Men’s Fashion rule #3 – Fabrics

The conversation on men’s fashion gets a little more complex now. And when you look at the level of details we are going to cover in this post, it will be clear why, after you have put a lot of effort into maximising your Fundamentals, you can afford to “just be yourself” with the girls, catching smiles and glances left and right as the day goes by, being catcalled the odd time, and having life literarily smiling at you: you have become a much better version of yourself. You have put a lot of effort in the process, to then have some meaningful results out of the very same process.

No more need to spend an inordinate amount of time figuring out “what to say to girls”, or devising the best pick-up lines to make them fall head over heels for you: you just let your Fundamentals do most of the initial work for you instead. Sure, you will still need to have the right understanding of intersexual dynamics (the Law of Equilibrium of Interests is key here), and you will still need to escalate things at the right rhythm (hello Social Calibration), but you will have a head start on this process, thanks to your enhanced Looks and your enhanced Vibe. And if you do things right, there will be one and only one parameter determining the end result of all your seduction efforts: her sexual availability. Sounds good, right?

Problem is though, there is no shortcut in this process, there is only the hard way when it comes to maximising your Fundamentals, and a lot of guys give up along the way. Those guys give up while making excuses like, “this is too much effort” or, “why bother, girls only want [money/status/a male model/an expensive car/etc] anyway”. And if one side this is too bad for them, on the other side this is actually good news for the very few strong-willed guys who decide to go all the way. If you are serious about getting your Fundamentals up to scratch, first a hell of a lot of effort is required in terms of gaining the relevant knowledge (this blog gives you a very handy help on this point), then an even bigger amount of effort is required for putting into practice the relevant actions you have identified, such as finding a good hairdresser and getting a proper haircut done, growing a stubble, building some muscle, choosing some target fashion styles and then buying the necessary clothes, etc.

As we said already, fashion and grooming are the two areas where you can have the quickest boost to your Looks in terms of the effort you put in. And having set this detailed post in the right frame, let’s continue our conversation on the rules of Men’s Fashion, which started discussing Style, then moved onto Fit, and now goes one level deeper covering Fabrics :)

Natural fabrics

Natural fibres are definitely the way to go, and they are my default choices for all the clothes I buy, with very few exceptions that we will discuss throughout the post. The natural fibres you will encounter when shopping for clothes are:

● Cotton
● Wool
● Linen
● Silk
● Cashmere

Some fabrics are made by mixing two or more of the above natural fibres, and you may find blended cotton-linen fabrics in spring/summer collections, or blended wool-cashmere (-silk) fabrics in fall/winter collections. A little percentage of synthetic stretch fibres like Elastane (= Lycra, = Spandex) is also welcomed, since it can do wonders in terms of fit and comfort.

On the other hand, what is not welcomed at all, is the use of synthetic fibres like:

● Polyester
● Acrylic
● Polyamide
● Acetate and Triacetate
● Nylon
● Rayon (viscose, modal, lyocell)

There are two notable exceptions when using the above synthetics fibres is good, so let’s cover them for completeness:

1. The external layer of outerwear clothes, like parkas and down jackets: Polyamide and Polyester are ideal here, given their water-repelling properties, and I tend to prefer external layers in Polyamide, since they are less shiny and less smooth than the equivalent layers in Polyester. Fact is, if you have gone for a quality product, the internal filling keeping you warm will be made of either Goose Downs or Goose Feathers, hence a natural product.

2. Technical sport clothes made with advanced technologies, like Adidas climacool or Nike Dri-FIT: Polyester fibres absorb very limited amount of moisture, and if on one side “everyday Polyester” sucks, on the other side, when the very same fibres are skilfully arranged into advanced technical fabrics, then the end result is a top product. Clothes made with such technical fabrics bring your cardio and aerobics experiences to new levels of comfort which are simply unmatchable by equivalent clothes made by natural fibres like cotton. Hence, technical fabrics are definitely good, but “everyday Polyester” sucks instead, and tends to be odorous in nature as well.

Let’s look at the differences that different fabric blends can have on different items of clothing in terms of Fit.

