The appeal of Solaro: Suit from Cristina Dalcuore 

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Solaro has always been one of those materials I’ve found intriguing but never took the leap on, simply because I was too unsure how much I’d like such an unusual, and in some ways showy material. 

For those that don’t know, Solaro was invented in 1907 by a scientist looking for a material that British soldiers could wear in tropical climates, to reflect the sun. While that didn’t work, it did become popular among civilians for summer suiting, and Smith Woollens has woven it and held the trademark since 1931.

Although the overall effect is beige, the red and light-green yarns create a complex effect close-up. It’s usually woven as a herringbone, and the material looks like a striped material with a subtle iridescence that can appear red, green or related colours like warm orange. 

The reverse of the material is mostly red and sometimes this is used as an accent, though I would rather avoid that (a miscommunication led to this jacket having a red lining - the only thing Dalcuore got wrong).

Given all this, it’s not surprising people are wary of Solaro. The thing that tends to convert them is seeing others wear it - usually Italians, who wear it casually with suede shoes and in relaxed cuts. (And have a particular reverence for English cloth.)

I was convinced to try it by regular sightings of a Londoner wearing a Solaro suit with a Western shirt. Something about the denim really complimented the beige, and it looked particularly good with suede shoes, in either dark brown or tobacco. 

I also liked how - particularly out of the sun - the overall effect was simply of an interesting beige shade. I’ve always liked the idea of a beige suit, but haven’t always been successful with them. Solaro I knew, at least from most angles, was the perfect tone. 

So I had the suit pictured made this year by Dalcuore in Naples. Why Dalcuore? Well, since Gigi Dalcuore sadly passed away his daughter Cristina has been leading the cutting, and I knew some readers had questions about that transition. 

Perfectly understandable when you’re replacing a master like Gigi, and something that came up when Edward Sexton passed away recently too. If you’re an existing customer, you want to know you’re going to get the same quality; if you’re a new customer, you want to know you’re not losing anything by not using the original. 

Cristina therefore deliberately made my pattern from scratch, with her own measurements, rather than using my existing pattern. Of course, she has been present at every fitting I’ve had in the past, and conducted some of them herself, so this was hardly new to her. But good to cover all bases. 

The result seems just as good as Gigi’s work, to me, and the trousers might even fit slightly better. There was the miscommunication with the lining, but it’s hard to lay blame there - I asked for a matching lining and they matched the reverse of the cloth, rather than the face. Unfortunately that’s not something that can really be changed without taking apart the inbreast pockets. 

Since getting the suit, I’ve worn it perhaps eight or nine times, in sun and cloud. I’m pleased to say I do like it, but I'm not sure it’s for everyone. 

The iridescence is subtle unless you’re in direct sunlight, and even then you have to be at the right angle to catch the reflection. So most of the time it’s a beige suit with a touch of interest - the kind someone will definitely notice when they’re talking to you, or standing next to you, but not otherwise.

In some ways it falls into the same category as the brown chalkstripe I featured recently from Fred Nieddu. Its pattern makes it nice without a tie, because there's something else going on with the fabric, but it’s not as bold as something like a check. 

Still, it is more unusual than another beige suit and I think you have to like the effect to make it worth it. I also wouldn't attempt to justify it by calling it a menswear 'classic' or anything simple like that. 

Also, it is not cool. It’s just a wool suit, 11/12oz, and not really suited to hot days and many parts of the world. I’d happily wear it through Spring and Autumn, and even much of the Summer here in the UK, but I’m not going to venture into the tropics. 

I’ve shown the suit with three different outfits, to illustrate how suede makes a particularly good partner - either in tobacco or brown - and the effect of denim underneath. 

Brown suede is easy and conservative, tobacco bolder but certainly works with no tie or hank going on. Mid-brown leathers work too, but suede makes everything more casual, which is welcome. 

The first outfit, shown at the top of this article, is with a simple pale-blue denim shirt. The one above uses a heavier Western-style shirt, which pushes a touch along the subtle/showy spectrum. And below is the suit with a white PS Oxford shirt - not quite as nice as blue, but still good; and the fact both blue and white work show how wearable beige is, even if you don’t want that extra kick of Solaro. 

