What to look for in a suiting fabric

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by new obsession, May 16, 2006.

  1. new obsession

    new obsession Senior member

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    Can anyone give a few recommendations on what to look for when choosing fabric for a suit? Weight, feel, look. Specifically, what do you look for when choosing a fabric, beyond (or including) the color and pattern. I have come to learn much about the fit and options for suits, but less about what to look for in a fabric, other than knowing something that looks nice when I see it. Can anyone provide any tips, specific things to look for/think about?

    For instance - I know that some members here have had difficulty with a finished suit because the fabric they chose was too thin, or "too fine" (something about the stitching in the canvas showing through.

    I ask with an eye towards trying Jantzen for a suit when in HK next week. Thanks.
     


  2. edmorel

    edmorel Quality Seller!! Dubiously Honored

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    The basic framework that I use is:

    1. English fabrics almost exclusively, better value for your dollar than the Italian counterparts.

    2. Nothing higher than a super 100 for workhorse type suit.

    3. Preferably some cashmere content (5%) for drape and feel.
     


  3. new obsession

    new obsession Senior member

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    2. Nothing higher than a super 100 for workhorse type suit.

    Is that because the Super 110s to 200s (or whatever) simply don't wear as well or long? I remember an old Italian tailor telling me one day that he preferred 80s and 90s for that reason.
     


  4. Tomasso

    Tomasso Senior member

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    There is no better way to acquaint yourself with the properties of various fabrics than to handle them while they're on the bolt. It's hard to learn from swatch books. Visit a tailor or better yet a fabric store that has a good inventory of suiting fabric and handle the merchandise. Unfurl a few yards and drape it over yourself, it will help give you a greater understanding about different weights and weaves. Bring along a magnifying glass to get a good look.
     


  5. edmorel

    edmorel Quality Seller!! Dubiously Honored

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    Is that because the Super 110s to 200s (or whatever) simply don't wear as well or long? I remember an old Italian tailor telling me one day that he preferred 80s and 90s for that reason.

    That and the lower numbers are easier to work with. I like the high numbers for sportcoats but I am rough on my pants and I have 1 super 140's suit that looks like I just came out of the washer after a long day. Price is also a consideration, for me at least.
     


  6. MilanoStyle

    MilanoStyle Senior member

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    I find lower twist fabric (anything below s100) does not have any "lush" on it, hence, the fabric looks real dull. I personally like S120-S130 for all purpose suits. S180/Cashmere for special occasion.
     


  7. dah328

    dah328 Senior member

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    There was a good thread on this topic that I believe was lost in the crash. Suffice it to say, super numbers are of nearly no value in determining the quality or suitability of a particular fabric.

    Manton's post in this thread is good:

    http://www.styleforum.net/showthread.php?t=11239
     


  8. Holdfast

    Holdfast Senior member

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    I generally look first for a pattern I like, then check the weight and drape. I don't generally check specifically for the super number, but after picking a fabric, I tend to find that I've chosen fabrics that are between 100 and 120 for regular suits.
     


  9. whoopee

    whoopee Senior member

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    You should have an idea what kind of suit you want before you go choosing. Not just colour and pattern; in what kind of climate will this suit be used; what kind of environment; what kind of cut? Let's say a navy fabric with some sort of standard pattern. Bothe a 8 oz Zegna 15mil15 and a 12 oz English 80s cloth seem to work, and both are lovely. I'd be hard pressed to decide between the two if I did not know at the moment the cloths were in my hands if I wanted a hip, aggressive, light suit, or a more conservative, durable, and warmer suit.

    So say you have that all down, and you're zeroing in on cloth and want to know which is better. Trust well-reputed brands. In HK the best you will touch are from Holland & Sherry. Scabal are good, too. Trust your hands. Take them, scrunch them, let them fall across your hand, and do the same with a Giorgio Vallini (probably botched the name). Trust your tailor. Ask him/them questions. Let him know what you are looking for.

    When you have something in mind, sometimes you just have to have a certain fabric - that superlight Zegna fancy stripe with the sheen that tickles your eye. The fabric may not have as great a body, may be less durable, but the Huddersfield cloth may just look positively dowdy in comparison, no matter what the people on this forum tell you about what is the better cloth. Going custom is about getting what you want, not what the tailor wants, and not what we want.
     


  10. dah328

    dah328 Senior member

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    True, it is about getting what you want, but until you're reasonably able to choose a respectable fabric, choosing the one that catches your eye is rarely the best option. That Super 120s Italian cashmere blend will look a lot less attractive when it pills after a half dozen wearings. Not like I'm speaking from experience or anything...
     


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