Wednesday, November 30, 2011
I have written before that I think flannel is the best cloth for cool weather suitings, a belief that has if anything become more strongly held over the years. The classic flannel pattern is the glen check, the cloth of the English kings, but a man could do a lot worse than to complement that check with a flannel chalk stripe, mid-gray solid, and air force blue solid in his closet. In other words, if he is going to have six suits for the cold, he might start with two worsteds and make the next four woolen flannel (the only drawback to the stuff is that it takes two days of rest after a wearing so it should not be introduced into a wardrobe until there are at least two other suits already in the rotation).
Woolen flannel is a good choice because it feels soft to the skin, its surface traps air so it wears warm in the cold, and its mottled finish adds visual interest. None of these characteristics is present to the same extent in the increasingly common worsted versions of flannel, whose only virtues are that it is a bit sturdier, may be woven lighter, and wears cooler (that latter may defeat the point in winter but has some advantages in shoulder season). Woolen flannels come in weights as heavy as 22 ounces (660 grams) for coatings and as light as twelve ounces (360 grams) but are generally 13 or 14 ounces (390 to 420 grams) these days, while the worsted stuff is commonly 11 ounces (330 grams) with examples as flimsy as 8 (240 grams). Still, there are better cloths for spring and summer, though none, as I wrote to begin, for winter. Find the best of it in England, at Fox Flannel or Huddersfield's J&J Minnis.
In the photo, 15 ounce (450 gram) overchecked gray flannel from Fox is worn with a knitted cashmere necktie and a silk square.