Suits come in many different qualities and price ranges, yet many men believe a suit is a suit. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and it’s like saying a car is a car, no matter whether it is a Tata from India or a Bugatti.
Therefore, in today’s guide, we discuss the differences between a $100 suit and a $1000 suit and we share secrets, so you get the best suit for your money.
Watch the video to better understand the differences between suits qualities and don’t forget to give us a thumbs up if you like it.
Buying Suits On A Budget – I Have Been There
In my wardrobe, I have suits that cost over $5000 new and some that just cost $5. Over time, I’ve seen the entire broadband of suit manufacturing and so I want to share with you what goes into it and what you need to know.
When I became interested in suits, I didn’t have much money and a $100 was a lot and so I had to make things go far. The suit I’m wearing today cost me only $80 but in fact, it’s from A Caraceni in Milan, one of the most renowned tailors in Italy and the world. New, the suit cost over $5000 but I just got it for $80 and if in this guide I will provide tips so you can do the same.
Key Differences Between a $100 Suit & a $1000 Suit
- You can find it at Jos. A. Bank, H&M, Men’s Wearhouse, they’re all pretty similar. Basically, it is a completely machine-made suit that is sewn together in 2-3 hours max, and there is no handwork whatsoever. When it comes to suits, hand sewing is better because it is more flexible and it adapts to your body more easily and so especially for a jacket, you always want more handwork.
- Made of very cheap fabric and cheap lining. The fabric of a $100 suit is usually stretched with polyester, with nylon, or other artificial fibers. Also, the raw materials may be cotton or wool that go into that fabric are of the lowest quality possible. The $100 suit may not look that different when you see pictures online, but as soon as you touch it, you can immediately tell the difference between a $100 suit and a $1000 suit. It simply is stiffer, less comfortable, and you’re more prone to sweating in it.
- Glued interlining. So, what exactly is interlining and why do you use it? When you start out with fabric, you have a two-dimensional surface, in order to keep it in a three-dimensional shape, you need a second layer, and the layer needs to be attached in a certain shape, so it stays like this, think about this of your chest, and this being the fabric, and this the interlining, Once they’re detached, they stay in shape.
For the $100 suit, this interlining is of very low quality and is glued to the fabric, that works in the beginning, but it also acts as an insulator, so you’re much more likely to overheat and sweat. Over time and maybe if you walk through the rain, this interlining will come lose, and you will see bubbles forming on your lapels all over your jacket, that looks cheap and sloppy, and it’s the hallmark of a $100 suit.
- Lack of attention to details. For example, on a $100 suit the buttonholes are first sewn and then cut not the other way around that means you see some fraying. Also, the trimmings are usually low-quality, the buttons are plastic, the lining is polyester, and everything is made to remain low on the cost side, but it also means low on the quality. Usually, you also don’t see any refined cuts, you don’t see fine pick stitching by hand, it’s all either non-existent or machine-made.
- The cut of a $100 suit can, in theory, be as good as the on of a $1000 suit or a more expensive suit but in practice, that’s rarely the case. More often than not, $100 suits are either very fashion-forward, with very skinny lapels, and you can only wear them a year max, before they go out of fashion, or they’re simply old-fashioned and the cut is boxy and bulky and simply not favorable. In order to create a suit from a piece of fabric, you need a pattern. For a $100 suit, this pattern is the same for everyone without any custom element and so it will never fit you perfectly. That aside, the $100 suit patterns are often not very refined.
- Inferior Pattern. In order to tailor a suit, one needs a pattern. On a $100 suit, this pattern is the same for everyone, there’s no custom element, and so it will never fit you perfectly. That aside, the $100 suit patterns are often not very refined. Let’s say they go for a slim suit or a slim silhouette, they make everything slim, even your sleeves and then you can’t move when you want to do something, you can’t wave for a cab, simply because it wasn’t thought through and it’s too tight.
- Deep-cut armhole that restricts your movement. Most $100 suits have deep cut armholes that restrict your movement. In recent years, it has changed a little bit, sometimes they have adopted more modern cuts, and they try to go with details such as working buttonholes, but in reality, they still use cheap buttonholes, and it still looks cheap. So, at the end of the day, a $100 suit looks cheap, and it feels cheap when you wear it. If you think about it more, it makes perfect sense: the retailer has to make some money, the sewer has to make some money, and the factory owner who employs a sewer wants to make money. At the end of the day, there’s not much room left to add anything of quality.
A $100 Suit Sucks
The consequence of a $100 suit is that the person who sews the garment earns very little and sometimes has to do it under dangerous conditions, so my verdict for a new $100 suit is, it’s never worth its money because it’s below average on day one and just goes downhill afterward.
Are You On A Budget? Go Vintage!
Now, if that’s the maximum budget that you have and I used to have that budget, what I suggest you do is you go vintage. Buy used suits simply because you can buy a much higher retail price suit for a lower price, so you get a better quality, and you can look great and feel great without breaking the bank.
