100s, 110s, 120s, 130s, 140s - What does it mean?

Discussion in 'Andy's Fashion Forum' started by Poobah, Feb 11, 2006.

  1. Poobah

    Poobah New Member

    I often see references to these designations for wool suit material and wonder what they mean. If appropriate, which is the superior fabric?
  2. manton

    manton Arbiter CBDum

    The numbers denote the fineness or thinness of the individual fibers that were spun into the yarn which was woven into the cloth which was sewn into a suit. The higher the number, the thinner the fibers, hence the smoother and silker the cloth feels.

    But know well that Super number (or "micronage", since fibers are properly graded by how many microns wide they are) is BUT ONE measure of quality, and not a very reliable one. Many well made Super 80s or 90s are far better than the 150s and higher that one sees in high-end RTW. The 150s will almost always cost more, because the raw wool required to make it costs more, and also because people will simply pay more for it. But that doesn't make it better, or even good, necessarily.
  3. Mr. Knightly

    Mr. Knightly Super Member

    The silky hand of high number supers is not always what one may prefer. I, for one, really like the substantial feel of Super 70s and 80s. They're nicer in the winter too.

    Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
    But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
    For the apparel oft proclaims the man.
  4. Siggy

    Siggy Active Member with Corp. Privileges

    I believe I read somewhere that anything over super 120 may not be the best choice fabric for a suit that will be worn often since the higher super number wool is not as durable thus will wear out faster. Any comments?
  5. Syringemouth

    Syringemouth Active Member with Corp. Privileges

    United States
    Bloomfield Hills
    Super 180's seems to wrinkle easier but so what. I only wear my super 180's 1-2 times a month so I don't see how it is going to wear out so quickly. I prefer the feel of the higher end woolens, and I think that anything above a Super 200 is getting a little excesive. Just my .02 so do what you will. [8D] Super 150's is also a very nice fabric. Brioni seems to carry the best patterns in this wool.
  6. LA_Guy

    LA_Guy New Member

    They are all integers divisable by 10.

    Style Forum moderator slumming with the trads. And I wear hoodies. And jeans. And sneakers. Please don't shoot me with a Trad pistol.
  7. Andy

    Andy Site Creator/Administrator Staff Member

    United States
    Palm Desert
    Admin Post

    More than you wanted to know, excerpts from The Encyclopedia of Men's Clothes, chapter on Fabrics:


    Yarn Counts:

    Staple yarns are bought and sold by the pound, not by length. Sizes (or numbers) are used to express a relation between the weight of the raw fiber of staple yarns and the yarn length. Hanks are standard skeins of yarn (comprised of strands), used to gauge fineness in the worsted or metric system. One hank measures 560 yards and the number of Hank’s in one-pound gauges relative fineness. For example: 40's quality yarn is actually 40 hanks which is 40 x 560 or 22,400 yards of yarn per pound--twice as "course" (less fine, smooth and dense) as 80's yarn which is 80 hanks or 80 x 560, equaling 44,800 yards of yarn per pound. The higher the hanks number, the finer the yarn.

    Filament fibers weight is measured by a system called Denier. This measurement applies to all synthetic or manufactured fibers, and silk. This system works in reverse of the worsted or metric and the number increases with the coarseness of the yarns, so the lower the number, the finer the fiber. Numerically, a denier is the equivalent to the weight in grams of 9,000 meters of continuous filament fiber.

    Making the right grade. Yarn counts and wool grades are easily confused with each other! Yarn counts will often include talk of ply while wool grades will often mention “worstedâ€. Yarn counts rarely climb above 80s and anything higher than 90 is impossible to spin whereas wool grades start at 80’s and 90’s.

    What does 2-ply 120 mean?

    The numbers describing fabric refer to:

    1. Yarn count - that's the ply part, such as “singlesâ€, “twists†and “plyâ€. A single is one fiber or thread. Two-ply is two fibers twisted together. Using two or more fibers make the thread or yard stronger and more durable.

