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Wool Suits vs. Synthetic Suits

Both wool suits and synthetic suits have advantages and disadvantages. There is no one perfect suit – you should buy a suit according to your needs and preferences. This guide compares wool suits and synthetic suits so that you can make an informed decision. There is a commonly held belief that synthetic suits are not good quality. That isn’t necessarily the case. We are going to lay out the information and let you make the decision for yourself. 

PROS OF WOOL SUITS

Breathability: There is a misconception that wool is heavy, which is true for flannels, but wool suits can come in lighter weights and finishes. A year-round wool is much cooler than cotton or synthetic. (If you need something exceptionally lightweight, consider a linen suit.)  

Antimicrobial: Wool is naturally antimicrobial. If you let your wool suit rest for a week between wears, odors will automatically dissipate. Suits should be rotated; a proper suit rotation decreases the need for dry-cleaning. (If you wear your wool suit several days per week or for consecutive days, you will need to clean it regularly.) 

Appearance: The drape of a quality wool suit can’t be replicated. A good drape flows over the body’s contours, highlighting the positive parts and minimizing the undesirable parts. Wool does this exceptionally well. Because wool is a natural fiber, it conforms to your body over time.

CONS OF WOOL SUITS

Variability in quality: The price of a wool suit does not always correspond to its quality. In fact, it often does not. A consumer needs knowledge in order to purchase a good wool suit – you can’t depend on brand name or price as markers of quality. 

Durability: The durability of a wool suit depends on the weight of the wool. More expensive, finer weave wool suits tend not to be very durable. Flannels, on the other hand, are virtually indestructible. (Flannels are only suitable for cold-weather wear.) A lighter-weight wool can wear out after 20 wears. 

Price: Unless you shop the clearance rack, wool suits generally cost more than synthetic suits. 

Wear: A wool suit will start to shine over time. Shiny wear is most common in places that come into contact with surfaces, like elbows. 

PROS OF SYNTHETIC SUITS

Affordability: Good quality synthetic suits start at $120…and if you’re paying more than $200 for a synthetic suit, you are probably overpaying. 

Durability: Synthetic fabrics are much hardier and will practically never wear out. Your only risk is sun exposure or wear and tear on the seams (not the fabric itself). If the fabric is exposed to the sun for extended periods of time it can slowly fade or take on a bleached appearance. But don’t worry, this is only if you will be wearing it for hours on end in the sun for extended periods.

Wrinkle resistance: Synthetic fibers are more wrinkle resistant than wools. On the flip side, wool will recover on its own over time, while a synthetic will not.

Sensitivities to wool: Synthetic suits are a great option for those who can’t wear wool due to skin sensitivities. 

Athleisure fabrics: Stretch fabrics are the domain of synthetics. While wool has a natural elasticity, it is nowhere near the elasticity of modern stretch fabrics. If you feel inhibited by a suit and want to feel like you’re wearing gym clothing, check out a synthetic stretch fabric. You’ll be blown away by how comfortable a stretch suit can be. 

Variety of colors and patterns: Unlike wool, it’s cheap to produce bold designs in small quantities when working with synthetic fabrics. That’s why there is such a wide variety of colors and patterns of synthetic suits to choose from. (Our tuxedo collection, which includes exotic prints and metallic textures, is a testament to that.) 

CONS OF SYNTHETIC SUITS

Breathability: Synthetic suits do not vent hot air out the way that all-season wool suits do. They’re hot in the summer because the fabric does not breathe. If you sweat easily, you may even notice it in the winter when indoors. For ultimate airflow, try a lightweight wool suit. (And for a very fashion-forward lightweight suit, try a seersucker suit.) 

Drape and shape: While wool skims the body elegantly and conforms to it, synthetic is usually a bit stiffer and not quite as comfortable. However, if the synthetic suit fits you properly, this may not be noticeable.

There is no one “best” suit – it’s a question of what is best for the individual. Whether you invest in a wool suit, or want to dip your toes into suit-wearing with a synthetic suit, there are options for every budget. If you don’t usually wear suits and you’d like to test out wearing a suit for the first time, a good synthetic suit might be all you need. Most people will not be able to spot the difference between a synthetic suit and a wool suit. If you only need it for occasional weddings and job interviews, a synthetic suit could “suit” you fine.

More Like This: How to Wear a Seersucker Suit

Chaya Kurtz

Chaya Kurtz

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