Spotting The Cheap: Part 1
There is a huge difference between high-end and low-end clothing. There are MANY factors in how these items are produced, that make it fall into one of those specific categories. Since there are so many, I'll touch on them in a couple posts to not overwhelm both of us on the amount of content.
Think of a house, we all know the neighborhoods in our community that have those builders that cheapen EVERYTHING on their homes- and within five years the house starts falling apart one section at a time. I rented in one of those neighborhoods once, after a rainstorm I went outside and looked at the neighbors house where the chimney fell off the house...how the hell does that happen!? Well, it's the same with clothing. Fabric, threading, lining, buttons, etc etc etc- they all have qualities...high and low.
Lets first talk about the "fit." There are some easy ways to spot cheap suits, but also keep in mind that everyone who produces cheap suits will try to make it look nicer than it is- maybe they were able to produce an OK looking shoulder, or maybe a nice lapel- but they weren't able to fix the other three dozen problems. Below are some of the main areas in craftsmanship that will help you spot the cheap ones.
1. Too Much Padding:
Shoulders on suits/sportcoats should be softer. A cheap suit has a lot of padding and even a rope that runs through the sleeve head (where the sleeve and shoulder meet). It is much harder and more time consuming to produce a jacket with minimal shoulder padding. A couple problems happen when the shoulder is structured this way;
The shoulder sticks out, and when you raise your arms the whole suit comes up. Below you can see it sticking up and out, not contouring the shoulder. Think of a cardigan, the way it forms to your body, this is how you want your suit to adapt. Padding and roping gives no chance for success.
As you see with Obama, the whole top of the jacket is moving together when his arm is up. This is because of the padding, roping, and fusing making the jacket form to itself, not the person who is wearing it.
2. Armhole Too Low:
You can also see this problem with Obama's, the armpit of the jacket is HUGE. Typically when jackets are sold off the rack, they need to fit the masses. Lowering the armhole is an easy trick to pull where most people don't know about it, and it definitely won't be tight on them. This also aids to the jacket raising up as you raise your arm. It's known as the "American" fit, unfortunately we have that named after us. Make sure your armhole is fairly high, this also lengthens your torso and helps with shaping the "V" that we all strive to have.
3. Collar Roll:
When I was working at a high end menswear shop, it seemed like 75% of people that tried on suits had some sort of collar roll- don't feel bad about yourself if you have one. But, it can be altered to an extent. The collar roll could be just a slight pinch in the back of the neck, which isn't horrible- but when it starts to show from the front, choose a different suit.
4. Lapel Roll:
This is one of the easier ones for the bad tailors to reproduce, so if you see this- it's the worst of the worst! A lapel should roll all the way down to the top button, it creates dimension to the jacket. The lapel also shouldn't be creased with an iron- it should be a natural gradual fold. If it IS a sharp crease all the way down, it was ironed so the glue in the lapel would adhere to the fabric (also something you don't won't).
5. Chest Pop
Nice suits have a floating chest canvas in it, forming to your chest so the lapels don't pop out. If the suit is fused and glued together, chances are the lapels will pop. If you are just standing there, the lapel should be nice a flush against your chest, but note - if you really pull your shoulders back or put your arms around some people, it will pop out. So judge it standing natural with your arms at your side.
6. Sleeve Binding
A sleeve should be nice and sleek, the fabric shouldn't be all tangled and folded- like the rest of the suit, you're going for clean lines.
This is the biggest thing to look for on trousers, it will be hanging way too low. "But I need a lot of room there" yeah yeah- heard that one a few too many times. The rise of the pant should be high up, like the armholes. This will elongate your legs which makes you seem taller, this also helps shape the seat and gets rid of the diaper butt.
Part 2- The Details