What makes a cloth suitable for a jacket, but not for a suit?
This is a question I know many readers struggle with, particularly as offices become more casual. Without the safety of a dark suit and dark shoes, what should a man wear? Why doesn’t the jacket from that suit just work with other trousers?
It’s about the set
The key is the density of the cloth. A fine worsted wool used for suiting is quite dense, with more yarn per centimetre. This is controlled by the ‘set’ of the loom when the cloth is woven.
A denser cloth is better ‘constructed’, as those in the cloth industry put it. It has more body, and thus can hang and drape better, as well as retaining a crease in a pair of trousers.
Jacketings (cloths used for jackets) tend to be looser in the weave and therefore more malleable. If you pick up a nice navy cashmere jacketing, it will feel spongy and pliable.
A navy suiting, by contrast, will feel like it has a definite shape and direction. It knows where it wants to go, and once you’ve stopped messing around with it, it will return there.
Below: A close up of my particularly loosely woven Permanent Style tweed jacket
Not the softness
A jacketing is often thought of as soft, but it doesn’t have to be. A navy cashmere and a hairy Shetland are very different in feel, but they both have this loose, pliable feel in common.
Summer jackets are similar. They are often some loosely constructed mixture of linen, silk, and wool. (Indeed, the very fact that they are mixes makes them a little irregular in appearance, and therefore more casual.)
But even if summer jacket is in plain linen, it will usually be a lighter weight if intended for a jacketing and heavier if for a whole suit – with that weight partly down to how densely it has been woven.
The fiber matters too
Now, this doesn’t mean the weaver can make anything into a suiting, as long as the set is right. For something to work as a suiting, it also has to be a relatively long fiber, so it can be spun into a fine yarn.
The vast majority of cashmere fibers are just too short, as are Shetland and Harris wools. It is possible to make suitings out of cashmere, but the fibers have to be particularly long and carefully selected.
You can have densely woven tweeds that are made into shooting suits, for example. But they have to be much heavier and will never have the fineness of a worsted suiting. A tweed like Saxony, meanwhile, uses a finer yarn than Shetland and is still heavier than most suitings.
Below: My cashmere oatmeal-coloured jacket from Elia Caliendo
The role of finishing
You could be forgiven for thinking that finishing was a more important factor than density. After all, it is finishing that makes something smooth or rough, sleek or fluffy.
Most jackets do tend to have less of a finish than suits. They are not so ‘clean cut’, with the fibers being left a little longer. But you can also get jackets with a clean, shiny finish. It’s not my taste, but these can be seen as more formal jackets, and they are set apart from suits both by the ‘set’ and by their colour or pattern.
Hopsack and blazers
One obvious exception to this is some forms of navy blazer. They are often made from a more densely woven cloth, more similar to a suiting.
This is a question of formality, and is largely a hangover from days when a separate jacket and trousers was still very formal – before the lounge suit began to dominate all smart and professional menswear.
Today, a navy blazer is usually a little less dense. Hopsack, for example, is a style of weave that is often used for a slightly less densely constructed jacket, and makes a more versatile, modern blazer. It also tends to have a less shiny finish.
Below: My hopsack jacket from Elia Caliendo
Colour and pattern
Finally, the colour and pattern of a jacketing usually sets it apart from a suit – although this is far more a question of culture and taste.
Strong colours and bold patterns tend to be used in jackets just because having them in a whole suit would be overwhelming. It wouldn’t be smart enough, and therefore undermine most of what people want out of a suit.
If you’re wearing a separate jacket and trousers, it works best where the two are clearly distinguished from each other.
This can be done in lots of ways (texture, density, material, colour, pattern) but colour and pattern are the easiest. And patterned jackets generally work better than patterned trousers.
Below: My muted-green jacket from Solito, with dark purple overcheck
Which colours to pick
As to what styles of jacket and trouser you should combine together, this is perhaps harder and certainly more subjective than what cloth should be used as a jacketing.
But some general guidelines are possible. Here are my five quick tips, with some links to further reading:
1 Navy is the most versatile colour for a jacket, followed by grey and pale browns (sand/oatmeal). It very rarely works as an odd trouser.
2 Green and brown are great jacket colours, but tend to be more rustic and casual. Get them in muted colours if possible.
3 Jeans only work with the most casual of jackets. Think texture, casual colour and a loose set!
4 Greys are the most versatile colour of odd trouser. Mid-grey, light and charcoal probably, in that order
5 Contrast is key. And white or cream are very useful in a trouser if you can get away with them.
Surprisingly enough, this post comes out at the right time to me! In the past few days, I’ve been looking for sound advice to settle two issues.
