Most people know linen as a wrinkly fabric and this is something to take into account when purchasing a linen suit. It is, however, often woven quite loosely and therefore is quite light and comfortable to wear. Cotton also has poor elasticity and is generally the most tightly woven fabric.
The combination of those two means cotton probably drapes the poorest out of all three fabric types — it just tends to be a bit stiff. Some tailors recommend cutting a cotton suit slightly larger to give you a more comfortable range of motion. Cotton suits also tend to wrinkle over the course of the day. Imagine a business suit. Neither of those cloths have the same slick finish a wool suit has. Moreover, both types drape a little differently to wool with some wrinkling and some stiffness involved.
Together these aspects differentiate cotton and linen suits just enough. Some might even say that suits made from linen or cotton are sloppier than suits made from wool. These aspects again take away from some of the sharp lines that define a business suit; softening up that silhouette lends to casualness.
It should also be noted that bold colours and lines are also more casual. In the first picture in this post both my cotton and linen suit are in a brighter tone of blue and that will lend them an air of casualness. The nature of the fabric more of a matte finish, and the wrinkles that form make them best for more casual situations as well.
You can get 'tropical weight wool' suits which will be nearly as good as a cotton suit for warm days, or warm climates. I prefer the way that wool drapes, and how the fabric looks in comparison to cotton.
However, both definitely have their uses. VMan , Sep 26, Cotton suits are a niche garment, nice for summer in hot climates, but otherwise not so useful. To be avoided until all the basics are already in your closet. Manton , Sep 26, Thanks for the tip guys! I was going to get a cotton Kiton suit one time but the tailor at NM said that it wasn't a good idea to do any changes other than sleeves because the old seams would show. I have two cotton suits: After three years in Manhattan as the rabbi of a synagogue without air conditioning built in and now serving a congregation in Florida -- as well as numerous outdoor funerals in the sultry months of summer -- I can state unequivocally that there is definitely a place in the wardrobe for a cotton summer suit.
I found a very nice one the navy at Lands End, actually, and had it pretty extensively reworked by a tailor in NYC. The khaki was a end-of-season sale at Saks at the flagship store on Fifth.
Nice hand to it. Lately, though, I've bought two BrooksCool. Feels like sandpaper, but when you walk 2. And it looks just fine. Great as a travel blazer, too, as it doesn't wrinkle at all. Yes, I think that cotton tends to wrinkle more than wool at least in the quality ranges that I am familiar with , but less than linen. I think that cotton suits serve more or less the same purposes as linen suits. Nice summer wear, with a more "casual" look than wool.
I thought about a suit, but as trousers tend to wrinkle more than the jacket as, in summer, you often take your jacket off at work, at least, I do , I decided that to go for an odd jacket and a set of different cotton trousers to go with it. Also, the a bit "wrinkled" look is OK. At least at my job, we tend to dress more casually in summer. A light wool is good when you have air conditioning and aren't walking around too much outside even in California's dry heat.
But I wear my black linen suit with a linen dress shirt in degree heat and hardly sweat, amazing indeed.
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