Will Roger didn’t mince words when he said: “Too many people spend the money they earn…to buy things they don’t want…to impress people that they don’t like.” Mr. Roger gave us his wisdom while nudging us to try to understand the motivation behind why we buy the things we do.
Will’s philosophy can also apply to questioning our motivation for investing in clothes. Answers to the question of why people choose to dress well can certainly differ, but an obvious answer is that we dress well because it makes us feel good.
To examine the question further, if you’ve ever needed help when traveling, specifically at an airport, you may agree that we also dress well because others treat us better when we do.
From an artistic viewpoint, we dress well because it’s a way to express our personalities. And from a conservative perspective, we dress well as a way to show respect to others.
If you accept these reasons for dressing well as being accurate, then the way we cloth ourselves has more to do with the emotions we create, than it has to do with superficiality or the attempt to impress others.
Far from being superficial (as some people perceive a so-called “clothes horse”), good clothing is able to create feelings of self-confidence, prompt courtesy from others, function as a form of self-expression, and serve as a way to honor the people around us.
But building a wardrobe can be costly and when finances are an issue, getting the most value from money we spend becomes especially important. Warren Buffet may have had plenty of money in his lifetime, but he still believes that “price is what you pay, and value is what you get”.
Unless you are a nudist, we all must wear something and most of us will not refuse the chance to wear something great, especially when it comes to good suiting.
Thus, when it comes to getting value from our money, owning a four-season suit can seem like a minor miracle!
Since we are able to wear a four-season suit once a week, each week of the year, our other season-specific suits will have a longer life—because having a suit we can wear year round makes it possible to let our warm or cold weather suits rest more.
Put plainly, when money is tight and when you are in the early stages of building a wardrobe, the four season suit is extremely helpful in making dressing well an easier task.
HOW MANY SUITS?
World War II veteran Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle, Jr. (below), also known as A.J., was a wealthy socialite turned U.S. diplomat, who eventually reached the rank of U.S. Major General.
A.J. (1897-1961) became an international style icon in his time and was the son of eccentric millionaire Anthony Joseph Biddle, Sr.
Members of his immediate family founded two major universities, became a canonized saint, and held the highest positions as colonels and ambassadors.
How may suits did A.J. Biddle own? He is known to have owned only seven suits!
Six of the seven suits that we know of include:
- Two double-breasted navy blue
- One single-breasted navy blue serge
- One double-breasted dark blue flannel (pinstriped)
- One single-breasted dark blue flannel (pinstriped), and
- One double-breasted charcoal grey flannel
As another example, up until January, 2014, our Editor-in-Chief, Hugo Jacomet, owned just eight suits, with all of them being strictly bespoke. He chronicles his wardrobe building experience in the article My Experience on How to Build a Wardrobe.
Mixing different shoes and accessories like ties, pocket squares, and socks can give a limited wardrobe a more varied appearance. You don’t need a closet crammed full of various suits to make a strong style statement—or to even become a style reference for others!
In the list above, we notice that Biddle owned three flannel and three seasonal suits.
Variations on the different types of suit fabrics you may opt for when you buy or commission a suit include:
100 percent wool–All natural material that is a safe and stylish choice for a suit, insulating during cool weather and breathable during warm weather.
A few types of wool compositions follow:
- Worsted–Highly durable and very long-lasting. Worsted wool can be woven to be light, medium or thick either for season-specific wear, or year round wear.
- Flannel –Highly durable heavy wool that is especially long-lasting and suitable for cool weather. A specialized finishing process results in a visually texturous and beautiful fabric, particularly in shades of gray and blue
- Tweed–Thick and bulky with lots of texture and weight, intended for wear during cold weather months.
- Tropical–A lightweight and breathable weave woven as light as 7 ounces, with the reputation of being prone to wrinkling at times.
Cashmere/Wool–A high-quality blend cloth that has a nice texture and a wonderful drape, with slight glossiness that tones down with wear and time.
100 % Cashmere–Soft and very expensive. Beautiful but not as durable as wool blends. Attracts moths so store with a moth repellency plan in mind.
Cotton/Cotton Blend–100 percent cotton is cool and breathable, while a cotton blend adds lycra or spandex for stretchability. Cottons wrinkle easily (without the charm of linen) and so can look unkept. Cotton/cotton blends are comfortable and serve as a nice option for jeans/t-shirt days.
Linen –Lightweight and great for summer with a beautiful grainy weave. Wrinkles are expected and accepted as part of the charm of linen; however, stains can be difficult to remove from the fabric.
Velvet — Velvet is a unique luxury fabric typically made from silk or cotton with a rich lustre and soft touch. A great fabric for a smoking jacket, which is making a comeback as a fun and eccentric way of dressing for a black tie event. Typically worn in mild to cold weather.
Silk / Silk Blend — Highly breathable and drapable, silk is an expensive fabric that is soft to the touch. Silk can be made in a lot of different weights and has highly versatile thermal properties (i.e., cool in summer and warm in winter). Blending silk into other types of fabrics results in more softness and drape for a nice fit and a luxurious feel.