So this may be the right occasion to submit them to you:
1. Combining a navy blazer and charcoal trousers: If charcoal is the “fallback option for formal trouser-separates” as you once wrote, how really useful is such a combination. Assuming a navy blazer is the most formal odd jacket.
2. What about odd tweed trousers? Could they be easily combined with a navy blazer?
3. How useful are patterned tweed trousers?
As you guess, my questions are focused on Winter-wardrobe challenges.
On the first question, I guess it depends how often you dress that formally. But a mid-grey will be more useful and versatile, if that’s what you’re looking for, particularly in flannel.
Patterned trousers are often quite limiting, because they require everything else to be plain; easier to stick to plains. And very few tweeds will work as trousers,for the reasons discussed in this piece – they are too loosely woven. But some semi- or worsted tweeds might be ok if woven to be worn that way, more like a suiting
Hi Simon, you mentioned that navy rarely works with as an odd trouser color. How about with a blue plaid jacket?
Probably too similar colours to create enough contrast… But of course depends on the precise colours
Terrific blog thank you Simon, and terrific advice. I beg to differ on one point ‘though: in your ‘tips’, surely blues-other-than-navy are more versatile than greys for odd jackets, given that, as you acknowledge, grey is the most versatile odd trouser. Unless they’re patterned, grey sports coats are a PITA to contrast. More generally, a useful rule of thumb I find is ‘Not all suits are worsted, but if it’s worsted it’s a suit’. Don’t even think about wearing it odd, up or down.
Kudos to you for coming up with so many great discussion points.
Thanks, and it’s certainly close on the greys or other blues.
Worsted yarn can be used often on trousers, though I’m with you on the jackets.
I have been collecting quality shoes for a couple of years now, ranging from Loake to Saint Crispin´s. This again, has made me more interested in clothes. So now I am going to buy a couple of jackets and trousers. I don´t want it to be too formal, this will not fit mye upcoming job as a teacher.
Therefore I am considering tweed fabrics for jackets and flanell for trousers. Other suggestions are appreciated as well.
To start off I wander what colours you recommend starting with, when it comes to flanell trousers and jackets?
What other fabric than tweed would you recommend for less formal jackets? Any specific manufacturers of tweed you recommend? grams etc.
There is a lot of information around the site – I suggest you start there if you don’t mind.
If you go to the categories page you can see posts segmented into jackets and trousers posts. You can also search within trousers, for example, by flannel
After looking through different posts I have realized that I should get mid grey flannel first time off.
When it comes to jackets, I am not quite clear on alternatives to tweed in the manner of same formality?
Have a look at the posts on my oatmeal jacket, and grey jacket from Steven Hitchcock
If you are going to start with grey for your odd coat, look carefully at herringbone as a logical starting point, perhaps with leather buttons.
Could a case be made for a patterned trousers?
For a change of pace from plain trousers, what kind of cloth with a subtle pattern – anything but showy – while being warm enough for Winter could you then recommend? Keep in mind that it should be suitable to a blazer.
Surprisinly enough – to me at least, I haven’t found a single piece of opinion worth mentionning on this topic. Being less versatile were a good reason?
Yes, the issue is the versatility. So I have a pair of grey houndstooth trousers, for example, but I find I barely wear them. Needs navy knitwear or a navy blazer on top
Great post Simon. I think you can have more fun with a sport coat then a suit, in pattern and coulor.
Hello Simon, Thank you for a very useful and, in my case, timely post. Having moved from a traditional (suit wearing) office about 3 years ago, I’ve found I no longer wear a suit; reverting to chinos / jeans and jacket. I noticed you sometimes wear a crew neck sweater under a DB jacket and have recently tried it – I think it I will need time to get used to that combination. Are there any rules I should think about? Would a v-neck work? Finally, I am looking to add a lighter grey (cashmere or similar) blazer – similar to your C oat piece – but am concerned the colour might limit the color of sweater I can wear underneath. Any thoughts ? Thank you again as always – your advice makes such a difference to men like me. Kindest regards
Thanks Dimitrios. I think a separate piece on knitwear under jackets could be good. But briefly, a V-neck could be good under an SB jacket but less so under a DB generally. And a light grey jacket could go with loads of sweater colours – navy, dark green, burgundy, even charcoal. Trousers will be the harder area, as we’ve discussed before.
