For­mal wear dur­ing the sum­mer can be a tad bit stuffy, un­less you choose the right fab­rics that “air” you out, San­chita Nam­biar finds, on speak­ing with in­dus­try ex­perts

Business Traveller (India) - - Lifestyle -

Ma­te­ri­als in cor­po­rate wear

Sum­mer is here and so is the heat. As the day pro­gresses, step­ping out of an air-con­di­tioned room for even ten min­utes can leave us feel­ing sweaty and un­com­fort­able. While it would be ideal to be in loose, airy, sin­gle-lay­ered cloth­ing, our cor­po­rate set-up hasn’t evolved to al­low this yet. So, to save our­selves from this drip­ping mis­ery, thank­fully fab­rics have evolved, thereby let­ting us “breathe” in a for­mal out­fit that is made from ma­te­rial suited to hot cli­mates.


When pick­ing the right fabric, one must first un­der­stand which ma­te­rial is com­fort­able for you, of good qual­ity such that it is durable, and fi­nally, lends a good fit. Pratha Sinha, head de­signer at Louis Philippe and Lux­ure says, “Fab­rics suit­able for cor­po­rate wear de­pend on the kind of gar­ments. For busi­ness for­mal shirts, cot­ton has been the most suit­able fabric. A liq­uid am­mo­nia finish on the same with a mois­ture cure treat­ment makes it a wrin­kle-free prod­uct with the added com­fort of mois­ture wick­ing.” He fur­ther says that while these have been pop­u­lar ma­te­ri­als, New Age cot­ton blends with ly­cra and ten­cel are pre­ferred by mil­len­ni­als.

Cot­ton-ly­cra is breath­able like cot­ton, and due to the use of ly­cra, it is mostly wrin­kle-free and durable. Ten­cel is a ma­te­rial by it­self that can be an al­ter­na­tive for cot­ton. It is just as soft and airy, with the added ben­e­fits of be­ing less prone to wrin­kles and hav­ing the abil­ity to ab­sorb mois­ture, thus leav­ing the fabric feel­ing dry. It is, how­ever, much more ex­pen­sive than cot­ton due to the tech­nol­ogy used in re­gen­er­at­ing it from wood cel­lu­lose.

Founder of Bom­bay Shirt Com­pany, Ak­shay Narvekar lists three more ma­te­ri­als: “Breath­able fab­rics like poplin, ox­fords and Ja­panese linen are suit­able choices for sum­mer too, as they feel like your sec­ond skin and keep you dry.”A light­weight cot­ton, poplin has a textured sur­face. Ox­ford is a woven dress-shirt that has proved to be more durable than cot­ton.

Prem De­wan, the re­tail head at OSL Lux­ury Col­lec­tions-Cor­neliani sug­gests cool wool. It is usu­ally made from merino wool that is known to have in­su­lat­ing prop­er­ties — keep­ing you warm in cold cli­mate and cool in warm cli­mate. They’re sum­mery, weigh­ing no more than 190 grams per square me­tre.

Ed­i­tor of The Wool­mark Com­pany, Lisa Griplas de­scribes cool wool as a “pre­cious, lux­u­ri­ous and ver­sa­tile fi­bre, ideal for all sea­sons and per­fect for the spring/sum­mer wardrobe”. She goes on to ex­plain that col­lec­tions made from this ma­te­rial,“fit per­fectly with the global trend and increasing de­sire for natural fi­bres, lux­ury and qual­ity, par­tic­u­larly among younger gen­er­a­tions; and the mar­kets of Asia Pa­cific and the Mid­dle East, where the warm cli­mate re­quires light­weight, breath­able fab­rics”.

Other breath­able fab­rics to try out this sum­mer are cham­bray, fresco, and seer­sucker. Cham­bray is a type of cot­ton that is woven in a criss­cross man­ner that makes it airier, and de­spite be­ing a soft fabric, it is durable. Fresco is con­structed from high-twisted wool, which makes it breezy. And the cot­ton-woven seer­sucker, be­ing very thin, en­ables easy air cir­cu­la­tion.

Good qual­ity suits are ex­pen­sive, and one must give good thought be­fore in­vest­ing in one. It is im­por­tant to recog­nise the cli­mate and oc­ca­sion where you are most likely to slip into it.


