How to Identify a Well-Made Custom Suit

Well made custom suit

Suits are always going to be an investment. 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. Ensure you are making a worthwhile investment by learning how to identify a quality, well-made suit.

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. Most well made custom suits use only 100% wool. Beyond looking at the tag for the fabric composition, you can determine quality by feel as well. Pure wool feels softer and more flexible than a polyester or a polyester blended suit. Additionally, you will see a better drape over your body, and the fabric is more breathable. If the material is blended, look for predominantly wool composition with a satin or a cashmere blend. Avoid polyester! Satin and cashmere blends with wool are some of the highest quality fabrics on the market. The suit’s tag might identify where the yarn comes from. In that case, look for Italy, France, England, or the United States.

fabric in neutral tones

Second, How Is It Constructed?

Standard Suit Patterns

All suit-making requires patterns. Where that pattern comes from can be a good way to tell the quality of a suit. Ready-made patterns result in one-size-fits-all construction. A ready-made pattern means the suit 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 all use the same pattern and will never have a perfect fit.

Custom Suit Patterns

High quality, well-made custom suits are bespoke or 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 measurements, so the pattern fits your body before we start constructing the suit. This process produces a suit that’s a perfect fit. Even better, our H|M Mobile Tailor calculates your precise measurements down to a millimeter at home. All it takes is two photos from your smartphone camera.

Half Canvas vs Full Canvas Custom Suits

The jacket interlining is a great indicator of quality. Cheap suits usually have a fused interlining, which means the lining is glued onto the fabric of the suit jacket. High quality suits, on the other hand, have either half or full canvassed interlining. In these cases, the lining is sewn instead of glued. Full canvas means the whole lining is sewn to the jacket. For a half canvas suit, only the most important part has sewn lining: the shoulders and collar. Canvas provides flexibility and breathability in your suit. A canvassed jacket molds to your body, fitting better over time.

half canvas vs full canvas suit

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 are machine-made, and typically have fraying on the thread. In a quality custom suit, you will find buttonholes that are either hand-sewn, or are machine-made with a high quality machine, resulting in neater, cleaner stitches without fraying.

The buttons themselves are another good indicator. Cheap buttons may be plastic, and are more than likely attached with glue. Quality buttons are composed of nacre, or Mother-of-Pearl – the inner shell layer of an oyster, and are stitched on. Here at HARTTER MANLY, we use a hybrid approach. Our process utilizes both hand-sewing and high-quality machine techniques to construct the details of your suit. Combined with our customization tool, we can make your suit exactly the way you want.

As we all know, a lot goes into constructing a well-made custom suit. 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, start shopping for your custom suit to get the creation process started.

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Ezra Lambert

Ezra Lambert is a barber and freelance writer. In addition to his work in men’s grooming and lifestyle, he has also written numerous fiction pieces: two screenplays and a YA novel. He lives in San Diego, CA, with his dog, Toni. 

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