The main component of any garment is the fabric, which of course in bespoke tailoring, is the area where our clients make their biggest decision as the formality and mood of the suit changes depending on the chosen fabric. As a rule of thumb, solid colours and smooth textures are best suited for formal occasions, with the suit appearing increasingly less formal the louder the patterns gets. Here are 6 patterns commonly used in men’s suiting:
Commonly used to elongate a shorter frame, there are several versions of striped patterns and they differ by the width of stripes. The most common striped pattern is pinstripe, made out of pin sized dots out of silk yarn or cotton, which are then woven into worsted cloth to form a stripe.
Another stripe pattern is rope stripe， more often seen on worsted wool. It has a gentle weave which creates a subtle spiral effect. Today although considered a perfect pattern for business suits, stripes –especially the bolder options- are becoming dandyish and declarative.
A classic pattern that is suitable for most occasions, the name comes from the distinctive zigzag pattern that resembles herring bone. The smaller and tighter pattern is, the more it is suitable for formal occasions. The Herringbone ranges from a subtle texture that is barely noticable, to exaggerated graphic patterns on heavier flannels and tweeds.
Somewhere between solids and stripes in formality is bird’s eye or nailhead, which examined closely has the appearance of tiny dots of a lighter color on a darker background. A bird’s eye suit generally appears as a solid somewhere in between the two colors, similar to the effect of an Oxford cloth shirt. Nail-head is appropriate in any occasion where stripes would be, and can be substituted for solids on all but the most formal of occasions.
The Glen check is a check most commonly used for suits. While not the most formal of suit fabrics, it is a good choice for men looking to diversify their wardrobe. This check resembles a tartan, though it is primarily monochromatic. It utilizes bands of vertical and horizontal stripes which, when viewed as a whole, create a wider check effect in the fabric.
Another check is windowpane, a loud option where the stripes form an elongated checkerboard effect. This in turn also subtly lengthens the silhouette. A full windowpane suit is not commonly seen, however it has made a comeback in recent years and has proven to work for business suits to casual suits.
A more subtle option comparatively to Glen checks, Houndstooth is found on wool and tweed fabrics. Characterized by its abstract black and white pattern, it produces a bold and showy look when made into a suit. It is also used commonly in sport blazers. This is a versatile pattern which lends a fair bit of presence to the wearer.