How to Buy Your Next Suit
The 10 Best Suits for Men Under $1,000
This guide to the best suits under $1,000 explores everything you need to know before you invest in your next suit, including construction methods, fabrics and customizable options.
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- Suitsupply Napoli Suit ($399)
- J.Crew Ludlow Suit ($650)
- J.Crew Ludlow Suit ($396)
- Suitsupply Napoli Suit ($399)
- Indochino Highbridge Suit ($499)
- Black Lapel Linen Blend Custom Suit ($499)
- Todd Synder Sutton Suit ($596)
- Hart Schaffner Marx Suit ($450)
- Proper Cloth Allen Suit ($895)
- Polo Ralph Lauren Wool Suit ($995)
- Brooks Brothers Regent Fit Tic 1818 Suit ($998)
- Wazin Made-to-Measure Suit ($1,000)
Suitsupply Napoli Suit
The Best Suit Under $500: Cut from Pure Wool Super 100s from Reda in Italy, SuitSupply’s Napoli suit features a half-canvas construction and a two-button closure. The two front flap-pockets, notch lapel and padded shoulder give this style a traditional air about it, but if you’re looking for a versatile suit cut from from quality fabric, it’s a solid option that will fit a range of body types. For a slimmer cut, check out the brand’s slightly more expensive Lazio fit.
J.Crew Ludlow Suit
The Best Suit Under $1,000: First introduced in 2008, J.Crew’s Ludlow suit is a timeless design fit for a range of occasions. This version is cut from lightweight wool that’s made in Connecticut by American Woolen Company, a respected mill that was once owned by Italian powerhouse Loro Piana. The jacket features a notch lapel, two-button closure, double vent and partial lining. It has a trim silhouette that is slimming without feeling overly trendy. Like many affordable options, it’s made overseas, but the fabric and fit set it apart from most competitors.
In the past few decades, the dress code for the American workplace has lurched in a decidedly casual direction. Many offices swear by ‘Business Casual’ and jobs that do require suits are limited to specialized professionals — like lawyers or accountants — or sales positions.
Of course, this laid-back trend in business-wear doesn’t signal the end of suiting; many occasions still warrant a well-tailored wardrobe. If your workplace doesn’t require a suit, it’s still a good idea to own a versatile fallback for nice dinners, weddings, conferences and job interviews. On the other hand, if your job does require a suit, it’s worth owning a few different options you can rotate through during the week.
Even a brief survey of men’s suiting can be overwhelming for the unprepared. Countless brands offer a bevy of variations padded with technical jargon and tailoring terms. While made-to-measure and bespoke suiting options cost thousands of dollars, you can find good-looking suits for less than $1,000. So, whether you are investing in a suit for the first time or just looking to round out your wardrobe, a calculated approach will, more often than not, yield in a better result.
First, narrow your price range into $500-and-under or $500-to-$1,000. There are major differences in quality and construction between the two categories, so it’s best to set your expectations before researching brands. While both of these categories exclude fully handmade construction, there are elements you can look for to ensure a quality suit. Look for options that utilize well-made fabrics. They should also have half-canvas or full-canvas interlinings. Suits with fused (glued) interlinings, while highly affordable, are rarely worth even a small investment.
Another element to consider is purchasing off-the-rack versus made-to-measure. If you decide to buy a stock suit, it would be well worth your money to invest in a few alterations to make the most of your investment. In the sub-$1,000 price range, a number of brands offer made-to-measure programs, altering a stock pattern to your specific measurements. While these suits boast a superior fit from the first wear, quality ranged from brand to brand. “If somebody wants to do [made-to-measure] they should go to a real tailor, not to a salesperson that just knows how to measure,” said Sam Wazin, a respected tailor in New York City. “A salesperson wants it to fit you — shoulders, sleeve length, waist and length in the pants — but a tailor thinks about the details.” Tailored suits sit at the upper end of the price range but offer the best fit and details for the money.
Before you start shopping, brush up on suiting terms, construction methods and fabric types. You’ll have a better idea what you’re paying for and won’t be as easily swayed by fancy marketing jargon. Do your own research and try to get hand on whenever possible. To save you time in your search for the ideal affordable suit, we compiled a list of the 10 best suits under $1,000 below.
Important Terms to Know
Back Vents: These slits are cut into the back of a suit jacket. Traditionally, you will find a single vent that sits on the middle seam of the jacket or a double vent — the two slits offer mobility on either side of the torso.
Bespoke: This is the most expensive type of suit because a new pattern is created for the individual customer. Small nuances in their body are accounted for, and as such, the fit is often the best.
Functional Button Holes: This refers to the buttons on jacket cuffs actually being usable, not simply decorative. As a cost-cutting measure, many manufacturers will sew buttons on a sleeve where buttonholes are not open. If you have a jacket like this, a tailor can alter it to be functional.
