Suit Construction – The character of the suit is often defined by it’s fit, quality of fabric and it’s construction. Unfortunately, many people, including myself, often forget that the construction, is just as important as the fit and quality of the fabric. Construction plays a large role in the overall quality of a suit especially if you wear the suit often.
What does it mean for a suit to be “canvassed”?
A canvassed suit jacket has layers of canvassing material (the canvas), generally comprised of wool and horsehair, that sits between the outer suit fabric and the inner lining of a suit jacket. The canvas plays an important role in keeping the proper balance, structure and shape of the suit. As you wear a canvassed suit over time, the canvas itself begins to conform to your body’s shape, thereby becoming a better fit the more you wear it.
This article will cover different types of suit jacket constructions 1) full canvas 2) half canvas and 3) fused and their main characteristics. In general:
- Canvassed suit jackets drape better
- Canvassed suit jackets last longer
Full Canvas – The best quality you can buy in a suit, but are generally more expensive.
A full canvas suit has a horsehair canvas underneath the cloth/shell of the suit. As you can see from the image below, the canvas runs from the shoulder to the end of the jacket. Over time as you wear the suit the canvas forms to your body. The main reason you don’t see this type of work on all suits is cost as the amount of detailed stitch work that is required to sew the canvas to the shell is extensive and time consuming.
- Conforms to your body and fits better with time.
- Gives your jacket body the most fluidity and support.
- No delamination or bubbling
- More expensive to make and more expensive to buy.
Fused (glued) – A great price point but quality is sacrificed
Fused suits is typically what you find with an off the rack suit in the lower price categories. As the demand for suits increased, fused suit was developed to appeal to the mass market. What this means is that a fusable lining is heat pressed / glued to the cloth /shell of the suit. This does a good job of keeping the cost down, but it also adds a stiffness to the chest area especially and the jacket will not adjust to your body over time. The glue will most probably break down over time with wear and dry cleaning and cause bubbling in those areas
- Inexpensive compared to canvassed jackets.
- Works ok if you don’t plan on wearing the jacket a lot.
- Stiff lapels on a stiff suit without the fluidity of a canvassed suit.
- Risk of delamination / bubbling.
Half Canvas – Gives you the “best” of two worlds.
The next level down, quality-wise, is the half canvassed suit, a compromise between full canvas and fused jackets. It gives the structural benefit of a full canvas but cuts down on the cost to you by having less handwork. A half canvassed suit uses a sewn in canvas piece in the chest and the lapel of the jacket, and is fused on the bottom part of the jacket.The construction allows the suit to drape naturally over your chest without seeming stiff which is what happens with a fused suit. These jackets also last longer than fused jackets lowering the risk of bubbling issues that come up over time with fused jackets as the glue breaks down in the chest area.
- Usually less expensive than a full-canvassed suit jacket
- Better drape and shape in the chest
- May be slightly stiffer than a full-canvassed jacket.
- Risk of slight bubbling in the lower parts of the jacket.
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