What about the method can be quantified? For one, the way a jacket is canvassed, or lined. Jackets are canvassed because one of the downsides of having a quality fabric that springs back to shape and lays flat is that it often won’t drape smoothly over your shoulders, chest and torso without help. To put it another way, it’s difficult to mold a two-dimensional fabric into a three-dimensional form. Lining the jacket (between the outer fabric you see and the interior of the jacket) with a more malleable material gives it structure, and allows the jacket to be shaped to follow more corporeal contours, and to eventually take on your own body’s silhouette. Whether you have the frame of Albert Beckles or Albert Jackson, a properly-cut canvassed jacket fits and flatters the wearer in comfortable, masculine elegance.
There are several methods of canvassing, the best of which is known as full-canvassing. This involves sewing the interlining (traditionally horsehair blended with other natural fibers, but can also be different fabrics), starting at the top of the shoulder and extending down the front to the bottom of the jacket. This provides all the benefits mentioned above, but as it is time-consuming (and often done by hand) it adds substantially to the price tag.
@SeamasterLux and @Dirnelli, both members of Styleforum who have their own blogs and contribute to Parisian Gentleman, have done a phenomenal amount of research that far exceeds anything I could ever attempt. Fortunately for us, they’ve created a thread that lists an exhaustive Rolodex of various ready-to-wear makers and compares their relative quality (objective), style (subjective), and handwork (soul). Here are a few highlights, along with a few of my own suggestions, listed in order of cost.
Whereas the cost of fabric and canvassing decidedly add to the quality of a suit, some may argue against the merits of style and handwork. Frankly, the width of the lapel, shoulder treatment, and hand-padded collar contributes little to the longevity of a suit. Styleforum member and Bay Area bud Derek of dieworkwear wrote some refreshingly honest thoughts on the subject on his blog. After all, isn’t the way a suit fits most important? Yes, but it’s only part of the answer.
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