A Connoisseur’s Fabric: Solaro

August 10th, 2015

Hang around inside the small world of bespoke tailors and menswear connoisseurs long enough, and you start to see patterns. Literally and figuratively.

There are certain historical menswear garments that have infiltrated the “insider’s club” of tailoring specialists. Today, for example, we take a close look at a fabric that is very popular among the league of extraordinary clothing connoisseurs; Solaro.

“While a lot of different fabrics are referred to as Solaro only London cloth merchant Smith Woollens, now part of Harrisons, offers the real thing. It’s an olive colored wool cloth, which comes in a variety of weaves including herringbones and twill. Its defining feature is that it’s woven with red yarns on the underside, which show through the fabric to a greater or lesser extent depending on the lighting and the angle of the viewer.

The cloth is around 11oz in weight, which is mid-to-heavyweight by modern standards, even though Solaro was originally designed as summer suiting (to reflect-away the sun). The idea that it’s summery stems in part from its shade, but more intriguingly from the myth that many years ago Western travellers in the tropics noticed that the natives wore clothes with red linings to protect their skin from the sun.

Solaro’s heat-repelling qualities are sadly mythical, but that ought not put off any man considering a summer suit made from the stuff. If it were ordered with little lining, and worn with linen shirts and brown slip-on shoes it would be comfortable on all but the very hottest days. One of the fabric’s qualities that make it appealing to the clothing connoisseur is that it suggests the wearer doesn’t feel bound by the opinions of the kind of lesser man who might consider Solaro eccentric – you either ‘get Solaro’, or you don’t. This has given the cloth a cult status among tailoring aficionados, who like the fact that it’s not entirely business-appropriate. Ordering bespoke suits that can’t easily be worn to the office is a powerful statement of intent, and perhaps the distinguishing characteristic of the modern dandy.” – Mansel Fletcher for Savile Row’s Chris Kerr Bespoke.

“Solaro is a good example of how the language of textiles absorbs meanings which go further than the aesthetic appearance. Despite its iridescent, shiny surface, which might seem to be an inclination towards flamboyance, its military origins and the standing of the men who wore it, have given solaro a reputation of composure.” – the VBC glossary; a well-written resource for men’s fabric descriptions.

As it turns out, we have a handful of friends in the business (whom we consider “menswear connoisseurs”) who happen to have bespoke suits cut from the traditional Solaro fabric. So in the spirit of old-world elegance and even-older-world competition, feel free to use the comments section below to share your opinion on “who wore it best”.

    Angel Ramos


    Angel’s solaro is cut the Italian way; a slim 6×2 double-breasted jacket with wide peak lapels, soft shoulders, and jet pockets.


    For the record, Angel also has a single-breasted Solaro suit, as featured here.

    There’s that Belgian loafer again, this time in a bluish-grey canvas with leather trim.


    Khaled Nasr


    Khaled’s solaro is cut the Neapolitan way; nipped at the waist and broad in the shoulders, with patch pockets, bold lapels, and generously roped sleeves.


    If you look closely you can see hints of red and green yarns, as well as the iridescence as the light hits the fabric from different angles.


    JS Vann


    I’m very proud of my friend, fellow Canadian, JS Vann, aka “Sox“, aka “Mr. Dirty Inc.” Congrats on starting your own bespoke menswear shop in Toronto, and for doing it all with passion and honesty.

    What I notice most about Sox’s solaro is that it’s cut perfectly for him. Unlike Angel and Khaled, JS is not 6 feet tall and model size. Sox is more like 5’8, on a good day. Roughly 170 lbs. By looking at him in his properly-cut suit, though, he looks tall and lean… Look closely at the image below. Notice how deep the button stance is (damn near his belly button), and how close together the two buttons are. This allows him to keep the jacket cropped (to lengthen the leg line) but creates the illusion that the jacket is longer. For shorter guys I like this better than a one-button jacket.




    Thanks, as always, for reading and special thanks to each of these stylish gentlemen for participating. 

    Yours in style,

    Dan Trepanier

    Photography by Alex Crawford (Kaled & JS photos) and Bevin Elias (Angel photos). 

    • Ishandev

      Angel by a mile. The soft shoulders with a DB win every time. Adds an air of nochalant elegance, and his shades reflect the red luminosity of the suit.

    • TO

      Wanted to go with Khaled but pulling out Sox’s solaro photos from the archives are some of the dopest shots ever on this site… So J.S. gets the slight edge. Definitely support Sox’s suitmaking-
      I got a dope 3-piece made by him!

    • Shawn

      This is probably my favorite suit of Khaled’s entire collection. Part of it is due to my love of Solaro fabric and because it’s (on top of my head) the only (or one of the few) suit of his that doesn’t show aggressive pulling at the button. Don’t get me wrong, this gentleman has dapper style, can match his colors and have a great athletic figure, but still – I’ve never been a fan of this much aggressive pulling at the button.

      This suit, yet very nipped at the waist, lays mostly clean! Good job Mr. Nasr!

      On a side note, I want Mr. Ramos’ beard and frames!

    • Karthik

      Part of this article is ripped off the following link. Come on AoS. This is supposed to be a gentleman’s website. Give credit where it’s due. This is the second such occurrence.


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

        As credited, and linked, in the article…like last time. Thanks for reading and commenting.

        • KD

          To be fair, it took a reader flagging it to get the Belgian loafer piece properly cited. A good chunk of the waistcoat piece was also cribbed from Wikipedia w/o citation. There’s nothing wrong with a blog cross-posting, but Karthik is right: gotta do the due diligence to give credit where it’s due.

          I’m a long-time reader from the Blogspot days and even have a Dan Trepanier by MAB hanging in my closet, so I’ve had a long time to get to know the hustle and integrity you bring to the work. As this community grows, I want the site to maintain those standards.

          Looking forward to all the new additions to site. Cheers.

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

            Agreed. Nothing wrong with cross-posting, happens to us all the time, it’s the beauty of the internet as a resource for information from many sources. As stated above, we due our best to credit writers or photographers whenever we use their content. Cheers.

        • hochiminhcitytourguide

          Wow. I just checked out both, and that stuff would get you fired (or worse) in journalism circles. Really bad form.

          I read the original articles, but still don’t see the link to the original source material? Can y’all really not bust out a couple of paragraphs of original content? Damn…

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

            Hmm. Whenever we use quotes from other authors, we provide credit and links (both to the author and the original publication). I’m not sure why you’re not seeing it…. I agree credit should always be given to authors, and we do our best to make sure links are always shared. We want our readers to discover other sources of good content, as well. Cheers.

    • James Wong

      Js vann smashed it. Solid look

    • Miguel

      Great article, I’ve heard the name before, great to know it’s history.

      The winner to me is Angel Ramos.

      They all look good but his has something really different to it.

    • http://www.online-instagram.com/user/easyandawesome/1217714417 olrichm

      I think I’d have to go with Khaled, but great looks all around! Certainly an interesting fabric!

    • cam

      great info and good looks all around but this color would never work for me. its prob no coincidence that each of these men have an olive/brown skin tone. im always sure to refer back to the advice from alan flusser regarding the importance of color and your complexion. thanks guys!

      • Andrew

        Speaking of which, save for Vann, this cloth’s color is washing out the other two.

    blog comments powered by Disqus

    Class & Style: Layering The Turtleneck

    Brown in Town

    A Sartorialist Down Under feat. Nam Nguyen

    The Harlem Hatter feat. Marc Williamson

    Desert Styles