A sweater under a DB would need to be turtle or roll neck to work.
Not for me Nick, but good to have your view.
Actually quite a classic look, but not current.
To be clear, I like that look. It’s just not the only look for me with a DB
Hi Simon and Nick, thank you both for your respective replies. I look forward to reading the piece in due course, and hope we will see another PS collaboration as part of it! Kindest regards, D
Whats your views/personal experience on multiple trousers (2) for a single jacket framed I suppose more towards a business context where such item gets repetitive multiple use per week. Obviously for those who own 5, 6 bespoke suits a full rotation can be performed each day of a week, but in reality for those with a fewer number of bespoke – do you recommend multiple trousers to rotate with the jacket?
I do, yes, even with 5 suits.
Another good addition to the range of PS guides. One challenge when selecting cloth for suiting or jackets is will it look good on. Will the colour flatter or hinder (some colours do not work on everyone), also will the pattern or shade compliment your current wardrobe – will it match the range of trousers you might have in cut, colour and cloth. This is one of the key issues with bespoke vs. RTW – trying on a RTW jacket gives a ready impression as to suitability of cloth and colour. It is only through purchasing experience that one learns whether checks or tweed, green or tan, worsted or flannel really works. I think it best to learn this through RTW then apply the lessons to bespoke.
I have a vintage donegal tweed suit, and it’s lightweight for a tweed. I usually just wear the jacket alone without the trousers and I feel it’s the type of suit jacket that works just fine as an odd jacket because of the rough texture. I’d also describe the weave as loose. But I don’t see a problem with the trousers. Is there a reason why this lightweight tweed works as a suit whilst most don’t? Is this an exception?
Hard to say without seeing it Matt, but the set is only the most important of several things – yarn, weave pattern, finish etc can all make the material stiffer and better for trousers. Perhaps it’s a worsted tweed?
Is there such a thing as a Donegal worsted tweed? I thought the only tweed which blended with worsted wool was Saxony.
The pattern may be a form of donegal regardless
Thanks Simon. It shows one is never too old to learn. I was not aware that such a Saxony/Donegal crossover existed. Can you direct me to a supplier as I would like to learn more. Regards.
I don’t know any Nick. I’m hypothecating about a cloth I haven’t seen
OK, thanks anyway. Have a good weekend.
I don’t believe that it is worsted because it’s quite rough.
I believe Donegal tweeds most commonly refer to a wool cloth combining yarns with the traditional coloured flecks or “nepps” which are spun in Ireland with a plain weave construction. The yarns used in different cloths may vary in count (weight/thickness) so it is possible your Donegal tweed is woven with a finer count than is often used for other Donegal or other tweeds. Saxony is the term used for woollen cloth where the wool is of a finer antipodean quality (referring to the Saxon Merino) and in comparison to the local Cheviot-style tweeds, whereas worsted wool of antipodean origin is often referred to as Botany wool. There is a spinner who produces genuine Donegal yarn using merino wool so I assume you could refer to a tweed of this yarn as a Saxony Donegal Tweed.
I found this whole Saxony/Donegal thing quite interesting, so I have had a bit of a dig into my archives and cannot find a single reference where the two styles are linked. What comes over clearly, irrespective of provenance, is that the cloths are totally different from one another, with Donegal typically being quite coarse and thick, and Saxony being typically being lighter and softer. There are no references either to Donegal being woven with worsted wools, while this may be found in cloth woven in a Saxony style.
I have 2 fabrics to be made into suits. Both are Worsted 100% Merino Wool, one is 6-7oz and the other 7-8oz. Are these suitable for just spring/summer or could the 7-8oz be worn most of the year?
Just spring/summer really
Is an 11/12oz tweed jacket suitable for the UK autumn / winter? Also, would this weight be ok with jeans / chinos? Or better suited to dressier trousers?
Yes although you could also go heavier and it would feel much nicer. The suitability with jeans or chinos would depend more on the weave and colours than the weight – it needs texture
The cloth I’ve ordered is green Donegal weighing 11.5 oz. I’m having it made up in the Neapolitan style. I’m guessing this should work with jeans. Would I be correct in assuming a darkish green Donegal is not something to wear in summer? Thanks in advance.
Depends. Real heat, no, but in England you might wear it a bit
Does green Donegal work with jeans?
It could do, yes
What cloth would you recommend for a (NYC) winter-weight navy blazer? Would a 14/15 ounce Hardy Minnis flannel work, or would that suffer from the half-suit look? It would be Neapolitan make with patch pockets to minimize the suit jacket look. Alternatively, I was thinking of a 12/13 ounce W Bill tweed. Do you have any alternative suggestions?
