As summer is approaching, this is the season of mohair. While many people turn to linen and cotton suits for warm weather, mohair is a much dressier alternative that is often forgotten.
Mohair is the fibre from the Angora goat, and it is known for its sheen, making it appropriate for more formal garments such as suits and dinner suits. It also works well for dressier odd trousers. Mohair’s sheen is elegant and subtle; it does not have a shiny or glossy finish.
Mohair has a sheen because it is a stiff fibre, which also makes it wrinkle-resistant, hard-wearing and cool-wearing. These properties make it an ideal suit for James Bond, who travels, needs something that can hold up to his rough lifestyle and is comfortable in the warm locales he travels to. It will not wrinkle in light weights, making it the ideal warm-weather suiting. Fabrics with mohair are ordinarily woven in a plain weave or a hopsack weave to maximise their breathability.
Because of its stiffness, mohair is usually mixed with wool to give it a better hand and make it less rigid. Sometimes it is mixed with cashmere and silk. Kid mohair, from young Angora goats, is softer than mohair from more mature goats but retains the desirable properties of regular mohair, though it is more expensive. There is no standard wool to mohair ratio. 10 to 35 percent mohair is common, though Dormeuil makes a 90% mohair cloth.
Unlike other cool-wearing suitings like linen and lightweight cotton, mohair need not be limited to warm weather. Year-round it is appropriate for dressier occasions, particularly in the evening.
Mohair blends differ from other luxury fabrics in that they have a rougher hand the typical wool fabric. People often prize high Super-number wools, cashmere and silk for their soft hands. Mohair, on the other hand, is not as appealing when handling a swatch or a suit on the rack. Instead of for its hand, mohair is worth the extra cost for its luxurious appearance and its superior performance.
Mohair is most associated with the 1960s when flashier suitings were trendy, particularly within Mod culture. Sean Connery’s James Bond started wearing mohair blends in Dr. No, both in his dinner jacket and in at least one suit that he wears in Jamaica. Mohair helps him feel more comfortable in a suit in Jamaica’s heat.
In Thunderball Bond visits the Bahamas, where mohair suits shine, both literally and figuratively. The sheen of Bond’s mohair is difficult to miss in both his midnight blue dinner suit and his grey semi-solid suit. Both come alive under the artificial lights in the evening, for a flashier nightlife style. The grey suit is typical of mohair suitings, which are woven with two different shades or colours to enhance the cloth’s sheen with an iridescent effect.
Roger Moore continued wearing mohair blends as Bond for both his dinner suits and the occasional lounge suit. His black suit in The Man with the Golden Gun is likely made of a wool and mohair blend.
The crisp sheen of Moore’s double-breasted dinner suits in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker suggest that these are made of mohair blends. He wears both in warm locations—in Egypt in former and in Rio de Janeiro in latter—where he takes advantage of mohair’s cool-wearing traits.
Pierce Brosnan wears dinner suits in wool and mohair blends in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, in black and midnight blue, respectively. The cloths were provided by William Halstead, a weaver in Bradford, England, who specialises in mohair.
Daniel Craig maintains Bond’s mohair tradition in a few of his Bond films, first with suits in mohair and wool blends in Quantum of Solace. For the utmost in luxury, his black dinner suit in the film is made of a mohair and cashmere blend by Taylor & Lodge, a weaver in Huddersfield, England. Mohair blends return in Spectre, with two grey suits in wool, mohair and silk. His black evening trousers in the film are made of mohair and wool grain de poudre.
Hi Matt! Are you planning to cover more of the current Q’s outfits? They’re quite stylish and unusual. Thank you!
I have two lengths of 60% mohair 40% wool suitings that I’ll turn into some of Bond’s most iconic suits. The hand does feel rough, but it shines like polished blued steel.
Hey Matt, very interesting topic as always.
I love my Tom Ford grey pinstripe suit from Spectre.
It feels so soft and you can feel the mohair, silk and wool
Best wishes from Germany,
Well researched! I love the look of mohair. It certainly brings an elegant look for the warm weather. I have the pleasure of owning a nice charcoal herringbone suit with a mohair blend.
You surpassed yourself on this article Matt.
I picked up a beautiful 80/20 wool and mohair hopsack suit in ink blue with a tan windowpane for my sister’s wedding. Of course, at this point her wedding was rescheduled until October so I may need a warmer suit anyway and I need to lose the 15-20 pounds I’ve gained while under the local stay at home order in order to fit in it anyway.
That sounds beautiful! I hope for your sake that you’ll be able to wear it at some point, I swear this lockdown will have us all replacing our wardrobes. I’ve had to purchase three new pairs of woolen trousers for the coming winter to accommodate my ballooning waistline.
The QoS dinner suit is a series highlight! Actually, the entire wardrobe from that one is the best of the Craig series IMHO.
