Men’s Fashion – How to Choose a Quality Suit Part One

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 81,147
    Men’s fashion expert Matt Landsberg discusses how to choose a quality suit.

    Matt Landsberg

    Matt Landsberg

    Starting out in structured finance and asset-backed securities, Mattrealized the money isn’t always greener working for someone else. He decided to make a180-degree turn, leave securities(and security) and start Eric Finn Custom Clothiers. Working with and learning from master tailors, Matthas built a successful custom clothing company, catering to the needs of numerous executives, politicians, attorneys, and professional athletes (and anyone else that appreciates perfect fitting clothes). Matt offers BBG some insight on the benefits of making a good impression.

    Hi, my name is Matt Landsberg with Eric Finn Custom Clothiers, we're talking about how to purchase a suit, and how to make a suit fit well. In this particular segment we're going to talk about what makes a quality suit. People frequently ask me what's the difference in price between a off-the-rack suit that's $200, and a higher end suit that can be upwards of $2000 or $3000. First thing to consider on a suit is the fabric, that's obviously the first thing you see, and really has a lot to do with how a suit performs. Fabrics are rated, and a lot of people have heard about super ratings. Well, they start out as a super, you can just have 100% wool and super 100s, up to super 220s or super 250s. What that means is how thin the individual strand of wool is measured in microns. So, for example, a super 100 is going to be about 18.5 microns, whereas a super 200 or 220 will be around 13 microns. Just a frame of reference, a human hair is around 60 microns, so you can get an idea how thin that is. Now, why does that matter? The thinner that piece of wool is basically the more luxurious the fabric is going to finish and feel, so it has got a just an overall more luxurious finish. It also has a bit more sheen to it, and has a tendency to perform better. However, I have got a lot of people that come to me and say well, Matt, do you have a super 200? I say well, is there any particular reason you want a super 200? In my opinion marketing plays a big role in the higher super numbers. Once you get above about super 150, the difference between a super 150 and a super 200 is pretty irrelevant. In some cases I have seen a higher quality fabric as a super 100 from a top quality brand, versus a super 200 of a lesser known fabric. As most people know fabrics and cloth can be bought all over the world, but this is one time where I really believe in the brands of the fabric. Purchasing a fabric that is from a reputable mill is really worthwhile versus getting something that maybe made in a place that's not quite as well-known for their milling abilities. So, one might be a super 200 and the other one might be a super 100 or super 150, but it's going to perform ultimately better than that super 200. Other things to consider with the suit is the chest piece. The chest piece is made of canvas, and it's an important aspect to know that the canvas has been preshrunk. When you put a suit to the dry cleaner or any real hot environment, or hot and steamy environment, if the canvas piece within the chest that gives the suit a lot of it's shape, if that hasn't been preshrunk, then it's going to shrink when you put in the dry cleaner, you're going to have all kinds of issues, and the fabric is going to pucker, and that's something that happens, that will really shorten the life of the suit. You can't go and ask your local retailer if the canvas has been preshrunk, this is one of those things, and probably one of the few times, where you can usually depend on the brand to know whether it has been preshrunk. Everybody should preshrink the canvas, but you can't guarantee it, but those with more to lose, particularly those with the higher end brands, know that it's a good idea to preshrink and otherwise you're going to be unhappy with that suit after a year or two.

    The other thing about the inside of the suit, something you can't see, is whether or not it's fused or it's a hand-sewn interfacing. When it's fused, that's basically glue, just pressing the canvas piece up right against the cloth. There is a way you can tell if a suit's been fused. One of the ways, you can just reach, for example, right above the suit's pocket, and if you can feel the fabric independent of anything else, if it feels pretty thin, it's just fabric, you know it's not fused. When it is fused, you've got a little bit thicker canvas and fabric together in there. The downside again with something being fused is when it goes to the dry cleaner, and that glue can shift over a period of time when it gets hot and moist, it will slide and that again causes puckering or basically kind of buckling within the suit, and it looks poorly made, and something that you don't want to have in your suit. When ideal you want a hand-sewn interfacing, this of course costs more, as there is more handwork in the suit, but it's something to consider.