How to Determine the Quality of a Suit

April 2nd, 2008

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.

Anthony Peak Wool SuitWrinkle 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.

Entry Filed under: How To, Men, Men's, Shopping Guide, Shopping Guide, Women, Women's

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John  |  April 2nd, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    I want to emphasize that these two tests are the only factors in a suit’s quality, but they are two tests you can perform on the spot while shopping for a suit.

  • 2. eric  |  April 9th, 2009 at 4:02 am

    I’m about to go shopping for a new suit and these are good ideas to keep in mind. Thanks!

  • 3. DAN  |  February 10th, 2012 at 9:26 am

    I go to a tailor who has been in business for over 30 years. He specializes in tailored, made to measure suits at very reasonable prices. He has literally hundreds and hundreds of fabrics to pick from in all levels. Once you chose your fabric he takes multiple measurements and discusses your wants and options for your new suit. There are basically no limits. He gives you his expert advice and opinion for your new suit.
    Then he orders your suit. In about three weeks it comes back and he has you try it on, then he tweeks and adjust anything to make your new suit fit perfectly and you are totally happy.
    It really helps a lot if you have some knowledge of what you want and why.
    If you know about quality suit construction, what makes a fabric a quality fabric and suit options you will receive a made to measure suit that is very close to a full bespke suit at a fraction of the cost.

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