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5 Amazingly Simple Ways to Spot Quality in Men's Suits

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Section: Men's Style - Blog

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Wearing your new suit should make you feel like a million dollars. But, if the quality's not up to scratch, you won't be feeling wonderful for long - especially when you think about how much money you spent. Here's how to make sure you get your money's worth.

Most men feel uninformed when it comes to judging suit quality, so they rely on brand name recognition (or the deceptive pitch of a pushy sales guy) as their standard for quality. Here are five simple tips to help you avoid making suit mistakes and pick a good quality men's suit you'll wear proudly for many years!

1 - The Fit

It's all about the perfect fit. The fit of your suit is arguably the most important aspect of a good quality men's suit. It's also the aspect with the most impact on how your suit looks and feels on you. Ask yourself, if the suit doesn't fit you perfectly, why buy it?

After all, it's not a cheap purchase. Off-the-rack suits use a “standard sizing,” which is a sort of one-size-fits-all approach to suiting that uses only chest size and jacket length to determine your “ideal” fit.

What about other factors like:

  • Sleeve length
  • Sleeve and trouser circumferences
  • Crotch length

In addition to the above, what about your posture, and the shape of your shoulders? The list goes on. Your body is a unique shape and size so even if you think off-the-rack sizing is ok for you, there will always be one area of fit that's not quite right.

Getting the perfect suit fit is a game of inches… well 1/4 inches actually! A good quality men's suit is one that's made to your exact body measurements. Period.

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Never underestimate the importance of fit. What a difference a perfectly fitted suit can make to your appearance.

2 - The Fabric

Do you know how to choose the right suit fabric? Well, for starters, make sure that the outer fabric of the suit's shell is a good quality Pure Wool. Australian and New Zealand wool are very popular for their consistent quality. Using Pure Wool is important because it is a natural, durable fabric, which is also breathable during the hotter spring and summer months. Pure Wool has heat resistant properties and so won't come back with press marks or a “shiny” look after being dry cleaned.

You can't go wrong with Super 100s to Super 130s Pure Wool for the workplace. The Super count refers to the thickness of the wool thread and the higher the count, the finer, lighter (and more expensive) the fabric is.

There's usually no need to go too high because while wool marked as Super 180s and above is luxurious and soft to the touch, it is susceptible to snagging, and its durability is generally not as good. Super 150s and above is the realm of executive business suits and suits for special occasions like wedding suits, dinner suits and tuxedos.

If you want a fashion look, then wool blends are generally acceptable. Wool blends are cheaper and can offer that metallic finish many younger men want. However, depending on the percentage of wool in the blend, the suit may not be breathable and susceptible to damage during dry cleaning.

At the end of the day, you've just got to know what you're paying for.

Buyer Beware

Many of the suits on the market today are advertised as “100% Pure Wool.” This is sometimes far from the truth. For example, we have Chinese made wool blend fabric in our showroom that comes labelled as "Pure Wool Super 150s made in Italy."

We know that it's not pure Italian wool and sell it as what it is. But if your tailor doesn't buy their fabric direct from the overseas mills, they might not even know what they're selling isn't real!

Always be cautious; if the price sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Super 150s pure wool for around $500 and tailor made - seriously??

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Some of our Super 120s range Pure Wool and Cashmere fabrics

3 - The Lining

The inner lining you choose is important as non-natural polyester blends do not breath. Cheaper suits often skimp on the lining, but what's the point of having a breathable woollen outer shell, if the lining is not breathable?

A good option is to select rayon (made from natural cellulose fibre) and if you can afford it, ask for Cupra (Bemberg). Steer of anything with a high percentage of polyester or acetate in it. Silk, while seeming like a luxurious option, is impractical, creates friction against your shirt, and can often tear or snag.

Your trousers should also be lined back and front for durability. Most trousers manufactured today only use lining on the front; however, the back takes the most wear. While lining the back adds a small amount of weight to the trouser, the extra durability is usually worth it.

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Some of our premium Bemberg lining fabrics

4 - The Stitching

The stitching of tailor made suits should be “Fully Hand Stitched” as opposed to “Half Hand Stitched” or “Machine Stitched.” This ensures your suit is constructed with a web of stitches that build a curvature into the chest where a Machine Stitched suit would hang flat. This greatly improves the shape, fit and silhouette of your suit.

