Earlier this week I got an email from a client asking about some guidelines on cloth while having a suit custom made. Here’s my response.
1. Cloth Type – you’ll want to focus on 100% wool. Anything with cotton, linen, cashmere, silk, or mohair is going to be a bit too attention seeking, too seasonal, too formal, or too casual. 100% wool does the job you need.
2. Super Count – this is a system that’s used to determine the feel of the cloth. Without diving in too deep, it’s based on how tightly the fibers in an individual thread are twisted before the cloth is woven. It ranges from super 100 past 180. The lower the number the more coarse the cloth will feel but it will also be more durable. The opposite is true for higher numbers. The sweet spot for most work-horse suits is between 120-140.
3. Weight – get something that’s touted as all-season or 4-season. This is usually about 285 – 360 grams. Anything too heavy or too light won’t give you the versatility you need.
4. Weave – The more minimal the weave is, the better. Worsted wools, birdseyes, sharkskins, and nailheads are all appropriate for more conservative environments. More open weaves like hopsacks and basketweaves, or noticeable alternatives like a herringbone are considered to be a bit less formal.
5. Pattern – Solid is more formal and the least memorable – making it more versatile. Business appropriate patterns include pinstripes and glenn plaids. Just avoid anything too bold. I’d stick with a solid though.
6. Color – Go with navy or a mid-to-dark grey. Most guys think black but it’s too formal.
7. Country of Origin – Europe (especially western Europe) is king for a reason. The best mills are still located in Italy and England. Ask the clothier which mills they use and then do some homework on how long they’ve been around