As far as luxury fabrics go, silk is a household name. In menswear, silk has a number of different applications, some of which are more common than others.

In this guide, you will learn about silk and how it’s used in menswear. We’ll go over how to wear it, its history, and the best silk suits that you can buy online. You can read it from start to finish or jump to a section that interests you most:

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Best Silk Suits That You Can Buy Online

At the end of this guide, you can read about the best silk suits that we’ve found online. Each are offered by our favourite online made-to-measure  suit retailers and are featured in no particular order of preference.

  1. Black Lapel Blue Herringbone Silk Blend Suit
  2. Black Lapel Egyptian Blue Custom Suit
  3. Indochino Teal Wool Silk Suit
  4. Black Lapel Santorini Check Custom Suit
  5. Black Lapel Navy Micro Check Custom 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 Silk?

Silk Worms Eating LeavesSilk is a fabric obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm, which is reared in captivity. It’s a natural protein fiber with a shimmering appearance, which is achieved because the structure of the fibers is prism-like. Silk cloth refracts incoming light at different angles and thus produces different colors.

As for silk fabric that we see on the market today, this typically comes from moth caterpillars.

Silk is extremely fine, typically measuring at only 5-10 microns in diameter. It’s smooth but not slippery and is one of the strongest natural fibers.

With that said, it doesn’t have any stretch to it (silk that’s been stretched will generally stay that way), and it doesn’t hold moisture particularly well. Lastly, exposing silk to long periods of sunlight can discolor and damage it.

History Of The Fabric

Silk was first developed in China, the earliest examples of which go back 8,500 years. The luxurious fabric was originally reserved for Emperors of China for their own use, but the fabric eventually made its way to the masses, with a great many silk traders making a living off of buying and selling the fabric throughout Asia (or, indeed, anywhere a Chinese silk merchant could get to).

The fabric was in high demand and became incredibly popular in the pre-industrial era. In fact, trade stretched all the way from China to the Indian subcontinent, North Africa, the middle East, and Europe. This set of major trade routes became known as the Silk Road.

Other countries such as India, Thailand, Bangladesh, and various Middle Eastern countries all traded silk at various points in their history.

Nowadays, silk is used in menswear for many different applications, which we’ll address in the next section.

How & When To Wear Silk

If you’re a man who wears a suit and / or tie with any regularity, you wear silk pretty often. The most common places we see silk are below.

Linings

Jacket and trouser linings are sometimes made from silk, as the material feels great on the skin. The case used to be that linings were always made of silk, but modern technology has seen synthetic fibers such as viscose and acetate replace silk for cost-cutting reasons.

As it happens, silk is the only fiber wherein the synthetic version is actually stronger than the natural one.

Regardless, the material is a great choice for lining because of its feel on the skin, but also because of its smoothness, which allows it to move over your shirt with ease.

Suits & Sport Coats

Suit fabrics themselves are rarely made with 100% silk, but it’s very common to find silk in a cloth’s fabrication. We typically see silk/wool and silk/linen blends, and this is because silk adds a sheen similar to mohair, but with a smooth feel that mohair lacks.

Suits and sport coats with silk in the fabrication tend to work best for spring and summer wardrobes and are typically found at custom clothiers as opposed to off-the-rack ones. Its expense often precludes it from being manufactured by all but the most high-end of RTW retailers.

If you’re interested in acquiring affordable yet high-quality silk-blend suits, we have a selection of recommendations by Black Lapel and Indochino below.

Otherwise, if you’d like to read more about sport coats or suits in general, our sport coat guide and suit homepage are great places to start.

Ties & Pocket Squares

Union Jack Flag on silk pocket squareTies and pocket squares are far and away the most common silk garments that men wear. Silk is particularly great for neckties, as the fabric has “memory” and tying a knot with a good dimple becomes easier and easier the more you do it.

When made in a proper size (typically 16″x16″ and larger), silk handkerchiefs puff and drape beautifully in a jacket’s breast pocket. The only downside is that silk hankies lack functionality and it’s not advisable to blow your nose or clean up spills with them.

For more on ties and pocket squares, see our tie homepage and our pocket square guide.

A Note On Tie Fabrication

It’s highly likely that any silk tie you run into will say “100% silk” on the tag. Unless you’re talking about a tie in the $250-$300 range, this is an untrue statement.

While it’s true that the outside of the tie is indeed 100% silk, that tie has a lining that gives it body and weight, but is definitely not silk. This is a cost-cutting measure for many tie makers, and it’s an important one. Without it, many men simply wouldn’t be able to afford ties.

Ties that are 100% silk are typically seven-fold ties, meaning that the tie is simply a huge swath of silk that’s been cut and folded in such a way to provide the requisite thickness and weight that a tie requires to look good. As we mentioned above, you’ll pay handsomely for this luxury.

Scarves, Ascots & Cravats

man in flat cap and silk scarfLess common than ties and squares but still silk, ascots, cravats, and some scarves are made from silk. While we don’t advise that all men wear ascots and cravats (at least not all the time), the look is handsome and, nowadays, very unique. The same holds true for silk scarves, whose price is often 3-5 times that of a wool equivalent.

