Cotton gabardine is probably the best suit material for men who don’t like suits. It is soft and casual, shaping to the body in the way cotton will, but not bagging like corduroy or wrinkling like linen. It also ages subtly and gracefully. The cotton suit I had made a few years ago has worn noticeably on the cuffs and front edge.
The only disadvantage to cotton is that it has no natural stretch, unlike wool. This means it can feel tight quite easily, so have it cut a touch more generously.
Like a cotton zip-jacket or lightweight pair of jeans, it doesn’t have to be a summer material either. Just layer it with knitwear or wrap a scarf over the top.
Michael Hill of Drake’s is pictured in a green cotton suit, complete with buttondown shirt, grenadine tie and madder-finish orange handkerchief, all matching the casual nature of the suit and coordinating nicely with its colour.
Did you ever get a chance to check out the Berk camelhair knitwear?
Interesting article as one rarely, if ever, considers a cotton suit especially if one works in the City but, certainly this can apply to odd cotton jackets and trousers too.
Strange to hear that your cotton suit is already showing signs of wear since it only apperaed here in 2011. You dont say if the wear is acceptable or not though so leaves us thinking are you displeased with it?
In reply to the other post on Berk camelhair (not sure why it came up on this post) i can pass a comment on it, having purchased a shawl collar cardigan last year. They are very sumptuous in the feel and look but are very warm. I purchased mine purely as a house jumper for the colder nights but must provide warning here. I find they are suitable if you are just sitting around but, if you are busy i find it a little too warm.
Thanks Bradley. Yes, it certainly applies to jackets and trousers, though for those I tend to go with RTW, washed versions such as Incotex and Boglioli. The post is really to recommend a suit.
My apologies if I wasn’t clear – I like the signs of wear, they are one of the main plus points of a cotton suit. The colour fades slightly and the edges in particular. It feels lived in. Anyone who likes the ageing of denim or indeed leather will appreciate those qualities, and it definitely separates it from a business suit.
I was following up on a previous question Bradley and felt a little too lazy to sift back to earlier posts! Thank you for the information, very much appreciated! Being based very high up north (of Inverness that is!) I doubt very highly I shall get too warm in them but that is very good to know! Thank you
Interesting to read how the cotton suit has worn, thank you for this follow up. Cotton still feels warmer than linen, doesn’t it? In a way I feel my cotton suits still wear warm compared to 10 oz wool, but then again the former are RTW, so perhaps it is due to the inlay.
The pictures of your suit are rather small. How would you compare the T.Everest suit as to construction and feel to your other bespoke garments that you have had made in the mean time?
Yes, you’re right Frank, cotton doesn’t wear that cool. Linen and most lightweight or high-twist wools are cooler. It’s main advantage is its relaxed feel.
Tim’s suit has born out well compared to others I have had made. Perhaps not quite on the same level as Poole or Huntsman, but very good – and of course the biggest selling point with Tim’s tailoring is his originality and design expertise, which is unique.
I think that cotton work better in light colors,like light tan,beige,stone,khaki,light olive.
I think also that is great (but much American) the seersucker cotton suit.
I don’t like at all cotton suit in dark colors,like navy or charcoal: are horribles in my opinion,and the dark colors fade very bad.
Said this is a suit that is better ready to wear that bespoke,because his life is relatively short and aging bad. I speak about pure cotton,obviously. The polyester-cotton blend so dear to Ivy league lovers is another thing.
Thanks Carmelo. I obviously disagree about the navy, as I love my navy cotton suit. The biggest advantage to it is that it subtle subverts a classic business suit – which something paler would of course not do. I wouldn’t call the fading bad either, and it has lasted well, but then I would never buy RTW anyway.
Has enough time passed for you to re-evaluate the Top Drawer shoes? Which do you prefer on your feet, the Top Drawer or G&G Deco?
