Quality counts: How to recognise a high-quality suit
“Those who buy cheap, buy twice” as the saying goes. You should take this especially to heart when it comes to buying a suit. Because you won’t get much enjoyment out of a cheap suit. A quality suit, on the other hand, fits well, is comfortable to wear and is durable. Get good advice when buying. Or read our quality guide. We will show you in 4 steps how to recognize a high-quality suit.
Step 1: Choose the right fit!
The best fabric will not work if the suit does not fit perfectly. The initial focus of the consultation should be to find the right model for you. That does not mean your suit should fit “off the peg”. On the contrary: in most cases, a tailor adjusts details before you can wear your quality suit for the first time.
Then you’ll find out: there is nothing nicer than a well-fitting outfit: the material hugs your body without constricting you. Even when moving, the collar fits perfectly, the lapel does not wrinkle. An experienced look will tell you that the fit on the shoulder is just right: not too long, but not too short either. The overall picture of jacket length, number of buttons, waist width and sleeve length is just right. For more detailed information, please read the “Fit Guide for Suits” by CG – CLUB of GENTS.
Step 2: Rely on natural fibres!
While you can adhere to clear rules when it comes to fit, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to fabrics. It is worth taking a closer look here. The fabric is not only decisive for your appearance. It is also crucial with respect to whether you will start sweating easily or not. Whether the suit creases quickly or forms lint. Whether you enjoy the outfit for a long time, or whether it looks worn rather quickly.
Dedicate your first look to the fabric composition. You can recognise a quality suit by the fine yarn made of natural fibres. Unlike exclusively synthetic fabrics, natural fibres allow breathability and prevent you from starting to perspire quickly while preventing the suit from developing an unpleasant odour.
Among the natural fibres, wool fabrics made from new wool can be found less frequently in suits unlike merino wool, cotton, linen, cashmere and silk. In addition, there are blends of different materials.
New Wool and the S number
One of the most popular and proven raw materials for suit top fabrics is new wool. It convinces thanks to numerous advantages: Its fibres are durable, crease-resistant, dimensionally stable and adapt to the shape of the body. It is breathable and can be worn well at both warmer and cooler temperatures.
There are differences in the processing of new wool fibres, especially as regards the fineness of the yarn. These differences are indicated in expert circles with the “super number” and are printed on the labels of suits made by well-known manufacturers. In short you will find terms like 120s or 150s. The super number describes the cross-section of the yarn. The higher the S number, the finer the yarn used. Under a microscope, this could be documented via the thread diameter. That means that if you tell yourself: “I will choose the higher S number to get the lightest suit,” you’re right! Note, however: The function varies with different fabric qualities. A suit with Super 150s or more is ideal for warmer days due to its lightness, but creases more easily due to the fine texture of the fabric and wears faster. With Super 110 to 130, you are exactly right for everyday use.
Modern suits contain fibre blends which turn the top fabric into a highly functional fabric. Portions of synthetic fibres can complement and support the properties of natural fibres and above all make the suit durable and suitable for everyday use.
The Carl Gross Performance Suit, for example, consists mainly of proven natural material with 65% new wool. A further 25% polyester, 8% polyamide, 2% elastane content and the special micro-particle treatment make the suit a highly functional garment. The synthetic fibres polyester and polyamide ensure lightness, dimensional stability, crease resistance and durability. Elastane provides good stretchability, as it can be stretched to three times its original length and still return to its original shape.
Step 3: The inner material of the suit
While the top fabric of the suit is visible proof of its quality, the inner material usually remains concealed. However, it is just as important for the appearance and wearing comfort. By inner material, we mean the lining material which rests directly on the skin, and the interlinings which are processed between top fabric and lining material.
The lining of the suit rests directly on the skin and should therefore, like the top fabric, preferably consist of natural fibres. This may be viscose, for example – a fibre which is produced synthetically but which is obtained from cellulose, i.e. natural fibres. The advantages of this material are good wearing properties, robustness and air permeability. If you don’t want to make any compromises, you can rely on a silk lining. It is robust, light, comfortable, warm in winter and cool in summer.
“Inlays” are completely invisible, and yet indispensable for appearance and quality. These are layers of fabrics which are applied to the back of the top fabric in certain areas, for example in the front area of the jacket or in the lapel, below the lining. They give the suit its perfect shape. The inlay must be adapted to the type of top fabric, the yarn used and the weaving density in order to ultimately guarantee a flawless appearance. When worn, the fabric ideally hugs the body without creases.
In the least expensive variant, fabric inlays of cotton or linen are glued to the top fabric by applying heat before the cut parts are assembled. This provides shape, strength and stability, but often also has a stiffening effect.
More sophisticated processing methods do not glue the inlays in whole or in part. The inlays are sewn in either completely (full canvas) or partially (half canvas) with a special stitch to provide bounce, mobility, breathability, fit and durability of the suit. The “full canvas version” offers the highest level of comfort. This is the mode in which the inlay is continuously fixed to the back of the top fabric by an elastic stitch. In this case, cotton or linen are replaced by a better quality: the most traditional and highest quality material for this type of inlay is horsehair. The natural material offers noticeably ideal elasticity, breathability and durability.
Step 4: The finish must be perfect
You will recognize a high-quality suit as soon as you try it on: The interplay of cut and materials used feels perfect. The fabric rests comfortably on the skin. You can move well and do not feel constricted. No creases or blisters occur in action. If, before purchasing, you grasp into the fabric and press, the material will quickly return to its original shape without leaving any creases. The suit is comfortable and functional.
We will also tell you what to look out for as regards finish. For you can recognize top class by taking a close look – for example at the seams. A high-quality suit has relatively shorter stitch lengths than its less costly competitors. This provides stability and durability. If the seam is worked carefully, it is straight and even. Seam ends can be recognized by few, neatly overlapping backstitches from which no thread ends protrude. The easiest way to check the seams is to look at the suit trousers.
If the suit has a pattern, look at the shoulder area: There, the pattern should run over the seam without breaking. Even without a pattern, it is worth taking a closer look at the transition between shoulder and sleeve. This demanding seam area should have a clean silhouette without waves or dents. The sleeve should fall straight without creasing or twisting.
Buttons and buttonholes
Quality differences are also clearly visible as regards the buttons and buttonholes. A well-finished buttonhole has a uniform seam pattern. A perfectly inserted button has a “handle”. This means that the button – in the best case made of natural material – does not rest directly on the fabric but has a handle wrapped in yarn according to the thickness of the jacket. This provides the button with noticeable stability and ensures that the fabric is not jammed in the button area when the jacket is closed, but has ideal room to move.
Numerous small details can still emphasize a “sartorial finish”, workmanship based on traditional tailoring: a hand-stitched edge on the lapel, buttoned-through sleeve slits, a decorative button, patch pockets and so on.
Ultimately, it is the interplay of the big picture – fit and raw materials – and many small details which distinguish a high-quality suit from an inexpensive one.
Carefully selected, adjusted and processed, the manufacture of a quality suit takes a lot of time. The price is higher due to the high-quality material and the considerably increased finishing complexity. “A worthwhile investment,” everybody will confirm who was once allowed to wear a quality suit. In addition to obvious advantages, incomparable wearing comfort is the most important argument for your choice.