What your suit is made of brings together questions of image, form, function and overall wearability.
The most common suit fabric for its unrivalled versatility, durability, breathability, and luxurious-looking matte texture, avoiding the unwanted sheen other suit fabrics can produce. Wool comes in two main yarns: worsted (spun from longer fibres, making it stronger and smoother, and able to be woven into flannel and tweed) and woollen (made of shorter fibres, with more of a more matte finish). Wool count refers to the thickness of the textile — the higher you go, the finer the fabric, and the bigger the price tag. You’re after Super 100s to 140s for business suits, and 160s for a formal suit — but the downside of a softer weave with a high thread count is having to care for the more fragile fabric.
Another natural fabric woven out of plant fibres, cotton is slimmer than wool but creases more easily. The lightweight texture suits lighter colours — khaki and light blue, for example — as well as hotter weather, because it breathes so easily in the summer months. If you’re looking for something more formal, opt for a heavier cotton or a cotton-wool blend.
Even lighter (and more prone to crinkling) than wool, linen is perfect for outdoor events in summer. Your mate’s outdoor wedding in December? Spot on. Tuesday morning’s meeting with that important client? Probably not. The easily wrinkled textile will force you to constantly return to the dry cleaners for stains and creases, or forever steaming the crinkles out yourself.
Comfortable, durable, and something a little bit different for the cooler winter months. Such a bulky fabric demands a slim fit, and you also need a bit of swagger to pull of a suit fabric so left of centre.
Unlike natural options like wool and cotton, polyester’s synthetic fibres produce that dreaded sheen, a poor fit, and no breathability. Few fashion faux-pas scream ‘tight-arse’ louder than the glimmer of a shiny polyester suit fished out of the bottom of a bargain bin.