Jeans

The Skinny jeans I own are divided into these fabrics:

A. 98% Cotton, 2% Elastane
B. 99% Cotton, 1% Elastane
C. 92% Cotton, 6% Elastomultiester, 2% Elastane
D. 76% Cotton, 24% EME T400

Let’s consider only the first three for now. If you take a fashion brand, say Calvin Klein, and you try three jeans from its Skinny line, each one made of a different A, B and C fabric blend, you will immediately notice that the differences between those three models are astonishing.

The fit of blend B is gentler and more relaxed compared to blend A, and the difference made by that extra 1% of Elastane in blend A is simply incredible. Blend B still looks very much like a pair of Skinny jeans, defining the leg all the way through, but it’s never tight around the leg. It’s a much better casual/everyday choice compared to blend A, since it provides much more comfort. Blend A looks like a pair of leggings around the tight, clearly defining it and making it look very strong (assuming you have done your homework during the Lower Body workout sessions at the gym), and then from the knee down it leaves breathing space, positively differentiating itself from the leggings, which we already said are to be avoided at all costs. Overall, blend A is a much better choice for going out. For instance, if you match a pair of blend A jeans with a pair of elegant black leather Chelsea boots, those blend A jeans will deliver much more in terms of image compared to an equivalent blend B pair of jeans. So far, blend B is for casual/everyday situations, while blend A to go out and for more special occasions.

And then there is blend C, which is actually the way to go, since it’s the best of both worlds: the 6% of Elastomultiester provides the comfort of blend B, while maintaining the shape of blend A, and this combination is as good as it gets. To be completely honest with you, blend A still defines the thigh a bit more, and it makes your legs look a bit stronger as a result, but blend C is just much more comfortable, and its shape still looks great. The only downside of blend C is that is much rarer to find compared to the other two blends. As a side note, a few manufacturers decided to go for 6% of everyday Polyester rather than Elastomultiester (I assume it’s cheaper), but I’ve always avoided this alternative blend.

Moving on to blend D, I only have a pair of jeans with that fabrics, and they make for very fresh and light summer jeans. Recommended.

Chinos

The chinos I own are divided into these fabrics:

A. 97% Cotton, 3% Elastane
B. 98% Cotton, 2% Elastane
C. 96% Cotton, 4% Elastane
D. 100% Linen

The fit of the chinos is Slim at the tight, and from the knee down either Skinny when the cuff is 17cm, or Slim when the cuff is 18cm. Here we are talking about gabardine cotton, the most common woven fabric you will encounter with chinos. I then have two pairs of chinos made by a more “twisted” woven fabric, which is stretcher as a result, and for these chinos the 18cm cuff is the way to go, since it looks just like the gabardine models with 17cm cuff. With the 17cm cuff, chinos made with this stretcher cotton are just too tight, and as a result they are closer to leggings than to Skinny jeans.

Blend A is what the overwhelming majority of chinos is made of. In my experience, blend B is used for lighter summer chinos, while blend C for heavier winter chinos. The only chinos I had which were made of blend C were a pair of Tommy’s Bleecker, but I gave them to my brother since I am between sizes with that specific brand, and they also looked a bit too classic for my liking.

T-shirts

All of my T-shirts are made of 100% Cotton, with one single exception that we will discuss later on.

Polo shirts

The polo shirts I own are divided into these fabrics:

A. 100% Cotton
B. 97% Cotton, 3% Elastane
C. 85% Cotton, 15% Linen

Blend A was my go-to choice for many years, since it looks just great on you when you buy the right fit. Then I discovered blend B, and that made blend A disappear as an option for future purchases: the extra comfort and better fit that the 3% of Elastane delivers is just incredible.

Blend C is very good for warm summer days, and the way I see it is that the cotton provides the fit, and the linen the freshness (100% linen tops tend to always have a somewhat more relaxed fit).

Jumpers

Here the split is very simple: 100% Cotton for spring/summer, 100% Wool for fall/winter.

In the past I had some different jumpers with either 5-10% of Cashmere and/or 10-20% of Silk, but if on one side they were surely softer, on the other side they also tended to be more delicate, and possibly more expensive.

