What man doesn’t want a touch of the Bond mystique? Mohair suits are off-the-radar for many less suit-experienced men, yet they offer a delicious-looking, superb alternative to cotton and linen suits. Today we asked the Oliver Wicks experts on their take on mohair and what the sharp-dressing man of the 2020s needs to know about this wrinkle-resistant and attractive suit fabric.
A mohair suit is a stiff but breathable fiber. This means it carries a unique sheen alongside the look of a traditional suit, without the more casual ambiance of linen or cotton. Despite this, it’s hard-wearing and resistant to stains and creases. Thus, it’s practical for men who are a little more active day to day and don’t want to worry about looking disheveled or damaging their suits. If you’re wanting an effortless, practical alternative that keeps you looking stylish, this could be the fabric you’ve been waiting for.
Not all mohair suits are created alike, however. From how the blend is put together to the age of the animal whose wool is used in the suit, a lot goes into finding the perfect mohair blend for you. Luckily, you have us to walk you through it all!
Let’s start with the very basics. What is mohair, and where does it come from? Some experts will even disagree on what proportion of wool and mohair should go into a mohair suit fabric, so let’s break it down from scratch.
At its simplest, mohair is the fabric made from the spun wool of Angora goats. Despite other fantastic properties, this wool, used alone, is very stiff. While a type of mohair made from kid Angora goats is naturally softer, it’s also a lot more expensive.
The mohair material that goes into men’s suits is typically mixed with wool or silk, with cashmere a third (and expensive) runner-up. While a suit line uses up to 90% mohair in their suit fabric, the typical percentages are 10–35% mohair. This brings a soft sheen, extra durability, wrinkle resistance, and a lighter, more breathable fabric to the table.
If you’re unfamiliar with the look of wool mohair fabric, you need only turn to the James Bond classics. It can even bring you the same benefits! Spectre and Quantum of Solace, and more classic Bond films, use mohair suits to keep Bond looking perfect and put together through all his adventures.
Is mohair wool? The answer is: “sort of!” Mohair is spun the same way as wool, but it is made from the dense undercoat of the Angora goat, not a sheep. Mohair is a reasonably old fabric, having been spun in some form or other for hundreds of years and even found in Egyptian tombs.
The Angora goat and the Angora rabbit were named for the Turkish capital, Ankara, but they have nothing else in common. If you were wondering, mohair strictly comes from goats. There’s no bunny in your mohair suit! Most modern mohair is sourced from flocks in South Africa or New Zealand, with Turkey, Argentina, Australia, and even the United States also producing the wool.
Some view it as the first “high-tech” fabric because of the many ways it’s blended with other fibers to achieve a set of specific characteristics. That title should properly be given to the polyester blends that overwhelmed men’s fashion in the 1960s, however, as mohair is all-natural.
The original mohair fashion material was a three-ply two-tone blend called Tonik. While it was uncomfortable to wear, the luster of the mohair drove much of the Mod styling in the 1960s and left an indelible trace on the male fashion industry.
Talking about the 1960s, we also saw the rise of “synthetic” mohair material. While you won’t find it so much today, be wary of this imitation as it doesn’t live up to the real thing. Because of its delicate nature and the little flocks of Angora goats, and the fact that they can be sheared less through the year than sheep, mohair is expensive. There’s no natural way around that. Most mohair suits have to be tailor-made for your body, as they are not typically offered off the rack. While a mohair suit is well worth the cost, it is an investment.
One of the first things to do as a fashion-conscious man is to ask yourself what this blend or fabric brings to the table that the “standard” man’s wool suit does not. If it doesn’t offer anything special, why go through the bother of getting it at all? So let’s put mohair vs. wool suits to the test.
Mohair wool blends offer you a lot that standard wool cannot:
- Greater seasonality – Wool suits get hot during summer, and this could extend to fall and spring discomfort too, depending on where you live and your natural body temperature.
- Not just warm weather – Unlike cotton and linen, the other “warm-weather” suit fabrics, greater seasonality doesn’t mean you can just wear it in summer. Mohair has a high warmth-to-weight ratio, meaning it can keep you warm in cooler weather without cooking you when it’s hot outside.
