Walking through David Jones last week, I found suits ranging from $200(clearance stock), to $1500; but the majority of these suits (the ones that I looked at, at least), lacked three simple things that should be present in every suit over $400. There are, of course, a great deal more than three things to look for in a good suit, but these are the absolute minimum that I would expect to find.
Working Boutonniere and Loops
The first thing that I look for is a working boutonniere, with loops to hold the flower stem.
Traditionally speaking, the boutonniere should be a straight cut hole (as opposed to the keyhole shape of the waist buttons), and should posses loops on the back of the lapel to hold a flower stem. The lapel also needs to be strong enough to support the weight of the flower, which ties into my next point.
Ideally, a suit should be fully canvassed. For the $350 – $600 range, I would expect the suit to be either half-canvassed, or, at the very least, have a canvassed chest piece . The Art of Manliness has a great series of articles of canvassed vs. fused suits, so go check it out; the short story is that canvas conforms to your body better over time, is sturdier, and lasts longer than the fusing, which is glued to the fabric, rather than stitched.
To find out whether the jacket is canvassed without opening the stitching, you use what is called the Pinch Test. Pinch the fabric of the sleeve to see how the fabric feels by itself, and compare it to the chest or lapel. If you can feel the top layer of fabric pinching over a stiffer layer, chances are pretty good that it is canvassed. If you pinch the fabric and it is stiff, but there is no movement, it is probably fused.
There should be absolutely no synthetic fibre in the wool, or whatever natural material the jacket is made from. I firmly believe that polyester was created some evil organization as part of a plot for total world domination; either way, it has no place in a decent suit (except the lining, but that’s a different issue).
These are just the first three things that I look for before even trying on the jacket, because at that price, it could be the best fitting suit that I will ever wear, but if it doesn’t have these basic quality checkpoints, it’s not worth it to me.