1. The material
Any fabric can be characterized with 4 qualities: its composition, the density of the weave, its weight and its abrasion resistance. The cloth of the quality suit is soft to the touch and does not contain polyester; it can only contain cotton, wool (maybe mohair) and cashmere. The latter is an excellent material, but very delicate. Weaving density is usually denoted by a number indicating how many threads are in 1 cm2. For a high-quality material 100 (marked 100s) is the minimum requirement. The third number is the mass of the fabric. It is not advisable to choose fabrics above 300 grams for summer clothes and below 300 for all-season suits. The material is considered to be cold wear above 370-380 grams.
The tailoring of the suit is already telling in itself. Quality pieces have a well-visible fall and hold. Of course, in the case of a made-to-measure piece, this is adapted to the shape of the owner, highlighting its strengths and partially obscuring the more problematic areas. At the same time, there are vast differences between the confectionery pieces, and this can already be seen on a mannequin. It is essential for the suit to have a beautiful fall and a curve. The time it was created, and fashion also reveals a lot about tailoring. A suit crafted at the turn of the century or in the 1930s is more likely to be worn today, compared to the typically oversized jackets of the ’80s or ’90s.
Some suits are hand-stitched on the front side. Nowadays, companies try to imitate this by machine, but it is much less delicate. The uniformity of the stitching shows the quality of the suit which is most noticeable around buttonholes when the buttonhole is hand-made.
4. The cuff
There are two options; cuffs can either be “working cuffs” when the buttons could be unbuttoned, or sewed. Working cuffs is not an essential requirement, you can have a quality suit without those, but they are a good sign of a better jacket. Ready-made suits rarely have working cuffs. If you opt for working cuffs, please note that the most sophisticated look requires you to unbutton the last or the last two buttons, highlighting the jacket’s quality. Occasionally, buttons are sewn with contrasting colours. The details of the cuff is an excellent indicator of the quality of the suit – even if the finger cannot be touched.
5. Accuracy of joints
For a patterned material (striped, plaid), the joints should be perfect, the stripes meeting stripes, just as checked patterns at all the joining points (pockets, shoulders, front and back side, etc.), the material is perfectly symmetrical and the patterns are in-line.
Yes, the inside of the suit is also telling. The material of the lining – even for semi-canvased suits – highlights the jacket’s quality. The fine, silk lining, the inner pockets all reveal it’s class.
Most quality suits have side vents or single vents. In both cases, it offers the jacket a more beautiful fall and slims the figure.
The lapel gives the jacket a fashionable or old-fashioned look, so it’s elaborate. The shape, hardness and elasticity of the lapel are also different. The width, location, shape, cut, the quality of the buttonhole on the lapel are all telling. There are three main collar types: shawl, notch and peak lapel. Previously harder lapels were in fashion, and they seem to have their renaissance and return to style.
Nowadays, softer lighter lapels are more typical. It is interesting to see if there are hand-sewn items regularly decorating sports jackets. It is worth observing the details: how if the cut is high or deep, are the spacing of the buttonholes proportional to the size of the jacket and the size of the collar.
Reserve is the extra fabric your suit has in case you need to change its size. No question, you need some reserve for your suit. The tailor-made piece surely has plenty of reserve cloth designed to your exact shape. This lets you adjust the size if necessary. For confectionery pieces, the reserve usually has much less cloth, as manufacturers are trying to save on this, although they all need to have some due to the cutting technique. For low-quality suits, this is marginal, at higher quality, this is usually slightly more, but for most of the time, it’s only in the pants. For tailor-made suits, the tailor takes the extra fabric needed into account and builds in for a possible size change later.
Quality suits have quality buttons. What does it mean? The buttons are of the same colour and size, with a beautiful even surface, matt or silk, not obtrusive (except for the club jacket with gilded buttons). The buttons are evenly spaced apart, which is particularly visible on the cuff. On the more elegant pieces, the buttons on the cuff fit together (they can hang on each other) or have a very narrow gap in-between.