Good qual­ity suits are ex­pen­sive, and one must give good thought be­fore in­vest­ing in one. It is im­por­tant to recog­nise the cli­mate and oc­ca­sion where you are most likely to slip into it.

Narvekar em­pha­sises on this say­ing,“Buy­ing a suit is an in­vest­ment and one should go for a ver­sa­tile and aes­thetic suit made in tweed, cor­duroy or wool for the colder sea­sons and opt for seer­sucker or cot­ton for the sum­mers.”

Nagesh. C, the se­nior VP of de­sign and vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ing at Pan­taloons, Aditya Birla Fash­ion and Re­tail adds ma­te­ri­als like tery­lene-rayon, poly-vis­cose and poly-wool to the list. He says,“Fin­ishes like wrin­kle-free, non-iron, stain- and water-re­sis­tant nan­otech­nol­ogy help for­mals per­form bet­ter when on the move. Today, even CVC (chief value cot­ton) fab­rics with a cot­ton-poly blend for men and poly-geor­gettes for women are prov­ing good for for­mals.”

He sug­gests dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als for suits for dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions. These how­ever, are not re­stricted to hot cli­mates. Su­per 150’s or 130’s wool (made from pure wool; num­bers de­note thick­ness of the fi­bre — higher the bet­ter) is pre­ferred for for­mal busi­ness suits as the fall and fabric be­hav­iour is im­por­tant. How­ever, for warm weather, Su­per 100s work bet­ter be­cause they are airier. For busi­ness travel suits, Nagesh sug­gests wool-ly­cra or poly-wool as they don’t wrin­kle eas­ily. As the lat­ter doesn’t re­veal sweat patches, it may be a bet­ter choice, but doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily keep you feel­ing breezy. This would mean car­ry­ing the jacket to your meet­ing in­stead of wear­ing it en route, so you don’t sweat into it.

“A more for­mal look is achieved with suits made from wool-silk or tery­lene-rayon for the sheen, and linen for a ca­sual suit,” adds Nagesh. Wool-silk is a rich, warm fabric with a satin finish, easy fall and is durable. Tery­lene-rayon is com­fort­able to wear in spring and au­tumn — it is glossy, woven or knit­ted and has elas­tic­ity.


Win­ter needs a com­pletely dif­fer­ent set of fab­rics to trap in the heat, es­pe­cially when we need to leave the cosi­ness of a heater to head out for meet­ings. Saikat Mi­tra, the as­sis­tant vice pres­i­dent-de­sign head at Van Heusen says,“For colder cli­mates, tra­di­tion­ally wool has been the best so­lu­tion be it in suits, knits and cot­ton-wool blends in shirts.”

De­wan fur­ther nar­rows the wool category down to worsted yarn, “a com­pact tex­tile that is smooth and boasts a high dura­bil­ity”. It is one of the more favoured fab­rics for suits be­cause of its long fi­bre that look smooth when woven.

The other com­mon win­ter ma­te­ri­als are flan­nel and fleece. Flan­nel was com­monly made from worsted yarn and has evolved to us­ing wool, cot­ton or syn­thetic fi­bre too. Su­pe­rior qual­ity flan­nel makes cosy shirts and blouses that aren’t too thick. Fleece, like worsted wool and flan­nel also keeps you warm and dry. It looks ca­sual though — a man­made ma­te­rial engi­neered in the 1970s, usu­ally made from polyester, and occasionally from cot­ton or wool.

Mi­tra adds,“Man-made ma­te­ri­als like polyester, acrylics, and ny­lons are the New Age alternatives as they are great at pro­vid­ing warmth without adding too much of weight. Poly­fill (fluffy and made from polyester) stuffing is great to keep warm, but down (fine ther­mal in­su­la­tor made from bird feath­ers) of­fers the best in­su­la­tion. In­vest­ing in tech­ni­cal out­er­wear will add the ex­tra layer when ven­tur­ing out in the snow.”

Left and right: suit by Cor­neliani; and Van Heusen’s sum­mer col­lec­tion

Left and right: suit by Van Heusen; and Bom­bay Shirt Com­pany’s sum­mer shirts

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