What Is A 'Good Suit'?

What is a good suit?

Hello friends. I’ve written a few takes on dating etc. But this is something I’m quite passionate about. This might be targeted towards a slightly older population on GAG. How a man can learn to dress well.

About me: I’m that guy should never really stood out in school, never really got any girls until my 20s. I’m a late bloomer and the same with my clothing and sense of style. I’ve gone through a transformation in terms my personal style for the last 6-7 or so years. As always I’ve gone to the extreme, I’ve consulted with experienced fashion designers, I’ve interned at tailoring shops and recently I’ve started my own clothing blog and currently in the process of starting my own clothing label (as a hobby). Now, you guys don’t have to go to these extremes because I’m here to give you my advice and experience of what I’ve picked up over the last 6-7 years on this fascinating journey.

I’m going to try to be brief as possible and write what is essentially a crash course on men’s suiting.

Disclaimer: What I’m going to say is opinion as always.

Step One. Educate yourself:

  • First thing you want to do is learn. You don’t want to go a buy a whole bunch of expensive clothes as you’re personal style will evolve A LOT when you first begin this process.
  • This is the most boring aspect, but I cannot stress how important this step is if you want to truly understanding clothes.
  • You want to start at the HIGH END clothing to establish a reference point. Understand what makes a $3000 suit worth that money, and then work your way down.
  • There are a few basic principles of clothing you need to understand: Quality, Fit, Style (in terms of importance in my opinion). Once you understand these 3 components, then you pick something in your price range which best accommodates the 3 components.

Understand quality:

  • 90% of the value of any item of clothing comes from – cloth (fabric/materials), workmanship (labour, stitching, handwork etc), branding, misc (shipping, store rent, salesman salaries etc)
  • In terms of cloth value for suiting: Cashmere > Cashmere blends > Pure Wool > Wool blends > Polyester blends. There other ‘exotic’ cloths which I won’t mention as these are the main ones.
  • In terms of workmanship the main things to differentiate are: is this machine made or hand made? For a suit, is the front chest piece canvassed, half-canvassed or fused construction? Is the canvassing attached by hand or machine? Is there pick-stitching? Are the buttonholes machine or handmade? Are the buttons attached by hand? How are the vents constructed? How is the collar constructed? Are the pockets set by hand? Ironing Etc. I won’t go into exactly how to do this here, if you’re interested though comment below and I’ll explain.

Why is this suit so expensive?

  • Often one would wonder why a suit would cost $3000 and what differentiates this from a cheap $300 suit? The answer is in the above. Good quality cloth can cost hundreds of dollars per metre (at wholesale price), a top quality suit is mostly handmade (as opposed to machine) and can involve up to 40 hours of labour for one suit! When you consider the average man requires ~2.5m of fabric for a full suit, factor in 40 hours of a labour (1 week salary) – you can appreciate why a top quality suit can easily cost $3000-4000+.
  • Not all expensive suits are the same. Some brands you ARE paying for the brand, the reason is because a lot of the top designer brands are actually manufactured by other clothing brands and therefore you are paying a cost for the manufacturing (middleman essentially) plus the cost of the designer and the profits they need to make. For example, Tom Ford men’s suits are actually made by Zegna Couture (top line of Ermengildo Zegna). Another example, is Ralph Lauren Purple Label (top line of Ralph Lauren) men is either actually made by Italian companies such as Caruso or Cornelliani. So when you buy a Ralph Lauren Purple suit for $5000, you are essentially buying Caruso/Cornelliani’s cloths and workmanship (which accounts for the majority of the value of a suit) PLUS their Ralph Lauren’s own branding, staffing, shipping and profits they need to turn over.
  • This is not always a hard and fast rule, but generally speaking the popular brands are NOT worth the money due to the reasons above. Brands such as, but not limited to: Gucci, Prada, Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren etc etc

What is fit?

  • Many people confuse style and fit. Just because a suit is slim fitting or it ‘hugs your body’ doesn’t mean it fits well. And just because a suit is “baggy” doesn’t mean it’s ill-fitting.
  • There are 2 components to fit. 1. Personal 2. Technical
  • For (1). There is no right or wrong answer. It’s what you like. Some people prefer a slim fit, others prefer more space. There is no right or wrong when it comes to your personal preference on how you’d want your clothes to fit.
  • For (2). There IS a right or wrong answer. When you speak to a tailor, they will tell you how clothing should fit is INCREDIBLY technical. And therefore I won’t go into details here but I’ll demonstrate through two examples below
  • First picture is a good fit. The shoulders are perfect, the lapels sit flat yet there is a reasonable amount of dimension, there is adequate waist suppression and shaping and most importantly it is clean throughout. There is no pulling of the cloth at all. The style might not be for you, but its a good technical fit.
  • 2nd picture. I know it’s on a manikin but just pretend a guy wearing this. This is something a lot of newer people will THINK is a good fit because it is ‘slim fit’ but in fact its not. The most glaring issue is the way the fabric pulls around the front button. What this indicates is the front and side panels are too small around the waist, but in order to create a ‘slim fit’ they’ve overcompensated by excessive waist suppression. There is also a lack of overall shape around the suit and looks really ‘flat’.
  • 3rd picture. I did this on purpose for comparison with picture 2. Although both on a manikin, see how picture 3 fits much cleaner? Also note how the lapels and body have way more shape and dimension? This is due to a superior construction underneath (full canvasses, a good underlying pattern and extensive iron work as opposed to a simple fused suit).

