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How to Identify a Well-Made Custom Suit

Suits are always going to be an investment, and more often than not in menswear, you get what you pay for. Here, we’re going to talk a bit about what it is that makes a suit worth more, and how to identify a quality, well-made custom suit, so you can know you’ve made a worthwhile investment.

In order to identify a suit’s quality, you need to look at all aspects of the suit, including the fabric, the proportions and cut, the lining and other aspects of the construction, and the tiny little details, like the buttonholes and the seams.

First, What’s It Made Of?

With a cheap suit, you are going to see polyester or blend fabrics, which, if you ask us, is an immediate quality disqualifier. A quality and well-made custom suit will be made of 100% wool. And beyond looking at the tag for the fabric composition, you can determine this by feel, as well. A 100% wool suit is going to feel softer and more flexible than a polyester or a polyester blended suit. It will have a better drape over your body and will feel more breathable. If blended, look for predominantly wool composition with satin or a cashmere blend (not polyester). Satin and cashmere blends with wool are some of the highest quality fabrics on the market. If the suit’s tag identifies where the yarn comes from, look for Italy, France, England, or the United States.

Custom Fabrics for Custom Suits

Second, How Is It Constructed?

All suits are made with a pattern. Where that pattern comes from can be a good way to tell the quality of a suit. If the suit is made off of a ready-made pattern, that means it’s one-size fits all and will never fit you perfectly, even if you take it to a tailor after purchasing. Suits you find at Joseph A. Bank or Men’s Wearhouse are going to be made off the same pattern, and will never give you a perfect fit.

High quality, well-made custom suits are bespoke or a made-to-measure. If you want the bespoke look, but don’t want to break the bank, consider our hybrid MTM process: we alter a pattern with your exact measurements, so the pattern fits your body before we start constructing the suit. This process gets you in a suit that’s a perfect fit, and with our new H | M Mobile Tailor technology, you can get those measurements down to a millimeter at home, by just taking two photos of yourself on your smartphone.

Another aspect of construction that is a good indicator of quality is the jacket interlining. In a cheap suit, you will see a fused interlining, meaning the lining is glued onto the fabric of the suit jacket. In a high quality suit, you want to look for half or full-canvassed interlining, where the lining is sewn onto the suit. In a full canvas, the whole lining is sewn to the jacket. In a half-canvas, the sewn portion is limited to the upper half – the important half: the shoulders and collar. Having the upper portion of the jacket be canvassed allows for flexibility and breathability in your suit and a jacket that molds to your body, fitting better over time.

Third, How Do the Details Look?

Sometimes you can tell whether a suit is cheap or quality just by looking at the little details, like the buttonholes, the buttons, and the stitching. On a cheap suit, the buttonholes will be machine-made, but will have fraying on the thread. In a quality suit, you will find buttonholes that are either handsewn, or are machine-made with a quality machine, resulting in neater, cleaner stitches without fraying.

The buttons themselves are another good indicator. Cheap buttons are made of plastic, and are more than likely glued on. Quality buttons are made of nacre, or Mother-of-Pearl – the inner shell layer of an oyster, and are stitched on. Here at H | M, we use a hybrid approach, utilizing both hand-sewing and high-quality machine techniques to construct the details of your suit, which, with our customization tool, can be made exactly the way you want.

HARTTER MANLY Custom Suit Stitching and Button Hole
HARTTER MANLY Custom Suit Stitching and Button Holes

As we all know, a lot goes into making a well-made custom suit, and some suit-makers cut corners, use cheap materials, or speed through the construction. In order to make sure you are getting the most for your money, you can use this guide to analyze a suit and know with certainty that you’re making a quality investment. Ready to have your very own bespoke suit? If so, pick out your suit here to get the creation process started.

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Cait Lambert

Cait Lambert is a barber and freelance writer. In addition to her work in men’s grooming and lifestyle, she has also written numerous fiction pieces: two screenplays and a YA novel. She lives in San Diego, CA, with her dog, Toni. Follow her on Twitter - @caitwrites


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