Hemline: The hemline of many suits is left unfinished and you need to have it tailored to your liking. First, you must decide if you want your trousers to have a slight break, a full break or no break. Trousers with no break stop around the ankle area (or higher) and don’t bunch up. Trousers with a slight break or medium break will hit the top of your shoes and slightly bunch on themselves. Trousers with a full break rest on top of your shoes and bunch up on themselves. If a trouser is unhemmed, you may also choose to have a cuff or no cuff (your choice here can compliment your suit jacket).
Lapels: The two flaps of fabric that sit beneath the collar of your suit jacket. They typically come in three different styles: notched, peak and shawl collar. A notched lapel has a triangular cut-out at the upper chest where the lapel meets the jacket collar. A peaked lapel is generally more formal. The lapel is wider than the jacket collar and forms a ‘peak’ where the two meet. Unlike the others, a shawl collar is typically only found on tuxedos and extends from the collar with no peak or notch.
Made to Measure: With this style of suit, a brand modifies its standard patterns to better suit the customer’s body. A customer’s measurements are sent to the manufacturer to produce the suit, and the result is much better fitting than ready-to-wear options.
Pockets: The pockets on a suit jacket come in a range of styles that fit different settings. A jet pocket is a simple pocket sewn into the suit lining with an unadorned slit opening — it is the most formal. In a similar style, a flap pocket just adds an extra flap of fabric that hangs over the pocket opening. A welt pocket, similar to a jet pocket, is finished with an extra piece of fabric around the opening which reinforces the pocket. The most casual pocket is the patch pocket, sewn onto the exterior of the jacket like a patch would be.
Ready to Wear This refers to an off-the-rack suit that is not adjusted to your body’s measurements.
Trouser Seat and Rise: The seat of a trouser typically refers to the width and the rise refers to the the distance between the crotch and the waistband. The rise dictates where your pants will sit between the waist and the hips.
Know Your Constructions
Fused: In order to produce more affordable suit jackets, brands sometimes glue a fusible interlining to the fabric of the suit. This is far less expensive than hand-stitching a canvas inside the jacket and does help to keep the jacket’s shape. Over time, though, the interlining can become unstuck, giving the jacket an appearance of bubbling or rippling. This jacket also won’t conform to your body over time like jackets with traditional horsehair canvases, and it is less flexible in day-to-day wear.
Half Canvas: In this style construction, a fusible interlining runs the length of the coat, but the material is stitched to a canvas that covers the chest and extends to the top of the pockets. This partial canvassing gives the jacket a more natural shape that helps it age.
Full Canvas: The full-canvas construction relies on a canvas that runs the entire length of the jacket. The fabric is stitched directly to the canvas and the jacket will move with you as you wear it. It will also age more gracefully than fused or half canvas styles because canvas distributes tension at stress points like the shoulders and chest, and allows the suit to breathe.
Unconstructed or Unstructured: As the name implies, this jacket has no interlining. It is the most casual type of construction. It is not designed to hang like a traditional suit jacket and the outer fabric conforms to your body and drapes naturally.
Fabrics to Look For
Weight: Consider the setting and time of year you will wear a particular suit when considering fabric weight. Lightweight fabric, between seven and nine ounces per square yard, are typically worn in warm climates and summer weather. Mid-weight fabric, normally around 11 to 12 ounces, is good for the majority of the year in a range of climates. Heavyweight fabrics, though rare at 14 to 19 ounces, are made for colder climates and winter wear.
Wool: Wool is the most common suiting fabric because it is breathable, versatile and wrinkle-free. It can be blended with a range of other fibers including cashmere, silk, cotton and linen to produce different textures. Worsted wool, made from fibers that have been combed to ensure uniformity in the spinning process, are also common in suits. Labels like Super 100s, 140s, 160s or 180s denote the number of times the worsted wool has been twisted when it’s made. Generally, the higher the number, the lighter and smoother the cloth.
Cotton: Another popular fabric for suiting, cotton is breathable but wrinkles and creases more easily than wool. These fabrics are great for more casual settings and are appropriate for unconstructed jackets.
Linen: Lightweight and breathable, this fabric is great for tropical temperatures. Like cotton, linen wrinkles easily, so it is best utilized in a casual setting.
Cashmere: Incredibly soft and very breathable, cashmere is a luxury fabric when used on its own. Many brands incorporate cashmere into blends to soften the feel while not inflating the price tag.
Silk: Silk is naturally breathable, temperature regulating and durable. While not often used on its own, it adds a soft touch along with the aforementioned qualities when applied to a blend.
Polyester: This synthetic fiber is inexpensive and used in a variety of suits with low prices. It doesn’t breathe well and wrinkles more easily than wool. Many brands try to split the difference and use a wool-poly blend to incorporate some of the benefits of wool into an inexpensive fabric.