Other mills make versions of Solaro, which tend to be lighter or more unusual in one way or another. But Smith’s do also have a smaller herringbone, two twills, a blue version and at one point a diamond weave, which is probably enough. 

And in any case I don’t think those add much to the classic, the wider herringbone SW2578. There’s no point trying to make it subtler with a smaller herringbone, because it won’t make much difference. But I also, personally, don’t want to make it more unusual, which is what a diamond weave would do. 

Until the age of social media, Solaro was really only worn by the Italians, who had that aforementioned love of British cloth, the example of Agnelli and similar, and the consistent sunshine to dress for. I’m glad the blessing and the curse that is Instagram changed that, although personally I’m pleased I didn’t take the plunge until I’d seen it in person. 

Dalcuore suits start at €4500 and jackets €3800. The cloth is Smith Woollens SW2578 (11/12oz) from the Luxury Flannels bunch, and the buttons are a mid-brown corozo. Dalcuore are next in London from October 25-27 at The Stafford hotel.

Clothes shown:

  • Denim shirt from Al Bazar (old model)
  • Western shirt from Niche (via No Man Walks Alone)
  • Tan crocodile belt from Ludens
  • Brown suede belt from Rubato
  • Tan suede loafers from Gaziano & Girling
  • Brown suede loafers from Edward Green

Oh, and here is the lovely work Ludens did to extend my alligator skin with a length of suede (as mentioned in the article on him here)

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Lindsay McKee

Very nice suit Simon!
I’ve seen the Smith Woolens Solero on their webpage and they offer Solero in other colours,I think a bluish one and different weaves.
I don’t think Solero would be suitable for jackets alone?


Any thoughts on whether Solaro works as a separate for trousers alone?


I will re-post my contribution but can’t understand why it was not published. This is the second time this week that a comment has been not passed moderation so an explanation would be helpful.

Huntsman had a RTW Solaro jacket in the house style, probably made by Saint Andrews in Italy, on sale a few years ago. It was my size, fitted perfectly and discounted heavily. After a lengthy deliberation, I resisted the temptation because I could not think of trousers that would work well with it. On reflection, I should have bought it and commissioned matching MTO trousers.


That’s very odd as it was not there earlier this morning. I have been having problems with Safari (commenting on blogs, especially Blogger) in recent weeks. I have just installed a massive Mac OS update which will hopefully sort it.

Max Alexander

This relates to my comment above. I’m personally happy to have separate Solaro trousers as the fabric is not very heavy and may show wear relatively quickly. You could always commission two pair of trousers with the suit (as was once common even in RTW) and accomplish the same thing.


Interesting observation. Over 10 years ago, before the change in ownership, I had a fitting in Huntsman. There was a RTW Solaro jacket in the house style, probably made by Saint Andrews in Italy, on sale. It was my size, fitted perfectly and discounted heavily. After a lengthy deliberation, I resisted the temptation because I could not think of trousers that would work well with it. On reflection, I should have bought it and commissioned matching MTO trousers.


hi Simon. I am happy you finally took the plunge. I was also a bit worried that Solaro would be hard to wear, but I found it isn’t and it quickly became my favorite suit. I am probably going to order a single breasted in the diamond weave, which I bought a cut of a few years back when it was still in production, before too long because I love Solaro so much. All the best, Andrew


Firstly, compliments to the photographer for showing the cloth so well . Normally it just looks beige on photos .

Secondly , relax Simon , that’s a beautiful suit that worn without a tie looks like how men would like to wear suits .


Love the cut, though I have to say I am still not a fan of the fabric (not that it is too showy, I quite like showy, but I just don’t like the shine and the color).
Regardin the choice of belt loops over ajusters, I reckon the argument is the same as for your Nieddou chalkstripe suit; would you say that your suit commissions will now lend towards casual/chic/subtly showy, or do you plan on having more formal suits made?


Solaro is one of those choices where there is no room for compromise. It requires top cut and top quality of the fabric otherwise it looks immediately “cheap”. A question for you: would you consider Solaro (in the heavier cloth) inappropriate in winter time ?


Indeed ! I like white trousers in the sunny day on the snowy Alps with red and black checks


Based on my experience, Solaro is always going to attract attention regardless of when you wear it and people will often comment (almost always positive). I don’t think you’d get any more comments if you wear solaro in winter than in summer.

