Wool SUPER Numbers Explained – What Do Suit Fabric Super 100s, 180s… Mean?

Wool SUPER Numbers Explained – What Do Suit Fabric Super 100s, 180s… Mean?


Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette!
In today’s video, we’ll be discussing what the term “super” means in relation to
worsted wool suits and how it does and doesn’t determine suit quality. Generally
speaking, worsted wool is the most popular fabric for men’s suits around
the world and while there are technically many fabrics that fall into
the definition of worsted, there are subtle differences in classification
among them. One of these determining factors is the wool’s so-called super
number. You may be familiar with seeing terms like super 120s or super 180s on
online retail pages or in fabric swatch books but what exactly does the term
super mean in relation to worsted wool? Before we can answer that question, let’s
talk a bit more generally about what qualifies as worsted wool. The term
worsted can alternately describe either a combed yarn, a fabric made from a
combed yarn, or a weight of yarn. A combed yarn, by the way, is made when wool fibers
are rotated by metal combs that align the long fibers while discarding these
short staple fibers. The result is a long lasting fine and smooth yarn with a
somewhat glossy finish. Also, by adjusting the pull of these combs on the wool, one
can get lighter or heavier yarns whereas varying the twists will impact
the look, feel, and strength of the yarn. Tight twisting provides a crisper feel
whereas loose twisting makes for a softer but weaker yarn. One quick note
here to answer the question of why it’s called worsted wool in the first place.
The names origin dates all the way back to the 12th century when the English
city of worsted in Norfolk along with a few other cities in the area became a
manufacturing center of cloth and cloth
weaving and to answer another general question, is a lighter worsted wool
better than a heavier weight? The answer not necessarily no. Let’s take an
overcoat as an example of this principle; while a softer fabric would feel more
pleasant on one’s skin, a heavier coat made of something like Donegal tweed is
going to be much more sturdy and keep you more warm than a lighter and softer
cashmere coat would. Of course, you’re not often going to be wearing an overcoat
against your bare skin but this illustrates the principle that the
heavier weight is going to be sturdier than the lighter weight even if the
lighter weight is softer. Similarly, you might be under the impression that a
lighter weight weave is going to be cooler to wear and a heavier weight
would be warmer but this isn’t always the case either. Something that’s heavy
but relatively open in its weave like a fresco fabric, for instance, is going to
feel much cooler when worn than something that’s tightly woven and
lighter like a super 150s fabric, for instance. Of course, the interlining and
canvas of a jacket are going to have an impact on how hot it feels while you’re
wearing it but that’s a subject for another video. With all that said though,
fabrics that are commonly available today are just going to be lighter in
general than fabrics that were produced 30 or 40 years ago or even more. This
will be readily apparent to you if you visit a thrift store and pick out an old
suit. It’s probably just going to be heavier than something you’d buy today.
Speaking of tweed overcoats though, you can take a look at our video and related
article on the fascinating history of the tweed fabric here. It’s important to
keep in mind then that a lighter fabric with a higher super number is not a
hallmark of a better fabric, it just indicates that the fibers used were
thinner in diameter. Similarly, the super number doesn’t
provide any information about the weave or how heavy the fabric is. One more
thing to touch on before we get into the particulars of what supers measure
though and that’s how they came to be in the first place.
You might be surprised to learn that the wool that goes into a great many suits
that are produced around the world today comes from sheep that are descended from
just two rams and four ewes. In 1789, King Charles the fourth of Spain gifted six
sheep to the Dutch East India Company; these sheep were then shipped to South
Africa. In 1795, a British immigrant to Australia named John McArthur bought 26
of the offspring of these original six sheep and transported them back to
botany bay. These 26 sheep were then bred to form the backbone of what’s now the
Australian wool industry that has sheep that now number more than one hundred
and twenty million. The wool from these sheep produced in grades between 60s and
80s around this time, essentially measuring how fine the yarns were, was
top of the line. As such, most of it went directly to tailors on Savile Row. 100s
grade wool meanwhile was thought to be unattainable at this time in history.
Until the wool mill of Joseph Lumbs and Sons in Huddersfield West Yorkshire
England was finally able to produce some of it. Lumb bought enough of this wool for
an entire year’s supply and brought it to market under the term Lumb’s
Huddersfield super 100s thus super terminology for worsted wool suits was
born. At this time in the late 18th century, British wool merchants would
often refer to their wares by largely subjective terminology in describing how
fine the wool was; terms like low, medium, fine, the newly created super, and so on.
But because producers and consumers eventually wanted terminology that was
more objective in how the wool was rated, the city of Bradford, England led the way
in grading wool more objectively. This process became known as the English
worsted yarn count system or more generally, the Bradford system. Fast
forward now to 1968 when the USDA created the United States standards for
grade wool, this assigned ranges of average fiber diameter or AFD and
maximum standard deviation to the previously set up Bradford count.
So with these standardization systems in place, super still sits as the top
designation for how fine a wool may be. With that said, some companies have
gotten a little subjective again in exactly how they’re grading their super
wools. So for example, a super 200s wool from one manufacturer might be a bit
different in how fine it is from a super 200s wool from another manufacturer.
Things are generally going to be fairly consistent, overall. When we’re
discussing reputable manufacturers of high quality, most of them are going to
abide by the guidelines set out in the fabric labeling code of practice from
the International Wool Textile Organization or IWTO.
