How to Tell a Cheap Suit From an Expensive Suit

Identifying a cheap suit may require a close examination.

Identifying a cheap suit may require a close examination.

A suit may be the biggest investment in your wardrobe. You may wear one every day or only on special occasions, but either way you want to look your best. You can find bargain suits at warehouses and discount stores, but you don’t want to look like you paid a bargain price. In 2011, the "Wall Street Journal" enlisted two suit experts to examine suits across the price-scale range. They found some cheap suits provided quality similar to the $1,000-plus models. A close examination of a suit will show you the details that will help you tell a cheap suit from an expensive one.


Sub-standard fabric is the first and most obvious clue that you have a cheap suit. The best suit fabrics are made of fine wool from Italy. Suits made from polyester or wool blends won’t hold their shape or wear as well over time. If the suit is made of 100 percent Italian wool, check the weave. Expensive suits are made with finely woven wool with a high thread count. Look at the lining next. Linings may be polyester, rayon or viscose. Bermberg rayon is favored by the makers of expensive suits because it wears well and has a soft feel or “hand.” If you see and feel shiny, slippery polyester lining, you have a cheap suit.


Expensive suits have extra lining material at the cuffs, inseam and waistband. They also have wide seams to accommodate additional tailoring. Cheap suits stint on these details. Non-working buttonholes on pockets and pants are another tip-off you’ve got a cheap suit. Sure, the buttonholes are mainly for show anyway, but tailors of expensive suits finish the buttonholes.


Expensive suits last longer because of the way they’re constructed and finished. Cheap suits lack this type of finishing. For example, expensive suits have extra stitching at the edges of pockets to prevent stretching and tearing. A cheap suit may show fraying at the seams, or raw edges of fabric that aren’t finished. Machine stitching on cheaper suits may appear uneven; the most expensive suits are evenly hand-stitched.


Even if you buy it off the rack, a high-quality model should simply fit your body better than a cheap, boxy suit. Cheap suits may gap at the neck or pull across the chest. The "Wall Street Journal" experts recommended looking for a suit that fits well in the shoulders, then get a tailor to fit it to your body for a custom-made look.


About the Author

Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University.

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