Difference Between a $500 and $1,000 Suit

The last thing a successful banker, lawyer or corporate executive wants to do is to look ignorant. And a key part of that lies in attention to detail and knowledge of the finer things in life.

Despite that, a growing number of Singaporean men find it hard to tell the difference between a $500 suit and a $1,000 one. Is it really possible to tell if someone is wearing a cheap suit just by looks alone?

Taken from www.articlesofstyle.com, the following shows model Townsend in his BEST FIT suit from H&M (after alteration!) versus a Michael Andrews bespoke suit. Overall, which looks smarter? You decide for yourself.


Do note the H&M suit was the BEST FIT one that’s already been altered to fit even better. Does that remind you of how you look in a suit?

If you’re a banker, lawyer or senior corporate professional, we sincerely suggest you fix this before your next major meeting.

If you’re just starting out, we strongly advice you get just 1-2 superb suits over multiple cheap and ill-fitting suits.

The thing is, you can walk into Zara, Hugo Boss or even 99% of tailors in Singapore and you’d get the same result. The question is, why?

The Fit

The most important element of a suit, or any garment for that matter, is how well it fits your body.

The biggest fundamental difference between these two price points: on the higher end you can afford to have the suit custom made for your body, versus choosing the “closest” fit off-the-rack.

As you can see in the photo above, there are a number of noticeable fit compromises with Towni’s $200 suit even after having it altered:

  • The shoulder slopes are not adjusted for Townsend, causing a collar roll across the upper back/neck that’s so bad we can see it from the front (see the wrinkle at the top of Towni’s right shoulder, above where the lapels meet the collar).
  • The shoulders are too wide, causing that unsightly pad “cliff-dimple” (see his right shoulder).
  • The front chest is too big (notice the bulging extra fabric at right chest, where the body meets the bottom of the armhole)
  • Slight pulling at bottom of sleeves where they connect to the body of the jacket (see bottom of armhole on Towni’s left sleeve)
  • The trousers fit fairly well overall (although common problem areas are not visible: crotch, waistband, pockets…)

The Fabric

Fast-fashion retailers like H&M (Zara, Topman, etc) cut costs by ordering cheap synthetic fabrics in major bulk quantities. In this particular case, the suit is 85% polyester/15% viscose. The major downsides of this kind of man-made cloth (other than obvious look and feel) are breathability, shape retention, and reactions to cleaning and pressing agents.

For the bespoke suit, Townsend hand-picked a premium wool flannel/cashmere fabric designed and spun by Ariston in Naples Italy. It’s among the top 1% of the most luxurious fabrics in the world. Ariston also produces all of their cloth in limited quantity, which means Townsend here is one of only a handful of guys in the world to have this brown flannel glenplaid with overlayed burgundy windowpane.

Similarly, Graziaa bespoke suits use only the finest fabrics made of 100% wool or cashmere. We’re also the only tailor is Singapore recognized enough to be able to carry cloths from Ermenegildo Zegna, Scabal, Holland & Sherry, Dormeuil and Cerruti. See our fabric selection here.

The Tailoring

The $200 suit is machine made on an assembly line, where they pump out a couple hundred suits an hour. Ever been to your neighborhood tailor, or visited an express tailor at Far East Plaza? Despite their claims, 99% of tailors in Singapore do NOT do bespoke suits. Simply ask your tailor if your suit is going to be “fully canvassed”. All bespoke suits are.

The front body (chest, collar, stomach, shoulders) is “fused”, meaning it’s literally glued together using iron-on fabric adhesive. This quick-and-dirty manufacturing greatly limits the three-dimensional shape that the jacket can achieve and can eventually cause “bubbling” (like a poorly-administered window tint) after a few rounds of dry cleaning and pressing. Fused jackets have a dramatically shorter lifespan than canvased ones.

A quality bespoke suit is almost fully handmade with roughy 30 hours of hand labor by an experienced pattern cutter and master tailor. The front body is fully canvassed, meaning a skilled craftsman carefully cut, shaped and hand-set a custom piece of canvas/horse hair between the front plate, lapel facing and lining. This dramatically improves the lifespan of the jacket. It will break-in over time (like a good pair of shoes), eventually molding to the shape of the wearer’s body.

Final Word

Impressions matter. It will hurt a lot less if your $500 suit can look like a $1,000 suit. Unfortunately, as proven in the earlier photo, even a layman can tell the difference.

Up your suit game. Get a proper suit today. Contact us now.

5/5 - (2 votes)