The Top Drawer have held up really well. There isn’t much in it between Deco and them on quality – the difference is really in the style and last-shape of the Deco too, which is obviously much more aggressive
Which particular Rubinacci square is that? I take it is the same square as in the club tie post, the subtle colours look fantastic.
It is, yes. All of the Rubinacci squares have a similar mix of colours – in this case pink, yellow and pale blue – that makes them fantastically versatile for harmonising with ties and suits.
Any chance you’d include a few photos of the wear on your cotton suit, Simon?
I don’t work in an office so informal fabrics are right up my street. I liked you C&L suit very much.
Nice Post Love Reading It
Cotton suits are only ok for British summers not summers where its incredibly hot , a cotton suit will soak sweat and go out of shape in ten minutes, best to have Irish linen , this goes out of shape as well but has something pleasant to this look.
True, linen is always going to be cooler. But cotton has a lovely style that few people consider
My current project of a summer suit is proving problematic.
A great off the peg , dark blue Dunhill linen suit that a bought off a sale rack at the height of the financial crisis has given up on me after a long and debauched existence.
Its replacement will have to transcend the semi-formal and casual. It will have to travel well, work in hot climates and be equally at place at Wimbledon, on the race course or in ‘media’, creative meetings.
I want to commission A&S (they did me a couple of lovely cord suits) and ask them to propose some cloths but the linen/silk mixes they proposed are deemed to be unsuitable for trousers.
What would you suggest – should I revert to pure linen (I don’t mind a lived in look but don’t like to look like I’ve been run over by a truck) or is there an alternative and who has the best selection of summer cloths?
If you like linen suits, I’d stick with them. Otherwise, perhaps one of the silk/linen jacketings with fresco trousers
Which weight of Linen would you recommend and who does the best selection of cloths?
Hi Simon, I’ve decided against the Teba, and leaning more towards a cotton sports jacket-ish (emphasis on the -ish.) Do you think an unlined cotton jacket (medium weight drill, tan in colour – the shop doesn’t know the exact weight of the material) – would be somewhat warmer due to the fact that it’s unlined? Although the retro look mightn’t suit some, they have quite an interesting MTO operation at Old Town:
The somewhat roomier look is something I’m interested in for an all-purpose “knock-about” summer jacket, especially in an office with no specific dress code. Thanks for all your advice, David
I’m not sure why you think an unlined jacket would be warmer? Being unlined normally helps make the jacket cooler, as there isn’t the lining to trap heat as well as the outer fabric.
I know Old Town, and they do great things. Hard to comment much on style though as it’s really not a tailored look.
Sorry, one last thing, and you don’t need to post this, but if you could respond to this with my recent question about unlined cotton – would medium weight drill be analogous to cotton gabardine?
On this, gabardine is the type of cotton cloth so you can’t really infer anything about the weight of it from that I’m afraid. Gabardine can be light or heavy
Hello Simon, do you know if the greenish cotton suit Michael Hill was wearing at your meeting back in the day was tailored (so that he could hint at the fabric)? To me and my complexion this must be the perfect muted green-grey/mud shade of cotton suiting but I ‘m not able to find it anywhere today. All green cottons I’ve seen seem to be more saturated and therefore too colourful, if that makes sense. Perhaps Michael can help, if you happen to talk to him. It’s been five years, but who knows.. any other suggestion where to look? Thanks much!
Yes it does make sense Oskar, but I’m afraid it wasn’t made by a tailor – Mike has a few tailor-made things, but most are Drake’s samples, or MTM through their makers
Simon, Hope you are well. I recently discovered Mr. Hill’s work and developed appreciation for his relevant, coherent aesthetic. I know this post is 10 years old, but if you would remember, can you tell me if he’s wearing Alden Tassel loafer or EG Belgravia? On the note of footwear, what are your thoughts on versatility of navy socks?
I really don’t know I’m afraid Cormac, sorry.
On navy socks, I wear them with navy trousers and jeans really only – I don’t find them as versatile as shades of grey (charcoal or mid-grey) in that sense