December 20, 2016

One of the most common goals a man will pursue when commissioning a new suit is comfort. While fit, stretch, and material can all affect comfort, one of the most important elements is a cloth's weight.

Lighter weight materials or weaves sit lighter on the body, allow more airflow, and help keep the wearer cooler. Obviously this is ideal for tropical and/or desert environments or the summer season in more temperate climes. Heavier materials or weaves have the opposite effect and help retain heat - which is ideal for fall and winter or climates that see year-round cool temperatures.

While there are certain materials like linen or flannel that are best suited as only one type of weight, others - like wool - can be woven in different ways to either increase or decrease the weight of the cloth.

Thankfully this is not something a man needs to go into blindly when purchasing a suit. Reputable clothing makers and mills will provide the weight breakdown of their cloths in order to make purchasing the right material easier.

Depending on where you buy your clothing, cloth weight will either be determined in grams or ounces. If you're used to one or the other, an easy conversion method to remember is to divide the number of grams by 30 to get the weight measurement in ounces.

So here's the breakdown of what the weights are.

  • 7 - 9 oz (210 - 270 grams) is a very light weight that is ideal for the warmest temperatures and most breathability.
  • 9.5 - 12 oz (285 - 360 grams) is a midweight and the best option for "all season" suits. This weight is comfortable for more than six months of the year and is what most men should look for when starting to build their wardrobe.
  • 12 - 13 oz (360 - 390 grams) is a heavier mid weight that is still wearable for a good portion of the year. However, it provides more comfort during the cool months and is less comfortable in the summer.
  • 14 - 19 oz (420 - 570 grams) is the heaviest (and rarest) of ranges. Typically these are used for winter coats and heavy flannel or tweed suits. The heavier the weight, the more comfortably you can wear a suit in the winter without having to opt for a topcoat as well.

One thing you'll want to keep in mind is that different mills consider the seasonality of their weights differently. For example, an Italian mill like Guabello or Loro Piana considers their 270 gram to be a four season weight. Whereas British mill Huddersfield between 300 and 350 grams in their all season offerings (to see more, visit our cloth library here). This makes sense given the different climes where these mills are located. The safest way to ensure you're buying something in the correct weight is to look at the individual fabric, rather than immediately buying from a mills 4 Season book.

If you are looking for the structure, formality, and professionalism of a business suit, we recommend you opt for the heaviest weight in which you can still be comfortable. The reason for this is because a heavier weight provides a better drape and more structure - decreasing wrinkles and making the suit appear cleaner and more professional. Just to reiterate that point - weight does not create more formality, drape creates more formality. You can have a heavy, winter weight fabric but remove all of the interior structure to turn it into a casual jacket. It will have better drape than an unstructured jacket from a lighter weight material, but not as much as a lighter weight jacket with proper structuring.

To that same effect, if you're trying to find something that appears more casual, opting for a lighter weight may be a great way to give that jacket some nonchalance.

As always, style rules are written in pencil, not ink. Play around with it, be daring, show some personality, and discover your own style.

To your style,

B&R

P.S. If you want daily updates of new styles, client shots, and overall style goodness, follow us on Instagram.


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