Top 5 Suit Fabrics for Spring/Summer

April 22nd, 2014

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By now you know the deal: seasonal suiting is where the real money is (or at least where it goes, in my case). In my opinion, the most sophisticated wardrobes are based around versatile seasonal tailoring.

Here’s my favorite lightweight suiting fabrics for the Spring/Summer season.

Remember to keep them unlined and wear them any chance you get.

Hopsack

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Technically a hopsack can be made of any fabric, but in my opinion it’s most effective with a high-twist tropical weight wool. “Hopsack” simply refers to the loosely woven nature of the fabric; it looks like a very tiny basket-weave up close.

Pros

  • The loose weave lets the breeze right through the fabric. It breathes very well.
  • The loose weave is also virtually impossible to wrinkle. I can roll this thing up into a ball and snap it right back. Great for traveling.
  • The added texture makes the jacket a perfect blazer, too. This is actually a “jacketing fabric” that I made into a 3-piece suit. I call it Summer Tweed.

Cons

  • The loose weave is susceptible to getting snagged by sharp objects. I’ve had a couple bad catches that left some long unravelled threads that I had to cut off. There are some nicks and scars on the suit, but I kinda like that too.
  • Although it breathes better, the weaving process actually adds a little bit of physical weight to the garment, as compared to a traditional tropical wool or mohair.
Linen

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Linen is made from the fibers of the flax plant. It’s arguably the best fabric for warm and sticky climates.

Pros

  • Strong, durable, easy to tailor
  • Naturally wicks away water and moisture. Dries very quickly.
  • The natural “crinkle” effect keeps it from sticking to the body, allowing for increased airflow
  • Looks casual and leisurely, can be worn in casual or vacation settings

Cons

  • Wrinkles very easily
  • Can be considered too casual for some corporate settings
Cotton

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By now we all know about the khaki cotton suit, but there are all types of cotton fabrics – chino, seersucker, corduroy, fleece, moleskin, velvet, etc. This one is actually a denim fabric that I look forward to breaking in and washing.

Pros

  • Casual and cool. Can easily be dressed down
  • Usually soft and comfortable
  • Can be worn year-round, given the color and your layering

Cons

  • Wrinkles easier than traditional worsted wool
  • Has less natural stretch than wool, which can sometimes feel restricting
  • Like any cotton, it can potentially stretch out and loose its shape at points of stress (knees, seat, elbows, shoulder blades)
Silk

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Silk is a protein fibre that is obtained from the larvae cocoons of silkworms and other insects who undergo metamorphosis. It is then spun into long filaments and woven into textiles. Rarely do you see a 100% silk suit, typically it’s blended with something sturdier (and more sellable) like wool or cotton

Pros

  • No fabric is lighter in physical weight than silk. This jacket could blow away in a gust of wind
  • Has a natural sheen and slight iridescence (which makes it better for an non-work suit)
  • Because it’s so thin and lightweight, it has a delicate and luxurious feel
  • Takes color very well

Cons

  • Shows water marks, or sweat marks, easily
  • Although it’s lighter in weight, I don’t think it breathes as well as linen
  • Not very durable. Not a workhorse fabric. It’s a suit for summer nights after dark
Mohair

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Mohair is a fine silk-like yarn made from the hair of Angora goats. It’s rigid and strong like linen, but crispier and with more sheen.

Pros

  • Tough and durable
  • Takes dark dyes well
  • Breathes well and stays cool
  • Has a natural sheen and luster, making it perfect for a slim black suit or formal tuxedo

Cons

  • Can be a little coarse on the hands. Some 100% mohairs can feel a touch sandpapery
  • A word to the wise: half-line those trim trousers homie

What’s your go-to fabric for the Spring/Summer season?

Thanks for reading.

Yours in style,

TSBmen

 

Photography by Alex Crawford 

 

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  • Chen

    My linen shirts and pants gets soft overtime and lose its shape, I’m assuming linen blazer would do the same thing also?

    • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

      Get softer, yes. Lose it’s shape? Linen typically retains it’s form (although it can feel different as it “sits” away from the body and takes on a shape of its own at times).

    • http://whentowear.tumblr.com/ WhenToWear

      What might be happening is that the individual fibers in the yarn are breaking from normal wear and tear, this can cause the fabric to drape awkwardly.

  • Jason

    Can a tailor repair the snag hopsack fabric? If not, what’s the best way to fix it. @tsbmen:disqus

    “The loose weave is susceptible to getting snagged by sharp objects.”

    Thanks!

    • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

      If it’s bad you can take it to a fabric reweaver…but most of the snags I’ve had have gone completely unnoticed – and I certainly don’t “baby: my clothes.

      Cheers.

