“And what lining would you like in the suit?”

“Oh I don’t know, just something to match the cloth.”

This is as far as most people go with selecting the lining of their jacket or suit. And with good reason. 

Coloured or patterned linings more often look cheap than they do stylish. They’re more likely to detract from the suit than enhance it. 

And there is little to choose in the material the lining is made from either. Both Bemberg and ermazine work equally well, and those are used by the vast majority of tailors. 

But, there is the question of having jackets unlined or partially lined. Some people like silk linings. And colours that compliment the material of a suit can add a touch of character. 

So for all those that want to understand all the options, here is our latest chapter in the Suit Style series – looking at everything about linings. 

 

 

Why have a lining?

The point of a lining is that it helps both donning and doffing of a suit, and then helps it move when worn. 

If there is friction between the jacket or trouser, and shirt or skin underneath, it can get caught and hang awkwardly. When the tailoring has been cut precisely to effect a clean, elegant line, that’s rather a shame.

The lining also helps protect the outer layer from wear caused by the body underneath. And it is much easier to repair than the external cloth. 

The major disadvantage of a lining is that it makes the jacket warmer. And a minor one is that it can make the jacket more formal.

 

 

So, the reasons for not having a lining are the opposite of all those.

If the jacket is made from a material that does not drape well anyway – like cotton. If the material is less likely to get stuck on clothing – because it’s smooth or heavy. If the material is very robust, and not in need of protection – like tweed. If the jacket is just very casual, and not cut for elegant drape. If you just like the look of a cloth lining – because it’s also more casual.

These all make a lining less important. Still, the only real reason I’d have a jacket unlined is heat – if it’s a summer piece and you need it to be cooler. 

I went through a phase of wanting all my jackets quarter lined, so you could see the cloth on the inside when the jacket was opened. And I still see the appeal of that, if it’s part of the brand’s look – as with my Anglo-Italian jacket below. 

But it can be annoying. It will catch now and again, and most of the time today I have a full lining in all my tailoring as a result – unless it’s specifically for summer. 

 

 

Isn’t lining hot?

Having a jacket only partially lined allows body heat to escape more easily. It does make a noticeable difference in hot weather. 

However, some materials are also extremely lightweight and breathable, including most wool/silk/linens. Even with the lining, they’re often cool enough unless the weather is over 35 degrees, or very humid. And there are advantages to keeping the lining: the light material will drape more easily, and is less likely to get caught. 

In most temperate countries therefore, like the UK and northern Europe, you might be fine with a full lining, and prefer to give the material this support.

I also find the difference between being half lined (where everything but the lower half of the back is unlined) and quarter lined (where only the top half of the back and the sleeves are lined) to be negligible. 

Also, don’t have unlined sleeves. You produce very little heat there, and it’s a real pain when getting the jacket on and off. Something I found with my Rubinacci jacket

Trouser linings are less of an issue, and the standard is for them to be ‘half’ lined – in the front, to the knee. 

Summer trousers, such as linens, are often left unlined in order to make them cooler. But again, I’d say unless you’re somewhere very hot, it won’t make a big difference. 

I have also tried fully lined trousers, for extra warmth in the winter. But they are annoying when pressing the trousers, and I wouldn’t do it again unless I moved somewhere colder – like Boston or Stockholm. 

 

 

What can the lining be made from?

The vast majority of suit linings are made from cupro (short for cuprammonium, also known by the brand name Bemberg) or ermazine (viscose rayon). 

Both are semi-synthetics, the former being made from cotton extract and the latter from wood pulp (cellulose). Cupro is a little softer to the touch, and ermazine is tougher. Cupro is a little more breathable, but ermazine comes in a greater range of weights and colours. 

Cupro is more common in good suits in the US and Europe, while Savile Row tailors have tended to use ermazine. I’ve had many suits in both, and don’t mind either one. It’s a very small aspect of the suit. 

Silk is quite different, however. It’s only used by a few of the very high-end tailors today, such as Cifonelli, as it’s at least five times as expensive as the synthetics. 

Silk is derided for being less breathable and less robust than the others. Which it is; but neither are a difference I’ve ever noticed. More significant is that it has a little more friction, so is not as easy to get on and off. While on the plus side, it feels really nicer in the hand – soft and luxurious. So I’d weigh up those last two factors if you’re deciding whether to have silk or not. 

I’d personally avoid heavy silks in overcoats, as I did that with my Sexton coat (above) and it proved to be too delicate. I’d also avoid any cheaper alternatives to any of these – such as acetate, which is lighter bu much more flimsy and used mostly in couture and other womenswear. 

