In the world of suits, it’s understandable if you feel torn between cheap suits and expensive suits.
On the one hand, you probably don’t want to spend loads of cash if you don’t have to. But on the other hand, you don’t want to look like you’re wearing a second-rate suit.
To make your decision easier, it helps to go over the determining factors of a suit’s craftsmanship.
Suits can be made from a wide range of fabrics. Each one can come with unique benefits, even the cheapest suits.
The trick is determining which benefits are best for your suiting needs.
However, that doesn’t mean that each of these fabrics is of good quality. A fabric’s quality is typically readily apparent, providing a true reflection of the suit’s value.
One of the most prominent factors of a quality suit’s fabric is whether the material is natural or synthetic.
The Expensive Suit Has 100% Natural Fabrics
Wool is the most prevalent natural fiber used in suit-making. Wool has a reputation for being very itchy, but it doesn’t need to be.
Merino wool, cashmere, and other types can be very soft and carry many benefits.
Natural fibers like cashmere wool help keep you dry because they’re water resistant. So if you get caught in light rain, you won’t suffer much, but it’s also helpful in summer against your sweat.
It’s also highly breathable, preventing you from overheating in summer, but its heavy weight keeps you warm in winter.
Wool is an incredibly long-lasting fabric. The tighter its weave is, the stronger and more durable the material is.
It also won’t stretch out or lose shape; wool can keep its beautiful drape for years.
The Cheap Suit is Usually Made of Polyester & Rayon
Synthetic fabrics like polyester don’t come from nature. Instead, they are man-made and are easier and less expensive to produce than natural fibers.
There are several drawbacks to wearing a suit made from synthetics.
First, non-natural materials aren’t breathable; they will trap air between your body and the suit, making you work up sweat; this is highly uncomfortable in hot summer weather.
Polyester and rayon also don’t retain their shape as well as natural fabrics do.
Synthetic materials don’t have the same extraordinary draping abilities, so it is much easier for them to become saggy or stretched out. This is especially true if you don’t take excellent care of them.
Synthetics are also likely to become pilled from the low-quality fibers breaking and rubbing against each other during movement. This leads to the suit looking quite shoddy fairly quickly.
Some of the best affordable suits blend a small number of natural fibers, such as wool or cotton, with synthetic fabrics. This slightly improves the suit’s quality but still has many of the synthetic downsides.
Different Suit Production Process
Much of a suit’s quality is centered around its craftsmanship. There’s an art to constructing a suit.
Whether a suit is off-the-rack or made-to-measure surely factors into the quality of a suit, but there is more to the production process than just that difference.
For example, a suit’s detailing is a prominent aspect of a high-quality suit and can make it stand out from all other suits.
How your suit is produced dramatically influences how well your suit fits and molds to your body. How your suit sits on you is a massive indicator of superiority.
Expensive Suits are Either Made-to-Measure or Bespoke
A bespoke suit is the ultimate in professional wear, with made-to-measure being the next best choice.
The difference between the two is that bespoke suits are one hundred percent made for you, built from the ground up.
They take time to make because they’re constructed specifically for your body and your exact measurements.
Bespoke also gives you total control over some of the finer detailing of the suit, ones that aren’t part of a typical offering on the mass market.
Because they aren’t mass-produced, you can customize more than just the size. Every detail, even the buttonholes, is made with more care and attention.
On the other hand, made-to-measure suits are mass-produced but are highly customizable since the stitching is left loose for reconstruction.
You can typically choose which fabric and color you want and select features off a menu of offerings. Many of these styling options aren’t found with off-the-rack suits.
Made-to-measure suits are cheap when we compare them to the more expensive and bespoke ones because they also require less time and attention to make.
Cheap Suits are Mass Produced and Off-the-Rack
Companies don’t produce cheap suits with you in mind. Instead, they are pre-constructed to fit a general population; their measurements are average sizes, not considering individual body types.
An off-the-rack suit won’t fit you perfectly. You’ll most likely need to have it tailored to get even close to a shape that flatters you.
A cheap, off-the-rack suit doesn’t stand out among expensive suits. Instead, it looks like most other suits because they were all made the same way for quick production.
When a suit is mass-produced, it doesn’t include any fine detail work; that would take too long.
In mass production, making everything exactly the same way saves time, so these suits only take a few hours to produce; they can pump one out after another.
Unfortunately, these suits are also more likely to fray at the seams because they aren’t reinforced well.
Differences in Suit’s Cut
The number one rule for any suit, whether expensive or cheap, is that fit is vital.
For a proper suit pants fit, examine the length of the legs. They should just brush the top of your shoes; a break at the ankle is acceptable for most suits.
Your waistband should sit comfortably above your hips without squeezing too tightly or falling lower.
And get a good look at the seat of your trousers; it should smoothly cover your backside without hanging down or pulling at the fabric.
Your suit jacket should be the right length, either cheap or expensive. Its sleeve should fall slightly below your wrist, with the jacket hem ending mid-crotch level.
If your suit jacket’s shoulder seams lie precisely at the end of your shoulder bone, it’s a good fit.
The Expensive Suit is Made to Fit Your Body
An expensive suit that’s high quality is also highly tailored. It will be the most flattering cut for you and your specific body type.
The suit trousers and jacket will taper at the right points on your body and expand where needed. The exact measurements are needed before constructing the suit.
For example, if your chest is more muscular, finding a suit jacket that can comfortably accommodate your proportions may be challenging.
