Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cotton Suits Are in the Air


2010 is the year that cotton suits make a comeback, if only among the people I know. This despite common sense - the stuff wrinkles easily, does not last as long as wool, and wears warmer than one might expect. In fact, there is a Savile Row adage to the effect that the tailoring costs just as much but the customer gets a lot less suit for his money.

Now I exclude seersucker from this cotton suit conversation though perhaps I should not. In any case, it has a place, principally in the southern United States, and there is steady demand for it. No, I am writing about other cottons, starting with the poplin suit that is the warm weather staple in many traditional wardrobes but rarely seen on bespoke customers. It is all coming back.

You see, this cotton thing started with a guy I know who is active on Style Forum. He began wearing it in our Bay area spring and fall, when the weather is warm but not overly so. It gave him a properly dégagé air, and, since I have a seersucker suit that needs replacing, I thought I would try a different style of cotton for myself. At any rate that is how we got to the brown suit in the photo, made of an 8 ounce/240 gram cashmere and cotton that is as light as any cloth in my wardrobe.

The suit came out pretty well, by the way. The left sleeve needs to be rotated a little, but Patrick Chu and his team at W. W. Chan did a nice job and the suit should be ready by May.

As I was leaving the hotel after my fitting I saw another acquaintance who was waiting for his appointment. After the usual pleasantries he mentioned that he was going to try a cotton suit. It is in the air.

6 comments:

rjmanbearpig said...

How about silk tussore? A nice suit in white tussore sounds very tempting, and Paul Winston has the cloth...

Titus said...

Does cotton really not last as long as wool? I had heard the exact opposite, but only admittedly in regards to off-the-rack jobs. Is cheap-suit wool more prone to wear than cheap-suit cotton?

And my seersucker suit is a prized possession, even if it is due for a replacement. But then again, I'm a Southerner.

JC said...

Interesting, a sleeve rotation issue similar perhaps to the one you just had with an SR firm.

Richard said...

Indeed, Will. Cotton suits definitely have their place, and I recently have worn a new brushed cotton one for the first time. Being navy blue, in the Australian climate at 104F I wore it instead of one of my tropical worsteds and I got away with wearing it at work, and it is wonderfully cool.

MCS said...

Nice. Scabal 500423?

JAL said...

I used to wear cotton suits frequently in spring & summer but I got rid of all of them. Their stiffness means that they don't move well with the body, which makes them uncomfortable. I felt like I was wearing cardboard. And as you say, they wrinkle easily and are surprisingly warm-wearing. Instead of cotton, I now wear a silk and linen blend herringbone -- it's soft, light as a feather and doesn't wrinkle as much as cotton or 100% linen. And I have substituted a quarter-lined silk and linen basketweave for cotton odd jackets.