Though the thought gives me mild palpitations, had I to forsake all others in favor of a single cloth bunch, I’m not sure I could do better than the H. Lesser 311 book. This isn’t one of those far-ranging bunches, like Golden Bale, containing everything from gossamer tropicals through to beefy flannels. Rather these cloths all fall in around 11 or 12 ounces—a weight the cover deems “lightweight worsteds”—which is on the upper edge of middle-weight cloth by today’s standards. They don’t feel it though; some combination of weaving and finishing gives these a lighter-than-listed appeal.
Fans of British worsteds will almost immediately notice that this bunch lacks the very dry hand characteristic of the genre. In its place is an elusive softness, a certain broken-in character that, while lacking in crispness, has still retained its guts. Perhaps this is what much stouter worsteds look like after several years of loving wear?
The patterns are classic though: bold pinstripes, subtler rope stripes, faint windowpanes, sharkskins, herringbones and a dizzying array of solids. The plain and over-checked birdseyes are perhaps the highlight, the weave allowing some extra softness, and the glen checks are sprinkled throughout in perhaps a dozen shades and configurations. The back of the book contains what I think of as the hobbyist’s corner—a dozen bold and unusual cloths reserved for those whose wardrobes have all the basics deeply covered.
The sum? A comprehensive bunch that is neither too heavy nor too light; neither too crisp nor too soft; neither too conservative nor too wild. Is this the elusive all-season cloth most enthusiasts agree doesn’t exist? Has the grail been hiding in plain sight? Or is this just the right bunch with which to be marooned on a desert island? Only a dozen suits can decide.