The Mohair Suit
The tail end of summer, depressing though it is, is here in the northern hemisphere. The flowery optimism of May, the sultry afternoons of June, the silent heat of July somehow, they all feel a lifetime ago in this bizarre period of autumnal descent. Neither warm nor cold, the climate confuses gentlemen; frowning on their commute with a woollen suit jacket draped over their shoulder, sweat patches salt-stain their shirts. “Funny” they think “it was quite chilly this morning.”
I have often had one of those should-have-gone-with-the-linen moments in summers past; sweating away in an inappropriate double-breasted number, studiously disguising my envy from parades of smiling seersuckered solicitors. However, there are days when dressing down for the climate renders a suit inferior; when cotton is not cutting it, when linen is lacking, mohair is more. Of all the warm-weather suits, mohair is the maharajah.
The Angora goat obliges with its hair, producing a stiff, silk-like fabric that is cool enough for the summer, warm enough for the autumnal transition. It is also more boardroom-friendly than linen as it doesn’t crease or stretch and has a high lustre. Rarer than any other summer fabric, mohair is comparatively more expensive than linen and ranks alongside cashmere and silk as a ‘luxury’ material; don’t expect to find it in cheap high street suits or fashion shops. Good made-to-measure and bespoke tailors will have swatchbooks of mohair in a variety of colours and quality – younger goats are thought to make a superior yarn – and will provide the necessary standard of manufacture and fit.
Because of the almost pearlescent sheen, some traditionalists scoff at mohair suits as being too flashy; the same traditionalists also decry silk suits for the same reason. In light-to-mid grey, the effect is that of a polished oyster. Paired with a white shirt and black shoes, it creeps towards the ‘lucky’ ensemble worn by a Las Vegas hopeful; all tack and no tact. I would personally plump for a less-sheeny mid-blue. It is a less common colour, has a soothing, aqueous quality and looks perfectly delicious in early autumn with a brown paisley wool tie, a white cotton square, sky blue shirt and brown suede brogues.