- Breathability – Mohair material is very breathable, making it a good choice for men who sweat heavily as well as general hot weather wear.
- Wrinkle resistance – All bespoke suits need a little care, of course, but mohair is one of the most robust suits you will find. In fact, if you scrunch mohair in your hand, you will feel it “bounce back” into shape even if you aren’t a fabric aficionado. It’s also flame-resistant if you smoke.
- Easy to dye – Mohair also dyes well, which is a nice plus if you’re deeply invested in your suit wardrobe, as it offers you a wider range of style options and one of the biggest color palettes out there.
- Notable looks – Of course, no one buys a suit just for its properties! You also want to look good and feel great. A wool mohair suit is easy to distinguish by the eye. It has an open weave and lacks the typical “soft” surface that would ordinarily designate a more expensive fabric.
What will draw your eye first is the subtle sheen. It’s what makes a mohair suit very easy to dress up for the evening after a day in the office. It skips the “cheap” look of polyester and instead brings a subtle, but noticeably elegant, vibe to the table. It’s this visual appeal that made it a must-have for the Mods in the 1960s, and you can harness this same elegance for your own wardrobe.
- Practicality – Despite this, it’s still a hard-wearing, durable fabric that doesn’t need the fuss that linen or cotton can. You won’t have seat or pit wrinkles before lunch in mohair. It’s also slightly elastic, helping to keep the fitted silhouette you love without feeling binding.
Now you know what goes into mohair suit fabric. Are there other uses for it? Yes! It’s often used in accessories where warmth and lightness are at a premium – think socks, hats, scarves, coats, and sweaters. It is also used frequently in men’s hats. It can be found in many high-end furnishings because of its hard-wearing nature and is often used as a classy alternative to fur trim in both men’s and women’s fashion.
Now that you know more about the qualities of mohair suits, why would you want one? Mohair suits are perfect for the fashion-conscious man looking to expand his existing suit wardrobe with more high-end style options and “investment pieces.”
Mohair suits are a perfect match for a man who wants to stay relaxed and comfortable through the day despite being active, without getting creases, sweat, or stress marks to mar his look. A man whose image (and perhaps even corporate marketability) hinges on suits, but is struggling to find good summer and transitional options that don’t leave you hot under the collar, will find comfort in mohair.
If you’re adventurous by nature and want to stand out from the crowd, it holds a far more comprehensive range of dyes than many other fabrics, and its looks are unmistakable. It’s also a glorious match for a man who likes to stay thoroughly modern but tips his hat to vintage styles.
Alas, fashion does not exist in a vacuum, and mohair suits are not the only fashionable item to come under scrutiny for ethical concerns in recent years. When animal-derived products are used in textiles, it sadly opens up the scope for animal rights abuses, as with any mass-market farming activities. Mohair often comes under fire as a "fabric to avoid" from animal rights organizations, so let's look at the reasons.
Firstly, understand that the wool from Angora goats that makes mohair is not the same as "Angora wool," which is made from the hair of Angora rabbits which carries far more significant ethical concerns. It's an easy mistake to make and often a source of confusion for a first-time buyer.
Angora's goat undercoat is spun into mohair yarn. Most goats are sheared twice a year. Some farmers will dehorn the goats to prevent coat damage, castrate male goats by rota, and generally fail to maintain high standards of care across the farm. There's also solid and reasonable debate around some shearing techniques, as with Merino and, indeed, regular wool. Livestock neglect and inappropriate, rough handling should be of concern to every ethical lover of fashion. Many mohair farms are also situated in countries with less legislation around animal rights than you may be comfortable with. This means there isn't much political pressure to help preserve safe conditions on farms, which doesn't make the matter any easier.
As with any animal-derived product, the ethical nature of the originating farm is critical. Mohair can be produced unethically, but that doesn't mean it always is. Instead of boycotting a fabric altogether, you can help ensure a more ethical future for the fashion industry by supporting brands which take care to ensure their animals are well-raised, treated correctly, and kept in safe, stimulating conditions.
It's one of the best ways to "talk with your money" and ensure a better future both for the animals themselves and the industry and the world as a whole without having to sacrifice what you love.
Now you know a little more about mohair and how to ensure it’s a high-quality, ethical choice. Let’s dive deeper into the fashion side of wearing mohair suits.
