Since the Victorians gave us the three-piece suit, a well-tailored suit has been a hallmark of masculine style. Yet for all the available styles and occasions to wear a suit, many men still need to set foot in a suit shop.
According to a survey by AskMen, 64% of men in the world don’t own a suit, even though 40% of women believe men look best in suits.
If you’re in the 64% or just looking to brush up on your knowledge before investing in your next suit, here’s our guide to picking the right fabric for your new suit.
The Basics of Suit Fabric
Before you decide if you’re a seersucker or linen type of guy, you need to know your suit shop. You also need to know the suit basics. Here are three key things to keep in mind before you buy.
Know Your Seller
How to know if your fabric is actually 75% wool or if that deal is too good to be true? The first step is to go to a retailer you trust.
If you’re buying online, it’s especially important to do your homework on who you’re buying from. This is a relatively simple process: look at the seller, look at how often they’ve sold and what people are saying about them.
Pay attention to deadbolts – a fabric mill that produces the same fabric in certain amounts over and over which they then sell out. When they reach the end of the bolt, you can often find deals because the retailer is trying to get rid of it.
That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the fabric per se. You could get a great deal on quality fabric – as long as you’re buying from a seller you trust.
Buy Enough Fabric
An average-sized suit for an average-sized man usually requires 3.5 yards of fabric or 3.2 meters. However, if you’re wider or taller, you’ll want to buy extra fabric to make up the difference.
If you have the room in your budget, it’s also worth the money to buy enough fabric for an extra pair of pants. Keep in mind that your pants tend to wear out before your suit jacket.
If you’re at all unsure of whether you need more fabric, it’s always a good idea to go to your suit shop and ask your clothier first. They can take measurements for you and provide an estimate of how much fabric they’ll need.
You also need to know what occasions your new suit is for. This will affect what type of fabric you buy because lighter fabrics like linen won’t work in the winter.
7oz – 9oz
This is the lightest weight available and ideal for the hot summer months. A summer wedding suit, for example, would work well at this weight.
9.5oz – 11oz
The slight increase in weight means the suit is durable for cooler temperatures in spring and early/late summer, but still won’t get your far in winter.
11oz – 12oz
At this weight range, you have a suit that will work well at most temperatures throughout the year. If you’re a first-time suit buyer, a suit like this is a great starting point.
12oz – 19oz
Anything upwards of 12oz in weight brings you into winter temperatures. However, suits in the low end of this range (between 12oz and 13oz) are often suitable for day-to-day wear.
Popular Suit Fabrics for Every Occasion
Before you decide whether you’re a British, European or American suit type of man, you need to walk into your suit shop with the right fabric for your needs. Suits can be made of nearly anything (remember Lady Gaga’s meat suit?) but for a classic day-to-day suit, here are five popular fabrics to start with.
Wool is a classic, widely popular material in suits for good reason. It looks refined but is also versatile. Those looking for lighter fabrics sometimes criticize wool, but as a natural material, it typically breathes well.
In terms of flattering fabrics, wool tends to keep the shape it’s laid in, which makes it a good choice for a well-fitted suit.
When it comes to summer suits, cotton is king. It’s also more cost-effective than wool – and can look just as good.
Where care is concerned, cotton is also less fussy than wool. Where wool requires specific storage and the occasional dry-clean, most cotton suits can be washed in your home washing machine. For a first-time suit owner or someone who has yet to develop good suit-care habits, cotton is an excellent option.
For a fabric with a ring of luxury, look no further than cashmere. But lazy suit owners beware: a cashmere suit needs to be treated like the expensive piece it is.
If you’re at the suit shop for a business suit, you may not want cashmere either – the material gives a shine that works great for a fancy, for-pleasure European-style suit. Not so much for a low-key business suit.
Let’s cut to the chase: linen is one of the lightest suit fabrics out there. This is also why it’s infamous for wrinkling if you so much as look at it funny.
For a beach wedding or Easter Sunday? Linen is your go-to. Not so much for business trips, unless you’re keen on steaming it in your hotel room.
Pure silk suits aren’t as common in the West – you see them primarily as novelty items. Done the right way, a silk suit has an air of luxury that can work depending on how well you care for it.
Silk is light and breathable, and quality silk is smooth to the touch. This is why you may see it as a suit lining. However, silk is delicate regardless of how good the quality, so you need to store it and clean it carefully to keep it from wearing out.
Your Smarter Suit Shop
For a quality suit shop in Montreal, stop by Baggi on 6951 Saint Laurent Boulevard. We offer a variety of suit options whether you need a suit for a day at the office, a summer wedding or a winter cocktail party.
Ready to get started? Get in touch with us.