Probably not flannel. Tweed or Donegal or cashmere, around those weights
With those weights, for a Neapolitan style jacket, would it be ok to go down the unlined route? Or, if it’s a winter jacket, is it best to have the jacket lined?
A style choice really, it won’t make much difference to warmth
What about durability? Are lined jackets more durable than unlined?
Interesting. It begs the question, why line a jacket? Is it purely an aesthetic feature?
Slides more easily when you put it on and less likely to get caught on trouser seat. Less work for the tailor generally. And some other small reasons
As always, thanks for the replies. Have a nice Christmas and New Year!
Simon, it’s been interesting figuring out where I fit among your average readership in terms of formality, and I’m at the more casual end certainly, so I’m learning to temper your advice to suit my workplace. In putting together a range of odd jackets to wear in my creative field, where most of my colleagues dress ultra-casually, I think I might be better served by what you would steer the average office denizen away from initially, namely the more rustic browns, greens, tweeds, etc. I think even a Navy hopsack blazer would attract unwanted feelings of dressy-ness. Paired trousers would be denim, chinos, with flannels at the top of the scale. Shoes from white converse up to brown brogues.
How would you rate, say, a glen check in brown (I covet the current one at Drake’s) over a donegal tweed, herringbone in cashmere or a non-navy hopsack on the formality scale? I think all of my choices need to work in outfits no higher than a 4/10 smart if I don’t want to stick out too much. Do the above sound in the right spectrum?
Yes, though very hard to give advice remotely. Not sure how to rate an offices formality in numbers! The jackets you list are pretty much in order of formality, although the Donegal might be best as it will stand out less
Funny, I re-wrote my question about 5 times, sensing there was something incoherent about what I was trying to say. Evidently, so it remained! Thanks again.
I am thinking of commissioning a single breasted summer jacket and am particularly fond of clothes with wool, silk and linen blend. I like the extra bit of texture from the silk and linen. However I have been struggling hard to find a suitable one as I find most fabric not to my preference due to their more very ‘opened’ weave. I particularly like a jacket Taka from Liverano wears(http://www.markcho.com/for-rake-japan/2015/8/19/takahiro-osaki), as seen from the picture taken by Mark Cho here though I am not quite sure if that is a wool silk linen blend. Whats your reccomendation for such a fabric?
It looks like that blend to me, yes.
You need to peruse the summer jacketing books from the italians – Loro Piana, Drapers, Cacciopolli and so on.
There is always quite a range, the only frustration being that they are only there for a year, and even subtle changes can make quite a difference to the effect
I was wondering what your thoughts are on using moleskin fabric for jackets.
I wouldn’t generally recommend it. As a pretty sloppy, perhaps unusual material, perhaps – but not for a versatile day-to-day jacket. Lightweight tweeds will perform so much better for the same weight
Any experience with Harrison’s Lamlana or Moonbeam?
Yes, I’ve used both – have a search on the site
There’s mention of you using the Lamlana for your Hitchcock jacket but nothing about your thoughts on the cloth. I’m trying to avoid Cashmere as it’s not the most durable fabric. Would Lamlana be considerably more durable?
It would be yes, but only slightly. Anything softer of that type is going to be less robust than other plain wool or tweed jacketings
For a navy standalone jacket, is there any particular pattern you favour? I’m thinking of using a navy herringbone fabric, link below. I assume it would work as a standalone jacket to be worn with plain grey trousers?
Yes, that would be nice
Any particular shade of grey that you’d recommend to go with a navy blazer? The one in question is quite dark. I’m unsure whether a lighter shade or mid-grey would be better.
Probably mid-grey, as that will generally be more versatile, but obviously hard to say for sure without seeing them
I’m looking at some navy herringbone fabric for a jacket. One that has taken my eye looks to be a mixture of navy and black. Admittedly, you can only see the black when you look up close. Given that I mostly wear brown shoes, would this fabric be the wrong one to choose. It’s the black in the fabric that’s giving me doubts. If I wore black shoes, I wouldn’t see an issue.
I wouldn’t worry about the black, if it’s that hard to see. Consider more whether the navy overall is just a little too dark to be versatile with those shoes and types of trousers etc. A dark navy is very useful, but will usually be best with dark shoes, including a dark brown.
The below link shows the fabric. You can see the black. Do you still think that it will pair with dark brown shoes?