VBC DESIGNER SIMONA SOGNO — THE 4 SEASON SUIT
If you live somewhere that’s always hot or always cold, then buying a four-season suit is a no-brainer, as it’s easy to choose either strictly light or strictly heavy weight fabrics for year round comfort.
But if you live somewhere that has four distinct seasons, then you might wonder whether owning a four season suit is even a possibility?
Hailing from Biella, Simona Sogno is Biellese through and through, and is a woman who has integrated herself into the world of men’s style. As a textile specialist graduate from the Technical Industrial Institute in Biella, she also spent time studying at the Marangoni Institute of Milan.
Her professional resume is so rich with work experience with various iconic female and male fashion brands, that to describe her background as “well-rounded”, is a huge understatement.
A fantastic walking contradiction—Simona can be hippy-counterculture-cool one minute, and then suddenly launch into a discussion of the finer points of textile manufacturing the next minute. Always immaculately dressed, she is capable of discourse on the subjects of design, apparel construction, customer experience, and even the history of clothing.
Who better from the VBC design team to work on the VBC Perennial Line—the most popular collection in the VBC range?
To make a year round fabric takes into account not only fiber and cloth construction—but also colors and designs that don’t shout any “specific season” of the year—-therein lies the value of Simona’s extensive experience.
When asked how she likes to approach her job each day, Simona responds “I want to inject light, color and modernity into garments, while never losing the element of creativity…having the freedom to be creative is what makes me feel most alive”.
In the past, her fierce quest to be creative has led her down different paths, including exploring different fibers for women’s fabrics, going as far a working with reindeer and natural rubber!
Of course, working in the realm of suit design is especially challenging, as she is unrelenting in the constant quest to revamp classic garments without changing their classic shape…a mission that truly requires a creative mind.
If she were a fabric, Simona would be a colorful jacket with an intrinsic texture—a Harris Tweed comes to mind, just not so rough!
~Simone Ubertino (Head of communications at VBC).
Out of the thousands of fabrics she has worked with at VBC, Simona has chosen her two favorite four-season fabrics from the VBC Perennial range for us today:
WORSTED SUIT (86.8158/3) 100% WOOL – 260 g/m
Worsted wool is a Vitale Barberis Canonico staple, which has helped the company develop its reputation throughout the world.
Of all fabrics made by VBC, more than 2.300.000 meters of worsted wool is sold annually.
The Super 110’s hold their own against any other fabric on the market, even those within the touted “fine textiles” range. This fine wool is 17.70 microns per fiber, which gives the fabric a luminosity without being shiny. As an added benefit, the cloth has a soft and smooth hand.
The twill weave design can reflect different moods, ranging from classic and reassuring to modern and sophisticated.
Ceremonial elegance is created with micro-effects due to a subtle background design which creates background movement and dimension. This design is quite versatile and can work in informal and formal environments.
Current customers of this design include Inco Zegna, Paul Smith, Hackett, Brooks Brothers, Lardini, Dutti, Corneliani, Canali, Cucinelli, Bale and Boglioli, to name a few.
WORSTED SPORTS COAT (44.990/2) 100% WOOL – 240 g/m
This is the must-have for a year round sports coat, as it indicates no particular season, yet yields a strong sense of classicism.
As a result of the type of wool used (with a weight of 240 g/m), this garment provides warmth in the winter and is light and airy in summer–the ultimate dichotomy! This fabric gives a revered versatility to the wardrobe of today’s gentleman.
The design is in the same spirit of the classic blue blazer and the traditional Prince of Wales coat. The simple checks with multi-colour effects give this design a high level of versatility and a sports coat made of this fabric can be worn during each calendar month of the year.
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO MAKE A FOUR SEASON SUIT WORK BETTER FOR YOU
If you live in a place where each season is strongly defined, then there are a few things you can do to work together with the fabric in order to make a suit perform better for you all year long:
1. Select a fabric from the VBC Perennial line (which provides a range of medium weight fabrics—not too heavy and not too light for year round comfort).
2. Stay within the medium blue, gray or brown color realm, but:
– avoid very light shades of color which look too summery for the winter months.
– avoid extremely dark shades of color that absorbs sunlight, making the suit too hot to wear during the summer months.
3. Choose classic designs that are in style year round and designate no particular season (i.e., solids, stripes, glen plaid).
- wear a thick button down shirt and a heavier weight tie
- add a waistcoat if you like
- add a scarf and gloves
- opt to use ultra-thin thermals under trousers (silk, polypro, or smart wool)
- own an insanely good overcoat
5. In summer:
- wear a lightweight shirt and lightweight tie
- wear ultra thin socks, or no socks and shoes that let your feet breathe
- keep accessories on the light side (small lapel pin, a tie pin or tie bar, lightweight cotton pocket squares or scarves and great sunglasses).