As Simon commented, Solaro wears quite warm. Mainly because it doesn’t really breathe, rather than because of the weight. For me it is a great half season (April-June and Sept-Oct) suit but I see no reason you couldn’t wear it in winter if you live in a place where there is sun and it isn’t too cold in winter.


That makes sense, Solaro is a trick cloth for me unless I move to a warmer climate, because my falls / springs are very short. We go almost from Winter (where it’s too cold) to Summer (where it’s too hot & humid). If we are lucky, it’ll be a month, maximum.


I was about to make a similar comment. I think solar would thrive in the winter in warmer climates. But it’s tough to wear during the summer unless you’re in a northern climate like UK (presumably Iceland, Greenland, Netherlands / Scandinavia, Russia, but I’m not familiar with those climates)
if you’re somewhere warmer, (eg Florida or maybe even Sicily or Naples), it seems like solaro would be a fall winter fabric, given it’s weight. Of course on sunny days in the winter. Would that seem right?
i always wondered about a linen solaro or a wsl solaro. Any idea how they’d hold up during summer?


That would be my guess too, it’s all about the fabric’s breathability & weight. Not so much, the fabric’s color. It’s essentially a herringbone suit, with a little bit of a twist.


I have the same Smith’s solaro as Simon’s and I put mine away in June and take it back out in September. I live in Zurich. It is not very comfortable to wear when the temperature rises above 25 degrees.

Max Alexander

I wear my Solaro trousers in winter in Rome, with a chunky ribbed creme turtleneck and the aforementioned navy blazer. Unless it is particularly cold, I don’t need an overcoat.

Ronnie Pickering

I wonder if it would be worth bringing some of your more unusual pieces (eg this suit) to the pop ups? Perhaps hang some suits from the wall


That suit looks lovely. Funny that you refer to the colour as beige, it comes over to my eyes as “light brown” (except in the photos of the two Italians). Anyway, the reason I mention the colour is because brown and blue just go so well together, perfectly demonstrated in all of your photos. Yet you don’t see those colours together too often. Anyway it’s a fabric I’d certainly try if I had the means, the red tone is especially nice.

Ravi Singh

Lovely to see you wearing and covering more suits again, for a while coverage had gone very vintage and streetwear focussed.
I’m really enjoying seeing how you are using and wearing suits in a way that is not showy yet elegant with some lovely combinations.
Look forward to more


My thoughts exactly!

Otávio Silva

I always wondered why you didn’t own a solaro suit and I came to the conclusion that it was too showy for you. Now I have the right answer.

By the way, do you think it would work with reddish brown horn buttons? I think it looks quite harmonious well with those corozo buttons you chose, but there is something about reddish brown horn that I think would match the cloth very well.


Beautiful suit, Simon – the combination with white OCBD and suede shoes with socks in a complementary colour is actually my favourite. Nicely subdued, muted and overall a very calm, relaxed look. Perhaps you should reconsider this one!


Great article and suit, Simon!
Out of curiosity, could you please expand on how Cristina leads the cutting at Dalcuore? Does this mean she cuts the garment herself, or has someone else/a team doing it under her supervision?
And would this make a big difference either way?
Many thanks for your insight, as always!


I have very recently received a commissioned Solaro suit. While I agree that it is not for everyone I have to admit that I end up wearing the suit way more often than I initially expected. It is certainly not as versatile as a navy suit, but far from being impracticable.

Since this is not mentioned in the article I thought to add that the tricky thing with this type of suit is finding the right tie. Unlike the image above would suggest I would avoid flashy madder and steer towards muted ties- otherwise the overall result might be overwhelming.

I also find that color 8 cordovan works extremely well with the suit.

Final note- fully agree that this is not a summer suit.


Hi Simon,

Thanks for the article. As always a good read. Unrelated, can I ask for a feature change in the lookbook segment of the website? It currently only loads the most recent images one group at a time, which makes extremely hard to find older images and doesn’t allow for me to pickup from where I have left before.

Thank you very much


Hi Simon

Thanks, I imagine it is indeed not possible to load all images at once, or even desirable. My thought in segmenting it in pages (1, 2, 3, … , N) was to keep the number of loaded images limited while allowing for a person to find the images more easily

The filter page would be a great addition, but filtering ( and specially search) functions are usually more complex implementations.

