This is an excellent question, Matt – and excellent timing. Spring brings warmer temperatures and longer days, but you still never know when Old Man Winter might show up. Sometimes on the same day! So this is a perfect time to start experimenting with fabric matching.
In my book, pairing different fabrics is totally fair game, as long as they are complementary. Meaning, do they work well together in regard to handfeel and weight? You just want to make sure nothing appears odd or out of place. And as long as you stick to mixing season-adjacent fabrics (aka late winter to spring, or summer to fall) and four-season fabrics, it’s pretty easy. And gets even easier with practice. So let’s play out your linen-with-wool example. (Shatnez vibes.)
Take this cotton-linen cotton-linen Kincaid No. 1 in Rose. A perfect knockaround jacket for spring in both color and fabric. Would it look great with pants in the same cotolino fabric? Absolutely. But high-twist wool trousers would work equally well. You might associate wool with warmth, but when it’s engineered correctly, it can be incredibly breathable and keep you cooler than even cotton or linen. English high-twist wool is the fabric we recommend 365 days a year. The reason this fabric is so neutral — seasonally neutral, situationally neutral, stylistically neutral — is that the high-twist fabric has a "clear" finish. (Not brushed, or as we say, “no touch”.) It has a dry hand and an open weave, which makes it great for pretty much all temperatures, and the brilliance of the yarn and weave structure is that it has the ability to literally bounce back into shape. I’m serious; you can wear it for a cross-country flight and it’ll look no worse for wear by the time you land. And that clear finish means that it will go with nearly every piece of tailored clothing we make, from super summery seersucker jackets to heavy winter tweeds.
You also want to pay attention to the fabric weight. A linen jacket is typically light (in both weight and feel), so avoid pairing it with heavy fabrics like flannel, moleskin, or wide-wale corduroy… you don’t want to mix hard winter with hard summer. Fabrics that mix well also tend to be going to the same event… in other words, one shouldn’t be a lot more formal than the other. So in this case, super-dressy sharkskin wool trousers are not your answer. (Linen can go formal sometimes, too, so this part is harder to pin down as a rule… again, you get better with practice.)
So high-twist wool is gonna be your key to a lotta seasonal dressing. There are a few more 4-season fabrics that you can use as an anchor: cotton oxford , roxford, and poplin for shirting; lightweight twill and canvas for pants. Even wool that isn't high-twist falls into this group, like this plainweave — clear finish, not too heavy. If you identify a few of those pieces in your closet that you know work 365 days a year, you can get a few more outfits out of your seasonal pieces. For example: a navy high twist wool blazer will look fantastic with brightly colored cotolino trousers in the spring or summer and wool herringbone trousers 6 months later. Same goes for an oxford shirt – this logic can be applied to casual outfits, too. Start with a piece that works for the current season, then add a piece that works for every season.
Hope that helps, Matt. Just avoid matching seasonality extremes (summer x winter) and look for fabrics that have a similar weight and level of formality. Or when in doubt, go 1 in-season + 1 all-season and walk out the door confidently. As long as it doesn’t start snowing.
“Hey Sid! I have a question around matching fabrics. I’ve always had good style and have invested in my wardrobe, but the area I struggle with is pairing different fabrics. Is it ok to mix a linen sport coat with wool trousers or should I be regimented with seasonal fabrics? Does it matter?” – Matt
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