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What is Barathea?

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  • Written By: Erica Stratton
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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Barathea is a type of fabric used primarily in men's formal clothing. It is distinguished by the method used in weaving it, which gives a "pebbled" look. It can be made of silk, wool, and synthetic fiber blends.

All fabric is characterized by the way its warp, or length, and weft, or width, yarns are woven. The pebbled texture of barathea comes from its "broken rib weave," the pattern by which the warp and weft fibers go over and under each other. Fabric woven in this manner has the same weaving pattern visible on both sides. This method of weaving, as well as the materials used, give the fabric a matte finish.

Barathea was originally created in England. The cloth was used in the creation of garments used for mourning wear. It is usually manufactured in solid colors. Black, dark blue, and white are common, though it can also be found woven using threads of two different colors.

Since it is a strong, hard-wearing fabric, barathea is used primarily in the creation of garments used in men's formal wear. It is a foundation of many items used in black tie dress. Bow ties, suit jackets, and cummerbunds are usually made of this cloth. It is also a popular material when used in making men's neckties. Another outfit of men's formal wear which requires a jacket made of barathea is the Scottish kilt.

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Barathea is also used to make women's clothing. In contrast to the men's recommendations for black tie dress, women are expected to wear cocktail dresses rather than formal suits. It is primarily used for creating structured jackets and knee-length skirts used in formal business wear, as well as making tailored pants.

The material used to create barathea cloth dictates what item of clothing it will be used for. Worsted barathea is made with wool yarn, and suit coats are most often cut from this sturdy fabric. Fabric made entirely of silk, or of silk and cotton, allows for a smoother and more flexible fabric for use in neckties.

Barathea is also used in the manufacture of men's suspenders, also known as "braces." Suspenders for winter wear are created of box cloth, a heavy felt-like material. In the summer, menswear fashionistas recommend switching to braces made from barathea, which, even though it is made of a wool blend, is still much lighter and more breathable than box cloth.

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