Oh, and there is plain cotton, but the only really argument for that is that it feels nicer on the skin – useful if you’re lining a blouson that you might wear with just a T-shirt, for example (see Stoffa suede jacket, below). But otherwise it has too much friction and too little strength. 

 

 

What colour should the lining be?

Bright linings and strongly patterned linings always look cheap, in my opinion. 

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Paul Smith suit with football players on the inside, or a Rubinacci jacket made with a Neapolitan silk scarf (shown at bottom). At the very least they look showy, and for most people that’s not what they’re aiming for with their tailoring. 

Bold linings also look cheap by association. They are often used by cheaper brands that want to distract from the poor-quality material or poor make of their suits. That also goes for coloured buttonholes and similar gimmicks. 

If in doubt, always go for a matching lining. It’s what I do with 99% of my tailoring, and it’s unlikely you’ll ever regret it. I was tempted to pay an extra few hundred pounds to put silk scarves in my Rubinacci jacket years ago – it just seemed so exciting. But I’ve always been glad I didn’t. 

 

 

However, if you do want to play with the lining, complementary colours can look nice. Perhaps particularly when there’s unlikely to be coloured silk around the neck or in the breast pocket. 

For complementary colours here, think of the darker ties you might wear with the jacket or suit. So a deep purple or bottle green with navy worsted; olive or burnt orange with brown tweed. Suits in dark colours also tend to be best with rich, lustrous colours, such as purple and burgundy. 

I’ve had coloured linings in a few pieces over the years, including the Rubinacci cashmere shown above (light olive green with brown) and the Pirozzi corduroy below (bottle green with tan). 

If in doubt, always go with the most subtle option. Much as you might like a bold tie, you’d pick something more understated if you had to wear the same tie every day. 

Other things to note with lining colours are that dark colours or patterns can show through lighter or more open-weave materials. But then it would be a poor tailor that let you walk out with a lining that did that. 

And sleeve linings are traditionally white or white with a stripe – the pattern sometimes being a trademark of the tailoring house. 

 

 

“The biggest trend in the past 30 years has been increasing demand for quality,” says Jonathan Bernstein of Bernstein & Banleys, The Lining Company, who contributed to this article.

Jonathan supplies linings and buttons to most Savile Row tailors. We profiled B&B previously here, and recommended them for anyone trying to source their own buttons. 

“Cotton linings are a little more popular, as they can give something a vintage look. And you get more polyester stretch lining in womenswear. But really, the biggest thing has been increased quality, perhaps as the number of cheaper tailors has reduced.”

Nice to know people are spending on quality, though sad to know the reason. In any case, Jonathan’s ermezine taffeta in plain colours continues to be a best seller, apparently, so most men are clearly making the right decision and eschewing flashy options.

Stay safe everyone. 

 

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Evatt

Morning Simon,

I had a suit made some years ago and like many, I suppose, I had an interesting lining put in which now seems rather garish to me. How involved/expensive is it to have it changed?

Scott

This is good news as I made the same mistake as Evatt on a sport coat years ago and soon regretted it. I’ve also had some suits and jackets quarter lined and agree that fully lined is, on balance, the way to go. This article is really useful and helpful on these subtle yet very important points.

Jamiemcp

I think it was Christopher Raeburn who had a DJ made by Grevves with a 2nd world war silk escape map as the lining. I really like the idea of a slightly different lining

JamieMcP

I know the exact jacket you mean, I very nearly brought one at the time. Deeply regret not doing so now.

Peter Hall

My mother, who is a seamstress, reused my fathers silk handkerchiefs , when altering his jackets for me to continue using. And,being silk,were easy to dye(orange silk inside tweed).

Robert

Have looked forward to this piece. According to my tailor a partially lined jacket requires more handiwork because seams otherwise hidden are now visible. Very much like the gold lining chosen for the Bridge Coat and will consider in the future. Previously never considered gold when leafing through the lining swatches. Finally, hope you might more often include a snapshot of the linings of your commissions. We’re watching and learning. As always, good stuff.

Noel

Hi Simon,

Nice article and interesting to learn that you’ve become less likely to order quarter or half lined jackets. Almost all my jackets (except one summer one ) are fully lined because the tailor made the same point you did: it makes little difference unless it’s very warm. Glad I went with his advise!

Regarding designs, I chose a few linings that have small geometric patterns (such as polka dots or small feather like figures) to make things a bit different without being garish. What do you think of that option ? Is it still too much compared to a solid colour?

Anonymous

What’s the benefit of a full lining over a half-lining?

