There is a lot to think about when buying a suit or blazer: color, what type of lapel, button count, single vent or double vent, pocket flaps or no pocket flaps, what about patch pockets!?... the list goes on. One of the most important decision points, whether you have realized it or not, is the thread count. The thread count is the number you see after “Super” on a patch below the left interior jacket pocket - e.g. Super 100s, Super 120s, Super 150s. While many brands brag about their thread count as a measure of quality, higher is not always better.
For most, the only intro to thread counts prior to looking at formal clothing are the thread counts seen on bedsheet packaging and Aziz Ansari’s tirade about hotel luxury linens. Because of this, thread counts of 300 or more seem commonplace. So when jackets with a thread count above 150 runs over $3,000, it can be confusing. As it turns out, the fabric composition has a lot to do with the optimal thread count, how soft a garment feels, and how well it wears over time.
Before we get into the numbers, let’s define thread count. Thread count is the number of single threads present in a square inch of fabric. This is the same principle applied to those bed sheets mentioned earlier. While sheets, mostly made from cotton, tend to have a higher thread count, wool fabric will have a lower count because of the size and strength of the threads and the thickness of its fibers. As a benchmark, you’ll find most jackets are made in the Super 100s-120s range in comparison to most t-shirts being 40-50.
While you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking the classic man-rule “more is better” applies to thread count, there is a limit. As previously mentioned, most jackets and suits are made with a thread count in the 100-120 range. This is completely appropriate when looking for a suit or jacket you will wear more often. A lower thread count usually means the threads are thicker and stronger than those above 150. Once you get into the Super 150s and higher, you have to be weary of durability. The decrease in durability comes from textile companies trying to pack more threads into that square inch, often using thinner fibers to do it. So, if you are looking for a casual jacket to go out in, keep to the 100s, 110s and 120s. If you are looking for a nice suit to throw on every once in awhile to make an impression, it might be worth it to shoot for something around Super 140s.
A word of caution as you move towards the higher thread count suits and jackets: Wear them very selectively and dry clean them even more so. The fibers are likely to be extra fine and less resistant to wear and tear. With a high likelihood of pulling at the elbows, knees, and other tight parts of the suit, we caution against challenging your party rival to a breakdance battle.
Beyond thread count, fabrics get a lot of their feel and body based on fabric quality and composition. A high-quality wool jacket in the Super 110s can feel softer than a Jacket made of lesser quality wool in the Super 130s. So when picking out a suit material or jacket off the peg, feel the fabric and check the thread count, the two together will give you a truer sense of what you’re buying and how durable it is likely to be.
In short: Super 110s-140s made from a quality wool or wool-blend is really a safe bet for a quality suit jacket or blazer. These thread counts are likely to feel soft to the touch, lay nicely, and be durable enough to wear on a more regular basis