Marketed as “the fabric of our lives,” cotton is beats out wool in terms of popularity and widespread use amongst people worldwide. How do we wear clothing made from this fabric to greatest effect? This page on cotton will address these questions and much more including the best cotton suits to buy online:

Use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to read it all.

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Best Cotton Suits That You Can Buy Online

At the end of this guide, you can read about the best cotton suits that we’ve found online. You will find them from our favourite online made-to-measure suit retailers, which are featured in no particular order of preference.

  1. Indochino Tan Houndstooth Cotton Suit
  2. Indochino Burgundy Check Cotton Suit
  3. Black Lapel Navy Cotton Suit
  4. Black Lapel Kahki Cotton Suit
  5. Indochino Lake Blue Cotton Suit

You can use the menu above to jump ahead directly to the best suits or scroll down first and learn more about the fabric.

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What Is Cotton?

Cotton is a soft, fluffy fiber that grows in a protective case around the seeds of cotton plants. The plant itself is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the world and thus grows just about everywhere it gets warm: the Southern United States, India, Africa, Australia, and a host of other countries and regions.

Once picked, it’s spun into yarn and made into the textile we’re all familiar with. Like wool, the longer, stronger fibers make for the higher quality versions of the fabric. Egyptian cotton and pima cotton are known to have long, strong fibers and are thus prized for their feel and performance, particularly for sheets.

Cotton is used in men’s tailored clothing and knitwear. This means suits, jackets, underwear, t-shirts, sweaters, socks, and pretty much everything we wear, perhaps with the exception of gloves.

Worldwide, approximately 25 million tons of cotton are produced annually, with China as the biggest producer and the United States as the biggest exporter.

History of The Fabric

Cotton Plant In Field

Use of cotton dates to prehistoric times, with the oldest known fragments being dated back to approximately 6000 BCE. While the textile has been in production for thousands of years, cotton’s ubiquity didn’t reach its current height until the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, the year Eli Whitney, the machine’s inventor, applied for its patent.

The cotton gin itself is a controversial invention. It revolutionized cotton picking in the United States and helped to enrich the country, but historians generally agree that it was a major contributor to the American Civil War (1861-1865). This is because the machine drastically increased cotton’s rate of production, requiring more labor, which meant a higher demand for slaves in the American South at the time.

As a fabric for garments, cotton enjoys the most widespread use amongst all other fabrics, including wool.

What Does Thread Count Mean?

When you hear the phrase “thread count,” you know people are talking about cotton. In a nutshell, it refers to the number of threads per square inch. The higher the number, the finer softer the fibers, making for a more wrinkle-resistant (and expensive) piece of cotton.

This is important when talking about shirts.

Performance

Cotton breathes well, irons easily, and tends to be inexpensive, so its popularity is no surprise. It does have some distinct properties that anyone looking into tailored clothes made of cotton should know about:

  • Cotton suits tend to wrinkle very, very easily. They are similar to linen in that sense, and the wrinkled presentation is widely considered to be part of the charm of a cotton suit. If you prefer to wear suits that have a smoother look, we suggest considering lighter weight wools as opposed to cotton.
  • Cotton is barely water resistant and gets soaked through easily. It can only absorb about 8% of its weight in moisture before it soaks through, compared with about 30% for wool.
  • Finally, cotton breathes exceptionally well. This is one reason that it’s so popular as a warm-weather garment.

Cotton has a tendency to shrink when washed and dried on high heat, so keep this in mind as you care for your clothes.

How & When To Wear Cotton

Cotton can be worn all year round, depending on the type of garment we’re talking about. As far as tailored clothing is concerned, however, it’s generally accepted that spring and summer are the best times to wear cotton items.

Cotton Suits

Seersucker and khaki suits are the most popular cotton options for suits. These are widespread in popularity in the summertime and all year round in locations where the temperature is always high and the sun is shining.

Cotton suits are generally available in the same colors as their wool counterparts, with grey, white, tan, and blue being the most popular options.

As such, they make great suits for men who adhere to a business professional dress code in the summertime, especially if they commute via public transit and therefore do a fair amount of walking.

Seersucker suits are typically blue and white, but can theoretically be any color combination.

Sport Coats

A cotton sport coat is a fine item in the spring and summertime. Safari jackets are often made of cotton, and most sort coat styles and colors you see in wool are also available in cotton.

Cotton sport coats are a great way to dress up a casual summer outfit without adding too much in the way of layers (read: warmth), so any man who lives during a brutal summer should have one or two in his closet.

Our sport coat guide has more information on sports jackets if you need it.

Dress Shirts

Men’s tailored shirts generally come in two materials: cotton and linen. Cotton shirts are, far and away, much more popular than linen ones. This isn’t a judgement call in any way, but just a statement of fact. Cotton shirts wrinkle, but not as deeply as linen, and they retain a dressiness required by most offices that linen simply can’t touch.

Man in sunglasses and purple shirtThread count is hugely important for shirts and is a common topic of discussion between tailors and custom shirt clients. Shirts with higher thread counts feel better on the skin and resist wrinkling much better than ones with lower thread counts. Generally, 80’s cotton is where “nice” shirts begin to show themselves.

Cotton dress shirts are also available in a multitude of different weaves: broadcloth, oxford cloth, royal oxford, dobby, end-on-end, and others. These all have different levels of softness and different looks, and you can make your buying decisions based on budget and your own personal taste.

Our shirts guide has much more information on the ins and outs of shirts if you’re interested in learning more.

Trousers

Cotton khakis, chinos, even denim: all these are made from cotton. Without cotton, our trouser selection would be much, much less robust than it is now.

They can be a thin, lightweight cotton for warm weather or a thicker, brushed cotton flannel for colder weather, but no matter how you slice it, cotton is a necessary fabric for men’s pants.

