Top 5 Lightweight Suit Fabrics

April 22nd, 2014

By now you know the deal: seasonal suiting is where the real money is (or at least where it goes, in my case). In my opinion, the most sophisticated wardrobes are based around versatile seasonal tailoring.

Here’s my favorite lightweight suiting fabrics for the Spring/Summer season.

Remember to keep them unlined and wear them any chance you get.

Hopsack

brown-hopsack-summer-sportcoat-jacket-blazer

Performance Hopsack Suit in Camel by Articles of Style

Technically a hopsack can be made of any fabric, but in my opinion it’s most effective with a high-twist tropical weight wool. “Hopsack” simply refers to the loosely woven nature of the fabric; it looks like a very tiny basket-weave up close.

Pros

  • The loose weave lets the breeze right through the fabric. It breathes very well.
  • The loose weave is also virtually impossible to wrinkle. I can roll this thing up into a ball and snap it right back. Great for traveling.
  • The added texture makes the jacket a perfect blazer, too. This is actually a “jacketing fabric” that I made into a 3-piece suit. I call it Summer Tweed.

Cons

  • The loose weave is susceptible to getting snagged by sharp objects. I’ve had a couple bad catches that left some long unravelled threads that I had to cut off. There are some nicks and scars on the suit, but I kinda like that too.
  • Although it breathes better, the weaving process actually adds a little bit of physical weight to the garment, as compared to a traditional tropical wool or mohair.

Linen

khaki-linen-suit-spring-summer-suiting-lightweight

Linen Suit in Cream by Articles of Style

Linen is made from the fibers of the flax plant. It’s arguably the best fabric for warm and sticky climates.

Pros

  • Strong, durable, easy to tailor
  • Naturally wicks away water and moisture. Dries very quickly.
  • The natural “crinkle” effect keeps it from sticking to the body, allowing for increased airflow
  • Looks casual and leisurely, can be worn in casual or vacation settings

Cons

  • Wrinkles very easily
  • Can be considered too casual for some corporate settings

Cotton

blue-cotton-suit-sportcoat-blazer-for-spring-summer

Stretch Cotton Suit in Steel Blue by Articles of Style

By now we all know about the khaki cotton suit, but there are all types of cotton fabrics – chino, seersucker, corduroy, fleece, moleskin, velvet, etc. This one is actually a denim fabric that I look forward to breaking in and washing.

Pros

  • Casual and cool. Can easily be dressed down
  • Usually soft and comfortable
  • Can be worn year-round, given the color and your layering

Cons

  • Wrinkles easier than traditional worsted wool
  • Has less natural stretch than wool, which can sometimes feel restricting
  • Like any cotton, it can potentially stretch out and loose its shape at points of stress (knees, seat, elbows, shoulder blades)

Silk

silk-suit-fabric-loro-piana-brown-suit

Worsted Wool Suit in Coffee by Articles of Style

Silk is a protein fibre that is obtained from the larvae cocoons of silkworms and other insects who undergo metamorphosis. It is then spun into long filaments and woven into textiles. Rarely do you see a 100% silk suit, typically it’s blended with something sturdier (and more sellable) like wool or cotton

Pros

  • No fabric is lighter in physical weight than silk. This jacket could blow away in a gust of wind
  • Has a natural sheen and slight iridescence (which makes it better for an non-work suit)
  • Because it’s so thin and lightweight, it has a delicate and luxurious feel
  • Takes color very well

Cons

  • Shows water marks, or sweat marks, easily
  • Although it’s lighter in weight, I don’t think it breathes as well as linen
  • Not very durable. Not a workhorse fabric. It’s a suit for summer nights after dark

Mohair

black-mohair-fabric-sportcoat-jacket-blazer

Essential Worsted Suit in Black by Articles of Style

Mohair is a fine silk-like yarn made from the hair of Angora goats. It’s rigid and strong like linen, but crispier and with more sheen.

Pros

  • Tough and durable
  • Takes dark dyes well
  • Breathes well and stays cool
  • Has a natural sheen and luster, making it perfect for a slim black suit or formal tuxedo

Cons

  • Can be a little coarse on the hands. Some 100% mohairs can feel a touch sandpapery
  • A word to the wise: half-line those trim trousers homie

What’s your go-to fabric for the Spring/Summer season?

Thanks for reading.

Yours in style,

AoS

 

Photography by Alex Crawford