A mohair suit isn’t just made of mohair. That would be too uncomfortable on the skin. Mohair is unique among top-end fabrics in that the “hand,” or feel of the material, is not innately appealing when on the rack. It’s more about how you wear it.
So, what is a mohair suit? It’s any suit in which mohair wool is blended with another fabric to ensure a specific look, feel, and set of properties. The most common mohair suit material is a mohair-sheep wool blend, but you can also get mohair-cashmere and mohair-silk combinations.
Each will have slightly different properties, depending on the ratio of fabrics and the blending material used. While mohair wool should, strictly speaking, refer only to the actual, 100% spun mohair fiber, it’s a common term used for the blended yarn in the fashion world. Context should make clear what people are discussing.
Let’s spend a minute on the notion of “sheen,” though. We’ve used it a lot in this article, and our more experienced readers may be slightly worried. After all, it’s a word you often see associated with the lower-class polyester “lounge suits” of the 1970s, and that’s not a look the stylish want to repeat! Rest assured that the subtle, natural luster of mohair doesn’t have a tacky shine to it. Instead, imagine a deep, barely-there sparkle that brings the fabric to life under artificial light in the evening yet lends a tiny touch of class to a daytime event. It’s a multifaceted, deep appeal that’s immediately recognizable to the experienced eye and imparts a classic style all of its own.
By far, the most common blend is mohair and “real” wool, making it softer, cheaper, and more comfortable to wear. As you explore the world of mohair suits further, you’ll find an array of blend ratios open to you, including the following:
- 14% mohair/86% wool – This is a skin-pleasing, luxurious and soft fabric that’s very lightweight. It may not have the ability to go inter-seasonal, but it will feel great to wear. It has an elegant drape and is more wrinkle-resistant than pure wool.
- 35% mohair/65% wool – This is regarded as the “sweet spot” for mohair fabric. You’ll get the wrinkle resistance and luscious sheen, but it will be soft to wear and practical to use day to day.
- 60% mohair/40% wool – This blend will feel crisp and coarse next to the standard 35% blend, but it has a heavier structure that lends itself well to certain suit styles. If you like a “heavy” suit, this could be for you, but most men won’t enjoy it.
- 70% mohair/ 30% wool – This is a very uncommon blend to find. The shine is lovely, but it’s typically stiff and something of a niche product. Certainly not a good choice for most men.
- 100% mohair – We would be surprised to even see this in production for men’s fashion. While it can have some use in the furniture industry, it’s too coarse to feel great on the skin.
Another term to know is “kid mohair.” This is the softer, more delicate hair of an Angora kid. The first shearing of the season is called “summer kid mohair.” Rarity means it’s expensive, but it is luxuriously soft.
Mohair-cashmere and mohair-silk blends can be prohibitively expensive and don’t particularly bring wearability to the table. Wool remains the best blend of cost-effectiveness, practicality, and durability. The two combinations are more typically used for other men’s accessories but can be used in suits, too, if you specifically seek them out.
There’s only one thing to remember in the fashion world – rules are meant to be broken! So if you already have a great sense of what you love, don’t be afraid to experiment with pieces that suit your style. If you are new to the world of mohair, however, here are some classic patterns and colors to try out to get a better sense of your style.
Because mohair holds dye exceptionally well, you have the chance to play with patterns as well as solid colors, a relative rarity in men’s suits. That said, the natural sheen of mohair makes a solid color look exceptional too. Let’s take a closer look.
You can source your mohair suit in all the typical colors. You will find wool suits in many more. However, the subtle glow of mohair will impart a new luster and vibrancy to the fabric that you haven’t experienced in standard wool suits.
If you’re looking to reinvent your summer wardrobe, a solid color mohair suit can be as understated or striking as you’d like it to be. Typical neutrals aside, mohair also makes a fantastic vehicle for vibrant colors like cobalt blue, plum, and bold terracottas. You can also harness its power to lift colors like burgundy, which can seem flat and dull on many fabrics.
Subtle pinstripes or chalk stripes have long been the perfect way for businessmen to show some personality without being deemed too “garish” or “peacocky” for the office. Self-stripe gives a muted effect that can make a black mohair suit look vibrant and alive. When paired with mohair, you’ll feel like you’ve reinvented the fashion wheel for a new generation.
