Know Your Terms: Worsted

Because dropping the lingo is half the fun of dressing well.

Worsted Wool Plaid Trousers by Billy Reid.

You could say (at the risk of grave understatement) that we take note of the clothes we like; and we’re noticing that a lot of our favorite suits these days—a lot of our favorite suits of all time, for that matter—are made of worsted wool. But what the heck does that mean, exactly?

“Worsted” is thread spun from wool fibers of the same length (as opposed to “woolen,” which is not), giving the fabric a crisp, smooth surface. Named for the town of Worstead in Norfolk, England, where immigrant Flemish weavers made the technique famous after the conquest, worsted thread is traditionally made from naturally occurring clusters of fleece called staple wool, and is considered among the most durable—and great-looking—fabrics for your suiting (case in point: the hardy plaid trousers shown on this page).

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