Over the years, I’ve had a lot of questions and concerns about the choice of fabric on a suit. Oftentimes when you shop off-the-rack, you don’t really think about the fabric. It’s either you like the suit or you don’t. When choosing your fabric for your custom suit, here are some of the choices you’ll have.
Wool is the most common suit fabric and the most resilient and versatile fabric. It breathes in the summer and insulates in the winter. Naturally, wool is wrinkle and odor resistant. 90% of the suits we design are made with wool, primarily woven in Italy. These kind of 4 season wools are typically worsted or woolen, which allow them to be lightweight and thin, yet still durable. Sometimes you will hear the term super (number). Super 100s, Super 110s, Super 150s, etc. That’s for another blog post, but essentially it means the higher the number, the finer the fibers of the wool are. Wool is woven in many different ways, essentially either for function or aesthetics: tweed, flannel, hopsack, sharkskin, twill, nailhead, broadcloth, and more. Each of these have their season or occasion.
Cotton suits are typically reserved for spring and summer, though you won’t be ridiculed in the Southwest for wearing cotton year-round. Cotton tends to wrinkle easier than wool, which creates a bit more of a casual vibe over wool.
Linen comes from a flax plant. It’s lightweight, very wrinkle-prone, and a little higher maintenance than other fabrics. Reserved for spring/summer only and typically rather casual, so don’t wear this one in a business meeting or court.
Want to get fancy? Cashmere comes from a cashmere goat, mostly in China. The wool fibers of the goat are finer and softer than sheep’s wool. Cashmere has the same benefits as typical sheep’s wool, but has a much softer feel and drape. Cashmere is at high demand, but low supply which makes it 3 to 5 times more expensive as the sheep’s wool counterpart.
There are many other fabrics that you’ll see blended, usually along with wool, linen, or cotton. Sometimes fabrics will be a blend of 4-5 materials. Some blend-ins are silk, mohair (angora goat), vicuña, alpaca, hemp, lycra (for stretch), and more. Many off-the-rack suits will be made of polyester, or poly-wool blends. Polyester is usually produced to mirror wool. Don’t be fooled – it is not breathable, odor resistant, or as resilient as wool is. It makes for a cheap suit, which is ok if you’re on a very tight budget, but it has no place in custom suiting.
Please feel free to reach out to us for any questions you might have on details about your suit.