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Fabric is arguably the most important choice you can make about your clothing. Explore our favorite fabric weaves, yarns, and patterns.

Barathea

This durable weave originally hails from England. A variation on a satin weave, barathea has a fine texture with a slightly pebbled effect and matte finish. Though it was first created for mourning cloth, nowadays the weave is most often used in evening wear – like the lapels of a smoking jacket.

Birdseye

This all-over pattern features tiny dots resembling the eye of a bird. The intended effect is for the material to appear solid from a distance, with the pattern only noticeable when seen up close. Birdseye is an excellent option for those who prefer solid suits but still desire something with visual interest and texture.

Bouclé

Bouclé is a special kind of yarn. The name comes from the French word ‘buckled’ – referring to the loosely woven fabrics with a knobbly surface created by the small curls or loops in the yarn. These textured yarns are generally woven in a combination of two or more different colors (or shades of the same color). It’s often associated with heritage styles and tweed, as the yarn is often used in tweed fabrics.

Corduroy

Corduroy or ‘cord’ is a fabric that is twisted into thick ribs that are both hard-wearing and soft. A variant of the classic velvet fabric, it is warm and very flexible too. One of the best things about this iconic fabric is that it gets better with age. Cord is mostly used for trousers but works equally well for suits and jackets too. You’ll usually find it’s a cotton or cotton-blend, for example with cashmere for something a bit more luxurious or stretch for extra comfort. A fantastic fabric for your winter wardrobe.

Flannel

You’ve probably heard of the cozy flannel shirt. A winter staple, flannel has a distinctive appearance and soft texture. Authentic flannel is made from carded woolen yarns and milled to create the soft fuzzy surface, also known as the ‘nap’. It is warm, durable, and drapes nicely. While flannel is technically a historic fabric, it is still well-loved across the globe for its unparalleled comfort and style. So much so that it has inspired plenty of less expensive ‘faux-flannels’, which are cotton and wool mechanically brushed to get the same milled flannel look.

Gabardine

Gabardine was created by founder of Burberry, Thomas Burberry, who wanted to create a versatile blend that would hold up well to intense wear and tear. He drew his inspiration from ‘gaberdine’, a loose and long garment from the Middle Ages worn over blouses and breeches for protection from the elements. Gabardine is a durable and smooth twill-woven cloth which tends to hold its shape and resist wrinkling – a huge plus for anyone who wants to look smart throughout the day. Though it was originally created for trench coats, it makes an equally excellent choice for your suit.

Herringbone

The herringbone jacket is a British classic, so named for its distinctive zigzag pattern resembling the skeleton of a herring. It’s created by a variation of a twill weave and can be used for all kinds of fabrics. When combined with wool, this bold pattern gives the cloth a richness and texture that is perfect for fall or winter. Subtle, monochromatic versions of this distinctive ‘V’ pattern are popular for suits, while bolder versions make for excellent sports jackets or blazers.

Houndstooth

Houndstooth is a classic two-colored pattern. The symmetrical broken check is distinguished by its jagged edges that look something like dog teeth. It is sometimes also referred to as pied-de-poule or ‘foot of a chicken’ in French – another shape it’s thought to resemble. With a print like this, it’s best to be careful when pairing with other garments, especially contrasting colors, patterns, or textures. Fun fact: a smaller version is referred to as a micro-houndstooth or, rather amusingly, puppytooth.

Ottoman

The Ottoman weave originated in – you guessed it – Turkey. The name is of course linked to the Ottoman Empire whose weaving became a trademark around the globe. Also known as ‘grosgrain’, the weave produces a distinctive vertical ribbed texture with a heavy weight, and subdued-yet-elegant sheen. Ottoman fabric is well regarded for its smooth, lustrous feel and easy drape. These qualities make it a popular choice for elegant apparel such as tuxedos and matching accessories.