We won’t lie; two-tone fabrics are challenging to wear unless you’re actively shooting for a “University Professor” vibe. If they’re a look you love, mohair carries it beautifully. Mohair makes a convincing houndstooth or herringbone, too, if you want something that’s still loud but a little more refined.
Crosshatch, when the warp and weft threads are dyed slightly differently, isn’t a typical dye pattern for mohair simply because it’s a blend already. Silk and linen suits do wear this pattern better. It can be done with mohair, however, if you particularly want to try it.
When choosing where to wear a suit, there’s a lot more involved than just the fabric. You have to consider the suit’s cut, color, and style before you can indeed decide if it’s suitable for an event or venue. Mohair can work well in any formality of cut, from a tailcoat or tuxedo to a relaxed day suit for use on a yacht or at a casual function. It performs its best, of course, at the higher end of the suit spectrum, so it’s dazzling as a tuxedo. What’s best is it will work its magic for whatever you fancy using it for. One of the benefits of a made-to-measure mohair suit is that you can shape them to your exact tastes, after all!
Generally, you want to leverage the blend of power, wealth, and success implied by a mohair suit to its best effect, especially in a business setting. This means they are a popular choice for financial advisors, lawyers, and high-end bankers. A mohair suit is also a fantastic choice for business people who travel a lot, as its innate wrinkle resistance means it travels well and needs little care while on the road. You should still use a suit bag if possible, of course, but it will take a lot more tussle than many other suits without needing a press at your destination.
Outside of the boardroom, mohair is fantastic in evening settings, giving precisely the touch of class, glamour, and couldn’t-care attitude you want from a power suit. There’s nothing better for a summer evening party under the stars or a romantic evening with someone special. To transition it well to a casual or daytime look, especially in spring and summer, consider a paler shade like charcoal gray or even a soft pastel to keep it appropriate yet still working its magic.
In short, you can wear your mohair suit wherever you’d like, but be sure to balance its color and cut against the precise function you intend for it. From the suit and shirt color to the accessories you choose, subtle tweaks can dress a suit up or down for almost any event. All it takes is a little courage and imagination.
With all the information you learned about where to wear your suit, let’s look a little deeper into how to style it.
To reiterate, making a stylish suit choice isn’t just about the fabric. You want to pair it well with the cut of the suit and the color and any other design elements. You also want to make sure your choice fits your personality. Whatever purpose or event you will be joining will play into how extravagant or conservative you opt to keep your wardrobe.
If you’re well-seasoned at choosing stylish suits that fit your body and your lifestyle, you probably have already developed the instincts you need to slot mohair into your wardrobe with ease. You may still find a couple of clever tips below! For those with less experience in high-end suits, let’s take a look at some fun ways to add personality to your fashion statement.
Opting for a contemporary cut on a slightly fitted but not overwhelmingly “skinny” suit design will be your most substantial bet if you’re genuinely new to mohair. We’d encourage you to get a bright navy mohair suit for the perfect mix of versatility and ease of wear. You don’t have to stick with plain black. However, a solid color neutral that works well with your skin tone, hair, and typical leather accessory choice (belt and shoes) will be an easy-to-wear option until you gain more confidence.
Older men may prefer a more traditional cut, typically wider in the lapels and slightly longer in the body (but not too long – you want to look dignified, not uncomfortable). This creates an overall classic look that can hide a little bit of beer belly, distract from jowls, and blur other age-related insecurities. No matter, don’t feel confined to sticking to it if you’re more adventurous at heart.
Suits specifically meant for summer wearing, especially day-to-night or pure daywear, generally need a lighter color and looser cut to convincingly avoid looking overly formal and out of place. Keep your shirt and accessories light and breezy, too. If you’re too shy to head straight to white or pastel, lifted blues and pale cinnamons walk a nice line.
For the boardroom, a lot will depend on your firm and profession. The legal arena, specifically, can be very staid and boring to a fashion-forward man, but there are standards you need to keep and a decent dash of peer pressure. All-black can look too formal, although black makes an excellent choice for a subtle pinstripe or light herringbone. You can’t go wrong with crisp mid-tone gray or navy, however.
