Nothing will be more prized in a wardrobe than a silk suit. It will never lose its luster, staying soft and shiny for generations, allowing it to be passed from father to son as an heirloom. The silk in your suit is akin to spider silk and retains some of its legendary durability and strength, making it straight-forward to care for. Silk suits are best for luxurious events and dinner jackets and is blended in many ways to achieve various effects.
Characteristics of Silk
Silk is laboriously extracted from the silk worm. It takes 2500 worms to make enough silk for one suit, which lends to its expensive price tag. Silk has great absorbency, keeping you dry and cool in warm weather. Silk also does not conduct heat well, making it also a lightweight insulating layer that can be worn in the winter. This is due to the fibers being made from protein, different to that of other natural fibers like wool and cotton. The proteins lend it great strength and durability, able to stretch up to 30% of its original size with no lasting damage. However, this strength does make it difficult for colours to stay in the silk. Something as simple as exposure to light is enough to fade the colour in the fabric.
Silk/Cotton and Silk/Wool blends should be treated as silk. These blends are usually done for cosmetic purposes, and do not add any physical strength. It could be argued that blends make the cloth less durable, since silk is far stronger than the fabrics blended with them. Some more intricate blends may also create points of weakness along the seams in which the cloth has been weaved together. When taking your silk blend garment to the silk cleaners, be sure to inform them exactly what blend it is.
Silk thankfully is resistant to the elements. It is unaffected by mildew, so humidity in low levels should not be a concern. Silk is also naturally resistant to creasing, but do keep it on a proper hangar with enough width to properly support the shoulders. Keep silk suits covered with a suit bag to keep insects at bay. Insect repellents will emit odors that could taint your clothing. When taking your silk suit out of storage, it should be ready to wear immediately. This versatility has made it the clothing of kings for centuries, but if you do need to iron out the smallest of creases, be sure the fabric is damp as it will deteriorate at heats over 160°C / 320°F. When in doubt, use a steamer.
You probably won’t be wearing silk suits often, so thankfully cleaning can be kept to a minimum. After use, give your suit a gentle brush down to rid any small particles of dust. Dry cleaning uses harsh chemicals, on such a treasured garment, this should be avoided at all costs. Be sure to research your silk cleaners thoroughly and spare no expense if you really need a deep cleaning. Do not use just any commercial dry cleaner. Ask around or read some reviews online to find a trustworthy and skilled dry cleaner. When it comes to ironing be sure to use low heat on damp cloth. The protein that makes up strands of silk will deform with high heat (imagine cooking a steak). Steamers will not prove very effective as silk retains too much moisture leading to soggy clothing.
The reason for silk’s public image of fragility is its susceptibility to stains. Not that stains are impossible to remove, but spot treating on silk clothing will only make things worse. Silk is very poor at retaining its colour, any spot treating will fade the surrounding area, causing an unsightly patch in your clothing. Use a dry cloth to very softly soak up any remaining moisture. Do not press into the fabric. Once home, take your stained silk and gently bathe it in a cold bucket with a few drops of liquid detergent. Use only a product formulated for silk. Agitate the garment in the tub for a few minutes, be sure not to rub the fabric to vigorously in any one area. Hang your garment to dry until it is just damp enough to iron. If the stain persists, send it to your silk cleaners.
Silk is great at absorbing sweat in the summer, and as a thin insulating layer in winter. Using silk as an underlayer for these purposes are fine for everyday use. They won’t get stained if under your clothing. For Silk suits save them for special occasions. The sheen of silk is eye catching and exotic, best saved for limelight moments. You wouldn’t drive your classic sports car to dinner, nor would you wear a silk suit. When wearing your silk suit, be careful of stains. That being said, don’t let your silk suit hide in the closet out of fear of damaging it. Wear it and make sure people see it!
It is important to pack your silk suit correctly to avoid abrasive damage. Use a polyester suit bag with a smooth finish, and be sure to fit the suit inside properly. If you got your suit from Senszio, the suit bag that it came with is sufficient until you switch to a travel specific suit bag. Make sure that you do not fold the suit more than once and the hangar is uniform in width throughout. Thankfully Silk does not wrinkle easily, once you reach your destination, take it out and hang it properly.
At Senszio we craft suits that emit a timeless sheen, even when not made from silk. Our tailors honed their skills over 3 generations to offer top quality garments to you, the discerning gentleman. Come visit us and book an appointment for the next time we are in your city.The art of a fabric weave
Choosing the right fabrics for your suit or shirt from 3000+ options can be overwhelming. Especially if you know nothing about what the fabrics are and what makes them unique. Different types of fabric weave have unique structures, patterns and functionalities. This article is less about the material the fabric is made from, like wool, cotton, silk, etc. We discuss that in our post about selecting fabrics for your suits. Today, we are showing you a few fabrics that are popular to help you in choosing the right fabric for your tailored suit or shirt.
Warp and Weft
The Warp refers to the vertical threads (or Ends) in a fabric. Weft refers to horizontal threads (or Picks) which cross in various different weaving patterns on the loom to form different types of fabric. Both Warp and Weft may be coloured to incorporate stripe and check patterns into the fabric.
Piquet or Piqué, from the French term, is a fabric usually woven with two warps to produce characteristic parallel cords, diamonds, horizontal ribs and other interesting effects. Invented for use with cotton, the fabric is usually very richly constructed to emphasize the raised structures. Almost used exclusively for shirts and polos, piquet fabrics are often knitted as well as woven and can be quite formal (for evening shirts) or also sporty.
Oxford was traditionally a very basic fabric woven together by interlacing two threads on a coloured warp with a thick white weft, giving a chalky textured appearance. Oxford fabrics have been refined and produced using two-fold and three-fold yarns woven together in complex dobby structures to achieve the typical Oxford appearance. The finer versions of an Oxford are referred to as Pin Point or Royal Oxford and are used primarily for shirts with cotton. While rare, some suits have seen oxford (wool) used as well.
Twill is an English term that is used to identify fabrics with a diagonal structure. Main characteristics of a twill fabric is that by using the diagonal weave, as opposed to a plain weave, it’s possible to incorporate more threads and therefore the resultant fabrics are heavier and thus more suitable for cooler weather.
The pattern is reached by passing the weft thread over one or more warp threads and then under two or more warp threads and so on. Every time a “step” is left between rows to create the characteristic diagonal structure. A vast majority of suit fabrics are some kind of twill weave.
Some notable examples of fabrics that fall under the diagonal “Twill” family are flannel, tweed, herringbone, houndstooth and many more.
Poplin is a light cotton fabric with a higher number of yarns in the warp than in the weft, which makes it especially suitable for striped designs. The name is derived from the french word “papaline”, namely a fabric that was created for the Popes in the Middle Ages. Poplin is usually made with cotton but any fabric can be made into a poplin fabric.
Two-fold means that two very finely spun yarns have been subsequently twisted together to form a two-fold yarn, which is much stronger, smoother and more durable than the original single-fold yarns.
Fabrics woven from two-fold yarns are soft but also crisp, and have an unsurpassed lustre, drape and handle, as well as good resilience.
There are of course many more fabric types other than these, but now you know some of the basics. And you don’t have to panic at all, as our bespoke master at Senszio will assist you in finding the ones that suit your preference perfectly. Check out the next touring schedule here.