Should be fine, yes
Bamboo is being pushed this season by a number of tailors. Any thoughts on this. Presumably it creases too much for say Friday office wear ?
I’ve never had anything made, but it does crease less – or has a roll to it rather than a sharp crease – than linen does.
Depends on your office, but if you normally wear a worsted suit then yes probably.
Hi Simon, what do you suggest to add to my winter wardrobe ?
I already have:
– green tweed with dark green and red overchecks
– brick-red/brown tweed with yellow windowpane and royal blue overchecks (really subtle)
– medium/dark grey tweed with purple/orange overchecks
– royal blue suit
I definitely need a solid/plain sport coat. I’m thinking about herringbone brown (not too dark) maybe in cashmere.
I don’t have to be formal day by day. I think I sit in the middle of your formality scale.
You are experienced to give me a great advice.
Hi, yes a plain sports coat sounds like a great idea. And something not so tweedy perhaps? Have a look at my oatmeal cashmere from Loro Piana. Or a herringbone would be good, either brown or perhaps grey or navy, given you already have brown
Yes no tweed. I’m thinking about cashmere or Escorial. I’ve seen a Escorial un-dyed bunch with a fantastic brown herringbone. Did you see it? A certain kind of brown could be an option because the tweed is mostly red, but I will consider also navy (given my suit is royal blue, i.e. light than navy). I saw your oatmeal cashmere jacket but I think it is too light for me.
Thank you Simon.
I hope you do not mind this delayed (and not very relevant) question.
What cloth would you recommend for a winter dressing gown?
I like flannel personally. I have a Budd one in Fox flannel that I love
I have been a reader of your website for a few years now, I really enjoy your content and have acquired some knowledge from your articles. I wanted to ask you a question regarding the number of cuff buttons a sport jacket should have, I read a post somewhere that a tweed sport jacket should only have one or two cuff buttons because anything else would be classically incorrect.
Does this rule only apply to tweed jackets and sport jackets in different fabrics? As I have noticed other types of sport jackets can have three button cuffs or four button cuffs, such as the case with the hacking jacket, shooting jacket, and sport jackets. There is also the sack jackets which were part of the Ivy League look that have two button cuffs or a one button cuff.
I was hoping you could clarify this with me as I have tried searching for websites addressing this topic but could not find any. Thank you.
First off, I wouldn’t worry too much about what people says is classically incorrect or not. Generally, sports jackets have fewer buttons than suits, most commonly 3 in the UK, often 1 in Naples, but there is far from being a consistent rule.
I would go for either 1 button or 3 buttons, depending on which style you prefer. Two is a little more unusual, but also fine. I’d probably avoid 4 just to differentiate it from a suit.
Do tailors from Napoli generally prefer one button cuffs? And do any of your Napolitan sport jackets have three ?
Probably on average, yes, for sports jackets.
No, I don’t think any of mine do.
Apologies for posting this comment here. I did not see any recommendation in the cloth guide for places where we can buy cloth (not necessarily “vintage” cloth)? I was looking for a good choice of tweeds. Are there any websites or bricks and mortar shops you recommend (especially in London)?
Thank you Simon, that answers a lot for me and I will be sure to remember this useful piece of information. Since you mention which number of button cuffs is seen in specific countries, I think a 3 button or 1 button cuff is ideal for a sport jacket. I especially like a 2 button cuff in a sport jacket it is a detail Brooks Brothers used to offer in the Twentieth century and can sometimes be found in J.Press. Come to think of it, a four button cuff would make a sport jacket look similar to a suit.
Curious to get your thoughts – I am considering a navy Crispaire suit and wondering if the jacket could work as my primary navy blazer as well. Given that Crispaire is a plain weave (though still a worsted wool), my thought is that it would make for a good, though smarter, navy blazer. However, I’m concerned the density and fineness of the worsted wool may make it difficult to pair with more casual cotton trousers. Any thoughts as a comparison to a more open-weave and less dense hopsack option? Thanks in advance!
I can see why you and many others aspire to this, but I’m hesitant to recommend any cloth for it, as it rarely works. Even if a high-twist like Crispaire worked as a jacket (which I don’t think it would most of the time), it would be a very formal one and not really suited to casual cotton trousers.
Sorry, but my advice would be to get a suit or a jacket, and not try to force both out of one commission.
Nope, that’s exactly what I needed to hear. Much appreciated!
Keeping in the same theme. Would a sharkin be suitable as a blazer?
