A Guide to Seasonal Menswear Fabrics
November 2nd, 2015
There are many advantages to investing in seasonal fabrics. To name a few:
- You’ll be more comfortable year-round.
- You’ll look more appropriate in all weather conditions.
- You’ll have a whole new wardrobe to unveil every six months.
- Your clothes will last twice as long, allowing for crucial periods of rest and maintenance.
- Your wardrobe will have much more variety (colors, textures, patterns, etc).
I recently went through my wardrobe to make some closet space and “trim some fat”. As I was doing so, I started to recognize a pattern in the way I buy clothes. Whenever I would fall in love with a particular seasonal fabric (a corduroy suit, for example) I would always order the equivalent fabric for the other season (a chino cotton suit, for example). This way I always know that I have that particular color/style available in my rotation, no matter what time of year it is.
Below are some “Seasonally Equivalent” menswear fabrics to get you thinking about building a long-term wardrobe that is ready to take on the seasons.
Fall/Winter: Flannel Spring/Summer: Hopsack
Wool flannel is a type of woolen fabric (as opposed to worsted) that has a thick, dense, “spongy” feel. It comes in several different weights, the heaviest of which can feel more like a fuzzy throw blanket than a suiting cloth. It has a history of keeping men warm in cold conditions.
Hopsack, on the other hand, is a type of loosened weave that allows for a cloth to be very breathable. It’s usually made using tropical wool or a lightweight blend, such as our Light Navy Hopsack which is 50% wool, 30% silk, and 20% linen. It has become very popular in modern menswear due to it’s breathability and unique “basket-weaved” texture.
Fall/Winter: Tweed Spring/Summer: Linen
Tweed, usually made of heavy wool, is tough, rugged and country-inspired. For more than 100 years it’s been keeping gentlemen warm and enduring harsh winters long enough to be passed-down between generations.
Linen is also tough, rugged, and rural inspired. It’s a vegetable fiber (taken from the flax plant) that is best known for it’s ability to wick-away moisture and it’s propensity to wrinkle which gives it a unique charm.
Fall/Winter: Corduroy Spring/Summer: Chino
Corduroy is a cotton fabric composed of twisted yarns that are woven to form a “rigged” texture. It comes in several different weights, the heaviest feeling like plush velvet and the lightest feeling like moleskin. It’s a timeless fabric best known for it’s comfort and durability, often associated with professors and intellectual types.
Chino is a twill fabric also made up of 100% cotton. It was originally developed in the mid-19th century for British and French military uniforms, but has since migrated into civilian wear. Casual cotton trousers have become so popular in menswear that they gave up on the name of the color (“khakis”) and took the name of the cloth (“chinos”).
Fall/Winter: Chalkstripe Spring/Summer: Pinstripe
A true chalkstripe can only be realized on a heavy flannel fabric. The “chalky-ness” of the stripe is emphasized by the fuzziness of the flannel, which creates a very unique look. Technically there are “chalkstipes” available on worsted wools too, but these don’t have the same charm of natural chalk.
If you’re thinking lightweight pinstripes, I would stick to a dotted stripe on a tropical wool or fresco. The wide “gangster stripe” on the right, for example, is a thinner, airier stipe that is more appropriate for a lightweight garment.
Fall/Winter: Velvet Spring/Summer: Silk
Velvet a type of cotton weave in which the yarns are evenly cut to produce a raised surface, or nap. It’s a flashy fabric that has its own distinct texture and sheen. It’s also a very warm fabric that is usually reserved for formal events in the Winter season (think Holiday parties and New Year’s Eve).
Silk is a natural protein fiber composed mainly of fibroin which is produced by certain insects (such as the Mulberry Silkworm) when they form cocoons. It’s a relatively strenuous process to extract, comb, weave, and dye the silk into textiles, which makes it a relatively luxurious (and expensive) cloth. Like velvet, it’s a natural product that has a unique texture and sheen that cannot be fully replicated by synthetic processes.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
Yours in style,
Photography by Alex Crawford.