Anonymous

Hi Simon, maybe it escaped me but don’t think you mentioned it specifically. I can understand such considerations when it comes to choosing between a quarter lining and a half or full lining. But I fail to see the benefit of having the bottom half of a jacket lined as it’s not an area that’s prone to wear and tear or where heat — or lack thereof — is a priority.

Anonymous

Thanks. By the way you wrote that you go fully lined by default unless the jacket is specifically for summer. In the latter case, do you have a preference toward half- or quarter-lined? Or does it depend solely on the material, how it drapes, how see-through it is etc?

Cancellor

Any insight into the history of why sleeves are usually lined in white, different from the rest of the jacket?

Peter Hall

I was told by a person of some repute(a military tailor)originally white silk was used to line sleeves as it was less bulky than other natural fabrics.

Might be a myth,but it makes sense.

Matt

I have heard that this is because most dyes tended to be more fugitive in the old days, so there was an increased risk of colour transfer as your (presumably white) shirt rubbed against the jacket sleeve. I assume there’s a lot more friction in that area than elsewhere, esp. with less fitted shirts and/or jackets

Ian

Maybe back when dies were that transferable, most suits were three-piece, so the shirt was only touching the lining in the sleeves.

That wouldn’t protect the back of the shirt collar, but that would be exposed to the wool not the lining?

Matt

I always assumed it was because it makes it a hell of a lot easier to put your jacket on in the dark?

Mark E. Seitelman

There is a historical basis to the use of either white or stripped sleeve linings which are different from the main body.

I recall that Richard Anderson’s book relates that suits used to have alpaca linings. The sleeves would be silk lined to ease slipping in and out of the coat. Various tailors would have their “signature” linings for the sleeves. Some tailoring houses have stripes that are exclusive designs.

Bemberg and cupro have supplanted the use of silk in sleeve linings.

I would imagine that an alpaca lining would add needed warmth in the days before central heating. I have never seen an alpaca lining.

Also, many tailors and manufacturers have broken this historical link in that they use the same lining throughout the coat.

Rogey

When I first started ordering bespoke I didn’t know any better and got matching linings. I suspect the choice can depend on whether one is ordering a suit or a sports jacket or an overcoat. I get mainly jackets, and I like to get a lining color that picks up a check or an overcheck, or something that snaps, that provides a nice contrast, like maroon in my black-and-white wool houndstooth. I don’t get a lining with pirates or something like that. I feel that most people never see or notice your lining, so you might as well get something that you enjoy. Like much of bespoke, the joy is that you know its details, even if no one else notices or cares.

Matt

Thanks for the great article. I think I’m more attracted to fancy linings (e.g., Rubinacci) than you are. The lining doesn’t show that often, so it’s mostly for the wearer to enjoy. It’s a more subtle way to wear something dramatic than to have flashy socks or ties. As you’ve illustrated, however, it’s definitely a spectrum: the football lining is a bit gaudy but complimentary colors will usually look nice.

I don’t know anyone with a fancy lining, so it seems unique to me. But in your circle I expect it’s a lot more common. Possibly this contributes to them looking cheap to you?

Ferdinand

What do you think of wool linings in overcoats like in this Rubinacci coat: https://marianorubinacci.com/en/product/blue-wool-and-cashmere-ulster-coat? Is it a common thing to do?

Mark E. Seitelman

I have had some sportscoats with silk linings.

Silk linings are quite beautiful. I have one that is solid Thai silk, a paisley, and a design with the moon and the stars. The colors and designs could not have been carried-off in Bemberg or Cupro.

I have read that they less hardy than Bemberg, but I have not gotten to the point of wearing-out the linings. I have worn-out some Bemberg linings on some older coats.

I recall one of the Rubinacci’s saying that they only use silk linings. Yes, silk does wear-out, but silk’s beauty is unmatched. The lining can be easily replaced.

Alex

When I commissioned my first proper suit I asked for the lining to be made up in regimental colours (royal blue on the side panels, sunbeam yellow on the back panels) I was tactfully told “we haven’t seen anyone do that before, sir”. And yes, it does look garish – but only when the wind catches the vents, and only for a second – and yes, 10 years later I still utterly love it.

Stephen Dolman

Hi Simon,
Regarding Rogeys comments in his last paragraph. I completely agree with his comments on one of the joys of bespoke. However, I’m sometimes surprised when someone comments on something I never thought would be noticed in a million years.
That’s another pleasure

Miles

Hello Simon and experienced readers,

Have you found that a fully lined suit jacket or sport coat adds to longevity?