Therefore, it’s most likely worth spending the extra money to get a suit designed for your unique body measurements.
An expensive, custom-made suit is also likely to fit your shoulders better than a cheap one, produced with generic measurements.
So whether your shoulders are sloped or broad, your expensive suit will have the proper cut to comfortably accommodate and accentuate them.
The Cheap Suit is Cut Designed to Fit the Majority of Men
Companies that mass produce suits assume that all men’s bodies are more or less the same, some larger or smaller than others.
Unfortunately, they don’t take proportions into consideration.
A cheap suit may offer a slim or modern cut version as well as the traditional cut, but these aren’t any better.
Their classic fits are usually boxy, and the slim fit suits are typically slim all over, making them too constricting in some areas!
A good quality suit will include some tapering in certain areas but not in spots that don’t need it.
Cheap suits are often cut in a super trendy style. This may be great for a year or two, but that style will very quickly fade, so you won’t be able to wear this suit long-term.
The other extreme for cheap suits is that they have an old-fashioned, boxy cut that doesn’t flatter anybody.
The Construction of the Suit
How your suit is put together determines its lasting ability; aside from fabric, the anatomy is another critical component of a suit’s quality.
There are many ways to construct a suit, including the interlining and the suit pieces.
The interlining of a suit is as essential as the outer pieces; it gives the suit its shape and prevents it from simply hanging off the body.
Without an interlining, you’re risking wearing a floppy suit.
Expensive Suits are Hand-Stitched and Canvassed
A suit with canvassing has a stiff interlining sewn in between layers of fabric and the suit lining.
A canvassed suit is the highest quality and is an expensive process. It takes longer to produce a canvassed suit and requires skill.
A suit can either be fully or half canvassed. Of course, a full canvassed suit costs more money than one that isn’t.
However, a half-canvassed suit is an excellent way to give you quality for less money.
A canvassed jacket ensures that the interlining moves with your entire suit, the same way you move.
This cooperation of movement helps to preserve the integrity of the suit. It also allows your suit eventually mold to your body’s shape, ensuring it looks even more perfect on you.
Canvassed suits are hand-stitched. It’s a testament to the time and care that each suit requires as it’s made.
Cheap Suits are Machine-Sewed and Usually Have Fused Lining
Machine sewing isn’t necessarily bad, but it moves the suit’s creation along much more quickly. This means that the suits are constructed very fast and with little oversight.
One sacrifice cheap suits make is exchanging the sewn-in canvassing for a fused lining. This may be a more rapid way to produce a suit, but it can ultimately cause big problems.
This is because fused linings aren’t hand-sewn as canvassing. In fact, they aren’t even sewn at all; instead, a fused interlining is glued in place.
Glue isn’t durable. It can lose its hold, fall apart, or become unglued and cause the suit to bubble after dry cleaning. These bubbles can be noticed from the outside of the suit, a dead giveaway of its low quality.
But perhaps the most significant problem comes with movement. The glued interlining taxes the interior lining and the suit fabric.
Add that to the fact that the materials are low quality, and you wind up with rapid wear and tear.
Suit Brand Reputation
Where you purchase your suits isn’t the most crucial indicator of quality, but there is a certain limit to what some stores may offer.
Therefore, knowing where you can go for brands with the best reputation is helpful.
First, though, you need to learn what those brands are. Get to know some of the brand names in suits and which ones have the best reputation.
Expensive Doesn’t Always Mean High-Quality
Don’t just buy a suit because it has a name brand with a high price tag.
Instead, find out which ones have the reputation to back up that hefty price tag. Just like researching a new car before investing in one, the same should go for a suit.
The suits with the best reputations are the ones with proven track records.
These suits are known for their high-quality fabrics and materials. The best name brands will last the longest.
The Cheap Suit Usually Has No Reputable Brand Name
Remember that just because a suit brand is known does not make it high-quality.
Be sure to always research and check reviews on brand names; some companies get their names out there through mass marketing, but that doesn’t say anything about their quality.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some good cheap suit brands that most men should consider.
But if a suit doesn’t have a brand name, it stands very little chance of being a good quality suit.
After all, people would be talking about and promoting these suits if they were any good. Instead, the silence around them speaks volumes.
Why It’s Better to Pick an Expensive Suit Over a Cheap One
Because an expensive suit is more likely to have a high-quality fabric and some canvassing, it will surely last longer than a cheap one.
A durable suit is going to be money well-invested, and you get the best return on that investment.
Suits constructed with greater care and better materials look better.
For example, you make a better impression on others because your suit won’t have that cheap sheen that comes with low-quality fabrics.
You will also feel better, both physically more comfortable, but also more confident. It’s hard to deny the feel of a great suit.
How to Identify an Expensive and High-Quality Suit
Take a look at several identifying features to determine if your suit belongs to the cheap or expensive suits.
If your suit has canvas interlining, natural fabric, and is made-to-measure or bespoke, you can be pretty sure it’s of good quality.
One of the best ways to quickly figure it out is to look for hand stitching. Check under the collar to closely examine its stitches.
A machine will leave zig-zag-shaped stitches. Hand stitches are usually tiny and uneven.
Keep in mind that a lot of money doesn’t always indicate quality, but a suit that costs very little can’t offer much in the way of quality.
Hi, I’m Alex, and I’ve studied and specialized in styling in Rome. Through my writing, I want to help men dress well and learn the purpose and significance of suits and other formal attire. My final goal is to make men more confident in their wardrobe choice and life in general.