Fabric Lessons: A Guide to Men’s Wool Dress Pants

Last week, we took a look at how to match your trouser fabrics to the season. Now you know when to wear cotton, wool, and corduroy—and more importantly, why.

But there’s more to learn here, especially when it comes to wool.

You’ve likely heard it before: wool is the ultimate winter fabric. But reducing wool’s importance in the wardrobe to a mere wintertime fascination doesn’t do the versatile fabric any justice. Wool is, in many ways, the quintessential clothing fabric, capable of wicking away sweat and insulating. And besides, there’s more than one type of wool.

So let’s back up a moment and examine wool in more detail. Chances are, you’ll find a specific men’s wool trouser that precisely matches your stylistic and comfort needs.

Worsted Wool

Lightweight and coarse, worsted wool is a fabric that “feels” like wool without having the heavyness many people associate with wool. This can be a great comfort in the winter when you need to layer wool on top of softer fabrics but hate the idea of lugging around another score of pure sartorial tonnage. In short, worsted wool pants allow you to feel light and breezy without sapping any of the fabric’s insulation powers.

This means a pair of men’s wool trousers of the worsted variety is perfect for sharp winter days that you know will require some degree of insulation beneath the pants. You’ll be able to add bulk to your lower layers without feeling like you’re particularly bulky—which is great if you have a lot of walking to do.

Lightweight/Flannel Wool

This lightweight brand of wool isn’t bulky, either, but has the advantage of being exceptionally comfortable to the skin. This makes it an ideal single layer for when you want to insulate—but not too much. Trousers made from lightweight or flannel wool can be worn with suit combinations for a consistent, pleated look. And don’t associate the flannel with “plaid”—the two terms have their own distinct meanings.  One can be flannel without plaid, and vice versa.


Tough, somewhat coarse, but constructed to be tightly insulating outer layers in the harshest winter months, Gabardine wool has a rich history of keeping everyone warm, from soldiers in World War II to present day. Think of Gabardine as a tough outer defensive system from moisture and cold alike: the tightly-woven fabric is more of a leg shield than a trouser. But they also make for handsome trousers, as our own brand of Gabardine trousers will attest, and make a great option for extra protection come winter.

Poly-Wool Blends

If you’re not quite ready to make the full leap to wool—or if your individual climate doesn’t require heavy outer layers for months at a time—a trouser made from a poly-wool blend might be what the stylist ordered. These are comfortable, lightweight, and offer a great degree of breathability without being stifling at all, which means you can stretch the rules of our previous blog post and wear these trousers in just about any season.

October 24, 2014 by Berle Editor
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