In the process of “upping my game” over the past few years, I’ve gotten a few nice suits, most of them custom. When you’re in the market for a new suit, it’s easy to get caught up in the real head-turner suits that have a special color, stripe or plaid, seducing your attention toward what you want and away from what you actually need. As I’ve curated my own arsenal, I neglected to upgrade the one suit that I’ve always touted as a must-have, the world’s most versatile suit that goes with everything in almost every situation, the cornerstone of a smart man’s wardrobe: the navy suit. Last month, I fixed that.
This past year, Indochino introduced a line of premium suits with a higher “S-number” than their standard collections. While their Essentials and other collections are typically made with Super 100 wools (which are great, by the way), the premium suits are made with Super 140 wools. And the fabric of the Premium Navy suit is a blend of 95% wool and 5% cashmere.
I had never owned a suit above a Super 110s, I suppose, and I wanted to give it a try. Indochino’s Essential suits (two-piece) go for $449, and the premiums in Super 140 go for $649, which is still a steal for made-to-measure in my book. So I pulled the trigger on the Premium Navy Suit with notch lapels, two buttons and my other usual customizations:
- Double vent
- Pick stitching
- Functional boutonniere and sleeve buttons
- Interior pen pocket and monogram
- No belt loops (side tabs instead)
- No cuffs
Four weeks later, the suit arrived with, of course, the usual perfect fit. The fabric was a revelation. The Super 140s wool and cashmere blend gave the suit a wonderful silky hand. Butter. I’m a happy customer.
Now, would I invest in a whole wardrobe of Super 140s suits? Not necessarily. Here’s why…
Among certain circles in men’s suiting, there is a real hype for higher S-numbers in suit fabric. To clarify, S-numbers refer to the fineness of the wool, like Super 100s, Super 130s, Super 150s, all the way up to Super 200s. The number itself refers (loosely) to the number of times a thread of wool is twisted before woven into wool fabric. The higher the number, the finer the wool.
One might assume that a Super 150s is better than, say, a Super 100s. It is, certainly, lighter and more luxurious to the touch, but it is also more delicate. With finer suit fabric comes greater responsibility. It wrinkles more easily and is harder for tailors to sew because it can “shift” under the needle. High S-number wools must also be dry cleaned much more sparingly than lower S-number wools. In essence, it’s less durable than fabrics with a lower S-number. With textile technology where it is today, we can be a bit spoiled when it comes to things like this. Even Super 100s are far superior to the finest wools that were available decades ago. The world’s most experienced textile and fashion experts will tell you that the S-number isn’t as important as we’re led to believe.
That said, I would put high S-number suits in the same category as a special bottle of wine or Cameron Frye’s dad’s Ferrari in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, i.e. absolutely wonderful and not practical for everyday indulgence. Make it a treat. For most of us – even the one-percenters – the Super 100s of today are fabulous for our everyday kit. What really matters most is great design, solid construction and tailoring.
But it is nice to treat yourself once in a while with something truly special, which is precisely what I did with my new navy suit in Super 140 wool and cashmere. For important meetings, special evenings, weddings or even funerals, it’s the perfect understatement. I’m glad I bought it and I absolutely love it.