The Best Suits Under $500
Just because a suit is affordable doesn’t mean it has to look or feel cheap. In the sub-$500 price tier, you can find jackets with half-canvas constructions and fabrics from reputable mills in Italy. However, the construction is mainly done in China to keep the price low, but you still have access to made-to-measure programs at the upper end of the price-range.
J.Crew Ludlow Suit
2008 was a watershed year for J.Crew, thanks in large part to the introduction of its infamous Ludlow Suit. Premium fabrics, brow-raising details and a at a solid price point catapulted the suit into a must-have and its still true today. While the slim-fit version is synonymous with the Ludlow, we dig this unstructured classic-fit alternative which allows the suit some room for tailoring.
Suitsupply Napoli Suit
When it comes to contemporary suits with solid construction at an even more impressive price point, Suitsupply’s one of the first names to come up. Its Napoli Suit comes in a variety of fabrics and this one, super 110s navy wool woven by an Italian mill that’s been in business since 1968, is a perfect four-season option. The jacket features half-canvas construction with a lightly padded shoulder, a notch lapel, two-button closure and flap pockets. The trousers feature a flat front, zip-fly and hook and bar closure.
Indochino Highbridge Fineline Suit
Featuring a half-canvas construction, this suit is made with a midweight Super 150s wool fabric (that’s 1/5 the size of a human hair). With Indochino’s array of customization options, you can have this suit your way and fine-tune details from the lining to the number of vents to half-canvas or unstructured constructions and more. Though Indochino’s range of fabrics is extensive, this one features fine vertical stripes, setting it apart from the more flat fabrics.
Black Lapel Linen Blend Custom Suit
This dark-blue suit is cut from a summer-ready wool-linen blend. Like Indochino, Black Lapel allows customers to customize their suit and get a made-to-measure style for under $500. Choose from one-button, two-button and three-button closures. Pick between notch and peak lapels (in normal or slim cuts). Choose your vent and pocket styles. Black Lapel offers a range of other custom options, including the inner jacket lining, pant cuffs and pleats. Like with other inexpensive suits, this option is made in China, but for the price, it still represents a highly customizable suit.
The Best Suits Under $1,000
When buying a suit, you’ll find a number of benefits to increasing your budget. Most notably, you have access to full-canvas jackets and top-tier fabrics. At the upper end of the price-tier, you’ll also have higher quality construction in countries like Canada and Portugal. While the sub-$1,000 price point is not enough to access bespoke suiting, you can advantage of made-to-measure programs from a variety of brands.
Todd Snyder Sutton Suit
Todd Snyder’s White Label collection boasts Canadian craftsmanship combined with fabrics from respected Italian mills and impeccable fits. The Sutton Suit features a double vent jacket with notch lapel and a modern silhouette that’s classically trim. While you could definitely pack this black suit for a wedding, you can easily bring down the formality with a beat-up band tee and well-loved jeans.
Hart Schaffner Marx New York Classic Fit Suit
Hart Schaffner Marx is a great entry point for anyone looking for a solid suit made in the States. And they should know, they’ve been in business since the 1800s. The New York fit features a tastefully slim silhouette with half-canvas construction, floating chest piece.
Proper Cloth Allen Suit
Proper Cloth is another made-to-measure brand that’s built its success on its level of customization, user-friendly website and quality details. Their Allen Suit comes in a variety of notable fabrics, but this version comes in a more adventurous grey flannel chalk stripe fabric from storied Italian mill Vitale Barberis Canonico. While the jacket and pants come with a near-endless array of customizable options, we like the Bedford option which features half-canvas construction, a light-weight chest canvas and no shoulder padding for a more natural silhouette.
Polo Ralph Lauren Wool Twill Suit
Ralph Lauren’s Wool Twill Suit highlights the brand’s impeccable silhouettes and tailoring. If you don’t have a navy suit in your wardrobe, this one, with its soft, handsewn shoulders, half-canvas construction and trousers with side-adjuster tabs, is a good one to consider.
Brooks Brothers Regent Fit Tic 1818 Suit
Brooks Brother’s holds the title as oldest American fashion brand as well as the first to introduce ready-to-wear to America. Its a quintessentially American brand that shaped the country’s style since its founding in 1818. This suit comes from the brand’s premier 1818 collection and is made in the U.S. with Italian wool fabric, full Italian canvas construction and handsewn arm holes for better fit and range of motion. The Regent fit is a trim-but-not-too-trim silhouette with structured shoulders and comes with classic, flat front trousers.
Wazin Made-to-Measure Suit
Starting at $1,000, this suit offers the best quality for the features. The fully canvassed suit is made to measure in Midtown Manhattan. The process requires one fitting and up to six weeks to complete, but the results are notably better than made-to-measure suits produced overseas. You’re paying for the reputable eye of tailor Sam Wazin, and the small details like a slightly curved welt chest pocket. The only catch — you have to visit New York City to take advantage of Wazin’s craft.