From the article and comments, it seems like the lining must because it prevent snags and can be replaced. But for some reason, it’s still not obvious to me.

As always, thank you,

Miles

Patrick

As I generally wear three-piece suits, the material for the jacket lining also determines the fabric for the back of the waistcoat. As a result I find myself giving almost as much consideration to – and deriving almost as much pleasure from – the selection of the lining as the suit fabric itself. My tailor lines his jackets exclusively in satin and taffeta, and has increasingly steered me to the latter; my last suit, made from a Fox Brothers rust tweed herringbone, was lined in a splendid rust taffeta. I generally choose a colour one shade brighter than I think I should; this happened the first time by accident, when my preferred lining material was unavailable, but I find it adds a hint of rakishness which suits me.

EL

“Bold linings also look cheap by association. They are often used by cheaper brands that want to distract from the poor-quality material or poor make of their suits. That also goes for coloured buttonholes and similar gimmicks.”

Do you have evidence for this? This more just seems like poor taste on the part of the brand and customer. The brand thinks these are cool stylistic details and customers whose tastes are less educated are drawn in by these things. I don’t think there’s anything nefarious here.

DE

Interesting article Simon. I think people sometimes assume that because the lining is on the inside of a jacket it will not be seen, but this isn’t always true and the flash of a bright or garish lining will draw attention (no matter how brief). I have a dark RAF blue/grey in all my suits and because they’re all either grey or navy it works well. I know that one SR tailor I use has several customers who always use BR green linings in all of their jackets (and all think it’s unique to them!) and one customer whose garments are all lined in white (from memory T&A tailored clothing was traditionally lined in white too).

Andrew Poupart

All my jackets are fully lined, without exception. Unlined, quarter- or half-lined jackets have been a thing for several years now and I simply don’t understand it. Another thing that I don’t understand, Simon, is your assertion that a disadvantage of lining is that it “can make the jacket more formal”. How, exactly? I would assume that for a well-made jacket, the lining is seldom, if ever, actually seen by anyone. If that’s the case, what difference does it make to the formality of a jacket, perceived or real?

Josh

These are the kinds of details so rarely covered and considered anywhere else. A timely and informative piece, as I gear up to finally commission a sports jacket once non-essential retail reopens. The consideration of heat retention was particularly helpful after the recent run of summers we‘ve had in London.

David

Quarter lining is for hot climates. If you live in the UK it’s not a problem. But if you spend time in hot humid tropical climates you will feel the difference.

Andrew Poupart

Simon: I could see your point in terms of make or style, but I just don’t see how the lining makes much difference. But there are many nuances of style and formality that go right over my head!

David: I live in a hot climate, though not a humid one. But I have worn and will continue to wear my fully lined jackets and be glad of it. I think that if it is hot enough, fully lined versus quarter- or buggy-lined just doesn’t make a difference. It’s a story we tell ourselves.

Chancellor

Wondering if you could elaborate on why a fully lined trouser is harder to press. Is it lining up the crease of the lining with the crease of the trouser leg? And if so, does it really matter? Could one not just have multiple creases in the lining–it would not be seen anyway.

Karol

I second the cotton lining in purely casual jackets. Much more pleasant on t-shirts, short sleeved shirts and polos

EPL

I’ve had two 3-season suits made on Savile Row with jackets lined with pure silk.

One is lined with elegantly patterned silk lining the well-known SR tailor (you have reviewed them!) had on hand.

The other — made in flannel — is lined with 22 momme silk bed sheet in a solid contrast colour. Seems durable and not too warm. I got the sheeting from a well-known on-line silk bedding supplier. I believe their 19 momme sheets would be sturdy enough too. Silk sheets are made to handle all kinds of activity and washing.

A third suit, same tailor, made for summer, is lined with textured ivory-coloured Bemberg from Bantley & Bernstein.

William Nixon

Hi Simon!

Excellent piece as always! I wonder, could you cover internal pockets? I was making pockets for a suit jacket recently and found it was quite hard to find photos and reference online. I’ve seen in your articles before that they are better being cut into the facing rather than the lining, but an in depth look at some of the internal pockets of some of your jackets would be very helpful, particularly in turns of use, aesthetics, placement etc. Also, possibly how pockets differ in outerwear, jackets and waistcoats? Thanks!

W

Josh

Simon,

Thank you for this post and your website.

One of the best aspects of linings is their protective function. I wear suits to work frequently and they get heavy use. After wearing them for years, several suits have had damaged linings around the armhole or near the vents (snags on city cabs, perhaps). They are inexpensive repairs and it is satisfying that the cloth itself was not damaged so that the suits can carry on.