Shirts

The shirts I own are divided into these fabrics:

A. 100% Cotton
B. 97% Cotton, 3% Elastane
C. 78% Cotton, 19% Polyamide, 3% Elastane
D. 85% Cotton, 15% Linen

Fabric A is the way to go most of the time, since it looks just great once you have had the darts done by your tailor. Blend B is also a viable option, and long time ago I had a good Burberry shirt made of that fabric. What I found though, is that cheaper shirts lose in quality when the Elastane is added into the mix, possibly because the fibres used by those manufactures are not of the highest quality.

I have three blend C shirts, and they have the best Skinny fit you can get from a shirt, ideal to go out at night, and sometimes I also use them to go to work. The obvious combination if for blend C shirts to go with blend A or blend C jeans, since blend B jeans (the ones with only 1% of Elastane) would be too loose in comparison to the shirt. Needless to say, you need to have the right physique to pull off this kind of shirts, otherwise the shirt would fall in the “too tight” scenario we saw in the previous post, where we discussed common Fit mistakes.

Blend D is just great at summer.

Dinner jackets

The dinner jackets I own are divided into these fabrics:

A. 98% Cotton, 2% Elastane
B. 97% Cotton, 3% Elastane
C. 60% Cotton, 40% Polyester

In terms of Fabrics, blends A and B are surely better choices. But in terms of Fit, the one blend-C jacket I own is clearly the best of all. This is an example of a piece of garment with big quantity of everyday Polyester outperforming equivalent pure-fabric models: the manufacturer of that blend-C jacket clearly has better fit for its jackets, and most likely resorted to cheaper synthetic fibres to cut costs. Still, the jacket is just great, especially for colder months, and if I was to buy another jacket in the future, that brand is where I would start looking , since its value for money is astonishing (by the way, I’m not talking of Zara, H&M and the like: the blend-C jacket costed me roughly 100 euro at the sales in a designer outlet store).

Blend-A and blend-B jackets have the slightly more relaxed fit typical of blend-B jeans (the ones with 1% Elastane), while blend-C jacket has the tighter fit typical of blend-A and blend-C jeans.

Leather jackets

The most common jacket leathers are:

● Cowhide
● Sheepskin
● Lambskin
● Calfskin
● Goatskin
● Horsehide

Cowhide scores very well in terms of strength, durability, toughness, and thermal insulation. All these advantages come at the price of reduced stretchability, low softness, and heavy weight.

Sheepskin is soft, smooth and very lightweight. Due to its softness though, it’s also prone to damage if it gets in contact with sharp objects, and thermal insulation is not as good as cowhide.

Lambskin is known for its soft and supple texture, making Lambskin leather jackets supple and comfortable from the get-go. Lambskin is generally fairly expensive though, and doesn’t fare as well as some other types of leather in terms of strength and thermal insulation.

Note: not all Sheepskin/Lambskin leather jackets are created equal, and some of them are made of higher-end leather. When you encounter the words “Napa leather” or “Nappa leather”, they just refer to a high-end type of Sheepskin/Lambskin leather, which is characterised by fine and soft grains.

Calfskin (basically a young cow) has the properties of both cowhide and lambskin: it’s as soft as lambskin, but as durable as cowhide. The downside is that Calfskin is very expensive, much more than even lambskin. With the thinness and flexibility that it offers, unlike the older animals of the same species, Calfskin (and Lambskin) is a first choice in terms of quality, durability and appearance, and as such is preferred for high-quality leather jackets, shoes and other apparel.

Goatskin is a rugged hide that features a coarse, pebble-like grain. It’s renowned for its strength, breathability, and water resistance, as well as for its potential to yield a glowing patina. As robust as it may be, goatskin is still remarkably supple and has a minimal break-in time. Goatskin is softer and suppler in feel as opposed to Cowhide, and is more durable than Sheepskin.

Horsehide is a luxury leather which is extremely durable, and compared to Cowhide is slightly stiffer, has smoother grain and higher shine, but needs an even bigger amount of breaking-in.

The perfecto leather jacket I bought is made of Goatskin.

Parkas / Down jackets

As we saw already, external layers of outerwear clothes are made of synthetic fibres, with Polyamide shells having a less shiny and less smooth finish compared to the ones in Polyester. When you buy an outerwear item with external layer in Polyester, I’d recommend you don’t go for shiny colours to start with, since the Polyester itself will provide a fair amount of shininess.

