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  • Ray Peck -Godfather Tailor

How to spot a good suit v a bad suit!

We all know that in today's throw away society it is simple to walk into a store and find a suit for very little money, in some cases you can pay as little as £75 for a two piece suit!

So you may ask yourself "Why would I pay hundreds of pounds for a suit when I can buy one for such a little amount? Surely there can't be that much difference, they look and feel the same right?

Well, as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for, and never is this more true than in your choice of suit.

I will try to point out the differences for you so that the next time you are considering a suit purchase for a special occasion, interview or for work you will be able to make an educated choice.

Firstly, I'm not trying to disregard the cheaper options because I do understand that there is a market for them and sometimes it is the only option open to people. I am simply giving you the facts so that you know what you are buying.

1. Fabric

When you buy a suit off the peg at the lower end of the price bracket you van be fairly certain that the fabric or cloth that it is made from will be made from man made or synthetic fibres or at least a high percentage of it will be man made.

The most common synthetic fibre found in suit fabrics is Polyester. Polyester is an artificial molecule created by chemical reactions. It is spun into thread while heated, allowing the shape of the thread to be changed by changing the aperture on the spinneret. Different shapes create different textures and allow for the creation of different weaves.

Polyester is incredibly hard wearing and modern techniques have improved the performance of it making it more absorbent and less static than it used to be.

The problem with Polyester is that it is still fairly high in static build up and is still relatively nonabsorbent compared to natural fibres which means that when you perspire the sweat has nowhere to go and remains trapped between your skin and the fabric which inevitably leads to body odour and discomfort.

Gaps in the structure of the polyester fiber sometimes fill with dirt, which allows odor-emitting bacteria to grow.

One of the biggest issues people have with suits is unwanted creasing and retention of the necessary creases on the trousers etc.

One of the qualities of Polyester is its ability to retain permanent creases so your trousers always keep that sharp crease. However, unfortunately all those unwanted creases behind the knees and at the front of the elbows and around the groin area also remain permanently which sort of defeats the object. You then have to press it to get rid of the unwanted creases and this can cause another problem. Polyester is extremely prone to shining if pressed with too much heat and in extreme cases can melt.

With a natural fibre like wool, if hung correctly for 24 hours the majority of those unwanted creases will fall out leaving a suit which looks as good as new for the next time you wear it and reducing the amount of pressing needed.

The different weaves and weights of wool fabrics will also give virtually unlimited options of durability and performance. For example in the winter you can opt for a heavyweight worsted which will be both warm and hard wearing and will last a long time if looked after correctly whilst for the summer you may go for a high twist lightweight fabric which will be cool to wear yet retains it wearing ability due to the tight twist weave, making it the perfect hard wearing lightweight suit.

For summer weight suits and jackets you can choose cotton or linen which are also natural fibres which are extremely comfortable to wear, highly efficient at sweat absorption and relatively easy to care for. However you should be aware that cotton and linen will crease excessively during wear and this is a characteristic of the fabric, giving a crumpled, relaxed appearance and therefore is recommended for casual wear instead of office wear where a sharp smart appearance is vital.

Cotton and linen are perfect for hot climates and holidays and tend to come in lighter natural colours like stone, sand, cream, ivory and light blue.

#GodfatherTailoring and most reputable tailors only use natural fabrics like wool and cotton to make their suits, jackets and trousers as this is the best option to give comfort, durability and presentation.

2. Canvas and Fusing

This is the area where the main difference is found in regards to quality and performance.

between the lining and the outer fabric you will find the vital parts of the inner construction which give your suit support and the ability to move with you, hang correctly and retain shape. It is a bit like the skeleton of your suit and therefore it is vital that it is of high quality and strong.

Traditional tailoring meant that all suits were given a canvas interlining made from horse hair, these days it may be blended with cotton.

A canvassed suit usually have a full or half canvass, meaning that either the canvas runs the full length of the jacket from the padded shoulder and into the lapels which are pad stitched to give a firmer lapel with a neat lapel roll or the half canvassed option which has the canvas run half way down the length of the jacket from the padded shoulder and also into the lapels. This gives a robust and well-shaped shoulder structure - a very important part of a well-fitting jacket - and also ensures the jacket tapers elegantly towards the waist.

