A cotton suit, or at least jacket, should be a staple of casual summer wear.

Cotton is often derided by fans of bespoke because it has no drape and wears out quicker than other fabrics. But the issue of drape – how the cloth falls across your body – is really one for more formal clothing. All cottons, whether corduroy, gabardine or moleskin of any weight, have too much body to drape, and so does suede, leather or any other material used for casual jackets.

Cotton certainly wears out quicker than wool or linen, despite costing roughly the same to have made bespoke, but a cotton jacket should have a lived-in feel. This is one of its charms. It softens and moulds in a very different way to canvassed worsted or flannel.

In an age when men frequently where their worsted suit jackets with casual trousers (no!), have negative associations with linen and tweed, and don’t know much about the other choices, cotton is a good option. Particularly gabardine, as shown here, which has a smoother finish applied to it, or a cashmere/cotton mix made up into corduroy or similar cloth. Zegna makes some lovely examples. 


This navy garbardine suit is being made by Choppin & Lodge, an old tailoring name that has been resurrected by Richard Wainwright (pictured) and Paul Wilkinson. Both working as visiting tailors previously, and currently with premises below Graham Browne in the City, it’s fair to say Richard and Paul add a certain dash to the style of bespoke suits. While perfectly capable of making a good solid business suit, they have more of a penchant for colour and soft tailoring. My other commission from them is a navy topcoat – but in luxurious vicuña and lined in Pongees silk. Some of this taste comes from Richard’s background, which is as front of house at Huntsman, Gieves & Hawkes and Chester Barrie.

My suit will have patch pockets, little canvassing in the chest and minimal shoulder pads. Richard ripped off one layer of the standard pre-made pads to show me how they would reduce them (see below). It will be half lined and, in line with that penchant for flair, use a houndstooth shirt cloth for the lining. 


Choppin & Lodge’s quality of make is on a par with Graham Browne, and indeed Russell is cutting some suits for them at the moment. This suit cost £875, but more standard commissions can be less.

A cotton suit isn’t for everyone. In navy, I think it is a nice subtle change in texture and preferable to navy linen. But everyone should consider a cotton jacket. 

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Iñaki

How about telling us something about this tie you’re wearing? I love the dimple.

Anonymous

thanks for posting

isnt that graham (from graham browne) in your pictures?

how did russell and his team feel about using another tailor right under their nose?

Benjamin Marsh

Hi Simon,

Having indulged us with the type of tie you were wearing, could you please go one further and tell us the rest of the outfit you had on? I can see the stone coloured trousers and blue shirt, but was wondering what jacket and shoes you had teamed them with.

Many thanks,

Ben

Anonymous

Dear Simon,

Would you be able to discuss the relative merits of Choppin & Lodge and Graham Browne?

Alex

Hi Simon,

I recently got a Cifonelli overcoat and a Graham Browne suit based on the recommendations on your blog. The Cifonelli overcoat I am still waiting for but I have picked up the Graham Browne suit and I am very happy with, so thank you for introducing me to them.

Now that I have a Graham Browne suit I thought I would try Choppin and Lodge just as an alternative. I have already commissioned a suit with a waistcoat and I just wanted to ask how you found the suit you commissioned and wrote about in the above article has worn over time?

Thanks,

Alex

Alex

Ah okay. Thank you for getting back to me and I will let you know how I find my suit.

Badger

I have also just commissioned a suit from Choppin and Lodge so would be interested in hearing your experiences Alex. Also my name!

Badger

Hi Simon
Very much enjoy your website BTW. I was wondering if you had any photos of the finished Choppin and Lodge suit.

Sharon Knettell

My husband has a cotton suit with 5% lycra ( or something like that ) being made at Brooks Bros. Boston. He had had a suit made there, a blazer,( both Italian wool) a sport jacket( bamboo) assorted pants etc- but the cotton suit is not coming out right. The others were perfection.

Their tailor said that cotton is not possible to tailor as well as wool. The sleeves looked rumpled in the back and the chest has folds under the front armpits have been somewhat relieved by shoulder pads.

Is is that difficult to tailor a cotton suit? My husband loves them for summer concerts and travel.

We have been back and forth for months- the tailor agreed with me on the sleeves and some other details I pointed out.

Going nuts!

Thank-you

Aleks

Dear Simon,

I am thinking of trying Choppin & Lodge because I’ve heard quite a few good things, but I would just like to get a view as to how you feel they approach customers who want something very specific. I’m afraid that I like to specify the cut of my suits in quite a bit of detail and a tailor that I have worked with quite a lot recently can’t seem to get it right.

If I were to order a suit from C&L, asking for a 4.25″ peaked lapel with a rounded belly and 2.5″ gorge, together with a jacket with closed quarters – do you think I’d actually get what I asked for, or would there be a risk of things going awry during the production process?

Do they make in the UK or do they send their clothes to workshops overseas?

Thank you very much indeed for the advice,

Aleks

Ben R

How did it work out using a shirting for the lining on the jacket?