So to recap then, what the super number is actually measuring is how fine the
wool is because what’s being measured is how many times each of the individual
woollen yarns have been twisted around. Generally then, the higher the super
number is, the finer the cloth in question will be. Often, this means it
will also be lighter but as we said earlier, this isn’t always the case.
How fine these woolen yarns are is typically measured in micrometers also
called microns. We’ve got a detailed chart for
how each super number corresponds to a micron measurement in the corresponding
article on our website you can find that here. So a higher super number will mean
that a fabric is going to be softer to the touch and generally will feel more
like luxurious. Conversely, a lower super number
will mean that the cloth is more sturdy and probably warmer. As we’ve said, it
will generally be heavier but not always. While it’s commonly believed that the
super number of a given fabric also has something to do with its individual
thread count, this simply isn’t true and there’s not a correlation between the
two measurements. While a higher super number does to some extent
denote the exclusivity of a given fabric, because something like a super 200s
would contain some of the rarest wool fibers available, this is only an
indication of that exclusivity and rarity, not necessarily subjective
quality. Here’s another important note, the full word “super” can only be applied
to fabrics made of pure new wool. Also, fabrics made with wool blended with
other things like cashmere, alpaca, silk, or so on can use the slightly related S
designation, though not the full word super. Now you may be wondering, how do
these super numbers translate into considerations for wearing? Stated simply,
anything with a higher super number is going to be more temperamental and hard
to care for over time. The thinner, finer fibers of a wool with a high super
number may have an amazing hand which is to say how soft they feel to the touch
but they’re also going to break down much more quickly than a heftier fiber
would. As an example here, something like a super 180s wool would probably feel
softer on the body whereas something like a super 100s wool is going to be
more durable, less prone to wrinkling, and probably better suited for repeated
everyday wear. On that note, snags in finer fabrics happen much more
frequently and are also far more difficult to repair than a snag in a
comparatively coarse fabric. Speaking generally then,
it’s our opinion that it’s best not to get overly caught up in the super
numbers of your worsted wool suits. Very good quality suits can be created from
wool in the super 100s to super 150s range and even below that, and of course,
a suit that is well fitted to the wearer’s body is going to look great
regardless of what the super number might be or even if it doesn’t have one.
Conversely, something in a super 180s or super 220s wool is still going to look
sloppy if it doesn’t fit your frame well. on that note you can take a look at two
videos on how a suit should properly fit here. Finally today, we’ve got a few
general guidelines for you if you really do want to pay close attention to the
super numbers of your suits and how you could wear them effectively. For standard
everyday wear, you could go with something with a pretty low super number.
Something that’s below 100 up to a super 100s or super 120s, for example. For an
important business meeting, a conference, or something that’s a bit more important
than the average day-to-day at the office, you could go with something like
a super 130s or super 150s and for special events, you could go with
something like a super 180s or anything above that. Again, these are just
hypothetical suggestions. If you really do want to pay attention to your super
number, of course, you could wear a suit made from a different material entirely
than worsted wool and still look good or you could wear a worsted suit that
doesn’t even have a registered super number. You just have to make sure that
the suit is fitting you well and flattering your form. In conclusion then,
while the super number of a worsted wool can be handy in determining how fine and
soft the yarns of a given wool are, it shouldn’t be used as the only measure of
quality in wool suiting. Remember to focus first on fit then determine if you
really like the look of the suit and how often you think
you will wear it. From this point, you can consider the super number. So which part
of today’s explanation did you find most intriguing? And if you are one of those
men that pays attention to the super number of your suits, do you have a
favorite number? Ahare with us in the comment section below and as always
don’t forget to subscribe to the channel and hit the little bell icon so these
videos will come straight to your inbox in today’s video I am wearing a wool
suit but to illustrate the concept that super numbers aren’t everything this
wool suit doesn’t even have a super grade still I like the look of it and I
think it fits my frame well so it’s one that I wear relatively often the suit is
charcoal in color and it has a slight bit of texture to its weave technically
it’s actually a three-piece suit but I more often wear it as a two-piece
because I find that it fits me better that way still I wouldn’t be surprised
if you see the three-piece configuration on the channel eventually I’ve paired
the suit today with a pastel pink shirt from Charles Tyrwhitt as pink and
charcoal are a classic combination you can take a look at our article on
wearing pink in menswear here the shirt has French cuffs and I’m wearing in them
today the platinum plated sterling silver eagleclaw cufflinks from Fort
Belvedere with carnelian as the stone the red tones of the carnelian
harmonized well with the pink of the shirt also from Fort Belvedere today is
my tie which is a Prince of Wales Glen check tie in silk featuring the colors
of Burgundy black and white the burgundy is a little bit faint but when viewed in
conjunction with the pink shirt you can see that they harmonize well similarly
the black and white complement the charcoal in my suit my pocket square is
white Irish linen from Fort Belvedere and my boutonniere is the mini pink
carnation all of these accessories are available in the Fort Belvedere shop and
you can find them by going here given that I’m wearing a suit today the
trousers and the jacket match exactly so I’ve gone for something
simple and also worn charcoal socks that are fairly close in color to the
trousers and the outfit is rounded out today by my black cap toe derbys.