      • Jason

        Thanks for the tip @tsbmen:disqus

  • http://www.lucidlingo.com.au/ Gazman

    I like the mixes such as silk/wool, linen/cotton and also fresco (weave), which I guess is similar to hopsack. Lightweight wool, which you can get from as light as 200-260gms, is also as cool as cotton or linen. Having no lining also makes a difference in terms of coolness.

  • AFH

    Couple of questions..

    1) What about Fresco?

    2) Can’t cotton have a bit of elastane/spandex added for a bit of stretch?

    I’m not a big poly guy, but Nova Fides’ 50/50 linen/poly ‘Linen Miracle’ mix is not bad at all.

    • http://whentowear.tumblr.com/ WhenToWear

      Fresco is a great option. The open weave allows it to wear a lot nicer than cotton AND linen. You’ll feel cooler and because it’s made from wool, it will hardly wrinkle.

      As for the poly linen blend, I’d be wary. Polyester is notorious for trapping in heat, so even though it’s blended with linen, the high count of polyester most likely negates the positive attributes in the linen.

      • AFH

        Thanks.

        My experience with the ‘linen miracle’ material is good, counter-intuitive as it might be. That said, I live in the UK and 80 degrees is a very hot day here. SuitSupply have experimented with blends this season too.

    • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

      1) Very similar to hopsack. Same rules apply

      2) I would avoid anything with elastane or spandex. Seems like a good idea at first but over time – like any other elastic – it looses it’s “bounce back”.

      I would also avoid poly when talking about lightweight/breathable fabrics.

      Cheers.

  • Miguel

    Great post guys..

    Actually I prefer cotton and linen blazer, I owe a couple of blue and khaki ones which I only wear in spring and summer, I have a silk one but like you said I only wear it once in a while at night.

    For the most part I’ll be wearing Cotton and Linen.
    I haven’t seen a Hopsack, it does interest me though.

    Thanks again.

    • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

      Thanks Miguel.

      I like the dressy sneakers angle… Rocking some all black common projects right now…

  • Herbert Morrison

    Sick post. The mohair, hopsack & cottons are on full rotation these days, but I am in desperate need of silk & linen. There’s a brown herringbone silk/linen blend I’ve got my eye on–so many options, what’s a brother to do ? In my humble opinion, Lubiam makes some of the sweetest RTW unlined garments in that price range. Soft tailoring is the epitome of high/low: casual & elegant.

  • TO

    Loved this. Getting some real life experience with these fabrics right now.

    Can you share more details on the makeup of the mohair and silk jackets featured? What percentage of these fabrics do they have? The silk example is that one you’ve worn a bunch in WIWTs I think.

    • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

      The mohair is pure.

      The brown suit is actually only 65% silk, 35% cotton – and yea, I’ve been wearing it since the Esquire days in 2009: http://goo.gl/h2o2Jn

      Cheers TO

  • AdamE

    I’m a lightweight wool and cotton guy, I might grab a linen suit this year though, I have some linen shorts that I love!

    • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

      You won’t regret it.

  • John B

    I think I prefer the hopsack, but I’ve only seen it on a Gant Rugger blazer, which was too short. Is there any reason to have a lined summer jacket? (and if not, could a tailor remove the lining?)
    The jacket sleeve in the pocket is an intenional nod to Angel’s posing style?

    • http://tsbmen.com/ Alex Crawford

      Ha! It wasn’t intentional but it’s perfect!

      • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

        Subconscious maybe.

    • https://twitter.com/#!/wonkinakilt Joe Colucci

      Seconding this question – how difficult is it to have a jacket lining removed, or at least partially removed? Is it ever worthwhile?

    • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

      Properly removing a lining (from the garments seems) is a HUGE job involving taking the entire jacket apart. But cutting-out and clean-finishing the edges is a little easier. You’ll have to ask your tailor for an actual quote.

      A lining serves as a layer of protection – making a jacket more durable seems your body isn’t grinding against the raw seems. The smooth lining also “slides” on/around your body easier, so the jacket won’t get “stuck”. Lastly, it could protect from sweat stains showing through – like a undershirt would.

  • Jeff P.

    Out of curiosity, are all the blazers from MAB?

    • John B

      I think his silk one is from Hugo Boss and the denim is Angel Bespoke.

      • http://tsbmen.com/ Alex Crawford

        Good eye John!

      • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

        Damn. John B knows what’s up!

      • http://angelbespoke.tumblr.com/ Angel Ramos

        Great Eye!

  • cam

    A spring/summer suiting post and not a single mention of seersucker? Tsk tsk….that’s akin to blasphemy here in the South haha. I know it falls under cotton but it should have it’s own category imo. As far as my go-to….obviously seersucker but I also prefer linen/cotton blends. Thanks for the info Dan and hope you guys are off to a great Spring!

    • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

      I filed it under “cotton”. We were actually THIS close to including seersucker, but then I felt compelled to also include whipcord, and chino….

      We have some awesome seersucker editorials coming up regardless. Let’s let the weather warm up first :)

      Cheers Cam.