Any of these are great options for casual wear in the spring and fall, when you could use a little bit of warmth about the neck, but a wool scarf would be overkill.

More information on these garments can be found in our guide to neckwear.

Socks

You may have read this heading and thought to yourself, “Silk socks? Really?”

Yes. But only when you’re wearing a tuxedo.

When wearing black tie attire, it’s technically correct to wear formal silk hose. Granted, any pair of socks will have some kind of man-made material in it for stretch,  but the shine of silk blends perfectly with the formality of such a dress code. Chances are you’ll only need one pair ever.

Our guide to socks has plenty more reading on socks in general.

Common Colors & Patterns For Silk Garments

Silk is available in any color, but the patterns in which we find it most are dots, stripes, and paisley. We say this because these are the most common patterns found on ties and pocket squares, and those garments are the most common silks worn by modern men. With that said, there are certainly checked silks, though plaids specifically are quite rare in silk.

For more on patterns, take a look at our menswear pattern guide.

Best Silk Suits To Buy Online

As mentioned above, we’ve assorted a range of our favourite made-to-measure silk blend suits to buy online. Although they aren’t listed in any particular order of preference, each offer an insight into the fabric’s properties.

  1. Black Lapel Blue Herringbone Silk Blend Suit
  2. Black Lapel Egyptian Blue Custom Suit
  3. Indochino Teal Wool Silk Suit
  4. Black Lapel Santorini Check Custom Suit
  5. Black Lapel Navy Micro Check Custom Suit

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

1. Black Lapel Blue Herringbone Silk Blend Suit

Black Lapel Blue Herringbone Silk Blend Suit
  • Material: 85% Wool, 15% Silk
  • Yarn Fineness: Not Listed
  • Fabric Weight: Not Listed
  • Lining: 100% Bemberg
  • Buttons: Brown Bull Horn
  • Price: $549* [Shop Now]

* With “FTOBESPOKEUNIT” $50 Discount Code

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If you’re looking to invest in your first silk blend suit, there’s no better option than Black Lapel’s blue custom option. Crafted from a herringbone patterned wool and silk blend, it’s subtle yet elegant and ideal for formal events in warmer weather.

2. Black Lapel Egyptian Blue Custom Suit

Black Lapel Egyptian Blue Linen Suit
  • Material: 38% Wool, 34% Silk, 28% Linen
  • Yarn Fineness: Not Listed
  • Fabric Weight: Not Listed
  • Lining: 100% Bemberg
  • Buttons: Brown Bull Horn
  • Price: $849* [Shop Now]

* With “FTOBESPOKEUNIT” $50 Discount Code

Shop Now

We do love this unique suit from Black Lapel’s Savoy Line. Featuring 28% linen from E. Thomas as well as 34% wool and 38% wool, it’s rendered in a beautiful Egyptian blue finish. With its textured appearance and refined construction, this is an ideal summertime suit for the dapper gentleman.

3. Indochino Teal Wool Silk Suit

Indochino Teal Wool Silk Suit
  • Material: 78% Wool, 22% Silk
  • Yarn Fineness: Not Listed
  • Fabric Weight: 260 gsm
  • Lining: Not Listed
  • Buttons: Not Listed
  • Price: $299* [Shop Now]

* With “BESPOKEUNIT” $30 Discount Code

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A more affordable option, this flashy teal suit by Indochino uses the added portion of silk in its blend to create a rich sheen. The effect is dazzling and reminiscent of a luxurious mohair suit.

4. Black Lapel Santorini Check Custom Suit

Black Lapel Santorini Check Custom Suit
  • Material: 38% Wool, 34% Silk, 28% Linen
  • Yarn Fineness: Not Listed
  • Fabric Weight: Not Listed
  • Lining: 100% Bemberg
  • Buttons: Brown Bull Horn
  • Price: $849* [Shop Now]

* With “FTOBESPOKEUNIT” $50 Discount Code

Shop Now

An alternative to the Savoy Line suit in Egyptian blue above, this one features the same wool, silk, and linen blend but with a check pattern. The stunning Santorini check is striking and ideal for more casual Sprezzatura result.

5. Black Lapel Navy Micro Check Custom Suit

navy-micro-check-suit-hero
  • Material: 85% Wool, 15% Silk
  • Yarn Fineness: Not Listed
  • Fabric Weight: Not Listed
  • Lining: 100% Bemberg
  • Buttons: Brown Bull Horn
  • Price: $549* [Shop Now]

* With “FTOBESPOKEUNIT” $50 Discount Code

Shop Now

Featuring a subtle micro check, this wool and silk blend offers a unique added visual interest. If you’re looking for a suit that’s sombre and elegant but with a touch of detail, it makes a fine choice!

Further Reading

Now that you’re better educated on silk, we invite you to take a look at our fabrics home page, which has information on all the most common fabrics used across menswear categories. Our suits home page is also a great starting point for any man looking to increase his suit knowledge.

Otherwise, check out some other related guides:

Silk Suit Fabric Guide
Reviewed by Roger O., on .
"It was great to learn more about how silk is used. I've always wanted to own a silk suit but I first wanted to read about it and whether it's worth it."
Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★

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