The internal filling which provides thermal insulation is made of either Goose Downs (finer and more luxurious) or Goose Feathers, or most likely a blend of the two. Recent years have seen the appearance in the market of some “environmentally friendly” brands, which have replaced downs and feathers by ultra-high-density nylon fabrics. This is fine, since this synthetic fabric is of “premium” quality, we are not talking of everyday Polyester here, and I own one down jacket made of such fabric: it performs just great in autumn, when the temperatures are not too low yet.

Denim jackets

I only own one, and it’s made of 99% Cotton and 1% Elastane. The difference that that single 1% of Elastane can make is incredible, and it provides a lot of comfort as well as an impeccable fit.

Winter gloves

For winter I have a pair of Lambskin gloves with internal Cashmere lining, which are very stylish and warm enough for temperatures going down to 0-5°C (32-41°F).

Fact is, when the temperature goes lower than that, those gloves stop being great in terms of insulation, and since I don’t like having my hands cold, just last year I got myself the warmest pair of gloves by a famous Skiing and Mountaineering brand. Those high-tech gloves are equipped with high-end insulation technologies, external shell in leather, and GORE-TEX waterproof membrane. They bring thermal insulation to a completely different level, while still remaining relatively stylish, considering that they are all black and the external shell is made of leather (they obviously look much thicker than the other Lambskin gloves though).

Gym T-shirts

The “technical” gym T-shirts which I use for cardio and aerobics activities are divided into these fabrics:

● 100% Polyester (Adidas climachill & climacool / Nike Dri-FIT)
● 97% Polyester, 3% Elastane (Adidas climalite)

As we saw in the Daygamer’s gym outfit post, for the workout I got myself a few Domyos T-shirts having the best fit I could find, and they are made of:

63% Cotton, 34% Polyester, 3% Elastane

That huge percentage of everyday Polyester is not ideal, it makes the T-shirt less soft than an ideal pure-cotton model, and at times it releases that light odour typical of everyday Polyester, but those T-shirts are just great in terms of Fit.

[note Mar-2020: the Domyos T-shirts are no longer recommended, please read the note within the Daygamer’s gym outfit post for full explanations]

Boxer shorts

Very simple here: 93% Cotton, 7% Elastane. Best fabrics in terms of comfort and fit.

Exceptions to “pure” fabrics

Pure natural fabrics, with a little addition of stretch fibres at times, are what to aim for most of the clothes, since they provide better breathability, better consistency and higher comfort.

In a few specific applications though, synthetic fabrics outperform natural fabrics, and as such they are to be preferred there. Two relevant examples are technical fabrics used in performance sport clothes (think of Adidas climacool, climachill and climalite, or Nike Dri-FIT), and the external layer of outerwear clothes like parkas and down jackets, which take advantage of the water-repelling properties of Polyamide and Polyester.

Some other times instead, natural fabrics would still be the theorical preferred choice over synthetic fabrics, but a compromise is to be made. So far, we have covered three of these exceptions I made, namely the dinner jacket and the gym T-shirts with respectively 40% and 34% of everyday Polyester in them, plus the Extra Slim Fit shirts with 19% of Polyamide in it. For the Polyester-blended items, their fit was just incredible and much better than the equivalent pure-natural items I tied, hence I went for the blended mix. Just to be clear: an equivalent fit could have been reached using natural fibres only, but it must have been more expensive to the manufacturer, I guess. Instead, for the Polyamide-blended shirts, an equivalent fit wouldn’t have been possible without using that high quantity of stretch fibre, and as such the purchase was a no-brainer. And by the way, those shirts also have a very smooth finish to them.

