SG on Suiting: What You Need to Know about the Construction of a Suit Jacket
There are a lot of things I don’t know about guys’ style. Yes, still. And while I usually turn to Google with the questions I don’t want you guys to know I don’t know, sometimes I have the benefit of being able to turn to uber-knowledgeable friends for a style primer.
Recently, I asked my pal Jon of FoSG (that’s “Friend of Style Girlfriend”) Evolution of Style for a breakdown on suit jacket construction, and he went to town. Let’s learn together shall we?! Take it away, Jon:
Probably the most misunderstood aspect of buying a suit for a consumer is the construction.
Why does one suit cost $200 vs another that is $2000. Part of that price is fabric quality and is easy to pick out just by feeling it and having a basic understanding of the fabric grade, which I covered in this post.
The more difficult and important part to buying a suit is the actual construction. A lot of you have probably heard about a full canvased, half canvas, and fused suits, but what does that really mean and what are you paying for?
A full canvas suit is how suits were made in the past, with a horsehair canvas underneath the wool shell of the suit. As you can see from the image above, the canvas runs from the shoulder to the end of the jacket. Over time as you wear the suit the canvas forms to your body, which creates a more uniform and free moving fit. When you buy a bespoke suit with this the fit even better over time even as your body may change.
The main reason you don’t see this type of work on all suits is cost. The amount of detailed stitch work that is required to sew the canvas to the shell is extensive and takes a lot of skill. These suits are only assigned to master tailors that have had years to perfect the skill. As you can see from the image above there are multiple parts that all must come together in harmony to create a great suit. Overall, a full canvas jacket should be an investment piece that you plan to wear for a long time. Stay away from trendy patterns, and stick with the classics. Tailors working in made to measure or bespoke will recommend this option, as the quality and construction will last you for a lifetime if cared for properly.
The next level down, quality-wise, is the half canvased suit. It gives the structural benefit of a full canvas but cuts down on the cost to you usually by around $200. The construction allows the suit to drape naturally over your chest without seeming stiff which is what happens with a fused suit. At Evolution of Style, I typically recommend a half canvas suit to my clients because you get the quality workmanship of a head tailor, but it won’t break your bank account. These jackets also last longer and you avoid any bubbling issues that come up over time with fused jackets as the glue breaks down.
Even if you don’t know it, you’re probably most familiar with fused jackets. That’s because this is what you typically find with an off the rack suit. What this means is that a fusable lining is glued to the shell of the suit. This does a good job of keeping the cost down, but the jacket will appear stiff and will not adjust to your body over time. Fusing methods and materials have improved greatly over time, but the glue will still break down with wear and dry cleaning. One way to offset the fused look is to go with heavier weight wool, such as a tweed or an English wool. These heavier wools will drape better over your body and give more of a structured look. For a primer in wool types, read this.
…A big thanks to Jon for dropping some suiting knowledge. I know I learned a lot.
Do you know the type of suit jackets hanging in your closet?
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