A man’s wedding garment is a suit – summer, winter, outdoors, indoors. The suit has to handle it; all suits aren’t gifted with special powers. No matter how exquisitely tailored, some materials are simply better suited for certain situations than others. Not all gentlemen want to take a course on wool blends while they are researching men’s wedding bands. But they probably want to avoid looking too uncomfortable when they are pledging their unwavering commitment. So we put together the ultimate guide to men’s wedding suit fabrics.
For the fella that doesn’t want to get into the weeds of twills and tweeds, but simply wants to know the broad categories, here they are: wool, cotton, linen, synthetics.
Feel like a lost sheep when it comes to fabrics? Start with wool, the most common suit material. Wool’s natural availability and versatility make it a foundational element for formal clothing from winter caps to weather-resistant, breathable footwear. If a guy does want to make do with just one suit for every occasion, his best option is the midweight merino suit. It’s dubbed “four-season” for a reason.
It’s not unreasonable for a guy to pick a suit for his own wedding that he can wear to other formal occasions throughout the year. But if he is focused on the most comfortable and fashionable fit for his own wedding’s spot on the calendar, he doesn’t have to stray from wool. He just needs to be shepherded to the right weight. Lighter for summer and heavier for winter.
But wait, there’s more to wool than weight. There are different types of wool – named after the type of sheep or goat or even the place on the animal that the material is sheared from. The aforementioned Merino wool comes from the Merino sheep. Cashmere comes from the soft underside of a Cashmere goat. Furthermore, the type of wool is different from its weave. For example, Tweed is a kind of weave that is most commonly wool, but can also be a wool blend (which simply means that the wool is combined with other synthetic fibers) or made of another material entirely.
Cotton and Linen
Soft. Affordable. Light. Breathable. Cotton is another popular choice. Cotton suits can also be worn year-round, but really shine during the warmer months. Wool suits have the moisture-wicking advantage when it comes to summer suits, but cotton’s lighter weight and lower price point often give it the upper hand.
Like wool, cotton can be identified by its place of origin (Egyptian vs. Upland, for example), as well as separated by style. Some of those styles, such as denim and corduroy, are easily recognizable as everyday apparel, even if they aren’t regulars when it comes to formal wedding wear. Some styles are shared with other fabrics — flannel can be cotton or wool. Twill shares its secrets with cotton, wool, polyester and silk.
Seersucker’s distinctive stripes (which can be either cotton or linen) alternate between puckered and smooth textures in a way that keeps the suit away from the skin when the weather is stifling. That’s why seersucker and summer go together as seamlessly as his and her wedding ring sets.
Speaking of linen, that’s another plant-based suit that’s an ideal fit for summer attire. Even lighter than cotton, linen suits do come with additional upkeep and expense. Linen wrinkles more easily than other fabrics, and it tends to plaster itself to the skin when it gets wet. But it also dries exceptionally quickly and possesses the kind of legendary durability that has allowed it to be recovered from Egyptian tombs.
Having combed through the most common natural fibers, it’s time to weave in some man-made textiles. The majority of modern clothing contains some form of synthetic fiber.
- Polyester: What exactly is polyester? It’s a petroleum-based product, which means that it’s a form of plastic. Small polyester pellets are shot through a spinneret and stretched into fibers. The perforation that is naturally present in cotton doesn’t exist in polyester; which means that polyester suits repel spills but also trap moisture. They are also considerably cheaper than their natural counterparts.
- Rayon: Rayon is another synthetic material, but it comes from chemically treated cellulose material like wood pulp that has been fashioned into fibers. Because it doesn’t weather stretching or soaking very well, rayons durability doesn’t measure up to the other fabrics, which limits its utility as a suit material.
- Velvet and Silk: Velvet and silk aren’t sitting at the same table as the other fabrics. But it still seems right to end on a luxurious note that they provide. Velvet can be made from silk or cotton or even synthetic fibers. In a certain sense, velvet is more about achieving a vibe than using a particular set of ingredients. And that’s why its decadence is often mixed into tuxedo suit jackets. It’s uncommon to find a suit that is entirely silk because it is prone to wrinkling and fades in sunlight. silk is often blended into suits to give them that enviably smooth texture.
At the end of the day, fabric is all about texture, so making an informed decision about suit material will eventually require trying on some of those different options. Because a suit covers just about the entirety of a man’s body, the selection isn’t just about picking the most attractive swatch—It’s about wearing what feels right.