sharskin gray

dragon

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Would a sharkskin gray make a good color grey suit or is it too light?

I will be getting the swatches in a few days.
 

whistle_blower71

Super Member
Sharkskin comes in a whole range of greys from dove to oxford. Great cloth. A medium to charcoal sharkskin worsted is as versatile as plain twill but far more elegant.

W_B

PS Especially in sb peak!
 
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fullgrain

Senior Member
Sharkskin comes in a whole range of greys from dove to oxford. Great cloth.

What he said. But do consider your purpose. A sharkskin weave will have a bit of a sheen; *too* shiny [think some of the gangsterish Hugo Boss from a few yrs back] and it might be a bit much for business wear.
 

Rich

Super Member
What he said. But do consider your purpose. A sharkskin weave will have a bit of a sheen; *too* shiny [think some of the gangsterish Hugo Boss from a few yrs back] and it might be a bit much for business wear.

I agree there. I have a "gangsterish HB from a few years back" (dark grey sharkskin), which I like very much but am a bit uncomfortable with in a work ernvironment. More suited to hotel bars and "going out" generally. I think a light grey sharkskin would be even more difficult to wear.
 

Daywalker

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I agree with Rich about the light gray sharskin. I own one and while it is too flashy for business, it has a great "wow" factor that is perfect for social occaisions.
 

Sator

Honors Member
A pick-and-pick (sharkskin in the US) only as likely to become shiny as any other the twill weaves in your wardrobe. This mostly occurs after the careless dry cleaning of lower quality fabrics. If you eliminated all twill weaves (and silk weaves such as barathea) from your wardrobe on this basis, you would be frightfully limited in what you could wear, since the majority of suitings are going to be of this weave.

As for lighter shades of grey being 'seasonal' I think this is the best possible reason to choice it. Wardrobes should be seasonal and everything possible must be done to discourage this modern nonsense about four season suits.
 

Sator

Honors Member
What he said. But do consider your purpose. A sharkskin weave will have a bit of a sheen; *too* shiny [think some of the gangsterish Hugo Boss from a few yrs back] and it might be a bit much for business wear.

I just spent a fair bit of time at the tailor's yesterday looking at H Lesser books. I found quite a few pick-and-pick weaves. Every one of them was a matt as matt could be. Not a single one was shiny. If anything, the two tone four harness weave gave it a much more matt finish than on other standard twills.

I suspect that HB uses dodgy cloths which are woven poorly. This shininess is more of an indication of a low grade cloth and fibre, rather than a problem related to the style of weave. Of course, certain fibres such as silk, and mohair do tend to be shiny irrespective of the way they are woven.
 

iammatt

Elite Member
As for lighter shades of grey being 'seasonal' I think this is the best possible reason to choice it. Wardrobes should be seasonal and everything possible must be done to discourage this modern nonsense about four season suits.

That is easy to say if you come from a seasonal part of the world. I do not, and while I would like to have a really seasonal wardrobe, it would be ridiculous. I solve that by being about half all-year 9-12 oz weight, 1/4 summer weight and 1/4 winter weight. When those summer and winter days will actually appear, I cannot even begin to guess. It was 55 at night earlier this week and over 80 today.

As far as light sharkskin, it is my favorite gray suiting and the fabric of my favorite suit.
 

Sator

Honors Member
That is easy to say if you come from a seasonal part of the world. I do not.

Nor do I. I think we live in comparable climates, only Sydney is a fair bit toastier in summer.




and while I would like to have a really seasonal wardrobe, it would be ridiculous. I solve that by being about half all-year 9-12 oz weight, 1/4 summer weight and 1/4 winter weight. When those summer and winter days will actually appear, I cannot even begin to guess. It was 55 at night earlier this week and over 80 today.

Well, there you go - you already have a seasonal wardrobe! A two season suit is still a very seasonal suit by modern standards. I bet nothing in your wardrobe resembles the modern 3-4 season suit as pushed by department stores.
 

Sator

Honors Member
As far as light sharkskin, it is my favorite gray suiting and the fabric of my favorite suit.

Oh, yes - Harrison's I presume?

They too have some lovely pick-and-picks in their books. And as long it is a woollen (or cashmere) worsted, shiny and Harrison's are mutually exclusive terms.
 

iammatt

Elite Member
Oh, yes - Harrison's I presume?

They too have some lovely pick-and-picks in their books. And as long it is a woollen (or cashmere) worsted, shiny and Harrison's are mutually exclusive terms.
Yes, the lightest from their 12-oz Fine Classics book. It is very, very nice and the book is my overall favorite. I also like the Premier Cru book which some around these parts do not.

One of the oddities in San Francisco seasonality is that the warm period is the beginning and middle of autumn rather than summer so you kind of need to be a bit delicate mixing cool clothing with appropriate colors and textures for October.

You are right that my wardrobe has none of the typical department store all-year weights, but I don't know of any other city where it is not unusual to break out the winter clothing for a July evening.
 

Sator

Honors Member
I don't know of any other city where it is not unusual to break out the winter clothing for a July evening.

I remember Auckland, New Zealand being a bit like this. Even if it is warm during the day in the middle of summer, it cools down rapidly in the evening and you have to pull out winter clothing. Only when it is exceptionally warm day do you have a warm night as well.