Any plans for articles on pockets?

Cheers!

Peter Z

Dear Simon,
I know that probably this is not going to be relevant for many people but there are also other lining options which are perhaps less common.

Flannel – I actually have a heavy coat lined with 14oz Fox flannel (of course without the sleeves, as well as the rest of these examples). I find it perfectly practical and pleasantly warm.
13oz linen is also an option – provides a surprisingly pleasant interior feeling.
300/400gr (10/13oz) cashmere provides incredible warmth.
Cotton backed twill is the sole one which I would question as to how practical it is as it’s not warmer than cupro and is not as pleasant and practical.

I used to be very guided by strict rules on how things should be but when you experiment there are surprising successes (Flannel lining).

I hope this is relevant to at least several readers. If you simply live in a cold climate, don’t be afraid to go with a 32+oz coat and line it with flannel/linen/cashmere.

Best,
Peter

Peter Z

Dear Simon,

Yes, the friction is of course a disadvantage, it’s not the same as culpro/silk, etc. but it is also not as terrible as you would think. Barely notice it once I put on the coat.

For linen, yes, it’s cool to the touch (for lighter coats), doesn’t have that much friction and I simply adore linen – my absolute favourite cloth!

I am so excited as my next overcoat will be a Dark Gray Herringbone Double breasted peak lapel 32 oz. tweed (to be fair the tweediness of the coat brings character and because of the colour isn’t informal). That one will be long and lined with Fox Flannel 13/14 oz and I am just imagining how warm it will be. (Yes, an argument can be made that such a warm coat is not really needed given the use of transport in the cold months, but I run cold anyways and love to take walks even in bad weather)

P.V.K.

Nice article!
“…but ermazine comes in a greater range of weights sand colours.“ I suppose it should be “and”.

Anonymous

Are your high twist suits half-lined (e.g. the brown Dalcuore or the navy Cifonelli)?

Lance

Nice article and for me timely because I just paid for some Fox Brothers tweed cloth for a sport jacket. I was looking at the Rampley linings. Simon, can you recommend a tailor in Los Angeles area that can put together a sport jacket for me?

Thanks.

P.A.

Hi Simon,

First time commenter here! I’m very much of a rookie in mensear, I just have received my first MTM shirt and trousers, my budget only allows me to buy RTW (thanks Suitsupply…) as I just started working.

In regards to trousers lining : does a full-length lining help with knee-high socks catching the trousers fabric ? I find that with flannels, even frescos, the fabric tends to pull at the knee, which is quite annoying when working in an office where one has to sit and stand multiple times a day. I don’t wear trousers particularly slim either.
Could it be a matter of the fabric quality of the socks ?

What would be the disadvantages of a full-lenght lining besides pressing incorrectly ?

Apologies for any mistakes, English is not my native language.

Best Regards

P.A.

Simon,

Thank you for your answer.

Any recommendations regarding socks materials, as all my trousers are lined only until the knees ? some socks brands perhaps ?

Regards

Jamie Berry

I had a pea coat made at Huntsman last year and lined it with redundant deep navy (and only subtly rope patterned) Hermes scarves belonging to my wife – it looks stunning, and a better use than their sitting in orange boxes never worn in the wardrobe!

Andrea C.

Why do the majority of brands insist on using polyester lining on even fairly expensive to very expensive clothes, rather than cupro or viscose which are much more breathable and generally more pleasant on the skin too? I thought it would be cost, but I looked up online and I could buy right now cupro linings for *barely* more (like, 50 cent more per mq) than synthetic linings – though ofc this is a random shop and I wouldn’t be able to tell a lining fabric’s quality from my pc.
Is it durability concerns then? Or something else I’m missing?
Saying this because I often have to exclude the majority of products I might otherwise like in my price bracket (which is definitely not yours, Simon, but still not the cheapest), simply because even if I like everything else, they decided to put polyester lining in it.
Recently I’ve began considering just buying them and having them relined in cupro since the material really isn’t costly as far as I can see. For example I have a safari shirt-jacket made in ripstop linen/cotton, which I would like to wear, but it’s very scratchy so I never end up doing it. Was initially going to replace it, but then I considered maybe I should just have someone line the sleeves with a breathable material and save both money and waste.

John

Simon, could you please recommend any supplier of silk linings? Bernstein & Banleys has an interesting twill range, but e. g. your Sexton coat lining isn’t among them. My next odd jacket will be charcoal too and that grey/silver colour and lustrous look seem a good match, more so if I could get it lightweight. Thanks! John