Not generally, no. Too smooth and sharp
What style preferences might you mention to the tailor? Any interesting details that you like? Double lapel buttonholes or other unique designs?
Hi Danny. Have you read the pieces in our Suit Style series? They run through a lot of these things. Have a search. Thanks
Is a RAF sports coat comparable to a navy sports coat in terms of versatility and color matching?
No, it’s much more limiting.
What a shame! You looked more dashing than any movie star with your RAF suit on!
Very kind Bernie, thanks.
It is a great look, but not very versatile I’m afraid.
Hi Simon. Happy Holidays to you. For a first navy blazer, that I could wear 3 or 4 seasons, and could go with grey flannel trousers, what material should I choose? Cashmere? Hopsack? Would the W&S house style be good for this look? I am picking up a couple of suits from them next month, but not sure if I should use them for blazers/sports jackets.
It depends what that fourth season is you might miss out… Hopsack wouldn’t be great for winter, cashmere not great for summer.
W&S would be good, but as formal as those suits of yours. If you want something softer and more casual, look to a Neapolitan tailor
A question specifically related to hopsack fabric for a Solito sportcoat commissioned to be worn in San Diego, California. Can you recommend a weight for such a fabric? I’d like the jacket to not be too light and flimsy, but rather a bit of heft so it drapes nicely without being overly hot to wear in nice weather. I’m guessing something in the 9/10 or 10/11 ounce range but I’m not sure if this would be ideal?
Thanks for the question. If you want something with some heft and better drape, I’d suggest looking more around the 10/11 ounce area. Hopsack will have that line and drape better than most other things around the same weight, but more weight will always help. Eleven ounces should be good.
A great post. I tried to incorporate this advice into my most recent purchase, a bespoke khaki sports coat to compliment my Grey and Navy RTW jackets. Yesterday I received the coat, and unfortunately I am disappointed. The Twill texture has not come through, the result being a flat and shiny coat that looks like a suit separate despite the color, the soft shoulder and the shorter length.
Do you have any tips on how to make a jacket more casual? And more broadly what do you do when a jacket hasn’t come out how you imagined when you where choosing from a swatch?
Hi Max. That does sound disappointing, I’m sorry. Was it cotton? Cotton is infuriatingly difficult to get in a good, non-shiny fabric. It sounds like you’ve done everything else well though.
The only thing you can probably do at this stage is to add more contrasting buttons, if you haven’t already. That might make it look more casual. Or if it is cotton, have it dry cleaned multiple times so it softens and maybe fades a little, losing that shine.
The other option is commissioning trousers in the same material of course, if you can still get it.
100% Wool – Dugdale 7475.
Thank you for your suggestion about the buttons. I may try to add patch pockets too but i’m unsure about them.
I have a more technical question:
Is it meaningful to choose a Hopsack-Jacket with a full lining?
Thank you for your reply.
Yes, in that you’ll still get the texture of it, which you might like, and most of the breathability. But I would still have it half lined personally
Simon, I really like the heavier tweeds and have some jkts. from Lovat Mill’s 21oz Ettrick.The patterns are very appealing to me…however, they come up on the strong side..Do you think a soft Neapolitan cut would render them more urbane?….or, what weight would you max out at for a less outdoors look? Thanks , D.D.
Hey Dan. A Neapolitan cut would certainly help, though they would still be rather loud. Perhaps a 15-18 Harris Tweed would be better?
i never really understood the “rule of contrast” between jacket and trousers. i personally really enjoy somber outfits with low contrast and small nuances in color changes.
simon, could you please expand a little about this rule of contrast and why is it so imperative?
Nice question. The basic point is that if the jacket and trousers don’t look different enough, they could look like they’re almost a suit. That’s particularly important when you’re dealing with worsteds.
Then beyond that, it’s not a hard rule but a more subjective one, that an outfit tends to look better and more balanced when the jacket and trousers are separated. Compare it to a shirt and jacket, for example, which can look very good when almost the same; if you have a jacket and trousers which are almost the same, and then a shirt that contrasts, the balance can look good.
In practice, it’s not something most guys rationalise, they just try it out and realise that when things get too close, it doesn’t look as good
Simon, How would you compare those Donegals that are actually hand woven in Donegal with Harris? Also, those tweeds which are machine woven on loose settings giving a half way house between rustic and refined…in the quest for a more urbane tweed?…thanks, DD.