Panama

This is coined after the Panama hats crafted with the very same weave, you know, the jaunty brimmed straw hat of Ecuadorian origin you might see on holiday. It’s a basketweave (a variation on the plain weave) in which multiple threads are interlaced to form a simple criss-cross pattern. It tends to wrinkle less than its plain weave cousin. The loose and open structure makes panama fabric perfect for summer garments – especially when paired with cotton, wool, or other breathable fibers.

Glen plaid

A pattern by many names, you may know this as the Glen check, Glen Urquhart plaid, or even the Prince of Wales check. It was discovered in 1840, when the Countess of Seafield spotted the pattern in a local Scottish village. She had been looking for something smart for her grounds staff to wear and found it in this now-classic – dubbing it the Glenurquhart Estate check. Legend says that upon a hunting trip to the estate, the slick-dressing Duke of Windsor (then known as the Prince of Wales) saw the pattern and started wearing it often. As with most royal trends, the pattern quickly gained popularity. This continued well into the 60s, and with the likes of JFK and on-screen James Bond sporting the look it was cemented as a classic.

The pattern is defined by large squares with alternate patterns of smaller squares. One of the most versatile and easy-to-wear patterns in the plaid family, the Glen plaid lends itself to laid-back suiting and tailored winter coats. The magic lies in that contrast check, which allows you to harmonize the color with other pieces of your look.

Satin

Satin is a lustrous option that offers an exclusive look. It is woven in a way that creates a very smooth face side and a rougher back side. Satins have excellent drape, but can often be heavier than plain or twill weaves. The weave is most classically used with silk thread, though it can also be used with other materials too. With a slight and elegant sheen, it’s an excellent option for shirts and accessories when it comes to special occasions.

Seersucker

Seersucker is a unique weave favored for summer wear. In this weave, the thread bunches together in places, giving the fabric its trademark bumpy or ‘puckered’ texture and appearance. Historically, it’s made with a pinstripe pattern, though more modern interpretations have checks or even completely solid color. This puckering gives seersucker its much-loved cooling quality. It’s often paired with cotton for the ultimate summer fabric – its light weight means more fabric is held away from the body and more air circulates between you and your clothes. Traditionally, men only wore seersucker suits between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That rule has loosened in the modern age, but it is still mostly reserved for warmer months.

Sharkskin

This smooth fabric with a shimmering appearance was named for its likeness to the sheen of a shark’s skin. The design has a distinctive two-toned appearance created by weaving two different color threads in a particular sequence. It’s a sure-fire way to make an impression and a favorite for formal attire.

Tropical

You may have already guessed – this weave is named after its breezy construction well-suited to the tropics. A tropical (or “plain”) weave is a simple weave which lets cool air in and body heat out. Though it’s not necessarily more breathable than fabrics made in a twill weave, it offers a flat and summery feel.

For something lightweight (and truly tropic-friendly) it’s best to opt for cotton or fine wool.

Velvet

Nothing quite matches the luxurious look and feel of velvet. Velvet is crafted in quite an interesting way, woven on its own special loom. Essentially, two thicknesses of the material are woven at the same time and then cut apart to create a soft and textured effect or ‘nap’. Before the days of industrial looms, velvet was particularly expensive to make, making it a symbol of decadence. At one time, it was even the chosen fabric of royalty and noblemen. Warm, soft, and known to drape well, velvet can be used for a variety of purposes, but one thing is sure: it stands out. Though this plush fabric is great for evening wear, velvet can just as easily be dressed down as it also pairs well with jeans and sneakers for a cozy option in the cold.

Worsted

Named after a small village in Norfolk County, England (a manufacturing hub back in the 12th century), this high-quality wool yarn is beloved for its ability to create clear-cut garments. It’s made a little differently than your regular carded yarns. The wool is first combed to remove any short and brittle fibers, leaving only the longer strands of fiber for the spinning process. This creates a stronger, finer and smoother-than-usual wool fabric. Due to its fineness, suits and jackets made from this yarn tend to keep out wind. It also tends to recover well to its natural shape, making it perfect for formal and informal events.