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49 West 45th St.
New York, NY 10036

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Fabric: How Super is Your Fabric?

When choosing a custom suit, one of the most important elements that make up a beautiful suit is what type of fabric to use. There are a dizzying array of cloth types, weights, "super" numbers and many more criteria to choose from. Nowadays most suits are made from wool. There are two main types of wool, the first is worsteds and the second is woollens, where the fibers are not combined before spinning. Worsteds are the more popular and higher quality of the wools which most expensive suits are made out of. The most common scoring that is used for wool is the Super Number. This number can be a very tricky indicator of the quality of the wool. The Super Number indicates the fineness of the wool, measured in microns, used in making the cloth. This number system originated in England and was meant to qualify the fineness of the yarn. The worsted count was the number of 560 yard lengths of worsted yarn that a pound of wool yields. The finer the wool, the more yarn is produced and the higher the count.

The International Wool Textile Organization (IWTO) governs the Super Number designations. According to the IWTO, the Super Number correlates to the maximum fiber thickness where 80s must have a fiber thickness of 10.75 microns and 90s must have 10.25 and so on. Each number increment (80, 90, 100 etc) refers to 0.5 microns.

So although the higher the Super Number, the finer the fabric, bigger isn't necessarily better. The more narrow the fibers, the more fragile they become and can't be worn on a regular basis and on top of that may not last that long either. Another negative about high Super Numbers is that they wrinkle more easily than lower numbers, say Super 120s.

Manufacturers these days have been using the Super Number as a marketing device. They know that people are looking for a higher number and they associate that number with higher quality and luxury. There are high quality manufacturers and big retailers like Zegna, Oxxford and Stafford that either stopped using the S-Number system altogether or greatly limited it's use to only Super 150s or greater.

As wool suits are good for all year around because of their smooth texture and their ability to "breath" well, there are other fabrics that are suited for specific tasks. Linen, for example, is used by Americans in the summer due to it's light weight. On the opposite end, tweed and flannel are two types of wool that are known for their warmth. These are heavier fabrics, tweed being extremely heavy, rough and stiff, used for outdoors and flannel, made of corded wools, which is tough, durable and warm.

Whatever fabric you choose it should drape nicely across your hand and most importantly it should feel good. No matter what anyone tells you about quality or Super count, the fabric has to feel good to you and you alone. Custom suits and clothing are about personal style and this is something that you must remember throughout the process.

In finding the right fabric/color combination, you first have to asses your needs. Do you need something formal, then go with a black suit or tuxedo. For a work suit, grey and navy blue are always safe bets. Going hunting? You may want to look into a tweed suit or jacket. If you are more of a fashion risk taker then go with an more exotic pattern.

Here are the most popular patters:

  • Pinstripes on a navy blue background - this is the undisputed classic in suits.
  • Grey pinstripe consists on narrow stripes on a grey background and is the most popular alternative to the blue pinstripe mentioned above.
  • Dark grey with pinstripes for a more low-key look.
  • Nailhead which consists of grey and blue grey strands together is also another low key option.
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Known as one of New York’s premiere custom suit makers and bespoke mens suits in New York, LS Men’s Clothing has become a fixture for business and formal wear of the finest quality. Click custom suits ny to learn more about our process. We sell the finest custom dress shirts New York has to offer.