88 thoughts on “Wool SUPER Numbers Explained – What Do Suit Fabric Super 100s, 180s… Mean?”

  1. Great content!! My goal right now is to reach 1000 subscribers, but I want to still work hard and push past that goal to reach out and entertain more people.

  2. Haha. I thought I knew everything about wool. I was really wrong. Great addition to the channel. I loved the tweed video and I will be sharing this one as well!

  3. Great video as always GG! Still… rather disappointing to hear that Preston says his suit fits well. Taking in the center and side seams is a relatively cheap alteration but does wonders for one's fit! It's surprising you haven't done this yet, Preston!

  4. Modern superfine wools are awfull.Old Superfine 80s are the best, anything above super100s is too soft thin and feels and looks more like synthetic material. Waste of money for those who have alot of money to spend but have no clue about how a quality wool suit fabric should be.

  5. I'd imagine that the out takecuts, those bits where the poster in the background movies noticeably, would be quite funny, especially if Preston had trouble with the name Worsted. He is really good at his presentation, but it looks like he hit a few snags here and there and changed position (where he's standing)

    Interesting video though!

  6. Jesus Christ. Are you guys mind readers? Not even two hour ago I was looking for a way to contact you to make exactly this video! Incredible!

  7. Sorry to be pernickety but Donegal is pronounced more like ‘dunny-gal’ as opposed to ‘donny-gal’. I’ve heard it a few times pronounced incorrectly on here and I’ve always wanted to correct it.

  8. Jesus Christ. Are you guys mind readers. Just two hours ago I was looking for a video about the super classification and didn’t find one. Incredible!

  9. Good video.
    Do you have a video on how to deal with ties? By that I'm referring to. How to store them. Should I hang them from a tie holder, fold roll them. What? This is about everyday wear.

  10. Excellent video on a very relevant subject. It's bad psychologically to use commonly provided terms i.e. the super numbers without any knowledge of what they mean. Grasping these common but yet usually unknown terms will help men be more confident understanding their wardrobe and therefore more confident in their wardrobe. Thanks as always for being champions in the menswear cause.

  11. FIRST……I know that I'm NOT first, but I like to aggravate the people who post "First" all over YouTube and clutter up the comment sections with pointless nonsense…..haha…..so…..First…..First…..First…..First……hahahahahahaha…..read it and weep…haha.

  12. You are the only 'gentleman' sartorial channel' that goes into this depth; most other channels don't dare go to this historical depth and detail. The Gentleman's Gazette is head and shoulders above the rest!

  13. G's Gazette is awesome. Good advice to consider lower Super number for an everyday garment. I'm rough with my clothes so thank you!

  14. I had an old blazer I thought was made of a blend, but then the label said pure wool super 100s and then I kept it. I am such snob.

  15. These are great info sharing videos – as a self-admitted quality fanatic, I appreciate the guidance and the fact that you shared your mix and match of fabrics, complementary colors and patterns, illustrating once more that looking sharp doesn’t have to be a chore.

