How to choose the perfect fabric for your tailor made suit

Jorge Oliveira

Credit Jorge Oliveira

If you think a suit is just a suit then you’d be wrong. From the style of jacket or trouser, through to the choice of colour or fabric, a great-looking suit will give you confidence, earn you respect and create a strong first impression. However, buying the perfect suit isn’t easy and with a wide range of places and people to buy suits from, you need to choose a suit that looks smart, suits you and your lifestyle.

When it comes to style, looking good is often about how you wear something rather than what you’re wearing. Conversely, wearing a suit actually plays a crucial role in how you wear it and with this in mind, buying a suit made from the best quality cloth will go a long way towards how good it looks and feels to wear.

Cheap suit equals cheap fabric

As a general rule of thumb, the cheaper the suit the cheaper the fabric. It’s worth mentioning at this point that man-made materials can often make a suit look shiny, so bear in mind that a pure wool suit, on the other hand, will retain its shape thanks to the natural spring of the cloth. It is possible to buy a good wool suit ‘off-the-peg’ and some of the best known names on the high street make affordable, great-quality suits, but if you’re looking for unbeatable fit, tailor made or bespoke are definitely where it’s at.

The old adage ‘buy cheap spend more’ is true when it comes to tailoring and investing in a handcrafted suit means buying a garment that will last a lifetime, but if you’ve never bought a bespoke garment before, the process can seem a little intimidating at first. Great fabric really is the key to a great looking suit but if you’re choosing from a selection of swatches (some tailors carry as many as 20,000) it can be difficult to picture what the finished suit will look like. A good trick to try is to hold the fabric against your wrist as this will help you envisage yourself wearing it and remember that the cloth is likely to appear lighter in colour once the suit is finished. If you’re worried the colour is too light, the chances are that it will be so go for a shade darker.

The heavier the cloth the better the drape

Although suits are much lighter in weight than they once were, it’s wise to choose a cloth that’s as heavy as possible bearing in mind when and where you’ll wear it. The heavier the cloth the better the drape and a mid-weight cloth (11oz – 12oz) would be ideal for wearing for the majority of the year in the UK. If this is to be your first bespoke suit, this is the best weight to start with.

Wool is used to make the majority of bespoke suits and worsted or woollen yarns can be woven to produce tweed, flannel or gabardine to name but a few. Although cashmere or a cashmere-blend are widely considered to be luxury options, it’s worth bearing in mind that it can look shiny. If this is the look you’re after then fine but if you’d like a more traditional English look, wool is the better option.

There’s no denying that buying a bespoke suit is a major investment so if you’re still not sure which fabric to choose, ask for some swatches to take home and think about. Take your time choosing and take the advice of your tailor as his experience should guide you towards the best fabric: remember that a great looking suit is the perfect advertisement and he wants you to look good just as much as you do!




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