The Importance of Fabric

Quality garments are made from one of two fabrics--either natural fibers such as wool, cotton, silk, camel hair and cashmere or blends of natural or manmade fibers such as 55% wool/45% polyester; 95% wool/5% Alpaca, and so forth. Wool is considered nature's miracle fiber. Wool absorbs moisture, it provides superior comfort in both hot and cold weather and it's durable. A wool fiber can be bent more than 20,000 times without breaking. By comparison, cotton breaks after 3,200 bends and viscose rayon breaks after only 75 bends. Wool also has a natural "memory"--after each stretching, it returns to its original shape. And, as an added bonus, because wool is antistatic it does not attract soil easily. Wool is the all-around best choice for your business suits. 

Worsted wool is a lightweight wool made of fine, tightly woven threads that give the fabric a smooth, firm feel. Worsted wears well and falls into a soft drape; its tight weave helps hold the shape of a suit as well as the crease in trousers. Worsted is a good choice for a year-round suit because it offers the advantages of wool without a heavy "wintry" look.

Woolens are another breed of wool, made of loosely woven yarns that create a soft textile such as Harris tweed or flannel. Their use is essentially limited to cool winter months.

Blends can be made up of natural fibers or natural and man-made such as polyester or acrylic. The recommended blend is 55% wool and 45% polyester or a similar proportion with at least 55% wool. A blend needs little care and wears well; creases stay creased longer than pure wool and wrinkles drop out easier. A blend is less expensive than 100% wool unless it has silk in it, such as wool-silk blends. 

A pure polyester suit will not measure up to a professional look. The fabric does not breathe and when the weather gets hot it will feel like you're wearing a sauna. In addition, its shiny look will broadcast poor quality even across a crowded room.

Most of your business suits will be pure wool and some wool blends, especially if your job requires travel. To test the quality of the fabric, read the label on the suit's sleeve for fiber content and "scrunch" up the fabric in your hand. Note how it feels--smooth or rough? Does it wrinkle easily? Do the wrinkles remain after you release the fabric or does it quickly conform to its original shape? Suits made with quality fabrics are a smart investment that pay off in comfort and appearance. 


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