How suits are made – and how to spot quality

You don't have to spend a fortune to get a high quality suit

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a high quality suit
Image source: Pop Paul-Catalin

There’s a right way to make a good quality suit, and that’s the way we make them! Here at Samuel Windsor, our 100% wool men’s suits combine the best of traditional and modern techniques to bring you quality tailoring at affordable prices. Let’s take a look at how we go about keeping you smart.

What is half canvas construction?

Samuel Windsor suits use canvas to interline and give structure to a jacket - like a skeleton

Canvas is used to interline and give structure to a jacket – like a skeleton
Image source: Navy pinstripe suit from Samuel Windsor

The canvas involved in traditional tailoring refers to the material that sits between the inner and outer layers of your suit jacket. Typically, this canvas extends from the shoulder to midway down the breast of the jacket, lending the garment body and weight to help it drape without wrinkling, in a way that flatters your form.

Traditional canvas is made from a mixture of cotton and horsehair, but no animals are harmed in the making of a Samuel Windsor jacket. Instead, ours feature a fused double layer of canvas and felt which is heat-taped to the fabric, drawing the tapered waist into shape.

Lapels

Samuel Windsor suits are made with beautifully edged lapels

A beautifully edged lapel
Image source: Samuel Windsor

The nasty way to make lapels is to use ‘interfacing’ to bond the inner and outer fabrics before sandwiching the whole thing together and creating a sharp crease. Lapels made this way pucker if they get wet.

Our lapels feature a marginally smaller underside which puts the outer face under slight tension, creating a natural “roll” which we enhance through the use of a special lapel press. We then finish the lapel by “blocking” it – using a vacuum machine to fix the shape of the lapel over a block of wood.

All our suit jacket lapels are beautifully edged – prick stitched with quality silk thread to give them a finish reminiscent of the hand-tailored garments of yesteryear.

Vents

Double vented suit jackets are favoured by the British

Double vented suit jackets are favoured by the British
Image source: Shutterstock

The vent is the slit or slits up the back of your suit jacket. Originally, they were there to make it more comfortable for army officers on horseback to charge the enemy without their jackets bunching up.

These days the style of vent is a matter of personal preference. Quintessentially British, Samuel Windsor suits generally feature the double vent. A single vent represents the American take on things, and jackets without a vent come courtesy of the Italians who love a sleek silhouette.

In terms of its ability to flatter your form, the single vent arguably hides a broader bottom better than double vents. That said, a double vent is the more graceful style overall, and for ease of movement and comfort when seated, it’s the clear winner.

Pockets

This British style suit jacket features a flap pocket

This British style suit jacket features a flap pocket
Image source: Shutterstock

Do you like your suit pockets patched, flapped, or jetted? The original blazer pocket was of the patch variety – the pocket being made of a piece of fabric stitched to the outside of the garment. It’s a traditional look and one that’s quite charming in a casual environment – it’s the sort of look you might wear under a duffle coat.

Jetted pockets are at the opposite end of the spectrum. Sleek slits in your jacket face, the pocket hangs on the inside of the garment where it sits hidden under the lining. It’s the sort of look that’s entirely in keeping with the sophistication of a black tie soiree; you’ll often find jetted pockets adorning dinner suits.

A happy medium, flap pockets are welted pockets placing the business end of the pocket on the inside of the jacket, under the lining, with a natty flap covering the entrance on the outside. This look is perfect for your everyday office suit and smarter lounge suits. Pockets stitched shut? Leave them like that and you’ll be less tempted to ruin them by using them.

Cuffs and shoulders

British design favours four working buttons on the sleeve

British design favours four working buttons on the sleeve
Image source: INSAGO

How much structure do you like in your jacket? Typically, the more formal suit is the one with some structure in the shoulder – that’s the British style, and the one you’ll find on a Samuel Windsor suit. It gives your shoulders definition but stops short of the sharply boxy Italian aesthetic which, though elegant, lacks the traditional feel of UK formal wear.

Similarly, the two button front fastening is a British construct, allowing the jacket to complement the male physique while maximising freedom of movement. American suits tend to feature three buttons, but whichever style you go for, always leave the bottom button unfastened.

An American suit jacket is squarer in cut with unstructured shoulders – it’s sometimes called a ‘sack’ cut and the armholes are cut larger than ours, too. Where the British suit harks back to the military, the American version was more cost effective to manufacture and less fussy to fit.

A feature of poor quality tailoring is cuffs that don’t work. A quality garment has ‘surgeon’ cuffs – four button working cuffs. Wear your Samuel Windsor jacket correctly by, again, leaving the bottom button undone.

Affordable menswear needn’t be cheap – know your tailoring cues and shop around for traditional design, quality fabrics, and a manufacturing process which refuses to cut corners.

Posted in Men's Suits.

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