They compare pretty well – particularly if you want something more urbane, as you say. The hand woven ones are usually more uneven, though that texture can mean a completely separate appeal
Simon, I feel that the right choice of buttons can make or break a jkt. I note your Elia oatmeal with the same matching buttons on the contrasting vest…and,… those on your Elia db hopsack…are perfect choices and essential to achieve the look. Do you put much thought into button choice..or have any rules of thumb?…thanks. DD
Yes, I give it quite a lot of thought. My general rules would be to go darker and with less contrast the more formal the jacket will be; to only have black or navy if you will only wear black shoes with it, otherwise dark brown; and to increase the contrast between button and jacket when it’s a separate jacket rather than a suit
Simon, your invaluable advice is much appreciated. Your info. has helped me avoid what would have been costly mistakes, in the past…and now, I’m inspired towards further sartorial adventures! Thanks again, DD.
I am interested in having a navy blazer made and I’m having some difficulty selecting the right fabric. I’m interested in something wrinkle-resistant and hot-weather appropriate, with an open weave (like hopsack). And something matte that can be worn with formal trousers but also with denim (so perhaps with some subtle visual texture). So far I’m most interested in this: https://rexfabrics.com/dormeuil-904-tonik-wool-collection-black-and-purple-plain-suiting.html
(it’s definitely navy, please excuse the “black and purple plain suiting” stuff). It’s Tonik Wool by Dormeuil, 100% wool, and lightweight (approx. 280 gr). Do you think that would be suitable for a blazer and satisfy the above conditions? Thank you for any guidance. Selecting the right fabric is tricky!
Tonik is usually quite a crisp, sharp fabric and might be better suited to a suit that a jacket. And it would certainly be too smart to wear with jeans I’m afraid. Hopsack would make a great jacket, but it too would be too smart for jeans.
To be honest, I’m not sure any lightweight navy fabric would be able to meet both needs. A woollen might do both in the winter, but it’s harder weith something lighter.
Thanks very much, Simon. Relatedly, do you happen to know of any good Neapolitan-style tailors in the Houston, Texas area? Any good bespoke tailors at all? Thank you!
No I don’t, sorry. Only Chris Despos, who I think still visits regularly
Any plans to have another run of this superb grey/silver tweed for 2020?
Do you mean the one in the top image Bernie? If so, then that is the Permanent Style tweed, and I was trying to make some more but Breanish have been uncontactable unfortunately.
Yes, the PS Breanish Shetland grey tweed. I love how you have an one of a kind eye for fabrics. The PS breanish tweed in my eyes is legendary, just like your Escorial tweed (I’m about to have Luigi make up the oatmeal tweed), Caliendo Oatmeal cashmere and HS yellow herringbone from BnTailor. It feels like any other fabric, even the light grey Moonbeam, would be a clear downgrade from your PS breanish tweed which is the perfect odd jacket fabric in how pale it is yet the added depth of colors upon closer inspection. Is there any other pale grey FW jacketing you feel is worth mentioning?
I’m sure there is, yes. I haven’t looked at lightweight tweeds in a while though – so can’t recommend anything specific
I’d second Bernie’s view of the PS tweed and I’d certainly be interested if there was another run. Most of all, however, I’d love to see a run of the Escorial green cloth with an overcheck you used for one of your Solito jackets. I sent for swatches of the three PS Escorial cloths and loved the oatmeal, but it was too close to something I already have. I felt that the brown and green versions lacked something and I think that the Escorial check cloth was absolutely perfect in that respect. Any chance you could convince Joshua Ellis to make some more?
Thanks RT, very helpful.
Probably not for the moment, I’m afraid, as we’re just producing this year’s run of the plain Escorial Tweed.
Abraham Moon’s Shetland Twill in “Warm Grey” seems similar – thoughts?
Well, it has some similarities, yes – colour and yarn. But the yarn variation is different, ours was a herringbone, and ours was also a looser weave. Not sure if the Moon is handwoven on narrow looms either, I can’t remember.
I’ll add my voice to those expressing interest in another run of the PS tweed.
Got it. Looking forward to your FW fabric recommendations, cheers
Hi Simon, I’m thinking of getting a navy blazer made up, and wondering if you have any advice on fabric for something that’s a good balance of wrinkle resistance and soft hand, and Appropriate weight for London?
