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How to tell an expensive suit from a cheap one

Is it the fabric, the construction or the cut? The answer is: It’s everything and more! A careful combination of them all makes for a truly great suit. Alexandra Wood, award winning Savile Row tailor discusses...

Alexandra Wood bespoke tailoring for men explains how to tell a cheap suit from an expensive one


The fabric has to be high quality or it lets the entire suit down. But how can you tell?

Most expensive suits should be made from at least a pure wool. If you want quality, never choose polyester mixes.

Ideally you’re looking for anything above a Super 100s wool. This means the fabric is smoother and has less thread count per meter, making it super soft and luxurious to touch and feel. A super 140s wool, or anything above this number is beautiful but simply impractical for most regular occasions.

How can you tell a nice fabric? It should be soft and supple, with some bounce. A cheap fabric will feel almost squeaky to the touch and feel a little rough and can’t create the shape an expensive fabric can.

Think Glossy. Sheen not shine!

How to tell a cheap suit from an expensive one Alexandra Wood tailoring

Cut and fit

Too tight or too baggy makes for an ugly suit. A suit should gently hug the body, so that it enhances your assets.

For me, there is a perfect equation for a suit. These are some of my main points:

•The shoulder line should fall at a near perfect right angle, so that the armhole seam is hugging the end of your shoulder.

•There should be a light curve into the waistline, that defines your shape. The jacket should skim the bottom of your bottom. This allows a flattering cut, rather than a short jacket which cuts you off at exactly the wrong spot.

•Tapered trousers, not super slim or skinny!

(I have an endless list, but this will get you going...)

How do you tell a cheap suit from an expensive one Alexandra Wood bespoke


Buttons. Dull, plastic buttons are a real no no. They should be natural horn buttons, with a little gloss. This really makes a suit look classy and give it the finishing touch it needs. For super sharp, opt for a button with a slight contrast. (Think tortoise shell for example).

How to tell a cheap suit from an expensive one personal styling for men

The construction

There’s no doubt about it. There’s cheap canvas and there’s quality canvas and this is what gives a suit its oomph. When it’s cheap, the suit is limp and lifeless. When it’s quality, it’s got shape and life.

A classy suit will mould to your body. This is particularly the case with a bespoke suit, which has a canvas made from natural fibres, such as horse hair.

On a cheap suit, the canvas will likely be glued, making the overall suit look very stiff.

So, what is a canvas? The canvas is situated in the chest area of the suit jacket, in between the outer fabric and the lining and gives the suit its elegant shape (or not)

These days you have multiple choices of construction from completely unstructured, half canvas to a full canvas and they all have different results. So what is important is that A-you’re choosing the right construction for you and your body shape and B- all of the other boxes are well and truly ticked.

How to tell a cheap suit from an expensive one Alexandra Wood suits

Say no to Gimmicks

For me, I don’t particularly like contrast button holes, or garish buttons. It makes a suit look cheap. Keep it timeless and classic and you’ll win every time.

Alexandra offers both made to measure and ready to wear suits for Men. Using cut, style and colour to truly enhance your best features. She can be found at

Thanks so much to Alexandra Wood for enlightening us as to what makes the difference between an expensive suit and a cheap one.

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