Pic 1. Example of a good technical fit:

Pic 2. Example of a poor technical fit:

Pic 3. Example on a Manekin:

Now what to do?

  • Now you know what makes a suit/item of clothing good. Now you know what a good fit looks like.
  • Now you can go to a cheaper store and become much more discerning. Now you know what you’re looking for. Of course you wouldn’t expect the same level of quality in a cheaper store but now you know what to look out for.

General advice:

  • Continue to read and research. Your style will continue to evolve, especially in the first few years.
  • Buy less when you’re starting out as you don’t know what it is you will really like
  • Invest in fewer good quality pieces rather than lots of cheap items of clothing

Got questions? Ask me.


Most Helpful Girl

  • I swear this post made me fall in love with you lol
    I love a man that can understand how a well tailor suit can make or break them, also to know the type of fabric, color, texture, season and pairings that go with it is extremely important. I find it sad that man now a days don't care much to wear a suit. Yet its a piece a clothing that makes you guys look extremely handsome


Most Helpful Guy

  • Good take but it's too much material to read off my phone so I will save it for later.

    Key points:
    A. Natural: Silk, wool, cotton and cashmere
    B. Rayon, polyester, ...
    -Canvas - Triple canvas
    -Brand tiers
    A. Tier 1: Kiton, Brioni, Oxxford
    B. Tier 2: Tom Ford, Giorgio Armani Black Label
    C. Tier 3: Zegna Couture, RL Purple Label
    D. Tier 4: Designer brands DG, YSL, Brooks Brothers, Prada, Gucci


Join the discussion

What Girls Said 1

What Guys Said 6

  • Thanks man. But a $3000 suit - branding = $400 suit.

    • Not true.

      Handmade vs machine made

    • Show All
    • Sometimes it's worth watching. I don't follow suit pricing as much, but i know, for example, brooks brothers shoes are made by a couple UK makers. It's possible to figure out which. I'd say the BB shoes have something like a 20% markup. However BB also has 40% off sales twice a year, where the actual makers pretty much never have sales.

      I suspect the same is true with some suit makers... I suspect Cornelliani suits don't go on sale nearly as deep as PRL purple do. So there -can- be value there.

    • @kheserthorpe - exactly. They make a lot of profit even after the sale. Luxury brands don't put that much sale while an average high profile brand will put 40% off every year.

  • I like this take because a) you obviously worked hard to gain real expertise, and b) you made an effort to present it in an interesting, structured, well-layouted and, most importantly, accessible manner.

  • Seriously, if your going to buy your first suit DON'T get a black one. Black is for weddings (some), funerals, super formal gathering (i. e. meeting the Pres.).

    I recommend you get a navy blue suit (the classic gentleman's suit) or a gray suit (because its badass) as your first. Unless you are a professor that is, but if you are you have already obtained your odd tweed sport coats on your own.

    Ohh and you have chalk on the bottom of your sleeve...

  • In what order would you recommend getting the different colors (black, navy blue and gray)? I'm a student that mostly need a suit for formal gatherings such as graduation parties but also for some more relaxed occasions. Also would it be beneficial to only get the blazer for some colors and wear them with jeans/chinos to save money?

    • I would go with either navy or gray. Black is probably the least versatile color out of the three.

    • Show All
    • Well, generally speaking you get what you pay for. Any tailored suit online is a 'made to measure' suit, they take into account measurements that you punch in and then a pattern is 'adapted' from those measurements, therefore isn't a true custom (or bespoke) suit - where the tailor will create a custom pattern based on your measurements. The quality again varies depending on the company, but like I said, you generally get what you pay for.

      In my opinion, if you have a reasonable body shape I would go with an off the rack suit (plus some adjustments) where you'll get a better fit. However, if you've got a very hard to fit physique (i. e. if you are really short/tall, bodybuilder etc) and if you have a knowledgeable friend to take your measurements then you can try an online tailor.

    • Gotcha! Thanks again, you have been very helpful!

  • Nice take dude
    I am wondering if tailored suites last less than those premade?

    • That depends. Not all tailored suits are made the same, as with not all premades (off the racks) are the same. In general though, if the suit was made by a decent tailor it shouldn't last any less than your standard 'off the rack' suit.

  • Nice take ;)