With frost coming, your tailoring needs a cold-weather tweak. But cosy suiting isn’t wise if your office comes with central heating. In our mod con world, buying a suit specifically for three months of the year is an expense that can leave you sweating. Instead, you need fabrics suitable from autumn to spring, so you don’t have to shell out every time the seasons switch.
Wool is nature’s weather-beater. The fibres trap heat, but also encourage airflow, so you stay cool even when transitioning from commute to overheated office.
But weight is crucial, says Julian Fuller, head of menswear design at Debenhams. “The ideal is 280g to 300g Super-100s wool.” You won’t bake, but it’s still heavy enough that you’ll only need an overcoat when the weather turns.
The S number refers to the fabric’s fineness – the higher the number, the more delicate (and less hard-wearing) the material. Super-100s means you won’t wear the trousers out by new year. For extra versatility, a three-piece offers additional protection against snow, but you can ditch the waistcoat if the sun comes back out.
Elverton 4ply Worsted Wool Suit, available at Chester Barrie, priced from £995.
Shorn from the eponymous sheep, merino is not only finer than ordinary wool – which makes it super-soft – but also practical. “Merino wool helps to regulate temperature,” says Stuart McCullough, managing director of Woolmark, since it ensures heat escapes when it’s hot, but not when the mercury drops. It’s also springy enough to withstand an afternoon on the back of your chair – should you misjudge the temperature – without creasing.
To ensure the style is as adaptable as the construction, steer classic. A dark grey version will work from bare trees until daffodils pop up, so long as you adjust your accessories; think texture in winter and colour for spring.
This charcoal two-piece by T.M.Lewin features a modern silhouette and 100 per cent merino construction, making it appropriate from equinox to equinox.
Banbury Charcoal Tonic Two-Button Slim-Fit Suit, available at T.M.Lewin, priced £199.
Flannel is wool brushed with metal combs, which lifts the fabric to give its distinctive texture. This makes it ideal for winter suits, since the raised nap traps heat and lends your tailoring a touch of texture. Traditionally you’d opt for monochrome, but playing with pattern modernises your look.
“Checks and tweeds are returning to the fore this winter,” says McCullough. “It’s great to see them modernised through lighter cloths and contemporary structures.”
For three-season versatility, stick to light shades and midweight fabrics. Soft greys will keep you looking fresh and airy year-round.
Crosby Suit In Windowpane Italian flannel, available at J.Crew, priced £650.
Cashmere is ideal for the colder months, since it’s warm without adding weight. But because the fabric is hand-picked from the eponymous goat’s winter coat, rustling up enough for a suit is costly. Your compromise? Mix in wool for something more versatile.
To pick quality from filler, look for natural fibres and a semi-plain design, says Chris Modoo, creative and buying manager at Savile Row’s Chester Barrie. Because cashmere traps heat, stick to a medium weight to stay warm when it’s frosty without cooking on your commute.
Single-Breasted Pick-And-Pick Suit, available at Oliver Brown, priced £395.
“Natural fibres breath in the summer and keep you warm in the winter, so wool is the obvious choice,” says Fuller. “But adding mohair gives a natural crease-free finish.” It also gives your suiting a subtle sheen, so your look pops even when it’s dark out. A touch of colour helps here, too.
“Midnight blue is timeless, and much more sophisticated than black,” says Fuller. Just keep your accessories in the same family and create contrast through texture – a cashmere or flannel navy tie will give your look visual depth, and ensure you don’t veer into footballer-style shine.
Strong Blue Wool & Mohair Hyde Suit, available at Richard James, priced £845.