Only highly skilled tailors are able to fully hand stitch a suit. It goes without saying fully hand stitched suits also cost a lot more to manufacture. If your suit is fully hand stitched, then you're dealing with some seriously good quality construction.

5 - The Construction

The Construction of your suit should be “Half Canvassed” or “Fully Canvassed” and not “Fused.” One of the key differences between premium and low quality suit jackets is their construction. The chest of any jacket should be constructed of three (3) layers of material:

  • The fabric on the outside of the coat
  • The lining that makes up its inside
  • A layer of canvassing in between that gives the coat its shape

Some like to consider this inner layer of canvas as the chassis of your suit jacket. Like the chassis of a car, the canvas gives your suit jacket shape (form), structure, and strength. While you can't see it, this all-important layer not only shapes your suit from the start, but also has a memory for your body shape.

Fully Canvassed (The best, but the most expensive)

This means the entire top and bottom of the jacket's front is built around an internal layer of “Canvas.” This canvas can be made from different fibres. The premium choices are Horse hair and Camel hair, which are often used in suits costing $3,000 and more. Horse hair takes and holds a shape, but is stiff in texture. Camel hair is better than horsehair because it's softer and more comfortable, but it is a more expensive.

Some people also argue that in warmer climates like Australia, full canvassing adds unnecessary weight to the jacket.

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Fully Canvassed suit construction – notice how the canvas is positioned all the way from the top to the bottom of the jacket and also on the lapel.

Half Canvassed (good cost-effective medium)

The all-important top half (front) of the jacket is properly canvassed, while the bottom half of the jacket is fused. This provides shape, stiffness and some memory qualities. As the bottom half of the jacket is less susceptible to moisture and sweat (and thus doesn't need to be as breathable), fusing this area is fine – and importantly, it keeps the suit in an affordable range.

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Half Canvassed suit construction – notice how the canvas is positioned only at the top half of the jacket.

Fully Fused (Cheap and inferior, keep away!)

Fusing uses a waterproof glue that binds the entire jacket front (top and bottom) together. The glue is applied to the fabric to stiffen it, giving a simulation of a canvas. However, because of the “hydrophobic” waterproof qualities of the glue, Fully Fusing makes the jacket unbreathable and also susceptible to “bubbling” after dry cleaning. Fully Fusing also reduces the comfort of the suit, disallowing it from moving properly with your body.

In short, we recommend you steer clear of Fully Fused suits. And beware, many designer suits like Armani and HUGO BOSS use fusing in some of their product lines – yet they still charge a premium price.

How to tell a Canvassed vs. Fused Jacket - The “Pinch Test”

It's easy to check whether the suit jacket you're looking at is fused or canvassed. Simply pinch the chest fabric and lining between the fingers of each hand and pull them apart slightly. If it's canvassed, you should be able to feel three distinct layers: the outside fabric, the canvas, and the lining. If it's fused, you'll only feel two layers. To distinguish between Full and Half Canvassing, perform the same pinch test down by the buttons.

Also look for

  • Proper handcraft stitching around the lapels (not machine stitching – you'll know this by the accuracy of the stitches. If it's too perfect, it's machine stitched)
  • Working cuffs on the jacket sleeve – a sure sign of quality and a custom made suit
  • Reinforced jacket buttons, and buttons on "stems" for easy buttoning
  • Real woollen felt under the collar
  • Spare buttons (in all sizes)

The Final Word

In this article, you learned the finer details of what makes up a good quality men's suit. We hope next time you're shopping for a new suit, you take these lessons on board so you can spot quality and to ensure that what you're paying is a fair price.

And remember, the men of Montagio are always happy to share their expertise with you and assist you in designing a suit that fits your body type, lifestyle and wallet. Book an appointment with us today and start enjoying the luxury of wearing custom made suits.

© Viorel Sima | Dreamstime.com

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Simon Frazer

Montagio did a great job on wedding suits for me and my two groomsmen. Bally provided us with fantastic service and the result was definitely superior to an off-the-rack option... more »

Kiran Dosanjh

I have bought a total of 11 pieces custom made so far - quality and attention to detail is spectacular, material choice is broad and the input customers have in creating the exact look they want is a great experience... more »

Roy Soliman

I went back for another suit, a few shirts and some ties. Outstanding! I had so many complements on my new suit yesterday! more »


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