Everything You Need To Know About Suit Fabrics

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Everything You Need To Know About Suit Fabrics

Words by Mr Shane C Kurup

28 June 2017

The definitive MR PORTER guide to suits, part two.

It can often be difficult to know what to look for in a suit. You’ve decided on the colour, you’ve worked out the accurate sizing, and perhaps even the style you want. But there are still multiple factors to consider when it comes to the composition. Do you want a linen-silk blend, and in what weave? Isn’t a wool suit going to make you very hot? And flannel is better suited for a face towel, right? Hopefully, you’ll have a nice tailor on hand to advise you on such matters. But in all other instances, you’d do well to take a look at our glossary of suit compositions compiled with care to help you sort the seersucker from the sharkskin. Scroll down for part two in our tailoring series, which provides a comprehensive guide to suit fabrics.

Worsted

SAINT LAURENTGrey Slim-Fit Pinstriped Wool Blazer

This is the most common fabric used for suits and refers to a wool or wool-blend cloth with a smooth surface. It is woven from smooth, neatly twisted yarns that have been combed.

Prince of Wales check

**GUCCIGrey Slim-Fit Prince Of Wales Checked Wool Suit

**It is also referred to generically as Glen plaid, as it is developed from the Glen Urquhart check worn by the gamekeepers of the Countess of Seafield’s Scottish estate. The pattern is composed of a fine black and white intersecting check, overlaid with a coloured check. King Edward VIII often wore suits in the pattern when he was Prince of Wales.

Windowpane check

**WOOSTER + LARDINIBlue Slim-Fit Windowpane-Checked Wool-Blazer

**An evenly spaced, square check that resembles windowpanes.

Houndstooth

GUCCIBurgundy Marco Slim-Fit Contrast-Tipped Houndstooth Woven Suit Jacket

A zigzag-like broken check, which supposedly looks like the cross-section of a dog’s tooth. It’s a fairly casual pattern and was traditionally worn only during daylight hours. The smaller, less common variation of the pattern is called puppytooth.

Herringbone

**CARUSOBlue Butterfly Slim-Fit Unstructured Herringbone Linen Blazer

**A fine zigzag pattern, which runs throughout the cloth. It looks like numerous fish skeletons arranged together.

Birdseye

CANALIBlue Slim-Fit Birdseye Super 120s Wool Suit Jacket

A cloth woven with a small geometric dotted pattern, supposedly resembling a bird’s eye. This fabric is particularly popular for business suits, due to its sleek appearance.

Tweed

ISAIABrown Slim-Fit Mélange Herringbone Wool And Cashmere-Blend Blazer

A tough, thorn-proof, water-repellent wool fabric, which has its roots in the Scottish Highlands. The Scots originally called it tweel, but in 1826, a London clerk is said to have misspelt the word on an order, calling it “tweed”. The most prized tweed is woven on the Isle of Harris, but Cheviot, Irish, Yorkshire, Saxony, West of England and other Scottish tweeds are also well regarded and each has its own traits. Tweed is strictly a day fabric and was not normally worn after 6.00pm. Needless to say, due to its robust, thick weave (and Scottish origins), it’s most suited to chilly weather.

Flannel

**COSBrown Slim-Fit Mélange Wool-Flannel Blazer

**A soft woollen cloth with a slightly napped finish in a plain or simple twill weave.

Nap

**CANALIBlue Travel Slim-Fit Wool, Silk And Linen Blend Suit Jacket

**The textured, hair-like surface of a material, created when the fibres are brushed up from the underlying weave during finishing.

TWILL

**ALEXANDER MCQUEENGrey Slim-Fit Wool And Mohair Blend Suit Jacket

**A fabric woven from the fleece of the Angora goat, which has a subtle lustrous sheen.

Pinstripe

SAINT LAURENTGrey Slim-Fit Pinstriped Wool Blazer

Thin stripes composed of fine dots run vertically through a cloth, as if drawn by a pin.

Chalk stripe

KINGSMANNavy Harry Slim-Fit Pinstriped Super 120s Wool Anf Cashmere-Blend Suit

Wider than the pinstripe, it is made using several threads that run vertically through a cloth in a slanted arrangement and it sometimes has a subtle “smudged” appearance.

Salt and pepper

**PAUL SMITHGrey Soho Slim-Fit Wool-Blend Blazer

**A cloth with a speckled black and white finish. Often seen in tweeds.

Seersucker

CAMOSHITABlue Slim-Fit Checked Wool-Blend Seersucker Blazer

Originating in India, seersucker has a vertical stripe weave and an uneven, lightly crinkled appearance. It’s usually made of cotton and is lightweight and breathable, making it a good option in warmer weather.

Sharkskin

**THOM SWEENEYGrey Wool, Silk And Linen-Blend Sharkskin Suit Jacket

**A fabric made by weaving two threads of contrasting shades – originally black and white – which create a textured cloth with a grey appearance. The same technique is now used with a wider range of coloured threads.

Cashmere

Cashmere

**ERMENEGILDO ZEGNABeige Slim-Fit Stretch-Cotton And Cashmere-Blend Suit Jacket

**A fibre derived from the fleece of the cashmere goat, which is native to the southern Himalayas. It is prized for its super-soft texture and warmth.

Virgin wool

BOGLIOLIBlue Slim-Fit Mélange Virgin-Wool Blazer

The wool taken from a young sheep’s first shearing. It is sought-after owing to its soft, smooth quality.

Hopsack

LORO PIANABlue Madrid Unstructured Silk And Cashmere-Blend Hopsack BlazerA cloth woven with a fine basketweave-like texture.

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