The Gospel of Suit Fabrics
While we always say: “Visit your local Tailor” for all of the best advice in getting your own suits made, a few customers are still unsure of material and thread count when making their tailoring decisions. Of course, tailors can always suggest what you need, but for some customers, even the subject appears to be intimidating. For those of you looking to move into Custom-made suits, jackets and pants, or entire wardrobes, here are a couple of subjects to bear in mind.
Suits symbolize sophistication and offer a chance to showcase your own personal style. They should be chosen not simply for its superior fit or luxurious touch, but also for the fabric from which it was crafted. There are only a handful of fabrics designed for suiting, which makes the decision easier, but certain factors must considered when buying the perfect one.
Think about two subjects that normally wouldn’t cross anybody’s mind: Breathability of the fabric, and Fabric softness. For those of you – like us – that live in a four-season climate, you want to be cool in the Summer and protected from the cold in the Winter. Of course, interior heating is always something to bear in mind during the coldest weeks of the year. Likewise, who wants to be forced to wear scratchy suit pants? Or feel trapped and tight in a straight-jacket-like jacket?
For all of these everyday possibilities, cloth choice and weight will be your gospel. We hope that these suggestions will enable you to talk to your tailor from a more educated, and confident, position.
Wool is the most popular fabric choice for men due to its versatility and great looks. Choose wool as an all-year option for suits. Best for slimmer men and those wanting a more luxurious look (especially cashmere) for work wear, as well as formal occasions. Wool is a natural material, which means it breathes well, and can be worn both in the heat of the day or the cool of the night. It is soft and wrinkle free but you can get lighter, more slimming fabrics.
Worsted wool is a compact textile that is smooth and boasts a high durability. It’s combing, carding and spinning processes produce a smooth toughness. Worsted can be woven in a number of ways, producing flannel, tweed, gabardine and fresco cloths.
Cashmere, on its own or as a blend, is rather luxurious but can give an unwanted shine to a suit. Depending on whether you want something fancily European or not, cashmere may not be suitable for work, but for pleasure? Always!
Cotton is the second most popular fabric for suits and is derived from plant fibres. Cotton suits move and breathe well but can crease easily, which can make suits look sloppy. Great when it comes to softness, they don’t compare well to wool fabrics when it comes to luxury.
Choose cotton in the spring, summer and autumn. It suits all body types and those wanting a semi-formal look to outdoor events. For work, choose reasonably heavy cotton or wool/cotton blend as this helps the fabric retain its silhouette.
Linen suits are lightweight and maintain their coolness in soaring temperatures. However, linen wrinkles easily and stains even easier, meaning it requires regular dry cleaning to maintain a fresh, crisp look. Choose linen in the summer. They are best worn as a more casual alternative to cotton or wool. This material suits larger body types to be worn at semi-formal events, but never to the office.
Derived from insects, silk is an animal protein typically used by moths to build cocoons, which explains its cost when compared to other materials. It is, however, a breathable fabric and a natural temperature regulator, helping the body retain heat in cold weather while excess heat is expelled in warm weather. Silk can be worn no matter the season. It suits most body types and is perfect for luxurious events.
Even if you’ve mastered the Gospel of Suit Fabrics, thread count and cloth weight remains another matter. Here are the typical fabric weights, as well as what type of suit and season they are most suitable for:
7oz – 9oz: Lightweight: Ideal for the peak of summer here, like African plains hot.
9.5oz – 11oz: Light to mid weight. Perfect for moving from spring to summer and that tricky Summer/Fall change over period that can lasts for weeks.
11oz – 12oz: Mid weight. This is the go-to fabric weight for most days. Choose this for your first suit purchase, and a dependable long-lasting choice for your future wardrobe.
12oz – 13oz: Heavier mid weight: A satisfactory choice for daily wear, though maybe a little too hot to handle in the peak of summer.
14oz – 19oz: Heavy: Great on a cold autumn or winter’s day, but think of your overcoat, and office heating systems. Unless you are I the Prairie winter and working outside, this may be too much for you.
By matching your requirements for a suit, together with the time of year and event you are planning to wear them, your choice now comes down to style and colour (See previous posts). These points will give you an overall look for a wardrobe that can’ be beaten. Talk with your tailor, arm yourself with fabric and Weight figures, and get a quote for your wardrobe – it will be less than you think.