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

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 46,445
    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.

    Another thing to consider is how the buttonholes are sewn, there is nothing more frustrating than having the buttonhole unravel. You can always depend on a quality buttonhole when it's hand sewn, versus machine sewn. The attention to detail from the people behind the machine making it correct is sometimes suspect. It's easier to tell a hand sewn button basically by feeling the thickness. If you compare a machine sewn buttonhole to a hand sewn buttonhole, it's usually a little bit thicker, there is more thread around the button. Another thing too is you can sometimes see the imperfection on a hand sewn buttonhole. What really counts is the front side, the back side is some of the detail, they're just making sure that everything is put together correctly, but again, the main thing is to make sure that it's a little bit thicker. There might be some imperfections on the back side, and when you can compare that to a machine sewn buttonhole, it makes a difference. The other minor details with suits is what to look for in the buttons. You can buy higher quality button, and usually the higher end suits are going to have higher quality buttons, such as horn, for example, versus plastic. As far as the buttons go, the top one here is a plastic button, and it's probably a little bit tough to see on camera, but if you compare that to these two, which are horn buttons, it makes a big difference as far as just a quality button, it really gives a more rich finish and appearance. So, again, this is something you're probably going to see on the more expensive suits, ranging probably $800 or more. The less expensive suits, your $200 to $300 suits, are most likely going to have plastic buttons. Another thing to consider is how the buttons are attached. Ideally you want them hand sewn on, and sometimes that's a little bit hard to tell, but you can look at it and see, typically if it's hand sewn, and also there is a bit of stem. So, if you have a stem in between the button and the fabric, that little space there, that's ideal, you don't want the button flush up against there, it's harder to button, and it doesn't work as well. Another thing to consider with a suit is the lining. Now, most suits off-the-rack have an acetate lining. These are more interesting lines sometimes, but the main difference is that it's less expensive for the manufacturer to use that, acetate costs less than a higher quality natural lining. This is an example of an acetate lining, but you can look at most suits off-the-rack and generally, at least for the medium to lower end suits, they will have the acetate lining. They can be plain black, it doesn't have to necessarily be a pattern. What you prefer to have is something that breathes well, that's a downside of the acetate is it doesn't breathe, it's heavier and it's hot. What you prefer to have is something that's a Bemberg, a Bemberg rayon is the ideal lining to use, it's a lighter weight, and it breathes well. So, the next thing you want to look for in a suit is -- and this is not -- you're going to not necessarily find this all the time off-the-rack, but it's a nice feature to have, is basically what we call a perspiration piece. So, if you do perspire while wearing the suit, it's going to go in this extra piece of fabric here, and not show through on the other side of the suit. Ultimately what this means is a less dry cleaning, which will give your suit longer life. Another fun kind of feature to have with a suit, and it's not necessarily of quality, but I mean you can get a fairly cheap suit off-the-rack with functional buttons, also known as surgeon sleeves. Historically meaning, when doctors, for example, were delivering babies or something, they would unbutton the buttons of the sleeve and roll it up. In this case you can see it has got functional buttons, where it buttons and unbuttons, again, hand sewn buttonholes. Lastly, we will talk about just a couple of things to look for in the suit trousers. You can ideally like to make sure that the seat and the crotch of the trousers are reinforced. Sometimes you look inside and see a piece that's added to the seat of the trouser or the rear end, and that's something that will help the suit wear longer. Usually the trousers are one of the first things to wear out. The other thing you want to keep in mind too is that the pants are lined. I will invert these, and you can see here that there is a lining in here, right over the knee. Now, it feels nice to have a lining, but really from the durability standpoint, when it's lined, you're going to have less wear on the knee of the fabric, which is again, one of those high stress points, and something that's good to have. I would say the majority of off-the-rack suits do have lining, but you want to probably stay away from those that don't. Then one other little detail that you may or may not find off-the-rack is just an extra what we call a heel guard, that's just an extra piece of fabric here that prevents the bottom of the suit trouser fraying against the back of the shoe. Next we're going to about how to take care of your suit garment.