Wear Heavier Fabrics

December 13, 2012

Wear Heavier Fabrics

One of the things I really like about winter is the ability to wear heavier cloths. Heavy fabrics tend to hold their shape better and hang on the body a bit more nicely. This is especially important when you think about how a well-tailored jacket is actually quite three-dimensional, not just a flat, limp, two-dimensional piece that you put on over your own form. Trousers made from heavier cloths also tend to hang a bit better from the seat down, which is nice if you want to maintain an elegant, straight leg-line.

Unfortunately, it can be hard to find good clothing made from heavy cloth nowadays. Fabrics have become lighter over the years in order to accommodate the changes in climate, central heating, and air conditioning. Consumers have also just bought into the idea that lightweight fabrics are more luxurious. Thus, almost everything you’ll ever encounter in a store will be light- to mid-weight.

There are some makers, however, who still make nice, heavy things. Ralph Lauren, for example, will sometimes carry really thick, heavy woolen trousers as part of their “made in Italy” Polo lines. They tend to be very expensive though (we’re talking about $400 for a pair of pants). Obviously, the key here is to get them at the end of the season, when they’ll be discounted 40-50%, but not everyone can afford those prices.

The other possibility is to shop for vintage clothing. In the mid-century, men used to wear heavier cloths by default, purely because the technology to make the super lightweight stuff wasn’t around yet. If you happen to come across something well constructed, and made from a nice heavy fabric, find a reputable place who can hand press it for you (I’d recommend RAVE FabriCARE). Presumably that three-dimensional shape has been lost over decades, but it can be restored if you know where to send it. Note, a hand press is quite different from a machine press (the second of which is what most dry cleaners offer). The first will put in shape for you, while the second will take it out.

If you ever have a chance, check out the heaviest garments a clothier has to offer. Give them a try in the dressing room and see how they feel. I think you’ll be impressed.

Oh, and pictured above? Italian tailor Antonio Panico also recommending classic, heavy cloths. Those stills are from the film O’Mast, which is a kind of must see if you’re interested in classic men’s tailoring.