When the icy chill of winter rears its frosty head, it’s time to push your linen and seersucker suits to the back of the closet and opt for something bit warmer. Suit fabrics make all the difference when you’re forced to bear the cold while managing to look sharp.
However, winter suiting does not have to be boring. In the same way that the warm summer weather gave you a surfeit of outfit flexibility in the form of summer suits , you can apply the same creativity and style to your cold-weather ensembles.
Look cool and stay warm all winter long. Here is our definitive guide on what to look for in a winter suit.
What to Look for in a Winter Suit
If anyone tries to sell you a suit claiming that it’s suitable for year-round wear, grab your money and run. A fabric that is breathable and lightweight in the summer will make you miserable in the winter, and vice versa.
Unless you live in a very temperate climate, you should have a designated selection of suits for, at the very least, summer and winter. For the best winter suit, pay attention to the suit’s construction and fabric. These factors will determine the suit’s ability to keep you warm.
Depending on how cold it gets where you live, be sure to stick to half- or fully-lined suit jackets. Lined jackets will resist wrinkles, retain warmth, and hold up better during travel and everyday wear than unlined suits. Here are some of the best fabrics, colors, and patterns for winter suiting.
Winter Suit Fabrics
The optimal winter suit will be made of a warmer, thicker fabric that will keep you nice and toasty against the elements. Stay away from the lighter suit fabrics like cotton, polyester, linen, seersucker, chambray, and fresco, as these will induce endless shivering. Unlike summer suits, winter fabric better lends itself to retaining a suit’s shape and maintain their structure exceptionally well, so you won’t have to worry as much about wrinkling or wearing of material.
The Wool Suit
To this day, wool remains the most popular suit fabric. Wool is a fabric renowned for its ability to drape nicely, maintain its form, and its versatility in being able to be spun as loose and breathable or tight and warm as necessary. Wool suits have maintained the position of being the most popular suit on the market for decades, because of these versatile qualities.
This is a great place to start acquiring your winter suiting, as a good wool suit is easy to find and comes in a variety of types. Worsted wool is the most popular wool used for suits, as it is highly adaptable to temperature change, wears well, and gives off that slight shine that you find in most suits on the market. Other popular types of wool are tweed and flannel. Worsted is considered mid-weight wool, tweed is heavier, and flannel is the heaviest. Flannel and tweed are discussed in greater detail below.
The Cashmere Suit
Arguably one of the most coveted and luxurious suit fabrics on the market, cashmere is known for its unparalleled soft texture, comfort, and most importantly warmth. However, some of the biggest drawbacks for this fabric is its price tag and its lack of durability.
Rather than shelling out thousands for a 100% cashmere suit that won’t last you very long, opt for a wool or polyester blend. Blends keep cashmere prices low while giving you the advantage of other fabrics’ durability. Along with being soft, cashmere is also amazing for keeping you consistently warm. The fabric is highly adaptable to climate change and will be able to insulate you very well.
However, be very particular about how you store your suit because cashmere attracts moths, who can chew $1,000 holes into your suits quicker than you will be able to wear them. If you do decide on a cashmere or cashmere blend suit, protect your purchase with a cedar closet or mothballs.
The Tweed Suit
Tweed is a great winter suit fabric that will always give timeless ease to the wearer. The fabric is made from wool and created by combining three differently colored yarns, which are then twilled.
To “twill” is to weave yarn in such a way that it produces a distinctive pattern unique only to this variety of fabric. Tweed makes a fine winter suit choice because it is thick, warm, water resistant, and durable. However, tweed suits are a little heavier compared with most suits, and the fabric is coarse to the touch. If you live in a very cold winter climate and you don’t mind the feel of the fabric, a tweed suit is definitely the way to go to make a classic statement.
The Flannel Suit
Another winter suit fabric is flannel, which was made for protecting against cold climates. Traditionally speaking, flannel suits are for more mature gentlemen. But flannel is increasingly reinventing itself as a suit fabric for the bold and stylish modern man.
Though these suits are weather appropriate, they aren’t always comfortable in an office environment because of their weight. Flannel is typically made of worsted wool. It is similar to tweed and herringbone in terms of look, but it’s softer to the touch. These suits have the advantage of being hip and stylish, giving wearers a polished and slightly felted appearance. Flannel also appears the most luxurious of the heavier fabrics because it is extremely soft. However, flannel suits are a bit tougher to find, and you can expect to pay a pretty penny ($800-$2000) to get your hands on one.
If you can afford a flannel suit, having one in your winter arsenal will show the world that you are able to curate your look appropriately with the changing seasons and that you are a style trendsetter. Flannel is acceptable for day-to-day use, but may not be formal enough for special occasions or strict dress codes.
The Herringbone Suit
Much like tweed, the herringbone is heavy, warm, and durable. What distinguishes herringbone from tweed is a distinctive thin zig-zag pattern.
Like tweed, herringbone suits are made from twilled yarn, typically from materials like wool or flannel. Both tweed and herringbone fabrics consist of a tighter weave than most suits, making for a more structured and durable garment. The thickness of the fabric paired with the subtle zig-zag design cause this suit to give off an illusion of depth, making this suit ideal for gentlemen on the slimmer side.
Winter Suit Colors
It’s great to have some all-season suit staples in black, navy, or charcoal. However, just because the winter is prime time for darker hues, this does not mean you can’t also have a little fun with color. If you already have your suit staples in check, try implementing some of these daring options into your winter wardrobe. Feel free to go bold with a full suit in one of these colors, or break it up with a colored jacket, pants, or accessories.
Definitely not your average black, gray, or navy suit, oxblood suits are popping up everywhere these days. What exactly is oxblood? Oxblood is a deep shade of burgundy, a shade that commands presence and attention when you walk into a room while maintaining a suit’s formal essence. It is bold enough to make a statement but not so loud that it isn’t office appropriate.
Another great color that makes a statement without coming off forced is hunter green. This particular shade of dark green looks great and is a classy alternative to the traditional neutral tones. Slightly jewel-toned in hue, but still deep and reserved, you’d be hard-pressed NOT to include this color in your arsenal this winter.
Though brown is also on trend for the fall and winter months, how about trying its caramel-y, amber cousin instead? A neutral color that is more modern than the traditional brown and more stylish than, let’s say, khaki, a cognac suit will impress your coworkers without attracting any wayward looks from the boss. Cognac is a perfect suit color for those looking to add a unique element to their ensemble without being overstated.
Deep, deep purple on a suit will be sure to give you an edge to stand out. Like oxblood, plum is a bold color choice, so wear it with pride, and you’ll be sure to look like a true connoisseur of style.
Accessorizing Your Winter Suit
Just because it’s winter does not mean you can’t have fun with your style. Your winter suit colors tend to be darker. Choose accessories that either complement (dark hues) or contrast (bright, patterned) your suit for a big impact. Feel free to play up textures and patterns to add dimension to your look.
Knit ties are a great seasonal accessory for winter and generally look great with everything. Scarves are a winter essential that also adds style and will keep you warm on your way to and from the office. Finally, try adding some floral to your ensemble. Dark florals are definitely happening for winter. Achieve this trend with a floral tie, simple dark floral button up, or even a floral pocket square. Remember, you don’t have to stick to dark, subdued hues just because it’s winter. Add style and dimension to your winter look through accessories, and have fun with it.
Read next: Men’s Color Matching Style Guide