April 2nd, 2008
by John Liu
How do you know if the suit you want is worth its hefty price tag? While there are a lot of things that go into a great suit, there are two quick tests you can do on the showroom floor to help you determine the quality of the suit.
Wrinkle Test: A quick way to test the quality of the wool from the suit is to grab the cuff of a pant leg and firmly squeeze. That’s right: I’m telling you to purposely try to wrinkle the wool. If, after a minute or so, the wool remains wrinkled after you release the pant leg, we recommend you move on to a better quality wool suit.
This wrinkle test becomes important after a day at the office, during which you sit at your desk, elbows – and jacket – bent. To all of the investment bankers out there: You may have stayed at the office overnight, but you don’t have to look like it. Get a suit that passes the wrinkle test. Disclaimer: If you just throw your suit on your bedroom floor, even the best ones will become wrinkled.
Canvas Test: Between the exterior cloth and the lining of the jacket, every proper suit has a layer of cloth called a canvas. High quality suits will have this canvas hand-sewn into the jacket. Lesser quality jackets use a process called fusing, in which the lining is, essentially, glued to the jacket. The canvas is entirely hidden, and you cannot see it unless you literally rip the jacket open. Some designers will tell you that there are new innovations in fusing that make the fused jacket just as good as hand-stitched ones, but I’m not entirely sure if I believe them. A jacket with a canvas will fit better, especially across the chest. Plus, the canvas also gives the lapel its roll.
How to tell if your jacket has a canvas? Find the part of the jacket in between two button holes. Gently pinch the two sides (exterior and interior sides) apart. If you can feel a third layer in between, there’s a canvas. If you can’t, the jacket is fused. Style tip: Price doesn’t equal quality, so don’t assume that every expensive blazer has a canvas. I recently saw a $1,300 blazer in Barney’s that failed the canvas test.
Pictured: Anthony Peak Wool Suit | $1795 at Ralph Lauren.