Men's Fashion Basics - Part 22 - Summer Suits
Summer Suits

So with the summer well and truly on us, I thought I’d put an article aside to cover the best suits to have in your wardrobe when the heat is on. Now I did plenty of research into this (I know, right?) and there are loads of materials and colours that people swear by but I think I’ve cut it down into three main types of suits and a couple of rules to follow when wearing them. With it being summer, you don’t want your wool blends or tweeds to be sticking to you, so here’s a quick guide of what you should be looking for:

Cotton

Cotton should always be your go-to when it comes to hot weather and fabrics. With the emergence of chino’s being the new jeans, it makes a lot of sense to transfer this into your suits as well. More light weight than wool allowing you to breathe a bit, look to get them in shades of white, camel and cement to steel grey.

The great thing about a cotton suit is that it really lends itself to darker colours options for shirt and tie combos. The classic look is always going to be a crisp white shirt and black tie but why not try and go a little bit English Dandy and grab yourself a red/blue gingham shirt with a complimenting striped tie. Also when it comes to a light cotton suit always reach for some chocolate brown lace-ups, they’re the perfect compliment.

Whipcord/Seersucker

With the ribbed effect of both these materials, they are ideal for the summer months. They are extremely light weight and due to their casual nature (they remind a lot people of corduroy) can be used for evenings out as much as the office too. They are both thin cotton-based materials but they are different from cords or cotton because of they aren’t as fuzzy or as stiff as their older brothers. Seersucker goes in vertical striped or checks whereas Whipcord goes in diagonals.

The great thing about the two-tone nature of these materials is that you can really have some fun with the colours. I really liked some of the light blue and pink versions that Uniqlo were doing a couple of years ago but there are also lemon yellow options and even a muted white to try. When wearing these kind of suits, the fact you ARE is a big enough of a statement already so keep the shirt and tie simple and avoid pocket squares and overly formal footwear to avoid the southern lawyer/Ivy League American Prep look.

Linen

Whether pure or a blend and regardless of your feelings towards it, linen is THE material for when the temperature starts to sky rocket. The thinnest of the thin, it does take some getting used to, especially if you’re from the English school of ‘no creases!’. But the key is to embrace to wrinkles because it’s the nature of the material. If you do want to get them out steam the suit and never press it. The material will last longer that way.

If you are going to purchase a linen suit I would recommend getting it in a camel tone because you’ll get the most wear out of it. Again the best colours to compliment it are black and white but another great option is blue in all its varieties. Try a blue dress shirt with either a solid camel/navy tie or maybe even pair it with a navy polo shirt and boat shoes for a more casual feel?

Ways to Wear

And as always, here are some fool-proof ways of wearing whichever material you chose: –

  • Classic Khaki - White shirt, Black tie, Brown shoes and a white pocket square. Enough said.
  • All-white - A white suit is difficult to pull off but if you follow these simple rules it won’t be so treacherous. Perfect for a summer wedding, skip the tie and wear with just a pale blue shirt. Swap the white pocket square for a pattern cotton one, maybe in plaid or check. Skip the socks and keep the shoes simple and you are on to a winner.
  • When The Sun Goes Down - you can still wear a darker suit during the summer but try to keep it for the evenings. Due to the fact it will be saved for out of office hours, try and keep things a little more relaxed and pair it with another neutral but complimenting colour polo shirt and throw on some flip-flops as well.
  • One For All - easy to pull off and I know you all should have this. Grab your trusty white v-neck t-shirt and Adidas Stan Smiths for a great summer look. You can swap the trainers for some canvas pumps or maybe even espadrilles? You could even swap the tee for a short sleeved shirt, but make sure to keep it tailored and simple to avoid looking like you’ve gone for Geek Chic but just forgot the chic along the way.

Even with suits out of the way there are still a few other things to keep in mind when it comes to what you’re going to pair it with: –

  • Striped canvas belts are a great swap for leather and show that you understand how to dress seasonally but still practically. Topman, H&M and pretty much everyone else sell them and are a great way to highlight or bring out a colour in your suit or tie.
  • Your felt and cotton hats should also be traded in for straw or canvas models and your big oxfords or brogue shoes should be replaced with some lighter weight and lower cut versions. Canvas shoes are proving really popular at the moment and are pretty much everywhere, my favourite being the desert boot versions.
  • Finally, why not swap your leather briefcase or messenger bag to a canvas version to make your walk to work a little bit lighter and your papers a little less sweaty.

Other than that, don’t forget that the suits (or accessories for that matter) are not part and parcel, if you like a particular individual piece then wear the hell out of it. Camel suit jackets will prove a particular good purchase because they will move into autumn as well. There wasn’t a single designer not using the colour for the autumn runways.

Until next week guys,
Matt Allinson