If you happen to be a blazer connoisseur like I am, I’m certain you’ve seen blazer linings that were sometimes even cooler than the jacket itself. Has that ever happened to you? You came across this jacket where the inside was awesome and the outside was pretty average. You wished you could just wear the jacket inside out and go about your business. But since you couldn’t, you settled for showing your friends the artistic detail in your jacket’s lining, every chance you got.
Blazer linings come in a wide variety of colours and materials. What I’m going to do today is break down linings in terms of their fabric compositions, and the function they serve.
Now, if you’re new to fabrics, you can take a look at my short introduction on natural and man-made fabrics by clicking here. But if you have a basic understanding concerning the difference between natural and man-made fabrics (essentially that one is made by man whereas the other is derived from nature’s resources), then let’s forge ahead.
A layman’s definition of blazer lining is that it’s the fabric that lies between your body and the fabric that the jacket is made of. That layman’s definition is going to be important in helping us understand linings and how they work. Let’s undergo a visual exercise together shall we?
Pick up a blue handkerchief; lay it over your left palm. Next, pick up a red handkerchief and lay it over the blue handkerchief. Your palm will represent your body in this case. The blue handkerchief will represent the blazer lining and the red handkerchief is the fabric that the blazer is made of.
Now, let’s explain the function of that blue handkerchief using real-life analogies and questions you may already have.
Why don’t we just get rid of the blue handkerchief and leave the red one alone on my palm?
That’s an excellent question, my friend. Here’s why. In a real-life situation, that blazer fabric might be high-quality wool. And wool, lying on the shirt with no intermediate protection in the form of a lining can be itchy.
Plus wool is not the worst offender here by a long shot. Different fabrics are going to have different finishes. And some of those finishes may prickle you annoyingly through your shirt if you don’t have a lining.
So that’s one reason for the lining. To protect your body from the blazer fabric, whatever that fabric is.
The second reason for the lining is because men’s blazers are not as simple as you may like to believe.
They have a whole host of paraphernalia inserted into them. Coarse canvases, chest pieces… a lot of stuff. I won’t bore you with the details.
What you should keep in mind is that all that mess is tucked away safely underneath your lining. All blazers are lined at the front. Even those referred to as half-lined or unlined are actually still lined at the front.
It’s where the canvas and chest piece are. It’s the back they are referring to when they mention half-lined and unlined blazers.
The image at the very beginning of this post is an example of a half-lined linen blazer. Half-lined at the back but, as usual, fully lined at the front.
Cool. So then I can go with any type of lining (blue handkerchief) for my blazer right?
Let’s stay with our example. Let’s say the red handkerchief (the fabric the blazer shell is made of) happens to be a pure wool fabric. Wool is a very breathable fabric. And that means exactly what it sounds like. It breathes easily. Air can pass through it both ways.
Picture one of those movie torture scenes where they hold a polythene paper over a victim’s face to prevent them from breathing. If they did that with wool or other breathable fabrics, nothing would happen because they’d still be able to breathe through it.
The advantage of breathability in a fabric is that it keeps you cool when temperatures rise a little. From the outside of-course, I’m not talking about getting angry. Absolutely no pun intended.
Now let’s say you go with a polyester lining. Polyester does not breathe well, at all. Polyester actually acts like the polythene paper in our movie example above. It doesn’t let air pass through its fibers.
It’s actually a very easy way to test the general levels of polyester in fabric if you do not have access to the fabric composition machines they have at the clothing mills.
Grab the fabric with both hands and hold it tightly over your nose like a face mask. The more you struggle to breathe through it, the higher the percentage of polyester it is likely to have within it.
So, that then becomes the equivalent of palm, polythene paper, then red handkerchief. What you have essentially done is rendered whatever power the red handkerchief had, totally useless.
This is why you’ll see gentlemen still sweating and feeling hot in suits made of breathable fabric. It’s because of the polyester linings. It’s also the reason why linen, a super breathable fabric, is usually used to make unlined blazers.
So then I should never have a polythene paper between my palm and the red handkerchief?
It all depends on the fabric of the red handkerchief and what exactly you are trying to accomplish in terms of staying warm. If your suit or blazer (red handkerchief) is made of a high composition of polyester as well, then it won’t really matter what type of lining it has because it’s not letting heat out either way.
Also, picture this scenario. You’re out in the club. It’s cold. Seeing as to how we men don’t freeze and shine, you’d want a jacket that would keep you warm while allowing you to wear nothing but a nice shirt underneath right?
A polyester lined jacket in that scenario would be absolutely perfect. You wouldn’t notice the freezing weather and it will allow you to enjoy your night absolutely stress-free.
Please note, fabrics are not like Marvel comic book characters. It’s not good vs. bad fabric. It’s more about, fabric that will serve me and my goals based on the goals I’m trying to accomplish.
Awesome. So what are some of my options in terms of the blue handkerchief?
Glad you asked. I’ve come across 4 main types of lining in my experience as a luxury jacket manufacturer.
- Polyester lining.
- Viscose lining.
- Silk lining.
- Cupro lining.
Let’s go ahead and breakdown each one individually.
This is by far the most commonly found lining type in Kenya. Even the lining Kenyans like to refer to as “cotton” and use in African Kitenge clothing is actually a polyester blend with a lot more polyester than cotton.
- Cheap and is available everywhere.
- Does not wrinkle easily.
- Keeps you warm.
- Cheap and is available everywhere. Nothing unique about it.
- Keeps you warm on occasions where you’d prefer to be cool.
- Causes static electricity against your skin as it rubs across itself.
A refreshing lining that is anti-static, smooth to the touch, soft and pliable
- Soft and very comfortable.
- Is very breathable.
- Is difficult to find in multiple colours in Kenya. Will need to be imported
Silk is a wonderful natural fabric. It’s light-weight and high quality.
- Temperature regulating properties.
- Highly absorbent.
- Usually very beautiful.
- Poor durability. Silk lining does not age very well.
- Fairly expensive.
- Pure silk lining is not available in Kenya. You would have to import it.
Regenerated cellulosic fiber extracted from cotton. It’s considered by most to be the best blazer lining type. Despite it being a man-made fabric, it is silky smooth and drapes just like silk.
- Possess temperature regulating properties.
- Extremely durable.
- Is not as expensive as silk, but is higher priced than viscose.
- Is not available in Kenya. You would absolutely have to import.