    High count: refers to fabric woven with a relatively high thread count, resulting in a dense, tight fabric. Thread count is the number of vertical (warp) and horizontal (weft) threads in 1 square inch of fabric. But the numbers can be deceptive — many manufacturers use a form of "thread count inflation," counting each double-ply strand of a thread twice.

    Ply yarns are two or more strands twisted together. Yarn is twisted to provide strength and smoothness. Most yarns used in clothing are plied yarns. Twisting together yarns of different tensions or diameters make complex yarns such as boucle and ratine.

    Twist is a term that applies to the number of turns and the direction that two yarns are turned during the manufacturing process. The yarn twist brings the fibers close together and makes them compact. It helps the fibers adhere to one another, increasing yarn strength.

    The direction and amount of yarn twist helps determine appearance, performance, and durability of both yarns and the subsequent fabric or textile product. Single yarns may be twisted to the right (S twist) or to the left (Z twist). Generally, woolen and worsted yarns are S-twist, while cotton and flax yarns are typically Z-twist. Twist is generally expressed as turns per inch (tpi), turns per meter (tpm), or turns per centimeter (tpc).

    High twist: refers to yarn that are manufactured with a relatively high number of turns per inch. This may be done to increase the yarn strength or to give the fabric a crepe texture or hand.

    2. The other number gives you the fabric grade. Super 100’s, 120’s, etc refer to the length in centimeters one woolen yarn can be stretched. It’s a measurement of fineness. Also measured in microns. A micron is one-millionth of a meter, or one micrometer, which is approximately 1/25,000 of an inch.

    Longer yarn results in a more luxurious, finer hand and a lighter weight.


    Modern high-tech machines spin wool finer than it’s ever been spun before! The super number or S number was set up as shorthand for describing the fineness of wool fibers not a quality ranking. The S-system (aka Worsted Count System) began in the 18th century. Finished yarn was coiled in 560-yard long loops called hanks. The S number indicated how many hanks could be made from a pound of wool.

    Now the S- number refers to the fineness of the wool as measured in microns or one-millionth of a meter.

    For example:

    100 -- 18.5
    110 -- 18.0
    130 -- 17.5
    160 -- 15.5

    But very high S-system number (Super 150, Super 200) wools don’t guarantee the best garments. The high S fabrics are more difficult to tailor. Italian Tailors say the wool is “nervousâ€. Since the material shifts so easily when it is sewn. Such wools wrinkle almost as much as linen. They are delicate and not as durable as less-fine wool. You can have good 15-micron wool or bad 15-micron wool. Ultimately it is the look and tailoring of the fabric that matter most, everything else is just a number.

    Fineness is only one measure of quality. Length, and strength are also important. Length is vital since the longer the fiber the stronger the yarn that can be spun from it. Strength is critical because the yarn must be twisted very tightly to achieve a fine weave.


    Fabric weight for suits is measured in ounces per linear yard (36†x 60â€) of fabric. Tropical weights (6.5 to 8.5 oz.) are comfortable for summer wear. Mid-weight suits (9 to 10 oz.) are designated “year round†or favored for 10-month wear. Regular weight (11 to 13 oz.) is appropriate for fall and winter. Heavy weight (14 to 16 ounce) provides extra warmth but is most appropriate for winter in Scotland.

    How you can own your copy of The Encyclopedia of Men's Clothes!
  8. Siggy

    Siggy Active Member with Corp. Privileges

    Wow, that answers some questions. Thanks.
  9. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Tech and Business Advice Guru

    United States
    New York
    East Hampton
    I see I've been well-replaced in the dry sarcasm department. :(


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  10. DavidRichards

    DavidRichards Active Member with Corp. Privileges

    United States
    Farmington Hills
    Yes, the higher the number the finer the yarn used to weave the cloth. However, a fine yarn does not guarantee dense, silky cloth nor does it guarantee a well made garment. It only guarantees a fine yarn - period.

    David Richards
    Baron's Wholesale Clothes
    eSuit / eTuxedo / eCufflink / eBlazer

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