Wool vs. polyester suits

Written by rob macintosh Google
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Wool vs. polyester suits
Made to measure, but what about the fabric? (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

They say every man needs at least one good suit. You may not use it every day, but should you find yourself at a wedding, a funeral or up in court, it will be invaluable. There are plenty of budget options out there and the sky’s the limit in terms of the top end suits, but price will have to be offset against a number of factors when it comes to choosing the one for you. Suits are traditionally made of wool, but cheaper polyester ones are now widely available.


Wool suits vary massively in price, depending on the quality of the wool and the quality of the tailoring. Branding obviously plays a part in price, but this is largely independent of the material used. Wool quality measurements are usually around 100 to 120, but can go all the way up to near 200. The higher the number the tighter the weave, the finer the material and it will drape better. These are the most expensive. Polyester, which is made from petrol and alcohol, is much cheaper.


Wool is a natural and therefore breathable material. Wool is also warmer, so you’re kept warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Polyester, on the other hand, will do the opposite, making for sweaty summers and cold winters. Static can easily build up on a polyester suit, and while you won’t be posing a fire risk on the wedding reception dance-floor, it can cling if it appears.


The general rule is you should always dry clean a wool suit, however, some manufacturers say their wool suits can be put in the washing machine. Wool is vulnerable to shrinkage if you do choose to wash with water and it may also become misshapen. Polyester suits are easier to clean and can be put in the washing machine. They don’t shrink and are more resistant to staining in the first place.


Wool is stronger and harder wearing than polyester. You often see polyester suits turning shiny over time as abrasion takes its toll on the knees, bottom and elbows. This doesn’t happen with wool. You can buy thicker wool suits for greater durability (and warmth) such as heavy tweed, but these are often favoured only by older or more rural men.

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