Let’s cover two more exceptions now. When I decided to overhaul my wardrobe two or so years ago, I decided to be quite comprehensive with that activity, and as such I also upgraded all items I use to stay at home. For the colder months, I ordered the Nike “Season 2 fleece tracksuit” made exclusively for JD Sports, and let me tell you this: the extra sexy masculine edge it gives you is just incredible, I use it at times to go to the local grocery shops in the neighbourhood, and it’s very very much appreciated by all the ladies, ranging from young and casually dressed girls to more mature and elegantly dressed career women, with anything in the middle. When I ordered it online, it was marketed as 100% Cotton on the website. When it arrived though, I looked at the internal label and discovered that there was a full 20% of everyday Polyester in it. I kept it, since it looked nice, plus it was exactly what I was looking for, but I can tell you that in terms of breathability it’s not the best. The top comes with a full zip and is very practical indeed, just what I was looking for, and I use it very often under the down jacket or parka to go around in the colder months. Since I field tested it extensively, I can say for sure that, when the body temperature goes up during a walk, it clearly underperforms an equivalent pure-cotton fleece in terms of breathability. This is a compromise, but worth making.

Another exception has to do with the colour of the fabric. I was looking for some skinny cargo trousers, and all models of that brand were made of 98% Cotton 2% Elastane fabric, except for two specific colours, which contained a full 30% of Polyamide in them. In this scenario, the addition of Polyamide hadn’t been made to cut costs, but to give the item a specific and slightly “washed” finish, and also to ensure an incredible fit (just like it was the case with the shirts). In addition to that, last summer, when I was looking for some T-shirts, I noticed one brand had all colours of a specific line in pure-cotton fabrics, and then one colour with 10% Viscose in it. That addition was done to give that colour the right appearance, “washed” just like the cargo trousers. In the end, I made both of these two exceptions, and bought some light green pair of cargo trousers, plus a light grey T-shirt.

Conclusions

We have seen how different “pure” fabrics can give different Fit results based on the mix of the fibres, with even one single percentage point of more/less Elastane having a big difference. My recommendation is to always go for pure fabrics, and then make a few limited exceptions when needed, just like I’ve done.

There is also a budget aspect associated to all this, but trust me when I say that I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes, since, both in the outlet stores and high street shops, I only buy during the sales. I’d say, always prioritise Fit and Fabrics over the mere name of the brand, since girls are not going to check the internal label to see if your jumper is by Dolce & Gabbana or by an unknown manufacturer, but instead those girls are going to take notice of how well that jumper looks on you, both in terms of Fit and Fabrics.

Maybe, now you have just looked at the internal label of your jumper, and it says 50% Acrylic 50% Viscose. Let’s not make a big deal out of it, it’s not the end of the world, especially considering that most guys and girls don’t have any idea whatsoever on the fabrics their clothes are made of, this aspect is just not part of their decision-making process. In my case, I started paying close attention to fabrics at around age 20, when I made an effort to buy clothes of higher quality, which would look better and last longer. And this has been the case indeed, especially when you consider that things like some of my winter jumpers, which admittedly I use less than my jeans, I’ve used them for ten years straight now, and they still look great. We are talking about 100% wool jumpers with impeccable fit by Armani Le Collezioni, POLO Ralph Lauren, Fred Perry, and a few other brands, all bought at the sales either in the outlet stores or in the high-street shops.

Some girls have huge amount of clothes, most of which they only use once or twice, “before the cheap garment disintegrates” (one girl told me these exact words, but who the girl was evades me right now…). I personally have a diametrically opposite strategy: I buy only a few items of clothing, but of high quality, made of the best fabrics, at the sales, and those items just look great and last long. I have a situation of abundance when it comes to clothes as well, and as such I can comfortably wait for the items to be discounted (this is the general rule, then, as with anything in life, specific exceptions are made if required by the situation).

We guys are not women, and as such we don’t need 40 pair of shoes, 30 pair of jeans, hundreds of T-shirts, etc (girls, just let me know if those numbers are too low haha). A few carefully executed men’s looks are way better than a multitude of mediocrely executed men’s looks, and as such my recommendation to you is the following: when shopping for your next clothes, picture in your mind on how that single individual clothing item would perform with the Style/look you have selected, then give priority to Fit and Fabrics over the mere name of the brand, avoid the common Fit mistakes we saw in the previous post, and remember all the considerations we have seen on how slightly different blends can have drastic differences in terms of Fit.

Cheers.

Related Posts:
• Maximising your Looks
• Men’s Fashion rule #1 – Style
• Men’s Fashion rule #2 – Fit
• Glasses and Sunglasses: common mistakes

The Essentials:
• Fundamentals
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