Looking forward to it



I really like this one, in fact much more than the brown Dalcuore suit in the style guide. Have you deliberately asked for a longer jacket and lower buttoning point? This one looks much more balanced to me.


Love it! I’m looking for some more casual lounge suits, Solaro might be a neat choice


Hi Simon,
I hadn’t heard of this cloth. Not for me personally, but none the less, a very interesting cloth and history.


Simon, with this Solaro suit you’re one step closer to commissioning a suit in mohair, a fabric I haven’t seen you write on too often. It’d be great to hear your opinion on different mohair fabrics.

Craig Lomita

I have. It’s a mohair/wool blend in a color very similar to your Solaro suit. But I also have some mohair suits in more formal colors. In general I prefer the appearance of mohair to most of the open weave fabrics like Fresco and Draper’s four-ply. The only open weave fabric I’ve liked is Crispaire.


I second this, would love to see a Mohair suit commissioned and reviewed. It’s an interesting fabric but I would imagine difficult to get right I’m sure many readers are in this position.


Looks great. Did you you opt for full lining? I had one made by Rubinacci and couldn’t resist leaving some of the reverse of the cloth showing.

Ned Brown

Can’t go wrong following Agnelli. Denim shirt looks great.

john kalell

Very chic suit, Simon. I think it’s nicely accessorized with a light or mid-blue bengal stripe shirt , and a classic foulard print tie.


My default when I wear my Solaro is very similar to what John suggested: a white and blue striped shirt of some variety, and a usually a reddish-brown foulard or gabardine tie to complement the red in the weave, and brown suede shoes.

Separately, I like the way that Simon wears the suit more casually with the denim shirt, which I don’t think it easy to do given that the fabric is fairly formal because of the weave and shine. I think it works because it appears to be a relatively informal Neapolitan cut with soft shoulders and patch pockets. I think this would be much harder to do with a more structured cut, even Milanese like mine.

Patrick Hanrahan

Very interesting and informative. I had always thought that Solaro was a summer weight cloth, as it very much looks like it should be warn in summer, along with its history giving that impression.


Hi Simon, I am glad to hear from you that this is not a summer suit, with 355 gr, couldn’t be. Take care. Mirko

Matt H

I think the red is more pronounced in this cloth than it often is. Looks very nice and I think you made the right choice in having belt loops. I was hoping to see the lining though.


Solaro seems super enjoyable to wear in Madrid from October to May when it quite sunny.
One question: are the sleeves too long? They seem to bunch up a lot in the top pictures.


Looks fantastic. Can be used for a lot of purposes from dinner to work. There is life in this fabric. We can not all be dark blue or gray. Not all the time at least.


Dear Simon,
Do you know of tailors who leave out the hair canvas in the chest?
I can’t seem to find any mentions online regarding this type of construction.
Is this common practice amongst Neapolitan tailoring?

Kind regards,


Thank you for your reply.
I need a few new pieces for my wardrobe & would like to try the lightest construction possible.
I haven’t had anything quite as light as a Neapolitan coat yet, so not certain if it’ll be right for me.
Browsing around instagram, YouTube & articles only seems to yield more results glorifying chest canvases, domets & pad stitching. Haven’t come across anyone speaking about linen canvas only construction so far. Wondering if there is a marketing aspect to this phenomena.

Max Alexander

Worth mentioning that while Solaro is generally considered as a suit, it also works as separates. I have a pair of Loro Piana Solaro trousers made by Roti which I wear with a navy double breasted birdseye blazer (bespoke by Santi Macchia in Messina). The combination is unusual, and helps avoid the conservative/yachting look many people associate with blue blazers and grey flannel trousers or chinos.

Max Alexander

I’ve never tried a Solaro jacket alone as I don’t have one, only the trousers Roti made for me. I too think a separate jacket might be hard to pull off.


Where is the best place to buy an RTW-washed denim shirt with a cutaway collar like yours?


I want to buy one that I can’t make through bespoke like your Al Bazar shirt. They look so cool with the tailoring.

Is it similar?


Nice! Is it going to be light blue washed denim?