A good suit can make you feel ready to take on the world – but what separates an average suit from the perfect ensemble?
Aside from the price tag, there are some subtle differences you should look out for when deciding which end of the quality spectrum your desired suit falls into. It’s all in the detail.
With some help from Savile Row tailors Gieves & Hawkes , we’ve pulled together a few top tips so the next time you go in search of your perfect suit in Chester city centre – whether it’s for a job interview, a wedding or any other formal occasion – you’ll know exactly what to look for.
A good suit should be breathable, keeping the body at an even temperature and not trapping heat. Suits are made in a range of materials but some are better choices than others depending on your own style and preferences.
Polyester is synthetic so that retains heat and wrinkles easily. Silk has a luxurious shine and can look beautiful but that doesn’t appeal to everyone. Cashmere is a staple favourite but placed in a very high price bracket, while cotton and linen are great materials for summer. The most versatile out of the bunch, however, is 100% wool and it’s ideal for all year round use.
If you’re looking for a quality suit, then plastic buttons are a no-go. Quality suits often don Corozzo buttons, which are actually crafted from grounded nuts, ma
king each one unique and distinctive and far stronger than plastic.
Working button holes on suit sleeves are often a good indicator of a better quality suit. One thing worth looking out for is how the button hole has been sewn. If it’s perfectly shaped, it’s probably been machine stitched, and if it’s not, it’s more than likely been hand-sewn. The latter is often considered better, based on the fact that more time and attention has been invested in it.
There’s also some debate about whether a keyhole button is better than a straight cut button hole, but we’ll leave that one for another day.
3.A CANVASSED BODY
The very best suits available are fully canvassed which means their innards are stitched in place. This is an expensive method but it means the suit will mould to its owner’s body. Suits with a less expensive price tag are usually fused – meaning the suit is essentially glued together and is therefore slightly more rigid.
When it comes to testing whether the suit has been canvassed or fused, “the pinch test” is a useful way of finding out.
To carry out the pinch test, firstly check how thick the material is somewhere on the suit where fusing would not apply – usually the sleeves. Give the material a pinch to feel how the material feels between your fingers at its thinnest. Next, do the same around the central button of the suit. If the material is obviously stiffer than the sleeve, then chances are it is fused. Pinch further and look for a separate lining inside – if you can’t feel it, that’s another sign it could be fused. Make sure to do this in a couple of areas, as it may be a half-canvassed jacket.
4.THE JACKET STYLE
The style of jacket you go for is an essential choice in the quest for the perfect suit. A quality tailor can help you pick the right one for your size and shape – and for a specific occasion – but it’s a good idea to walk in the door armed with at least a little tailoring savvy.
The vast majority of suit jackets are single-breasted and usually come with two or three buttons. The three-button style carries a certain decorum but on the wrong body type it can also be unflattering. The two-button style on the other hand is much more adaptable, creating a more pronounced ‘V’ shape that allows you to show off a tasteful shirt and tie combination.
Normally a little more formal than a single-breasted jacket, the double-breasted suit jacket has undergone something of a transformation in recent seasons and now comes in slimmer, more fitted cuts. It’s distinctive because of the additional buttons on the outside edge of the jacket breast and you won’t need a waistcoat with this style.
Also make sure you look closely at your jacket’s lapel style, because when it comes to these, size really does matter. The golden rule is to try and find a suit where the lapels match your frame (think skinny lapels with slimmer frames for example). There are also three styles to think about:
Notch – features a cutaway effect between the bottom of the collar and the top of the lapel creating a “notch”. It’s the most common of the three lapel styles because of its versatility and is most often seen on single-breasted suits.
Peaked – traditionally the most formal of lapels, this style is defined by edges that point upwards towards the shoulder. These work best with double-breasted suits.
Shawl – this style of lapel has a continuous curve with no break, and the jacket will often be made of satin. You’ll usually find this lapel on dinner jackets and tuxedos.
5.AN EXPERT’S VIEW
With a flagship store at No 1 Savile Row and a history stretching back over 245 years, Gieves and Hawkes know a thing or two about men’s style. The firm’s Chester branch on St Michaels Row has been trading for over 50 years and current Store Manager, Simon Ball, has amassed many years of experience in the world of men’s tailoring.
“A good suit is a rite of passage for men the world over,” says Simon. “The construction of a great tailored suit is key. It is the beautiful fabric of the suit and the workings beneath the fabric that gives a suit true quality and style. Then there are the small but important things that are the mark of a man who knows how to wear a suit – the correct sleeve length on the jacket, a beautiful knot on the silk tie, the lowest button on the jacket never fastened, and the all-important shoes. All of these clues show those who have style and those who do not.”
So there you have it, some top tips to help you avoid a fashion faux pas when it comes to your next suit purchase.
There are some fantastic off-the rack suits available in Chester city centre with a wide range of stores stocking different styles, colours and cuts that are great additions to any man’s wardrobe. But a quality tailored suit is a real investment piece and if you go with something that has timeless appeal, you’ll have a suit that will age like a fine wine and remain sharp year after year!
Browse the directory of retailers the next time you’re on the look out for a new suit in Chester.