How Are Men's Suits Graded?

by Shauna Heathman

Men have a variety of options when it comes to purchasing a suit.

suit image by AGITA LEIMANE from Fotolia.com

Buying a suit can be a tedious process. Besides the countless options for style and fabric, men have their choice when it comes to the quality of their purchase. Three standard options---off the rack, made to measure and bespoke--give men the flexibility to choose a suit that fits their lifestyle and budget. These options are also used in the grading process when it comes to defining the quality of a suit.

Suit Grading

Men's suits are sometimes graded on a scale of one to six, according to the number of hand operations used to create the final product. A grade of one typically means the suit is almost all machine-made. A grade of three is applied to a suit that has some handwork to polish the cuffs, collar and buttons. The highest grade--a six--is a suit that is made entirely from hand. Off-the-rack men's suits would have a grade of four. Made-to-measure suits would have a grade of five. Bespoke or custom suits would have a grade of six.

Off-the-Rack Suits

Off-the-rack suits are the suits you can buy in clothing stores that are merchandised throughout the store. They come with matching suit coats and trousers. Off-the-rack suits are the most inexpensive of the three choices and are ideal for someone who has an easy fit. Typically, there is very little hand-work done on the suit but a tailor is used to fit the suit directly to your body measurements once purchased.

Made-to-Measure Suits

Made-to-measure suits are an extension of off-the-rack suits. A standard size is used and then adjusted in more ways for a customized fit than an off-the-rack suit. You typically are able to pick your fabric and type of wool, the material for buttons, the shape of the lapels, collars and cuffs, the number of pockets and type of vents that you would like for your made-to-measure suit.

Bespoke Suits

A bespoke suit is cut and fitted to your body accordingly after a tailor takes all your measurements. Once the tailor takes your measurements, he creates a unique pattern from which to sew the suit. Hand sewing versus machine sewing is used primarily for a bespoke suit. A bespoke suit is the most expensive option, with prices as high as $10,000 for one suit.

Wool Fabric Grading

Most men's suits are made from good quality wool in grades of Super 100’s, 110’s, 120’s and 150’s. The higher the number, the finer the wool fiber. A fine wool fiber means that the fiber has a tighter weave, which limits creasing and wrinkles. Typically, the higher the wool grade, the more expensive the wool. For made-to-measure and bespoke suits, you have the option to pick your wool grade. Off-the-rack suits are already made in a specified wool grade.

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About the Author

Shauna Heathman is a certified image consultant with a passion for writing, and has been writing since 2006. She has maintained a blog of her own for three years in which she writes on topics concerning self development, appearance, style, etiquette and communications. Heathman has a bachelor's degree in communication studies and an entrepreneurship certificate from the University of Iowa.