Unless you’re attending a fully formal function, the subtle shimmer of mohair is such that you don’t need to go overboard with accessories. A loose, flowing scarf or cheeky pocket square can add a touch of personal taste, and an unbuttoned collar can help sell mohair for casual wear. If you’re going big with patterns or sporting a bold, bright color, keep the personal touches muted to make sure you stay stylish, not flashy (unless that’s your vibe).
As a last thought, for hot weather wearing, opt for a cool-toned color that plays down red in the skin, like gray, icy purple, blue, or even white, especially if you’re prone to overheating. This will help you look good no matter the temperature gauge. Browns, tans, and hotter colors can exacerbate the flushing of pale skin and make you look uncomfortable, while black can be overkill at a hot function even if you feel relaxed and calm. Darker-skinned men can often flip this “rule” on their heads but will want to actively avoid ashy-toned colors to keep their skin looking healthy and bright. Luckily, the world of pale colors is truly your oyster, so don’t be afraid to get bold with choices.
While we hope these loose “rules” help you get started with your mohair suit, don’t be afraid to wear what makes you feel confident and sophisticated.
We’ve mentioned James Bond a fair bit in this article, so where does he fit into the mohair world? As we mentioned earlier, Bond became a style icon for men in the 1960s with the vintage Bond films, and it’s supremacy he’s never given up. He’s suave, he’s sexy, he radiates confidence and class, and he’s a sharp dresser – plus the ladies love him! What’s not to admire in that package?
In truth, mohair suits became James Bond’s iconic look because of the practicality of wearing them on set. The actor never had to be stuffy and uncomfortable, and he was free to move through the dazzling array of stunts that make the Bond franchise so iconic without fear of a mishap. The sheen of mohair dazzles under the lights of his evening adventures and looks great on-screen and off.
Although Bond has always kept a kind of timeless style, rather than buying entirely into the era’s fashion, the early Bond films did film right as the Mods made mohair their iconic look. With the natural wrinkle resistance of mohair, he was guaranteed to look good doing it. Thus, it was a nod to the most fashion-conscious men of the day.
Classically, Sean Connery and Roger Moore as Bond stuck to a palette of charcoal grays, midnight blues, and blacks, worn more or less casually depending on the film, the actor, and the exact scene. Daniel Craig’s subtle herringbone was a little of a departure from the solids of the earlier films, giving us a tiny nod to the changing tastes and new adventurousness in men’s fashion we see today.
Bond has always showcased the best of the best, from his powerful cars to his exquisitely fitted wardrobe. Thus, it’s no surprise he’d leverage the inherent elegance of mohair, either. So these are not “mere” everyday suits we are talking about.
As the Bond franchise gained traction and audience-pulling power, the producers would reach out to various highly regarded men’s bespoke suit creators to establish each new Bond’s look and classic elegance. Just as Aston Martin would become his iconic car, the mohair suit would become his go-to look through various eras, scenes, and hair-raising situations.
In the modern Bond era, first Pierce Brosnan and then Daniel Craig would reinvent mohair for a whole new generation of men. Bringing a blend of classic Bond history to life in a new and modern way was part of what would renew the franchise and give it life again.
Are you ready to embrace your inner Bond and give mohair a spot in your wardrobe? The Oliver Wicks team lives and breathes men’s fashion, and we offer made-to-measure design services too. Thus, the team is always on-hand to answer any mohair-related fashion questions you may still have.
If you’re new to the world of high-end men’s fashion, the different types of suits and the many fabrics may be overwhelming. You don’t have to worry, though. Style always has one critical added element – you. Whether you like to stay subtle and safe or stand out from the crowd, there’s a suit out there that’s perfect for you.
Mohair can also be a great new adventure for the experienced wearer. It will catapult you into high-end fashion and give you the sophisticated added sparkle to subtly state your love of luxury without getting too hung up on passing trends. Mohair has a timeless appeal that’s difficult to describe until you see it in action for yourself, but rest assured, it’s a power every man should experience in his wardrobe.
Dress to impress or dress to make a statement. Mohair will take you from the boardroom to dinner date and way beyond. So why not give this ultimate power statement a try today?