There’s always a debate with fashion aficionados about canvassed suits. What is it? Are they better? How to check for it? Which suitmakers make them? We’ll help you answer those questions.
The canvas in a suit is the layer of fabric underneath the traditional wool (or cotton, or other outer fabric). This helps provide some shape to the jacket. In a canvassed suit, this fabric is stitched or sewn to the other pieces. The theory is that this will help the suit hang or drape better over your body, as it will contour over time or “float”. Contrast this to what most suitmakers do, which is glue or “fuse” the fabric. This can tend to make the jacket look and fit “stiff” as it does not have as much room to contour to your body. It is also less durable. Dry cleaning, the sun, humidity, and just time can wear down the bonding glue so it comes loose or bubbles, which can look poorly.
You can check for canvassing by looking at the bottom buttonhole. Gently pinch the cloth below and lightly pull the layers apart. A third layer means that it is sewn in floating canvas. No third layer means not canvassed. You can also check the lapel, where the stitching may show where the fabrics have been sewn. This is especially hard to see.
My opinion is that its more important to have a look and fit that works for your body type and sense of style. Where canvassing can help somewhat is with the fit, and the longetivity of the suit. However, a canvassed suit that is not tailored properly or is a poor style for your body type will look much worse than a made to measure fused design, for example.
You can expect canvassing to add several hundred dollars or more to the price tag, some times more for a luxury brand. If it’s a suit you expect to wear regularly, and over many years, the cost is often worth it. A good fitting suit can help you in many ways. If you’re only wearing it a couple times a year at most, sometimes fused is OK. Again, make sure that you have the fit and style down first.