Looking Good For Lots Less
The Versatile Camel Hair
By James F. Brown
Mar 14, 2009 - 5:16:38 PM

UNITED STATES—I’m often asked what clothes I recommend for those on limited budgets. With so many currently unemployed and the economy tanking more with each passing day, it’s an important, appropriate and timely question.

When it comes to having only one sport coat, there’s a clear front-runner. It’s the single most versatile choice you can make: a good quality, solid, beige camel hair. There are several reasons for this. First, there is nothing that won’t coordinate with a camel hair. It can be mixed and matched with any color and any pattern. Beige is naturally neutral. It doesn’t clash with any color and blends harmoniously. And a solid can be mixed with another solid, as well as patterns such as stripes, plaids or even a paisley. The overall effect is easy on the eyes.

With a camel hair, you can put together an ensemble that runs the gamut from conservative to avant-garde and look great. Black, charcoal, gray, dark blue and maroon work for a muted, subdued appearance. Bold colors such as bright red, deep orange, vivid green, electric blue, turquoise and purple are fashion-forward for evening activities. Paler colors, such as light blue, pink and lavender, are also elegant and effective.

Another reason for wearing camel hair is texture. A camel hair is soft in form and has a rich, plush appearance. And it has a wonderful feel to it, similar to pure cashmere. Women, especially, find it hard to resist stroking a camel hair sport coat.

Last, a beige camel hair sport coat is definitely upper-middle class attire. It’s not part of the lower-class wardrobe. When wearing one, others will react favorably to you, which is enormously important.

However, there are some cautions to keep in mind when buying a camel hair sport coat. Quality is critical. Good camel hair is thick and plush. The fabric’s weave isn’t obvious. The color is uniform, with no variations. Bad camel hair, on the other hand, has a much lower thread count. The weave is visible. Think cheesecloth here. And it’s thin, with the fabric brushed to fluff up the nap.

It’s very easy to spot high quality versus cheap camel hair. Put a good sport coat next to a bad one, and the difference will jump out at you. But a good camel hair doesn’t necessarily have to cost a lot more. Wait until a good sale comes along and you can buy high quality at a bargain price.

You’ll also find that a solid beige camel hair sport coat will continue saving money over the long term, since you’ll be able to coordinate it with your all of your existing wardrobe of shirts, ties and pants.

James F. Brown is a business consultant and expert on professional attire.

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