Because it requires considerably less work than Full Canvas, Half Canvas is a cheaper and more popular option while still providing structure. It will feel more robust, comfortable, and will be fit better than a suit without canvas or 'fused', but is also lighter and less structured than a Full Canvas.

When you buy a suit off the peg you will almost certainly be buying a suit that has no canvassing and instead uses a 'fused' interlining, also known as fusing.

Fusing is a mixture of different materials which are fused or 'laminated' together via a heat treatment process. This stiffens the cloth slightly, and is cheaper, quicker and easier to produce than canvas, but does not really provide the same properties as true canvas - therefore, on a good quality suit, the less fused material and more canvas the better.

If you have ever sent a suit to the dry cleaners and it has come back with bubbling of the lapel or the front of the jacket this is because the cloth has separated from the fusing (delamination) due to the heat of the cleaning process, in effect it has melted and separated.

Modern techniques have greatly improved and therefore the bubbling issue is much less than it used to be, nevertheless in my opinion fusing is still nowhere near as good as canvassing and still fails to give the drape and fit that canvassing does.

#GodfatherTailoring and many other reputable tailors use the half canvas method as standard as it gives the structured look and feel and offers the perfect drape. The full canvas option is available for those that want that added structured feel as an upgrade.

3 Construction

When you buy your suit at the cheapest end of the market like the budget stores you may think you are getting a bargain at £75 and as you only intend to wear it once or twice a year for weddings, funerals and the odd special occasion it makes sense to go for the cheapest option.

This may be true if you are intending to stay the exact same size for the forthcoming future but what happens if you gain a few pounds?

The way these budget suits are manufactured is by using cheap labour and by using the least amount of fabric as possible, hence reducing costs. Therefore, you will find that all of the seams have virtually no overlay or additional fabric so any chance of getting an alteration tailor to let your suit out at the waist are virtually you have to buy another suit!

The more expensive options, even off the peg, usually have a fair amount of additional fabric at the seams, allowing alterations and the ability to let out trouser waists by up to an inch or two.

4 Fit

This is the key area where having a high quality personally tailored suit comes into its own when compared to a cheaper option off the peg garment.

When you buy a suit off the peg you are buying a garment based on a standard shape and size using formulas to work out waist and chest size, sleeve and trouser lengths etc. and there is no way to accommodate body shape.

A little like finger prints, no two people have the exact same shape. We all have things like round shoulders, square shoulders, tummys, flat backsides and full backsides, long necks and short necks...the list is endless.

Your off the peg suit is made for the perfect symmetrical shaped person with a six inch difference between chest and waist size (wouldn't it be great if we were all like this?),

So you buy your suit but it is too long in the sleeves and legs, the jacket fits on the shoulders but is too big on the waist and the trousers are fine on the waist and seat but too wide and full on the legs..... now what? A trip to the alteration tailor is going to cost you a small fortune and at the end it still won't fit perfectly.

This is where having a personally tailored suit comes into its own and why you pay more.

A personally tailored suit from #GodfatherTailoring or other reputable tailor is made for your exact measurements and precise body shape, taking into account any deviations from the perfect body shape and is cut to fit you exactly. You also get a choice of fabric weight, weave and design along with a host of choices of style and trim details so you can add your own personality to your suit.

You get to choose your fabric with your tailor's help and then choose your lining and then you build your suit to your personal design. You might want slanting pockets, coloured cuff button holes, working cuff buttons, a contrast velvet collar, side adjusters instead of belt loops, a monogram of your initials in the lining, a choice of jacket vents and a multitude of other options.

Not only that but with #GodfatherTailoring you get to do this in the comfort of your own home, office, club or hotel by appointment so you never have to drag yourself around the shops looking at their relatively small selection of suits which probably won't give you all the options that you want and certainly won't fit as well.

So when considering your next suit purchase try to remember all of these points and make an informed decision. You might still opt for the budget priced suit but remember... you will get exactly what you pay for.

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