In the beginning of the summer, we got in touch with the Finnish start-up Formal Friday (read more about the company here) which specializes in Merino wool clothing. Formal Friday is still a very small company and has only one Merino base layer in their offer. Nevertheless, after reading about the technology behind their product, we were eager to test it. Formal Fridays sets itself apart from other Merino brands by using only the finest 17.5-micron Merino wool, which is spun with high-density spinning technology during the manufacturing process. This means that there are more fibers in the construction of the yarn which makes the Merino fabric denser and stronger. If you already have some Merino garments, you probably figured out that the durability is the Achilles heel of Merino wool. Formal Friday’s mission is to make Merino garments more durable by utilizing the high-density spinning technology.
This a completely new approach to the problem as most other brands resort to blending Merino wool fibers with synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester to improve the durability. This works well, but it also makes the garment less soft to the touch and less eco-friendly. We received the Formal Friday Merino t-shirts just before we headed to the Dolomites for our hiking-intensive holidays, which was perfect. In the Dolomites I thoroughly tested the t-shirt and below is what I learned about it.
The Formal Friday Merino T-Shirt is suitable for:
- Everyday use
When I unwrapped the t-shirt, I was positively surprised over the smoothness of the fabric. 100% Merino garments are typically not that smooth because the surface of Merino wool is made of overlapping cuticles. Nevertheless, the Formal Friday t-shirt is silky-smooth and very comfortable to the touch. The fabric also seems much more durable than the fabrics of my other Merino t-shirts. It is slightly stretchy, but when you stretch it with force, you do feel that the yarn is very strong and denser than usual. I weighed it and I figured out that it’s indeed heavier. It weighs 175 grams while my 100% Woolly Merino t-shirt weighs only 135 grams and my 87% Icebreaker Merino t-shirt 140 grams, both size L. So, the durability does add a bit of weight.
In the Dolomites I was testing the t-shirt on various hiking trails and I focused on breathability, drying time, moisture-wicking properties and odor resistance. These are the qualities you typically need when it comes to hiking base layers.
I wore the t-shirt for the first time on my hike to the 2557 meters high Sass Ciapel and the first thing I noticed was how nice it feels against the skin. The fabric really is super comfortable. Now, I mentioned above that the t-shirt is a bit denser and this could have impact on the breathability. Nevertheless, the t-shirt is relatively porous and thus the breathability seems good. I certainly don’t think that the t-shirt is less breathable than my other Merino base layers.
However, the denser fabric does have an impact on the drying time. The t-shirt absorbs slightly more moisture than my other Merino base layers and thus dries slower. Nevertheless, in the heat of summer I didn’t find this a big problem.
I was satisfied with moisture-wicking properties. The base layer nicely pulls the moisture from the skin and spreads it across the fabric for it to evaporate. As for the odor-resistance, the t-shirt didn’t become smelly despite that I wore it throughout the hiking-intensive holidays. Merino wool is naturally odor-resistant which is one of the biggest advantages of this natural material.
Sizing, fit and functionality
The Formal Friday is a unisex t-shirt, meaning that it only comes in one version (a rectangular casual/relaxed fit) and one size range. My better half received the t-shirt in size S, but commented that as far as usual women’s sizing goes, it is probably closer to a big size M or even L. I got the t-shirt in size L (which is my usual t-shirt size) and although it fits me nicely, I could probably also go with the size M. So, in general the sizing seems on the generous side. My chest diameter is 98 cm (38.5 in.) and I’m 180 cm tall (5 ft. 11 in.). If you are shorter, I do recommend buying the t-shirt in size M. The relaxed fit and slightly stretchy material provide good freedom of movement and while hiking, I never felt that my motion was limited in any way.
The t-shirt doesn’t have flatlock seams but since the material is very soft and it is meant to be worn as a loose and relaxed fit, I haven’t encountered any chafing. The t-shirt also features a printed logo on the back and a label in the neck area. Now, this label is quite annoying but luckily it can easily be removed.
Due to the short sleeves, the Formal Friday t-shirt is obviously best for relatively warm conditions, but it also works well under a mid-layer such as a fleece jacket. I wore it under my Mountain Hardwear Monkeyman jacket several times and I was very satisfied with its ability to regulate my body temperature.
Washing and drying
The Formal Friday Merino t-shirt is machine-washable at 30 C but should not be tumble-dried. As Merino wool is naturally odor-resistant and antimicrobial, the t-shirt doesn’t have to be washed as frequently as its synthetic counterparts.
So far, I have been very happy with the Formal Friday Merino t-shirt. The best thing about this t-shirt is its silky-smooth material that feels super nice against the skin. The t-shirt is also breathable, moisture-wicking and odor resistant. It dries a bit longer than some competitive products but for summer hiking this shouldn’t be a big problem. As for the durability which is the main selling point of Formal Friday, I do think that the t-shirt is more durable than my other Merino base layers. The material does seem very strong, but I haven’t had the t-shirt long enough to confirm the outstanding durability. I will of course keep this blog post updated regarding this, like we did for the Klattermusen t-shirt after a long period of use.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.