Winter Cloths: Three Seasonal Favourites
As we wave goodbye to British Summer Time, shorter days and chilly weather are an inevitability. But, if every cloud has a silver lining, ours comes in the form of Autumn and Winter cloths. Read on for our shortlist of the season’s favourite fabrics.
Despite its rather unusual name, moleskin will be familiar to many readers. Most commonly seen in ready-to-wear trousers, the cloth itself is woven from cotton (sometimes with a miniscule amount of Elastine to allow for stretch) and finished with a suede-like quality that feels soft and slightly furry to the touch. This is where its comparison to the skin of a mole comes from.
The cloth’s history can be traced back to the Medieval era where it was favoured for its warmth and durability. Iron and steel workers wore moleskin to protect themselves against molten metal, and since the 20th Century it has been used liberally in both sporting and country wear.
Moleskin garments are durable, breaking-in slightly over time. Pairing well with other textured cloths, moleskin is much more than a fabric reserved for country suits. From Porter & Harding’s classic offerings to Holland & Sherry’s soft and colourful selections, there are plenty of options to be found for both suits and separates.
Not dissimilar to moleskin, corduroy could be considered to be an even more casual winter cotton – moleskin’s more relaxed relative if you like. Also a cotton based cloth but where moleskin has a brushed smooth surface, corduroy is ribbed giving it an even more relaxed appearance.
Corduroy’s medieval equivalent, Fustian, was favoured by everyone from field-workers, to the infamous highwayman Dick Turpin, to King Henry VIII. Although each cloth would have shared the corduroy’s basic principle, the qualities of each fabric would have differed widely for each.
Despite its use across all ranks of society, corduroy was strongly associated with workwear and sportswear. This all changed in the 1970s when wave of stylish corduroy suiting was unleashed, usually with flared trousers and wide lapels.
Contemporary corduroy is perfect for anyone wanting relaxed, durable and versatile tailoring that sits as well with a pair of jeans as it does with a shirt and tie. The width of ribbing can vary from needle thin to jumbo thick, with coarse and heavier weights usually have a larger “whale” (ribs per inch).
There are many delightful options from Bateman & Ogden’s bullet-proof heavyweight corduroys, through soft micro cords from Solbiati, to incredibly luxurious pure cashmere corduroys from Scabal.
Definitely saving the best to last here, any tailor worth his salt will shower praise on flannel. A soft brushed wool, ranging in weights from 8oz to 30oz, flannel can be fashioned into everything from an elegant three season suit to a Greatcoat, durable enough to brave even the harshest of winters.
Due to the way it is woven, flannel lends a beautiful depth of colour and texture to any garment. The earliest verified production of flannel has been traced back to 16th Century Wales. The raised texture (or napp) and heat-retaining properties would have made this an ideal choice for clothing to protect against the colder weather. It was these properties, as well as the cloth’s versatility, that made flannel hugely popular in everything from tailoring and work wear to blanketing and upholstery. In the early to mid 20th Century the cloth was also popular in the sporting world. White flannel trousers could be seen on the tennis courts of Wimbledon and the cricket lawns of Lords.
If you are looking for a winter suit you should definitely start your search with flannel. Be it plain or patterned, light or heavy, it will make an incredibly versatile and unique piece of clothing that is pleasing to both the hand and the eye. Fox Brothers is the first name that comes to mind – their Classic Flannel bunch is excellent. Standeven’s Oxbridge bunch has a wide selection of colours while Loro Piana’s Wool and Cashmere Flannels bunch has a luxurious touch of softness, for an even more refined offering.