Joe Cutcliffe

A Guide to Types of Suit Fabric and Thread Count | Man of Many


Let’s start with some of the more confusing terminology around thread count. What do the numbers in 110s, 120s, 150s etc mean when talking about suit fabric?

The number refers the fineness of the individual fibres that are spun into the yarn, which is woven into the fabric before it’s sewn into a suit. The higher the number, the thinner the fibres, the smoother the fabric (and also the more expensive it is). The Super number or “micronage” is only one measure of quality, and not a very reliable one.

Are some suit fabrics or materials more appropriate for certain occasions (i.e. linen in a day suit, etc)?

Aside from 100% wool, most other fabrics are seasonal. Thicker wool, tweed and flannels are more appropriate in cold conditions. Conversely, linen, seersucker and cotton are summer fabrics. As a result we see more of these warmer weather fabrics at events like weddings.

What’s the rule with synthetics? Is a small amount if viscose ever okay in Australia because it’s a warm climate?

Personally, I would never go for synthetic or blends of synthetic for several reasons. 100% wool suits will last for years if looked after correctly. Suits made of synthetics can start to lose their shape, become ingrained with dirt or stains and often develop a shiny look around the pockets, knees and at the elbows. Synthetics are an inferior fabric on an environmental level also; most man-made and synthetic fibres are made from oil, which is non-renewable (much like the plastic bags and other synthetics they’re extremely slow to degrade).

Australia is famous for Merino wool – do we appreciate this and use it enough as a suit fabric?

It’s true when people say that Australia was built on the back of the sheep; Australian Merino wool is the best fibre for men’s suiting and is the most versatile fabric in the world. It has a long history and heritage that stretches back over 200 years.

Are there any massive no-nos when selecting fabric for a tailored suit?

Ultimately you want a suit that is going to fit your purpose; I don’t want my clients to walk into a room and have someone say: “That’s a nice suit!”, I want them to walk into a room and for people to say: “You look great!”

What are some of the more specific benefits of wool?

Wool is breathable, allowing air and moisture to pass through the fabric in both directions. Wool also has natural anti-static properties – this minimises the possibility of any build up of static electricity in the garment, which would cause it to cling to the body making the wearer feel uncomfortable, as well as the presence of dust and lint. It is naturally renewable and biodegradable. It has a stunning drape and style. It retains its shape with natural wrinkle recovery and stretch properties.

And how about debunking the myth that wool is just a winter fabric?

It’s a complete myth. If you consider the environment that Merino sheep live in, they need to be warm in winter and kept cool in summer. This versatile quality to the Merino fabric is certainly applicable to humans wearing wool suits. Wool is self-thermoregulating – by producing a micro-climate it keeps the wearer cool when it’s hot, and warm when it’s cold.

How should guys best care for a suit that’s made out of fantastic fabric?

Firstly, never have your suits dry-cleaned. Instead, have your suits steamed and brush it gently to remove any dirt or dust. Unless you spill red wine or drop a meat pie with sauce on your suit, never have it dry cleaned! Dry cleaning is the fastest way to ruin a suit, even more so if it isn’t 100% wool. If you need to travel for business, hang the suit for the flight. If that’s not an option, keep it in a suit bag. When you arrive at your destination, immediately hang the suit in the bathroom, run the hot water for 5 mins with the door shut and the fan off. Leave the suit in the steam with the door shut for 5-10 mins to remove the wrinkles.
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