“I’m going to break this down for you fella, real easy” this jeweller had been dealing with chancers like me his entire career. “There are 5 ‘C’s’ when it comes to buying diamonds and, each one is going to cost you…”
I don’t remember much else about that conversation. I mean, I remember the psychological and financial damage the bill caused me but, little else.
Bar, the 5 C’s… I thought that was a clever way to think about diamonds.
And that’s the thing. I really like any complex world that can be captured via a short statement or acronym.
Samin Nosrat captures cooking in ‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’.
The jeweller nailed a diamond sale via 5 simple Cs.
And the purpose of these 3 connected but, separate posts, is for you to start looking at menswear and tailoring through 3 Cs.
Taken together they will determine:
As we walk through these three posts, we’ll do so seeking the answer to a single question:
“Why does my suit jacket look a little off when I wear it with jeans?”
Given cloth forms the bulk and heft of every garment, it makes sense that it’s the cloth that plays the biggest role in determining cost.
It also plays a major role in your garments formality which, in turn, informs it’s versatility.
Cloth options include:
Cashmere – Produced by the pashmina goats in central and east Asia it’s luxury at it’s very finest.
Finer, lighter, softer and yet, three times warmer than sheep’s wool, when it comes to comfort and luxury, cashmere is unrivalled.
Wool – It’s practical properties (thermoregulating, moisture resistance, malleability) as well as it’s aesthetic properties (woven as a soft tweed or, a sharply tailored (worsted) suit) make it the most versatile material there is.
Linen – Whereas wool and cashmere are sourced from animal coats, linen is a product of the flax plant. Ideal for summer weddings and warm climates, the material is prized for it’s breathability. Often loosely woven and light in weight, it is quintessential summer tailoring.
Cotton – Like linen before it, cotton is also derived from the plant world.
And plants are cool and all but, you have to remember – sheep eat plants for breakfast!
Cotton as a suit is relatively unusual in our part of the world. It does make excellent trousers however. Denim jeans, chinos, cords and moleskins are all cottons, woven differently.
Polyester – Cards on the table, we’re called Wolf in Wool for a few different reasons but, one of the major one’s is, we love wool (and all natural fibre materials).
Polyester is synthetic. We do not love synthetics.
Polyester is derived from petroleum and is part of the polymer (or plastics) family. It has a wide variety of uses. But from a suit material perspective, polyester is to wool what MDF is to wood.
And so, how does cloth tie into our guiding question – why doesn’t this suit jacket look great with jeans?
Denim – as a cloth – it’s relatively ‘rough’. It’s not smooth and sleek like a pair of suit pants. The rivets and contrast stitching are inherently informal.
A suit jacket, typically in wool, is sleek. Not necessarily shiny but, there’s a certain sheen to it. It’s tightly woven and this is why light plays off it like it does.
It’s this contrast – the informal ‘roughness’ of denim versus the formal ‘sleekness’ of the suit jacket – that (from a cloth perspective) puts the eye ‘off’.
The bottom half’s roughness and the top half’s sleekness mismatch from a formality perspective.
The answer is texture. Choose a jacket with a ‘rough’, textured cloth.
Something that differentiates it from a typical suit cloth:
- Tweed is perfect (for 3 seasons).
- Hopsack wool (a textured, basket weave, loosely woven wool) is suitable year round.
- Linen or a linen blend is a wonderful option for summer.
Next up, we’ll seek to answer the jacket and jeans question in the context of our next C, ‘Cut’. Until then – don’t be a sheep, be a wolf ☺
All the Best
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