Get in Line: Understanding Linings
As is the case with everything from romantic partners to Cadbury’s Creme Eggs, it’s important to pay attention to what’s on the inside. Bespoke and custom tailoring is no exception, which brings us to the topic of linings.
Put simply, “lining” refers to the fabric that’s been sewn onto the inside of a jacket (or the upper portion of a pair of pants). Jackets may be lined or unlined (or something in between—more on that later) with a variety of fabrics ranging from polyester to pure silk.
To better explore the topic, we enlisted the aid of our old friend Brad Herzlich, who serves as Business Development Strategist for the international fabric merchant Gladson.
“One of things that linings do both for pants and for jackets is to provide ease of wear,” says Herzlich of its practical applications. “It prevents the fabric from catching on your body or your shirt—that’s the traditional reason linings were used.”
Gladson utilizes three types of fabric for its custom linings: viscose, cupro and silk. Viscose is a woven textile that is made from naturally occurring fibers—in most cases, wood pulp, tree bark or bamboo. Although its light weight and slippery hand is similar to polyester, it is far more breathable.
Cupro is a kind of cousin to viscose, which differs in that is derived from a byproduct of the cotton plant. This gives it a softer hand that is comparable to silk yet much stronger, which has made it a favorite linings choice among tailors.
Silk, which was once commonly used to line jackets, was large supplanted by viscose and cupro and is today reserved as a luxury. Gladson continues to offer 100% silk linings exclusively by custom commission. Interested clients can commission printed silk linings, working with Gladson’s design team to develop individual orders. This brings us to another application for linings—a subtle way for the wearer to express their personal style in even the most buttoned-up environments.
“One of the things that’s recently become more prevalent is the use of jacket linings as an expression of individuality or flair,” Herzlich says. “Professional clients tend to be quite corporate and reserved on the exterior of their garments. The choice of lining is where their personality can shine through whether it’s racecars or basketball or whatever it is that makes that garment feel special for them. Linings give clients the opportunity to have a bit of fun.”
To that effect, books like Gladson’s Flash! series offer a kaleidoscopic array of designs and motifs running from large-scale paisleys or polka dots to world maps or vintage advertisements, typically in a high-quality viscose, owing to the fabric’s durability and structure.
There is another way that linings play a practical purpose, functioning as light insulation. While silk will prove the most insulating, any fully lined jacket will better retain body heat. Entirely dependent on climate, linings as insulation are not always desirable which is why unlined jackets are also an option.
In our case, “unlined” means that a jacket is free from lining everywhere but the sleeves and shoulder blades. This feature is typically chosen for jackets made from linen or another lightweight fabric that will be intended for summertime wear (alternatively, a tweed jacket might also be unlined to prevent overheating beneath the heavy fabric).
Those on the fence of fully lined or unlined can instead opt for a half-lining. In this case the sleeves, shoulders, and sides of a jacket are lined, leaving the back unlined. This may seem like a minor variation but as it allows air to circulate freely through the back of the jacket, anyone who’s ever worn a tailored jacket to an August wedding can attest, this slight change can make for a world of difference.
Cad & The Dandy bespoke two-piece suits start at $2000, jackets from $1600. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 917-400-4804 or book a bespoke consultation in New York, London or Stockholm, or at one of our regular US trunk shows.
Written for Cad & The Dandy by Eric Twardzik, a Boston-based writer focused on food, drink and classic men’s style. His work has featured on Vice.com, Robb Report, InsideHook and Ivy-Style.com, among many others.