To be honest, I haven’t looked at something like that for a while – I’ve had either hopsacks for more summer weight, cashmeres for colder, and soft tweeds for more casual. But the best place to look is in the jacketings bunches of people like Loro Piana or Drapers. You’ll find lots of just wool cloths, maybe with a little cashmere. A good weight for London most of the year would be around 11 to 13 oz. You won’t get a lot of wrinkle resistance until you go for high twists like hopsack though
Wasn’t sure the best post to put this on, but this seems apt. I’ve seen a Marling & Evans cloth doing the rounds on Instagram that’s a sort of diamond weave twill. Here are examples:
Could I ask your thoughts on this, opposed to a more traditional herringbone or glencheck? Would you consider something like this too dandy?
Personally, yes. If you already have herringbone and other patterns, and want some variation, then fine. But if you don’t, stick with herringbone
Hi Simon. I’m interested in getting a tailored jacket in corduroy.
Are there factors I should be considering in selecting a corduroy fabric that make it better as a jacketing? Like, weight, all-cotton vs blended.
How versatile have you found your corduroy jackets? I’m still undecided about single- or double-breasted.
I would recommend all-cotton, 8-12 wale and a mid-weight, 10-13oz. Cashmere with cotton can be nice, but best in a jacket, not trousers.
Have you looked at my various cord jackets featured on the site? They might be worth a look for more in-depth reflections on cord weights, uses and benefits
Thank you, Simon, those specifications are helpful and what I was after.
I have read your reflections on your various cord pieces. The only one that catches my eye repeatedly is the mid-grey Ciardi DB. With the rest of the outfit – charcoal trousers, white shirt and rust-coloured tweed overcoat – it makes for a very striking piece. I think that’s because it manages to be as appropriate as a navy blazer and nearly as smart but still with a casual edge (nicely done!).
However, where I am hesitant to go for something similar is DB vs SB. Somehow, I don’t think a SB in the same colour/fabric/styling will have the same impact as a DB in that outfit. And yet I’m cognisant that a DB will almost certainly get less use than the equivalent SB. Hence the second part of the query. Further thoughts would be most welcome.
If you’re concerned about that Flynn, I’d go with an SB. But I wouldn’t worry about the colour – I think a warm grey in an SB would work just as well
I’m looking for advice on sourcing an odd jacket fabric that I have in my mind’s eye only unfortunately, but surely I’d seen it or something similar somewhere. No idea how to look for it, so hoping you might be able to advise.
So it is a dark brown base, not very heavy fabric, with sort of a dry handle with a present but minimal sheen (not sure how to explain what I mean by that, but I guess a worsted in plain-weave or perhaps high-twist). The brown would be a warmer hue, with a reddish or aubergine undertone perhaps, rather than something with a cold, blue undertone. It would then have a faint light-blue large check, like a windowpane, but that from a distance is not obvious as a windowpane, so not something that would be striking from a distance. That blue check/overcheck could also be in a different pattern, e.g. glen or something else ideally also set widely apart, but would in any case have to be fairly subtle, a hint at a distance and then a mild inoffensive and subtle pattern up close.
I think this would translate into a wonderful odd jacket that would work year-round (subject to cloth-heaviness of course). Perhaps something with patch pockets and swelled edges or just more densely pick-stitched, broad straight lapels with a lower gorge rolling to the 2nd button while concealing on the lapel roll the third button and its buttonhole, in the style of perhaps Anthology or a Florentine like Vestrucci, or a Neapolitan but with a ‘con-rollino’ shoulder. I see it pairing beautifully with different stuff, jeans, charcoal and mid-grey trousers in different fabrics, tan chinos, beige flannels, obviously blue and white shirts, but even some coloured ones, ties of different colours and patterns, dark knit polos, roll-necks… really quite versatile yet distinct and non-ubiquitous.
Any tips as to finding this imaginary cloth would be most appreciated.
I think you just need to look through some cloth boots Stephan. Nothing is springing to mind, but it is the kind of cloth often found in the seasonal boots of Caccioppoli, Loro Piana, Drapers etc
Cheers, Simon! Never did that, didn’t know where to start. Thanks for the tip!
Hi Simon, which fabric weights would you suggest for an odd jacket if I am aiming to wear it between around September to March in London?
Could you suggest any of your favourite navy fabrics house for an odd jacket between those weights?
No, sorry, I haven’t looked recently
Hi Simon, I am considering commissioning a bespoke sports jacket with the Drapers fabric. Could you share your thought on whether it would look suitable for a sports jacket? Please find the link for the fabric below.
I don’t know it Jack, and I’d want to see it in person first, but yes it looks nice – some texture in there which is good
Thanks, Simon, for your opinion. I never tried this heavy (16oz) but opened woven fabric. Does it sound like it may not be the ideal choice to wear it for four seasons in the UK?
Yes it does.