Waistcoats

A cotton waistcoat is relatively rare, but they do indeed exist. More often than not, they’ll come about as the result of a creative customer’s made-to-measure suit order as opposed to an off-the-rack find.

Cotton waistcoats are typically worn in warm weather.

Ties & Pocket Squares

red dotted tie with white pocket squareThough most ties are silk, there are some that are made from cotton. As the look and feel of cotton ties seems to ooze a summer vibe, it is widely accepted that wearing a cotton tie should only happen in spring and summer.

Their colors are typically lighter to go along with that season, and we often see cotton ties in some permutation of blue, orange, pink, mint green, yellow, and lavender.

Cotton is an extremely common fabric for pocket squares, rivaling silk for first place. Unlike ties, cotton pocket squares are considered appropriate any time of year for either day or evening wear. Your only consideration at that point should be color and dressing seasonally within that framework.

Our guides on ties and pocket squares have much more information on their respective subjects and we invite you to take a look!

Sweaters

It seems peculiar that cotton sweaters would exist. The word “sweater” has the word “sweat” in it, so you’d think that wool would be the only material used to make them.

Much to the contrary, cotton is a hugely popular material for spring weight sweaters, with pima cotton (a particularly soft, high end cotton) being a popular material to use. It’s sometimes combined with wool or silk for an improved hand feel, but they’re great for a business casual office in the springtime, when temperatures have begun to creep back up but aren’t yet warm enough to stop layering.

Our guide to business casual has everything you need to know about the dress code if you need more guidance.

Typical Colors For Cotton

Cotton garments can be made in any color, as the fiber takes to dye exceptionally well. Your best bet when selecting colors for your cotton clothes is to keep your own skin coloring in mind. If you don’t know your skin tone and / or need some help figuring out which colors go best with your skin tone, our guides to skin tone and contrast will be very helpful!

Best Cotton Suits To Buy Online

As mentioned above, we’ve sampled a selection of our favourite made-to-measure cotton suits to buy online, which provide you an insight into the fabric’s characteristics:

  1. Indochino Tan Houndstooth Cotton Suit
  2. Indochino Burgundy Check Cotton Suit
  3. Black Lapel Navy Cotton Suit
  4. Black Lapel Kahki Cotton Suit
  5. Indochino Lake Blue Cotton Suit

You can use the menu above to jump ahead or scroll down to discover them all.

1. Indochino Tan Houndstooth Cotton Suit

Indochino Tan Houndstooth Cotton Suit
  • Material: 100% Cotton
  • Yarn Fineness: Not Listed
  • Fabric Weight: 280 gsm
  • Lining: Not Listed
  • Buttons: Not Listed
  • Price: $329* [Shop Now]

* With “BESPOKEUNIT” $30 Discount Code

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An exceptional cotton suit by Indochino with an unexpected and stylish pattern. Thanks to its micro houndstooth check, the result is an elegant and visually engaging appearance that bridges the gap between casual and professional styling.

2. Indochino Burgundy Check Cotton Suit

Indochino Burgundy Check Cotton Suit
  • Material: 78% Wool, 21% Cotton, 1% Spandex
  • Yarn Fineness: Super 100s
  • Fabric Weight: 215 gsm
  • Lining: Not Listed
  • Buttons: Not Listed
  • Price: $269* [Shop Now]

* With “BESPOKEUNIT” $30 Discount Code

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Less subtle than the houndstooth above, this cotton blended suit is still stylish and great for late spring. Its bold check pattern is composed of 78% wool and 21 cotton to enjoy the drape of the former and the breathability of the latter. Meanwhile, a touch of spandex adds a little flexibility.

3. Black Lapel Navy Cotton Suit

Black Lapel Navy Cotton Suit
  • Material: 100% Cotton
  • Yarn Fineness: Not Listed
  • Fabric Weight: Not Listed
  • Lining: 100% Bemberg
  • Buttons: Brown Bull Horn
  • Price: $449* [Shop Now]

* With “FTOBESPOKEUNIT” $50 Discount Code

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Made with 100% cotton by Larusimiani, this stylish and elegant suit is ideal for business professional settings as well as formal occasions during summer. An elegant and premium option, it exudes style and sophistication.

4. Black Lapel Kahki Cotton Suit

Black Lapel Kahki Cotton Suit
  • Material: 100% Cotton
  • Yarn Fineness: Not Listed
  • Fabric Weight: Not Listed
  • Lining: 100% Bemberg
  • Buttons: Brown Bull Horn
  • Price: $449* [Shop Now]

* With “FTOBESPOKEUNIT” $50 Discount Code

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Made with the same Larusmiani cotton as the navy option above, the khaki suit is a brighter and little more casual than its darker counterpart.

5. Indochino Lake Blue Cotton Suit

Indochino Lake Blue Cotton Suit
  • Material: 100% Cotton
  • Yarn Fineness: Not Listed
  • Fabric Weight: Not Listed
  • Lining: Not Listed
  • Buttons: Not Listed
  • Price: $269* [Shop Now]

* With “BESPOKEUNIT” $30 Discount Code

Shop Now

An affordable and stylishly coloured option, this lake blue suit is perfect for celebratory events in the summer!

Other Fabrics & Patterns

Even though cotton is the most popular fabric that we wear on a daily basis, there’s a lot to know about it. We hope that this guide was informational to you and enables you to make even better buying decisions.

If you’d like to learn more about the top fabrics used in menswear, check out our range of other guides:

Cotton Suit Fabric Guide
Reviewed by Tim R., on .
"Thanks for this detailed guide! It's amazing to see how varied cotton is and the different garments that it's used for. Thanks for the suit ideas!"
Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★

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