What is cotton gabardine?

07 November 2018

"Introducing cotton gabardine – one of our favourite spring/summer suiting cloth at Oscar Hunt due to its robust nature and wearability."

Summer suiting can be quite a dilemma to some and for good reasons – what does one wear when it starts to warm up in the upcoming months but still required to look sharp at the same time? Summer wools can still be wool after all and on the other end of the spectrum, linen is great – but are the creases worth it? With made-to-measure tailoring, it’s all about dressing in the right fabric appropriate to the seasons and climate conditions.

Introducing cotton gabardine – one of our favourite spring/summer suiting cloth at Oscar Hunt due to its robust nature and wearability. The latter part of the name might sound familiar to some as the wool version of gabardine was used often in the past within the context of various military garments – from trousers and tunics to trench coats.

In general, gabardine can also refer to a twilled weave of cotton, resulting in a sturdy fabric that brings denim to mind. While the military connotations are obvious, gabardine is also evidently seen in sartorial clothing – used in the construction of casual suits, sports jackets, and trousers. Despite its tight weave, modern cotton gabardines present alternatives that are lightweight and cool to wear in the heat. While it might not necessarily be as formal as worsted wool suitings, it’s certainly ideal for casual workplaces and creative professions.

On that note, not all suitings are created equal – whoever said the garments that we enjoy wearing most have a need to stay formal all the time? One can think of a cotton gabardine suit as summer’s equivalent to tweed or flannel in winter. Essentially, these fabrics are sporty, inherently more casual and can definitely take a beating in the weekends due to their robust nature.

Ultimately, an additional benefit and attractive value proposition is that it does not wrinkle as easily as linen. Despite the fact that cotton gabardine lacks a natural stretch, it wears gracefully over time nonetheless and therefore, take the shape of its wearer and develop great character over time. Of course, this is done best and achievable with a fuller cut. Inevitably, the denim comparison comes to mind again; cotton gabardine suits will look and feel better the more one wears it, fading consistently with each time – comparable to a great pair of denim jeans.

In terms of colour, a tan option will get you through summer weddings and casual Fridays, but a sombre chocolate brown or subdued midnight blue can make for good options in the occasional off-site meetings and everyday workwear. Collectively, we’ve got a soft spot for olive green which we find works best while transitioning from fall/winter to spring/summer months.  

At Oscar Hunt, we’d recommend keeping things simple and straightforward with your first cotton gabardine sports jacket. In terms of design, opt for more casual aesthetics including patch pockets to achieve a casual appearance – in such instances, olive green sports jackets in said fabric can complement your favourite denim jeans or beige trousers. Essentially, the possibilities to pair these sports jackets are almost endless.      

In fact, don’t worry too much about the styling – it’s fairly easy if one opts for solid earthy tones while choosing cotton gabardine suitings. Oxford cotton button-down collared shirts, whether plain or striped, are great in keeping ensembles less formal; and of course, linen shirtings can never be out of place in this situation either.

Our main go-to, however, is the denim shirt in order to complement the textures and casual nature of cotton gabardine. Furthermore, almost all kinds of neckwear are invited to the party – from repp ties commonly associated to Ivy League or even more textured foulard ties. If unsure, stay conservative with solid grenadine ties which can keep the ensemble classic and understated. Most importantly, we advocate having fun in the process.

While there are various cotton gabardine alternatives in the market to choose from, we take pride in our selection from Dugdale Bros & Co’s Equinox collection. Woven in Yorkshire, these fabrics are available in a range of colours and weigh 310/330 grams – what this means is cotton chino trousers that can prove to be hardwearing and at the same time, enjoyable to wear in the weekends. Its middleweight status also makes for a better drape as compared to other lightweight fabrics, which results in a sharper look despite the casualness of the garment.

A wise saying goes, “A man needs two suits in his wardrobe – one in worsted wool for work, and the other in cotton gabardine for living life.” Well fine, that saying might’ve came from us.