You can find complete suits for 10 or 20 dollars that have hardly ever been worn or sometimes completely unworn but have a high-quality, and you can score a huge bargain there. However, not all suits at second-hand stores or vintage stores are of quality, you can also find cheap suits so how do you distinguish between a cheap used suit and a quality vintage suit?
If you want to learn more about that, please sign up to our email list here and you will learn more about this specific stuff over time. We also discuss how to build a wardrobe, how to determine quality from crap and everything you wanted to know about suits, garments, and wardrobes.
Quality Hallmarks of a $1000 Suit
No matter what suit you buy, you always need to understand the quality and the quality hallmarks. You need to be able to identify a $1000 suit in a thrift store.
- Quality can be hugely different for suits that cost $1,000. On the one hand, you can have an Armani fashion brand for a thousand dollars which has more machine workmanship and fashion-forward styling than a suit that is made by a custom tailor in HongKong. The time that goes into a thousand dollar suit can range from 8 hours to 30 hours so that’s obviously a huge difference and you will also be able to feel that.
- Generally, a $1,000 suit shows some amount of handwork. Sometimes, these suits have decorative elements like hand-sewn buttonholes that look nice, they use a silk thread that is shiny or a cotton thread, they may have machine-made buttonholes, but it looks nice. They may have an interlining that is sewn in hand or a collar which makes it softer and fit better and make you look better. Generally, big brands like Canali, or Armani, or Dolce & Gabanna, have less handwork but a refined style and pattern that you can use. On the other hands, suits from Asia may have more handwork because the labor is less expensive but the styling can sometimes be a little old-fashioned and not classic and boxy.
- Better Quality Fabric. At the $1,000 price level, you can get a decent quality cloth that lasts, is soft and comfortable on your skin and drapes well on your body. Compared to a $100 this is a huge improvement.
- The biggest advantage of a $1,000 suit: Interlining & Construction. Where the $100 suit has a glued interlining, the $1000 suit has a half canvas or full canvas interlining. So, what does that mean?
A half canvas is sewn to the fabric, and it’s usually made of materials such as horsehair or cotton or wool and that way, it’s more breathable, so you don’t overheat. As a consequence, you’re less likely to sweat, and it moves with you on your body, so it’s more comfortable. To save on cost, this form of interlining is only used on the upper part of your body such as your chest and it’s glued at the bottom part of your jacket.
Full canvas means that the interlining is sewn throughout your jacket, and it’s the best version you can get. At a thousand dollar price point, usually, these canvases are made by machine and not by hand. Even though hand sewing will be better but it’s very time-intensive and for a thousand dollars, you have to make some trade-offs.
$1,000 Will Not Buy You The Best Of Everything
Overall, a $1,000 suit will not give you the best of everything, you either can get something with more handwork that is a little more comfortable and lasts longer or maybe something that is more machine made with a more refined cut but you have to compromise on the fabric.
How To Quickly Identify A Quality Suit? Check the Collar
No matter if you spend a hundred dollars or a thousand dollars, this little secret will help you save a lot of money and to get quality suits.
When I walk into a store and look at suits, the first thing I do is to unfold the collar and look at the stitching.
If it is machine-sewn with a zig-zag stitch, I move on especially at a vintage store. If it’s hand-sewn, I take the jacket off and take a closer look. I do this because a hand-sewn collar indicates a very high quality and if the collar is handsewn, it is very likely that you have a sewn full canvas interlining, and fine details.
How can you tell if the collar is machine sewn or not?
A machine sewn collar has very regular zig zag stitches or in general consistent stitching. On the other hand, a hand-sewn collar has irregular stitchting. Take a look at the picture below and you can see very fine stitching, but it doesn’t have to be that way. However you can always see slight irregularities. It will take a bit of time to practice. Ideally, you start looking at machine made jackets, then you know what they look like. And then you look at one that is hand-sewn. Eventually you will be able to tell which one is which with 100% accuracy.
If I go into a vintage store with 300 suits, there are probably only going to be 3-5 suits that are hand-sewn. Using this method, I can quickly go through the entire store and look at the ones in my size and determine if it’s worth staying there or not. If the collar is hand-sewn, chances are, it’s a high-quality garment, and it deserves a second look, and you can use the hallmarks I described in this guide to identify if you should buy it or not.
This little trick can save you a lot of time and $$$.
Conclusion: Know What Makes A Quality Suit
High-quality suits are often just a little more expensive than well-known, used brands or even cheaper suits that are more modern simply because the price range is very limited in those stores. So even if you buy a new suit, you can utilize that same method to look at the existing quality when somebody wants to sell them something.
Now that you know the key differences between a $100 and a $1000 suit, also check out our detailed guide about $500 vs. $5000 suits.