  16. A couple of points. Donegal. It's pronounced more like Dunegal. Secondly, in my experience tailors prefer not to use the lightest fabrics because they're harder to work with. Imagine trying to make a suit with tissue paper. Heavier cloth is easier to work with, at least with handmade garments.

  17. I'm grateful for this video. Not only will it help me see through any potential marketing ploys, it'll help me better select what's right for me.

    It seems like I should look for a super 100-120 with a heavier weight and a looser weave. I want the durability, breathe-ability, and the resistance to wrinkles.

  18. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but I can't stand 4-eyes's videos anymore. Those big granny eyes haunt me in my nightmares.

  19. nothing finer than Super 120, anything higher has no hand. I prefer fabric weight, 11 oz, 300 Gr. has the perfect drape

  20. Outstanding presentation!! Quite informative and equally educational! I have observed a new face at Gentleman's Gazette. If I may, the glasses may need to disappear or simply replaced in order to see the eyes better. Pardon my providing this view. Semper Fi

  21. Hey! Good job on the video; that being said, might I suggest more attention or thought be put into the scripting? I just mean to say the narrative feels a bit all over the place rather than smoothly flowing. I am, however, just being picky of course.

  22. I love the history lesson, how they actual sheep were moved around great info and although I would love to have 180s plus the best I own is 150 and I love it

  23. I really enjoy your content, but I usually get discouraged to watch the video because of the (I believe, perceived) movement of the background due to the change of frames in the shot. It makes me a little seasick, sorry.
    Changing of subject, Preston is on fire, well done!

  24. When I have suits made I mainly consider super numbers in the respect of how durable it's going to be. I don't want something too fine because I don't want to wear it out prematurely. With that in mind I like to stick between 100s and 120s

  25. Could you make a video about tools for house work and cars? I think it is a important skill that all men should know.

  26. Would you consider making a video about espadrilles,
    would like to implement them into my wardrobe for this summer but still not sure about the do's and don'ts, thanks! 
    Once again great vid!

  27. Excellent video! May I suggest that you film a video discussing different weave (e.g., plain weave, hopsack, twill) of fabrics in the future?

  28. Has anyone else ever wondered what the quality of wool is from companies like Michael kors, Perry Ellis, and Calvin Klein? Any company that puts out a product that isn’t a super number for that matter. I’d like to know more about these wools since I’d like to know what these companies are producing and how much they are making off it versus what it’s actually worth and the quality difference.

  29. Good information like always. 👍👍 However bring Sven back. New guy needs to mess up his hair a little and deepen his voice. He reminds me too much of "American Psycho" with Christian Bale. Creeps me out 😞

  30. HAHA women watch this too 😀 – have got men to bring up, don't we? 😀😀 Carnelian cufflinks oh my!!

  31. Dont Want ton be too picky buuuuut some of your videos happen to be released juste à few days after hugo jacomet’s. With that Being said once again thats another great video !

  32. Good job from Master handspinner. A few minor points. 1. The ‘s’ after a number refers to Bradford count Skeins. Bradford used how many skeins (S) from a pound of wool ( but also we calculate count from silk, linen, cotton using a different constant in the equations) 2. The super wools are Merinos which I believe you mentioned but there are other super fine wools Cormo, Rambouillet to name two. Merino has branded itself as ‘wool’ however it has become a monopoly. Merino is the silk of wools. Not appropriate for all applications. We are losing sheep breeds’ genetics which is bad for all sheep. 200 sheep breeds out there. We in the fiber community are fighting to save rarer breeds. Long wools for example would provide excellent luster and tremendous longevity so great for outerwear. 3. Wools breath which is why they are great even in summer. My husband wears wool jersey tshirts for example. But as you say, if lining is acetate, there goes wonderful quality of wool to wick moisture. Try to line with cotton or linen for summer or some unconstructed jackets unlined. 4. The finer super wools drape but the ‘coarser’ wools hold their body which is why vintage suits used more of those wools. So by buying super wools which are so flimsy you are buying how feels to the touch alone. Those drapy fabrics needs a lot more understructure to get it to have shape. If you had a wool with more ‘body’ less understructure is needed. Make sense?

    Otherwise great job.

  33. I definitely prefer a more durable fabric, but I also prefer a more rugged look. I don't mind rough fabrics on my body so I almost never go for something fine and smooth.

  34. For some bizarre reason, all the fabric shops in my city only have super 120s and up, and all of them are some kind of cashmere wool blend sometimes with silk too. Sometimes, i just want a sturdy fabric yet it is impossible.

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