Types of Suit Fabrics
Deciding what fabrics is best when it comes to buying a suit is important because suits symbolize sophistication and offer a chance to showcase personal style. A suit should be chosen not simply for its superior fit or luxurious touch but also for the fabric from which it was crafted. Certain factors must be considered when buying the perfect fabric like breathability of the fabric, fabric softness and pattern.
Wool is far and away the most common fabric for suits, and some of the most common and best wool comes from merino sheep in Australia. Wool suiting fabric includes 100% Wool as well as wool blends in different colors & textures which include tropical and worsted wools, pinstripe wool suiting fabric, tweeds, stretch woven, wool crepe and gabardine and other fine weaves.
Wool is great because it - breathes easily, it is durable, naturally water resistant, has memory, dyes easily and is naturally flame-resistant. Lightweight wools are suitable for tropical climates, whereas heavyweight wools work beautifully to keep out a winter chill. Wool is generally found in two varieties: woolen and worsted. The difference is in weight and size of yarn, how fiber is prepared before spinning, and finally how the yarn is spun.
Super Numbers: How Wool Is Classified
It’s important to keep in mind that a lighter fabric with a higher SUPER Number is not a hallmark of a better fabric, it just indicates the fineness of the yarn diameter and doesn’t indicate the quality. Naturally, the finer yarns are rarer than coarser yarns, and so quality weavers ensure that they utilize only the best weaving and finishing techniques for their most precious fibers. The word Super (as in SUPER 120’s, for example) can only be used to describe fabrics made from pure new wool, and the “S” value is determined by, and must comply with the Maximum Fibre Diameter values.
The Super number simply indicates the number of hanks that can be spun from a pound of raw wool. Super 100’s wool means that 100 hanks can be spun from the raw product. You can get 150 hanks from Super 150’s, 80 from Super 80’s, and so on. The finer the fibers, the more hanks can be spun, and the “high super number means a finer fabric” rule still holds. Furthermore, a wool’s “S” classification has nothing to do with its weight or quality indicators such as length or strength of fibers.
How To Measure Wool Fibers
An individual fiber is measured in micrometers, it is an extremely small measurement fitting for a solitary wool fiber. Your average 80’s count wool is about 19.5 μm in diameter.
Length, Strength, Color & Crimp: The Other Wool Quality Indicators
To judge wool by its fineness is, well, fine, but there’s more that goes into it than just a Super number. Superfine wool with no crimp and short fibers is not as high quality as you might think. The other ways we decide wool’s quality is by assessing its length, strength, color, and crimp.
- Length: Longer fibers make yarn that’s less likely to break down. As such, longer fibers are used in higher-end suiting and are more expensive.
- Strength: How does an individual fiber hold up to being twisted very tightly? The stronger the fiber, the longer its lifespan, and the higher its price.
- Color: After washing, how many stains or impurities are present? “Cleaner” wool colors command higher prices.
- Crimp: How many bends does an individual fiber have? Those with higher crimp spin into finer yarn, thus creating a more expensive, luxurious product. This is measured in crimps per inch or crimps per centimeter.
The Importance of Weight in Suit Cloth & Wool Weight Guide
Lightweight, fine wools are nice, they are not necessarily better, at least not in every instance. Superfine cloths wrinkle more easily and are more difficult to tailor, and a lightweight cloth won’t necessarily keep you cooler as that’s based on a myriad of factors, including lining and type of canvas used in construction. So, here’s a brief guide to wool cloth weights and the seasons they generally pertain to. Again, this is a guide, not a set of rules.
- 6.5-8.5 oz (210-265 grams): These weights are considered lightweight and are great for men who live in warmer climates.
- 9-12 oz (280-360 grams): These mid-weight cloths are generally considered “all-season” or “four season” wools
- 12.5-14 oz (360-420 grams): These are for autumn and winter suiting and it minimizes the need for an overcoat while outdoors.
- 14-19 oz (420-570 grams): This is true heavyweight and are typically reserved for overcoats and heavy tweed jackets.
Cotton is the second most popular fabric for suits and is derived from plant fibres. Cotton suits move and breathe well but tend to crease easily, which can make the suit look sloppy. They are satisfactory when it comes to softness but lag behind in the luxury department when compared to wool fabrics. You may choose cotton in the spring, summer and autumn.
Linen suits are super 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.
Derived from insects, silk is an animal protein typically used by moths to build cocoons. Silk offers superior comfort and is expensive fabric. It is a breathable fabric and a natural temperature regulator, helping the body retain heat in cold weather while excess heat is expelled in warm weather.
For suiting, velvet mostly applies to the smoking jacket. The texture of velvet is luxurious to touch and it is breathable. But due to its blending with nylon, is less aerated than silk.
Cashmere, on its own or as a blend, is rather luxurious but can give an unwanted shine to a suit.
Polyester is made from synthetic materials and is low quality fabric. It usually comes blended with another fibre, such as wool or viscose in order to cut costs. Suit fabrics that are made from polyester tend to wrinkle and are not breathable. Polyester fabric is shine compared to wool and cotton. You may opt for a blend with wool to increase quality and wearability to formal events.