The Fabric Series, Pt. VI: Wool
We’ll continue our focus on summer weight cloths in this, the next installment of the fabric series focusing on wool.
“Wait a minute,” you say, “my sweaters are wool. I have wool socks for the winter time. My overcoats are wool. You expect me to believe that wool can be a summer fabric?”
Yes, we do. Naysayers.
Don’t get us wrong; thick, heavy wool is fantastic when it’s cold outside, but one of the reasons it performs so well is that it’s breathable. It’s this breathability that also allows it to perform well when it’s hot outside.
SUMMER WEIGHT WOOL
Before getting into summer weight specifically, let’s get some background information. Fabric weights refer to ounces (or grams) per square yard of fabric. A nine-ounce wool (255-ish grams) is a mid-weight wool that’s good for most any time of year. As weights get higher we get into flannels and coat fabrics, great for December and January. As they get lower, on the other hand, we get into some truly comfy wool suits for summer. Many will be in the 7.5-8.5 ounce range, and you will generally never find anything lighter than 6.5 ounces. Going lower than this will render the wool too delicate to hold a drape and function properly as a suit.
WHY WOOL FOR SUMMER SUITS?
Not to answer a question with another question, but do you need to look dressy and/or wear a suit to work? Wool is perfect for you then. Again, wool’s easy breathability makes it a great summer fabric, and it can also hold up to about 30% of its weight in moisture. This means that getting caught in the rain (which happened to Mike about 17 times over the past couple of rainy weeks) or sweating profusely won’t soak through the wool if you can get out of the rain/into some air conditioning for a while.
Most professional men have some navy and grey suits in their rotations, so don’t be afraid to mimic what you already have, but in a lighter weight for the summertime. You still need to look like you’re going to work, and while a cotton or linen khaki suit might be appropriate for some offices, more conservative firms are still going to expect you to to dress in dark colors as you would any other time of year. Lightweight wools allow you to do this without sacrificing too much comfort.