When we think of custom tailored suits, we often think about the style, color, patterns, or even which type of tie would best complete the piece. But often what can make or break a suit is something entirely different: the fabric. While not as readily apparent as the aforementioned elements of a custom made suit, the fabric will not only contribute to how good the suit looks on the exterior, but more importantly, it will determine how good you feel wearing it.
In most cases, the determining factor for the best suit fabric will be the climate you plan to wear the suit in most. Another way to put this is how breathable or restrictive a certain fabric is; the more breathable, the less likely you are to sweat through, but the more likely you will be susceptible to cold or windy climates. For example, if you know that you will primarily wear a given suit only in the winter or in cold-to-moderate conditions, then you may consider warmer fabrics such as worsted wool, cashmere, velvet or silk. If you’d like to stick with more breathable fabrics, then linen, cotton, and polyester should do the trick. Some fabrics are very versatile when it comes to breathability: wool fabrics such as tweed, cashmere, and flannel are fine in both warm and cold conditions.
Another factor that coincides with breathability is the actual weight of the fabric, and how heavy it feels to wear. As you would expect, lighter fabrics tend to be better for summer events, while heavier fabrics help to keep out the chill of the winter months. Seven to ten ounces is considered light, eleven to thirteen is right in the middle, and fourteen to nineteen ounces is at the heavier end of the scale.
Softness and comfort of a fabric also play a key role in decision-making. Cashmeres, worsted fabrics and cottons are known for their soft feel, but the comfort may come at the cost of a less sophisticated or luxurious look. That is not to say that all soft fabrics are considered lower quality. In fact, silk, velvet, and wool are both comfortable and luxurious, but as you might expect, they tend to run up a higher price than polyester, cotton, and linen, which tend to have a less appealing look and feel.
Lastly, there is the question of occasion and quality: if you’re looking for a more casual suit, then lower-cost cotton, linen, polyester and certain wool blends may be the perfect match. Whereas if you’re looking to upgrade to a higher-end look, silk, wool, and velvet should do the trick. In general, cheaper fabrics tend to have a shinier gloss, and may be more likely to crinkle, giving them a decidedly less crisp look.
Fabric is only one aspect of the overall custom fit suit picture, which is why it’s important to consult a professional tailor for expert opinions on which fabrics to consider given your circumstances, as well as how the given fabric affects other choices such as available colors, styles, and patterns. From custom wedding suits to shirt alterations to luxury ties, fabric is a key focus in our craft. Check out our lookbook to see what fabrics we’ve created with before.