“Super 120s, 150s, or 180s wool?” If you have ever ordered a custom suit, you have probably been baffled by these labels at some point. It is generally assumed that the higher the wool count, the better quality of the suit. But what do these numbers actually mean?
The Mystery Behind the Super Number
To put it simply, it refers to the fineness of the wool, based off of how much yarn can be spun from a single pound. As a result, higher numbers tend to refer to fabrics that are lighter, smoother in texture, and more luxurious. In centuries past, this used to range from 30s to 100s, but today, due to better technology, almost all wool is over 100s. Numbers above 150s are common for finer suits. Even higher grades do exist, with prices going up exponentially.
The Tricky Details
The word “Super” is important. A number without the prefix specifies a wool blend, not a pure wool fabric.
“Thread count” is a different measurement of fabric fineness altogether, and not used to describe wool fabrics.
What’s the catch?
Finer fabrics mean lighter fabrics. However, the offset of the lightness means that suits can lose their durability more easily. In fact, higher grades of Super number wools behave more closely to linen in the way they crease and wear. In general, the lifespan of the garment decreases the finer it is.
Remember, the label only refers to the raw material, it says nothing about the quality of the weaving and the finishing.
Determining the Best Choice for You
Be prepared to work harder to maintain a higher Super numbers wool suit, as it will be more prone to wrinkling, and will drape over your body without having much of its own wear. Finer fabrics are also more prone to snags and can be difficult to re-weave or fix.
Lighter fabrics are more appropriate for warmer seasons and/or special occasions, while heavier wool fabrics are more ideal for cooler weather and everyday wear. Generally, Super 100s through Super 130s are better for everyday wear, and higher Super fabric numbers are suitable for special occasions.
Ultimately – don’t be fooled by the number on the tag - a well-fitted suit catered to your style will look dapper in virtually any fabric. Rather, the investment should be in an excellent fit and custom adjustments.