and pay half a months salary and still look cheap.

What price is considered a cheap suit? ›

The Basic Suit ranges from $300 to $599, though it is easy to spend more. It's considered to be a solid price point for the first suit.

How much should a decent mens suit cost? ›

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.

What is the average price of a decent suit? ›

Expect to spend $400 to $799 on a basic suit.

Suits in this price range are great to have on-hand at any age, and they're also the perfect suit to splurge on if you've never purchased one before. While most basic suits start at $400, you can often find them on sale for as little as $300.

How to look expensive in a suit? ›

How to make a cheaper suit look expensive
  1. Replace the buttons: Instead of the existing plastic buttons, replace the buttons with something just a little bit fancier and more your style. ...
  2. Avoid shiny fabrics & always check the sale section. ...
  3. Take in the sleeves: If you're going to tailor anything, let it be the sleeves.

Who makes the best suits in the world? ›

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

How to make a cheap suit look expensive? ›

5 Tricks That'll Make Cheap Suits Look More Expensive
  1. Take in the sleeves. In a perfect world you'd be prepared to spend about $150 to have your tailor tweak every last detail of your suit so it looks custom-made. ...
  2. Replace the buttons. ...
  3. Add a cuff at the ankle. ...
  4. Try monochromatic styling. ...
  5. Finish with expensive shoes.
Aug 1, 2017

What are most high end 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. Only wear these if you have allergic reactions to the aforementioned cloths, or if you're a vegan.

What is the difference between a $500 suit and a $5000 suit? ›

$500 vs. $5,000

The intimate details like hand-sewn sleeves and multiple fittings allow the tailor to understand your unique body movements and style. A $500 custom suit will fit you well standing still. A $5,000 bespoke suit and shirt will fit you no matter what you do!

Which suit is worth the most? ›

High card by suit and low card by suit refer to assigning relative values to playing cards of equal rank based on their suit. When suit ranking is applied, the most common conventions from lowest to highest are: ♣♦♥♠ English alphabetical order. clubs, followed by diamonds, hearts, and spades.

What suit is the most valuable? ›

The Stuart Hughes Diamond sports suit is priced at $892,500. The World Record Academy records that the Stuart Hughes suit is the world's most expensive.

How can you tell a nice suit from a cheap suit? ›

Another great way to spot a cheap suit is by identifying if it's a polyester lining or not. Quality suits have linings made out of sometimes viscose which is less expensive. A higher-end option would be silk, sometimes you also see cotton, but very cheap suits have polyester lining or blends with polyester.

How much should I spend on a decent suit? ›

How much should you spend on a decent suit? Experts recommend spending around $500 for a quality suit. The $500 range will give you everything you need in a basic suit: quality stitching, nice fabric, and neutral, versatile colors.

How can you tell the difference between suits? ›

If you spot the lapel shimmer, you're probably eyeballing a tux. Likewise, the buttons on the jacket can tell you a lot. Tuxedo buttons are often covered in silk, while suits feature normal buttons made of horn. Tux with silk satin lapels, buttons, and pocket accents.

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