Warm Weather Fabrics: Don’t Forget Wool

Now that most of us are well in to the warmer months we’re beginning to once again hear quite a bit about the classic spring/summer fabrics – cotton, linen, and seersucker. It isn’t hard to find a shirt made out of a light cotton or breezy linen, but when it comes to blazers, trousers and suits the game changes a bit. For tailored clothing, one material in particular will keep you just as cool without giving up formality – wool. It may sound counter-intuitive, but hear me out.

1. Wool can be much thinner. It’s not hard to find wool suits and sportcoats at under 9 oz, but the same can’t be said for cotton and linen.  This is because cotton and linen fabrics of that fineness aren’t well “suited” for tailored clothing – they will wrinkle too easily and won’t have the necessary durability. On my last trip to Khaki’s of Carmel I experienced this firsthand when comparing my cotton Boglioli sportcoat with a summer wool jacket by the same maker. The two items were almost identical in many ways, but the wool fabric weighed a fraction of what mine did and was much more porous. On a hot day I would most definitely grab the light and airy wool one over the dense cotton (if I had the dough to buy it).

2. Wool can come with a nice open weave. Wool weaves like fresco can wear quite cool due to their porous, open weave mixed with wool’s moisture-wicking abilities. Cotton sure can’t say that. Check out all those cool pictures of people holding thin, open-weave wool up to the light – can your cotton blazer do that? Mine definitely can’t.

3. Wool doesn’t sacrifice formality for comfort. Not only can the right wool weave keep you much cooler, it will also keep your warm-weather look from becoming too casual. There is a place for wrinkly linen suits or seersucker blazers, but sometimes you just want to look like a man in a suit. Tropical wools and frescos (which are a specific type of tropical wool) look very similar to a standard worsted weave but wear much cooler. Can you tell that Styleforum’s Manton is wearing fresco here?

4. Wool plays well with others. Wool can be easily blended with other cool-wearing fibers like mohair, silk, and even linen. These blends can bring other qualities to the fabric without going too casual. For example – wool/linen blends have a hint of that charming nubby look that linen-lovers go for, but it won’t turn into a wrinkly mess in the same way. It’s a win-win situation.

Another important factor to remember when trying to beat the heat is looking for partially-lined or unlined jackets. A large amount of heat retention comes from a jacket’s liner, regardless of the material. Keep cool by losing the liner (it’s not doing anything for you, anyway).

Over the coming months the mercury will continue to rise, but we still have lots of occasions that demand a put-together appearance. Embrace wrinkles when the time is right, but don’t ride off wool as stuffy and sweaty – it’s much cooler than that.

(Photo via NOBD on styleforum)