I’m not sure I will like the sheen of mohair. I may try it in some odd trousers with a low percentage of mohair in the blend. I generally don’t like sheen in a suit.
The whole attitude against a bit of shine on suits seem to be a little too outdated, no? Some traditions are better gone, to be honest.
Embrace some of the shine. Mohair shines differently from the high S count fabrics, and certainly not at all like that of synthetics, despite the lore.
This I’ll give to you, though, mohair does have a tendency to be rough, especially when the count is higher, like 60/40.
It’s more of a subtle highlight under certain lights than a true shine. It doesn’t look like your suit is wearing out or anything.
If you want a picture of what it looks like, think about three point lighting in film. For example, in Dr. No, where it pans up from Connery’s hands to his face at the baccarat table, he’s in a strong three point setup, where the backlight gives him a shine that subtly separates him from the background and tells you he’s important, even though there isn’t much depth of field in the shot. That’s what mohair blends look like under artificial lighting at night. Otherwise they mostly just look like regular wool.
My opposition to shine has nothing to do with anyone else’s opinion or attitude. I’ve never liked the gangster look with their shiny suits. I’m not saying it can’t be done tasteful, and like I said I’m considering a pair of odd summer trousers with mohair to check it out.
Where I live it is regularly 100 degrees in the summer so mohair should be a fabric I would like. And perhaps the shine I don’t like is from the higher Supper 150s and up suits, I’m not sure since I have never had either. As for it being rough, that doesn’t really bother me at all.
I think your dress should reflect who you are if you are being realistic with yourself. I think a suit with a lot of sheen doesn’t fit me, but it may be something that you would pull off well.
The sheen is nothing like a gangster’s shiny silk suit. It’s subtle.
I’ve never found the sheen to be overwhelming in the pictures you post Matt, or when I watch Bond on film in mohair, although I’m aware pictures and movies with their artificial lighting can be deceiving as to what something would look like in person under natural light. My main concern was that with your blog, and the other articles I have read about it in, the sheen is always mentioned when talking about mohair. I figured it had to be significant since it is always talked about.
The other properties, good for hot weather, hard wearing, are very appealing to me.
And even for silk suits, most of the times IRL, the suits aren’t that kind of cheesy shiny, but rather a very eye-catching glow. Dupioni silk will eliminate that shine even further.
I kind of think the typical shiny silk suits worn by screen gangsters are cut from synthetics. Matt, what do you think?
There are legitimately shiny silk suitings. I have seen shiny silk suits in person, but I’m sure some made for the screen are synthetic.
Another good entry Matt, I love mohair and it’s usually used to great effect for Bond as you have shown here. I’m glad you mentioned the Mod connection, Dormeuil’s ‘Tonik’ was a Mohair blend much sought after by the top Mod stylists of the early sixties – at least by those who could afford it!
I had a suit made by Thick As Thieves in powder blue-grey wool and kid mohair which has a slight sheen but not too flashy:
Also I got married in a bespoke silver-grey 80-20 wool and kid mohair suit which was a bit more metallic. The bespoke process was extremely frustrating:
I also have an off-the-rack electric blue mohair suit by Suitsupply: in 84% wool 16 % mohair:
Thought the pics may be of interest but if Matt or anyone else thinks that linking to my blog is poor form just let me know and I’ll cease and desist!
Thanks for sharing. I especially like the grey suit(s), which reminds me of the grey suit in Thunderball. What a shame about the jacket with the low button stance. I do prefer a low button stance, but the higher stance looks very good on you. Chopping off the bottom of the jacket doesn’t mess up the buttons as much as it messes up the pockets, but it does look good with the flaps tucked in.
Thanks Matt. I threw more money at the problem and got there in the end. Interesting you mention Thunderball, that’s among my favourite Bond films, and although I wasn’t intending to copy the grey suit in Thunderball worn to the Junkanoo, that might be my favourite suit in the entire canon. Along with the North By Northwest suit you recently profiled and Michael Caine’s Silver sharkskin in The Italian Job they are in my view the best suits in cinema!
Does Dormeuil have a strict definition of the material mix in Tonik? I’ll usually see blends between 75/25 and 85/15 called “Tonik style,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s how Dormeuil defines its cloth.
I always associated ‘Tonik’ as a trademarked name of a specific Dormeuil cloth with a certain amount of mohair sheen which was popular in the sixties. As a result the term ‘tonic’ has been appropriated to describe the cheaper two-tone fabrics which show two colours depending on how the light hits.
I just did a search and see that Dormeuil has a series of cloths currently which are named Tonik’ but don’t seem to be connected to the fabrics of yore famous for their mohair sheen, and they’re 100 percent wool, so the name is likely meaningless these days.
“Two-tone fabrics which show two colours depending on how the light hits” aren’t necessarily cheap, and are properly called changeable fabrics.