Looking for advice on suit fabric selection

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by johnnynorman3, Aug 23, 2004.

  1. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    I'm about to plunge back into the WW Chan waters with one more single suit order with my slightly tweaked requests (my tweaks -- reduce shoulder width by 3/8", reduce sleeve circumfrence in the upper arm by 1 1/4", reduce padding in shoulder by about half, and go with a softer shoulder angle).

    I don't have swatches -- they are sending them to me -- and I'd like to get my order in ASAp, which means I can't really wait for the swatches. At the US fitting, I had picked out a plain charcoal fabric as my second fabric choice (I went with plain navy for my first suit). Now I'm thinking maybe going with that same color in a herringbone patter might be more elegant and set the suit apart from just a gray standard in a way more subtle than pinstripes. The herringbone is not very wide, so it'd be silly to get both a plain charcoal and the herringbone at any point. What would you go with?

    On a side note, I'm a bit torn over reducing the shoulder width by 3/8" or 2/8". Should I be at all concerned over that 1/8" that I'm sort of dwelling on? (FYI -- I measured the suit with my favorite shoulder, and it seems to be about 3/8" narrower, but it seems like it could just be some measurement error. It is at least 2/8" narrower though).
     
  2. Alias

    Alias Senior member

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    The reduced shoulder shouldn't be too big of a problem. You probably won't even notice it. You were trying for a more Neapolitan shoulder, right? That would mean more fullness in the upper sleeve, so that would get you some of the visual shoulder width back: no wide shoulders, just fuller upper arms. Sleeves hanging straight from the shoulder vs. a gentle puff of fabric. Of course if they give you straight-hanging shoulders anyways, let's hope the reduced width of the shoulder lets your triceps fill out the sleeves a bit.

    I would definitely go with that herringbone.

    I'm building up my wardrobe essentials as well. I have two good suits so far: one two-button navy with high armholes, wider shoulders and a closed front, very English, very "solid." (The fabric's some no-name Super 140's mid-weight navy serge. Wonderful and quite sturdy.) The other's a pearl grey flannel three-button rolled to two, with virtually the same styling save for the shoulders being about 1/8" narrower than the navy's and less waist surpression for that real easy, comfortable, soft look. Now I'm all psyched up for the big project I've been discussing with the cutter: a charcoal grey leaning towards the Neapolitan side of the spectrum.
     
  3. STYLESTUDENT

    STYLESTUDENT Senior member

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    IMO, a charcoal suit needs some pattern or texture relief like a birdseye, nailhead, or herringbone pattern. You might also then think about having texture in the shirt you wear with it (e.g. end-on-end or twill weave).
     
  4. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

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    I've never really liked plain gray fabrics. I like the nailhead/birdseye patterns in gray. Â Like this VBC 130s (only pic I have a handy URL for at the moment): [​IMG] IMHO this kind of pattern goes well with just about any shirt or tie you can throw at it--very versatile.
     
  5. Alias

    Alias Senior member

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    If you're looking for something even more subtle, you can try the serge weave. At least, that's what I think they call it. It's a weave that goes diagonally.
     
  6. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    (johnnynorman3 @ 22 Aug. 2004, 9:10) Now I'm thinking maybe going with that same color in a herringbone patter might be more elegant and set the suit apart from just a gray standard in a way more subtle than pinstripes. Â The herringbone is not very wide, so it'd be silly to get both a plain charcoal and the herringbone at any point. Â What would you go with? Â
    IMO, a charcoal suit needs some pattern or texture relief like a birdseye, nailhead, or herringbone pattern. You might also then think about having texture in the shirt you wear with it (e.g. end-on-end or twill weave).
    Stylestudent, I agree with you 100%. I personally liked the herringbone a lot better, but was wondering whether it was too forward. As for shirts, I rarely wear a plain color broadcloth shirt. Sure, there are times, but with broadcloths I usually go with stripes or checks. For plain color, I'll go with twill or herringbones. I have never worn an end on end dress shirt -- only casual shirts. FYI, for the shirt with Chan that I ordered, I ordered a light blue herringbone. Great color, and the herringbone makes it shine.
     
  7. kabert

    kabert Senior member

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    Regarding shoulder width, keep in mind that once you get the suit, if you want the shoulders narrower, a good tailor can narrow them. I would expect that making them wider instead would be more difficult if not impossible. Thus, I'd err on the side of being a shade too wide, subject to later narrowing.
     
  8. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Shoulder - err on the side of a little narrow, especially the way you've described your physique. Go for the herringbone. Do not do nailshead or birdseye unless you want your suit to look like it was from the 80's or that you are in your 60's, in which case, go for broke.
     
  9. Will

    Will Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Since this sound like a "foundation" suit, gray sharkskin (for 10 or 12 oz. cloth) or pick and pick (for 8 or 10 oz.) weaves would be my recommendation. Surface interest without moving towards a visible pattern, and as proper in London today as they would have been fifty years ago.

    Will
     
  10. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

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    How about if I wear it with a checked shirt and brown shoes? [​IMG]
     
  11. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Sorry, still not convinced [​IMG] With that combination, and assuming that the shoes are brogues, a finer donegal tweed I could see, but the nailshead pattern just bothers me. It's too fine to be look rugged, but at the same time doesn't really convey urbanity. I would say that a herringbone or mini-herringbone would be his best choice.
     
  12. kidkim2

    kidkim2 Senior member

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    I vote for herringbone, but I like retrometro's nailhead too. (Especially with brown bals, a patterned shirt, and a complementary pocket square.)  BTW, I don't really understand the apparent objection to simple grey flannel.  (The right flannel suiting has plenty of character and almost unlimited versatility.)

    johnnynorman3:  I assume you're talking about a subtle, narrow heringbone pattern.  You can't go wrong.  But have you considered a bigger, much more casual herringbone?  I'm thinking of the gorgeous SB with peaked lapels (and croc bals.) on the cover of "Men in Style."  (Not by any means a "foundation" garment, but a traffic stopper nonetheless.)

    Come to think of it, this is my next purchase.

    Mike
     
  13. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

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    Ah, LA Guy, you missed the reference to our friend ernest's blunt and colorfully worded disagreements with certain styles (brown shoes are for farmers, checked shirts unsuitable for business wear). I don't know why nailhead conjures visions of the 80s for you. Â To me the stereotypical suits of the 80s are like so: [​IMG] Or maybe add a couple of inches to the shoulders for the Simon LeBon look.
     
  14. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

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    I like charcoal gray chalkstripe flannel, and plain medium gray flannel, quite a lot. The only limit on versatility there is climate, and even that can be overcome somewhat if you pick a lighter weight flannel, but that still wouldn't be something most people would want to wear on a humid summer day.
     
  15. kidkim2

    kidkim2 Senior member

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    retrometro--

    You're right, of course.  

    Nevertheless, my lightweight grey flannel MTM Brioni SB is among the best hot weather suits I own.  ("Hot," I recognize,  being a relative term.)

    Mike
     

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