Having a wardrobe of fabrics suitable for any weather condition is a real pleasure that anyone who chooses all year round suitings will never know.
 

fullgrain

Senior Member
From the OED:
"a woven or warp-knitted fabric of wool, silk, or rayon with a smooth, slightly lustrous, finish; freq. attrib.; (ii) an outfit made of this fabric;"
OK, pehaps not the definitive source, but at least I'm not completely mad. Perhaps I should have said sharkskins often/sometimes have some sheen. Yes, if you go by the old textile books it's a type of twill w/ two colors of thread so no, it doesn't have to be shiny. But my understanding is that makers have long taken advantage of the weave to produce a fabric that is often intentionally shiny (in a nightclub way, not a worn-out suit way). When I think sharkskin, I think glossy iridescent rayon or wool suits from the 40s-60s, and I think the term still has those connotations, ie, "a sharkskin sheen glossed elegant playboy suits..." "this fine sharkskin weave with a subtle sheen..." Perhaps it's analagous to seersucker? (Weave doesn't technically *have* to have stripes, but usually does.) Anyone versed in the history of sharkskin?
 

Sator

Honors Member
From the OED:
OK, pehaps not the definitive source, but at least I'm not completely mad. Perhaps I should have said sharkskins often/sometimes have some sheen. Yes, if you go by the old textile books it's a type of twill w/ two colors of thread so no, it doesn't have to be shiny. But my understanding is that makers have long taken advantage of the weave to produce a fabric that is often intentionally shiny (in a nightclub way, not a worn-out suit way). When I think sharkskin, I think glossy iridescent rayon or wool suits from the 40s-60s, and I think the term still has those connotations, ie, "a sharkskin sheen glossed elegant playboy suits..." "this fine sharkskin weave with a subtle sheen..." Perhaps it's analagous to seersucker? (Weave doesn't technically *have* to have stripes, but usually does.) Anyone versed in the history of sharkskin?

I think I may have solved this mystery. We are talking about two different entities altogether.

I quote Vilarosa and Angeli again:



They state in their book which weaves have a propensity for becoming shiny. It is notable that they fail to mention this as a drawback of a pick-and-pick weave. Take a look at the close up of the weave and you can see the rough surface which characterise this weave. You can see how it is difficult to conceive of how such a weave could be shiny.

In addition to Vilarosa and Angeli, here is a quote from a specialist book on textiles:

Sharkskin: a wool or a wool-like 2/2 left handed twill made of alternating warp and filling yarns of two different colours and having a smooth, flat, appearance. Occasionally a plain weave or a basket-weave fabric is called sharkskin.

This concurs with what V&A say about the weave.

A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion, on the other hand, defines 'sharkskin' as either:

1. Basket-weave, acetate rayon fabric with a slightly pebbly surface, smooth and lustrous when ironed. Used for blouses, sportswear etc.

or

2. A wool twill weave in two-coloured yarns

I suspect that the bad reputation of 'sharkskin' as a cheap and shiny ('lustrous' being the euphemism) suiting may have come from the use of the term to denote acetate rayon fabrics - probably back in the 1940-60s when rayon was the then equivalent of polyester. When you hear the term 'sharkskin rat pack' (strictly an Americanism, I believe) this is probably the fabric being denoted.

English fabric merchants such as Lesser and Harrisons are strictly using the term pick-and-pick according to the second definition to denote woollens woven with a two tone 2/2 left handed harness weave. This is why the pick-and-picks in their books have a finish even more matt than other weaves. They are of course still smooth in the sense that they lack a nap or the rougher finish of a carded yarn such as tweed or a woollen flannel.
 
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Sator

Honors Member
p.s. Fullgrain - thanks for driving the discussion. I hope I don't seem to argumentative. But like Matt, I have always liked the look of pick-and-picks in English books. It took me a while to establish with confidence that sharkskin was just American English for pick-and-pick. Your post made me do a bit more research and now I understand why the term 'sharkskin rat pack' suggested that it was a shiny, gangster's fabric of ill repute. I could never understand why anybody would think that the beautiful weaves found in the books from Lesser could be considered dodgy, as none are even remotely shiny. Now I know that we are probably talking about two totally different things - rayon does tend to be quite shiny.
 

Rich

Super Member
...yet in my experience, all-wool sharkskin does have a sort of sheen (rather than a shine) - shall we say it catches the light in an attractive way, on the same principle as shot silk, only much less so, of course. It's the light-dark mixture in the weave that does it. At some angles you see more light, at others more dark. This makes it a bit dressier than a basic solid worsted. I imagine the greater the contrast between the dark and the light shades the more pronounced the effect.
 

Sator

Honors Member
...yet in my experience, all-wool sharkskin does have a sort of sheen (rather than a shine) - shall we say it catches the light in an attractive way, on the same principle as shot silk, only much less so, of course. It's the light-dark mixture in the weave that does it. At some angles you see more light, at others more dark. This makes it a bit dressier than a basic solid worsted. I imagine the greater the contrast between the dark and the light shades the more pronounced the effect.

Perhaps the Italians have a way of weaving which gives it a shiny finish? May I ask which fabric merchant offers such shiny examples. None of the finer English ones I have seen have anything other than a thoroughly gentlemanly matt finish.

I just compared a length of English pick-and-pick I have in my possession with lengths of plain milled worsted, serge weave, faille, gaberdine and barathea. While I agree that any twill, including pick-and-pick, can have a sheen, I found that the lengths of serge and plain milled worsted had more sheen. The faille weave was the most shiny, as you would expect from a tight satin weave. The next most shiny were the gaberdine (also predictable given that it is a type of tight twill weave) and the barathea. The pick-and-pick had the most matt finish of all of the weaves, held at all angles of light.
 

Rich

Super Member
Outfitters may be selling suits as "sharkskin" that are not strictly sharkskin - or is pick-and-pick actually different from sharkskin? Also, why call it sharkskin if it doesn't look like the skin of a shark? Maybe sheen/shine is the wrong word. Gabardine I would describe as having a shine, but the effect is quite different from what I call sharkskin. It catches the light, and has more depth than garbardine, which looks flat.

Edit: the "sharkskin suit" on the TM Lewin website looks particularly matt, however...
 
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