The summer heat wave is amongst us and this means that wearing a heavy suit can become quite tiresome and hot.
What many men don't realise is that not all suits jackets and blazers are created equal. Here at Scotch and Rich, we've opted to wear unlined blazers this summer to cover us and protect us from the sun whilst giving us a lighter more breathable blazer.
But what is the difference between an unlined and lined blazer?
Jacket linings come in a wide variety of materials and styles, ranging from a full lining of brightly-colored silk to a completely unlined jacket.
First, a few menswear definitions:
The “lining” of the jacket should not be confused with the “canvas.”
The canvas is a layer of material attached to the inside of a jacket to give it shape, while the lining is a thinner layer of cloth that lies between the wearer’s body and the canvas and jacket interior.
Some jackets are unlined. In this case, the inside will be finished in the same material as the outside.
Since a lining hides some seams, an unlined jacket typically requires more professional finishing, which increases the cost.
Half-lined jackets usually have lining across the upper half of the back and down the sides of the jacket, but not on the lower part of the back.
Quarter-lined or butterfly jackets are similar to a half-lining, but with the lining removed from the sides of the jacket. Only a small panel across the back and the sleeves are lined.
Skeleton lining means what it sounds like — as little lining as possible, usually only a small covering in the upper back to protect the suit canvas.
Advantages of a Jacket Lining:
A lined jacket has more weight to it. The extra layer of cloth helps tug the garment firmly down on your shoulders, making it fall smoothly from top to bottom.
Lining also provides protection for the inside of the jacket. Not only does it help absorb any sweat you might generate (reducing the need for frequent dry cleaning), it also provides another layer of cloth to stretch when your body moves. This reduces the amount of tugging on the actual suit material, extending its lifespan.
Certain pocket styles are sewn into the lining, particularly interior breast pockets (sometimes called “eyeglass pockets”). Unlined jackets lack these pockets, and usually need the somewhat informal patch-style pockets on the outside.
Lined jackets are usually less expensive than unlined because they require less interior finishing. Linings can also be replaced reasonably easily if they wear out, whereas a worn jacket interior means it’s time for a new jacket.
Advantages of an Unlined Jacket:
Despite the advantages of a lining, many men swear by unlined or skeleton linings. A primary reason for buying an unlined jacket is summer or hot-weather wear: unlined jackets are simply lighter and more breathable. Quarter-lining can be a good compromise for men who want a bit of added durability and the option of interior pockets.
Loose-weave fabrics like seersucker, hopsack, and many linens are more difficult to fit a lining for. The lining needs to be able to tighten and go slack whenever the jacket does, and a typical lining won’t have the same amount of tension in it as these looser weaves.
Getting it fitted right is a challenge even for a skilled tailor. An improperly-fitted lining will make the jacket bunch and wrinkle, ruining its drape. Unlined jackets have a softer and more natural shape that many men prefer for their casual styles.
Conclusion: When to Line and When Not to Line
Linings add weight and durability to a jacket. However, they also stiffen the drape and hold in more heat.
Suits/jackets that should be lined:
Business suits in light, delicate wools
Suits/jackets that should be unlined:
Of course, you can often find a middle ground with partial linings, such as a skeleton lining to protect the canvas of a linen summer suit without adding too much extra weight to it.
Just remember that less lining usually drives the cost up, since it requires more complete finishing on all the interior seams.