Choosing a Suit – Cloth type

When you’ve got to grips with what weight you want a suit to be, the next step is colour and pattern.

Suits are made in a variety of fabrics, but most commonly from wool. The two main yarns produce worsted (where the fibres are combed before spinning) and woollen (where they are not). These can be woven in a number of ways producing flannel, tweed, garbardine, and fresco amongst others.

Cashmere or a cashmere mix is considered a luxury to the outsider, and as much as it is, it’s worth knowing it can give some unwanted sheen to a suit cloth. Consequently more of an Italian look and less of an English. If you’re after a matte cloth, go for a 100% wool.

The Super cloths above Super 130’s are ultra fine, and are made from a finer yarn. It leads to a soft and light suit cloth to wear. A nice luxury for hot climates and a wardrobe with a good rotation.


Most business suits are blue or grey. Some think black is an option, but in my view it isn’t. I’m happy to see it in Evening wear, on the red carpet and as part of a restaurant uniform, but for anything else? No thanks.

Building a warbrobe is lots of fun, and there is a correct plan of attack. Unlike a flatpack from B&Q, there aren’t many instructions other than to say:

Get the basics in through block colours, then heavier texture, then pattern.

 

Here are a few options to get you cracking:

BLOCK COLOUR

 

Serge

A classic twill fabric that has diagonal lines and often used for suits, blazers, military uniforms and trench coats, it’s a good ‘go to’ cloth for your first classic solid navy suit.  Rich in colour, it’s only negative is that over time it can become shiny. To avoid this press the suit over a cloth.

Pic n’ Pic

Another classic. At distance, this again looks like a clean colour but, the colour has more depth due to its different tones. Often likened to ‘Salt and Pepper’ it works particulary well in grey. This combined with a white shirt and navy tie is an absolute winner.

HEAVIER TEXTURE

Birdseye

This, as the name suggests, is a design in the shape of a birds-eye. It promises a conservative look while exploring texture and a subtle two tone colour. It can be more interesting, and sits well when combined with a shirt and tie that are perhaps more flat in texture.

Herringbone

This describes a distinctive V-shaped weaving pattern resembling a broken zigzag. The pattern is called herringbone because it looks like the skeleton of the herring fish. It gets picked up by the light when wearing it and does make for an eye catching suit. But for me, I prefer it in casual wear like tweeds and linens.   

PATTERN

 

Chalk, Cable, Rope and Pin Stripes

Once you’ve built up your block colours and textures, the next place to visit is stripes. Chalk stripes are more often than not on a flannel.  Cable and Rope usually on worsted and Pin on both flannel and worsteds. When choosing a stripe consider your own stature. If you are a small frame then don’t choose a stripe that is too strong or wide.

 

Checks

These are the last port of call once you’ve ticked all the other boxes. A check suit is often considered a little more casual. But they can be really smart nonetheless. They need to be teamed with solid colours for the shirt and tie to get the most out of them. Go on… go for it!

Follow James at: www.twitter.com/MrJamesField

www.jamesfield.com

 

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