In this article you will find a quick overview of common fabrics used in formal clothing.
Cotton is a natural fiber harvested from plants before spinning the material into yarn. Cotton is a plant requiring a rich, moisture retaining soil and 200 frost free days. After 200 days the seed pod bursts open to reveal a tangled mass of fluffy raw cotton fibers. After the cotton is harvested, it is cleaned from impurities, and finally woven into different yarns before being dyed into a wide range of colors. Cotton is then woven into fabrics.
Corduroy comes from the French word “corde du roi” meaning “cloth of the king”. It became popular in the 1700’s when King Louis XVI (1754 – 1793), King of France (1774 – 1792) chose this material for his servants on his grand hunting outings. The wider the gap between the ribs, also known as Wales, the more casual the fabric. Initially corduroy fabric was made from finest silk, but during the 19th century cotton was used.
Covert is a slightly heavier twill fabric (also see twill below). Typical for covet is a color contrast between the twill line and the ground. To fabric often times has a somewhat flecked appearance caused by using a warp yarn with 2 or more colors twisted together.
The word “flannel” comes from the Welish word “gwalnen” meaning woolen cloth. Flannel is a twill type of fabric that has been brushed to soften the outer layer. In men’s clothing flannel trousers are popular among older men. Although used, flannel is slightly less common in men’s jackets.
Gabardine was invented by the renowned fashion house – Burberry in the late 19th century. Gabardine is a tough, tightly woven fabric. IN men’s fashion it is commonly used for suits, overcoats, trousers and other garments. Traditionally the fiber used to make the fabric is worsted wool. Beside wool cotton is and synthetic fibers are used.
One of the oldest woven fabrics know to men is linen. The intricate and time consuming manufacturing process of linen made it a very exclusive fabric. In fact, linen fabric is mentioned in the Bible as the material of the coverings used in the Tabernacle. Linen is made from the flax plant. The flax is picked and the linen fibers are extracted from the plant’s stalk. Quality linen is still a quite expensive fabric today. To measure the quality of linen look at the amount of stubs that are showing. The higher the quality the smoother the fabric, and the less stubs are visible.
Microfiber is a man-made material made from polyester and polyamide. Both are mixed together and then spun into a microscopic thin yarn that is then woven into fabric. Microfiber has a very soft, silk like feel. It is very stain-resistant, and doesn’t wrinkle easily. The disadvantage of microfiber is that it doesn’t breathe well – making the fabric less suited for larger pieces of clothing.
Mogador is a region in northern Africa. Mogador fabric is mix of silk yarn in the warp, and finest cotton in the weft. Today Mogador silk is a common fabric in fine silk ties. Brooks Brothers is well known for their repp-stripe ties made from Mogador silk.
Polyester is a man made material. It is often mixed in with other, natural fabrics to reduce cost. Polyester is very stain resistant, doesn’t shrink or stretch after cleaning, and is quickly to dry. It is most common in athletic gear since it dries fast and doesn’t take on odors as easily as other, natural fibers.
Super 100’s, 120’s, 140’s, etc
This type of fabric is most common in men’s suits. It refers to the length in centimeters a piece of wool can be stretched. The higher quality the wool the longer it can be stretched. The result: a much finer wool yarn that gives the suit a nice draping effect, great shine, and soft feel.
Tweed is a rugged woolen fabric that dates back to over 2,000 years ago. It is made from a variety of weaves and from wools in different colors, giving the fabric a distinctive flecked appearance. Some popular tweeds are Cheviot, Irish, Scottish, Yorkshire, Saxony and the most famous, Harris.
Twill is a type of waving technique that creates a diagonal raised pattern. It can easily be identified by the fine lines in the fabric.