A Smart Summer Must-Own
The pit-falls and pit-stains of spring/summer style have been well documented here at FashionBeans, along with advice on how to alleviate them. Yet dressing seasonally and exercising good wardrobe management is never more important than during high summer, when the weather becomes just that bit more unbearable.
Summer suiting is something many professionals continue to disregard, suffering the heat and blindly sticking to a rigid suit rotation that serves them well for three-quarters of the year, much to our dismay (and sense of smell).
The truth is that those ‘four-season’ wools and, even worse, polyesters, aren’t even close to cutting it come July and August, so it’s time for a change in tack.
By now, hopefully you’re all aware of the type of fabrics that should be incorporated into any warm-weather wardrobe. If not, read our complete guide to spring/summer fabrics here.
With that out of the way, today we’re going to break down the one item your summer formal wear rotation shouldn’t be without: the linen suit.
The Linen Suit
Why linen? A breathable, lightweight and durable fabric – you couldn’t really ask for much more when dressing for the stifling heat. However, it does come with one major caveat: it creases extremely easily.
This wrinkling instantly makes pure linen suits a no-no when it comes to formal or corporate dressing. In this scenario, you can smarten the material up by opting for a linen-blend; when mixed with wool (in lower percentages) or cotton it will help add the required structure to the suit without sacrificing breathability or comfort.
But despite the linen suit’s naturally relaxed appeal, it’s still very much worthy of a place in your wardrobe. The same drawbacks that make them unsuitable for corporate wear are actually beneficial in smart-casual situations, whether it be a garden party or wedding reception. They instantly communicate a laid-back continental feel and when done right, a linen suit is the epitome of effortless cool.
Darker colours such as navy, brown or charcoal are ultimately smarter and communicate a more formal feel while lighter hues such as off-white or khaki conjure images of timeless 1920s style. If you’re looking for ultimate versatility, stick to navy, but don’t underestimate the power of a light-toned suit – they bring something different to the table during summer, especially if you don’t already own one in a similar shade.
- Asos Slim Fit Suit Jacket In 100% Linen
- Asos Slim Fit Suit Trousers In 100% Linen
- Asos Slim Fit Suit Jacket In 100% Linen
- Asos Slim Fit Blazer In British 100% Linen
- He By Mango Herringbone Linen Blazer
- He By Mango Unstructured Linen Blazer
- He By Mango Check Linen Blazer
- Corsivo Lyon Linen Prince Of Wales Check Suit
- Canali Stone Siena-shape Linen Suit
- Band Of Outsidersslim-fit Houndstooth Check Linen Suit Jacket
- John Lewis Italian Herringbone Linen Blazer Brown
- John Lewis Tailored Linen Suit Jacket Navy
- Etro Slim-fit Striped Woven-linen Trousers
- Paul Smith London Slim-fit Linen Trousers
- Jigsaw Micro Check Linen Trousers Navy
The Linen Suit Lookbook
Example Look One: Summer Wedding
Opt for a seasonally-appropriate pastel blue linen suit, styled up to impress fellow guests at a high summer wedding reception.
Linen construction will ensure you remain cool and don’t have to ditch the blazer as soon as you arrive, especially if you layer it over a similarly breathable shirt. You could even choose a short-sleeved version, which will help dramatically alter the aesthetic of your look when the time comes to lose the jacket and start partying.
Have some fun with your tie – remembering to bear in mind the proportions of your lapels and collar width – by picking one that features a dash of print. Floral would be a superb on trend choice, while those who are more restrained can opt for subtle stripes or checks.
Finish strong with tan leather lace-ups (wear sockless, of course) and add a touch of panache with a lapel pin:
- Reiss Glider Short Sleeve Stretch Shirt Blue
- Asos Slim Fit Blazer In 100% Linen
- Asos Slim Fit Smart Trousers In Linen
- T.m.lewin Brick Red Blue Club Stripe Tie
- River Island Teal Flower Lapel Pin
- Ben Sherman Quin Derby Toe Cap Shoe
Example Look Two: Dress Down Friday
Don’t just restrict your linen suit to special occasions, dress it down for everyday wear. Start by skipping the shirt and tie in favour of a simple white tee, polo or printed short-sleeved shirt.
Keep the full suit together and finish with some smart black penny loafers. To hit a slightly more relaxed note simply sub the loafers for some slip-on sneaks, dispelling any notion that trainers with tailoring is a style sin:
- He By Mango Round Neck T-shirt
- Tiger Of Sweden Ollie Slim-fit Linen And Cotton Suit
- Topman Bass Weejuns Larson Shoes
Any style-conscious male will know that a suit isn’t just one item, but three: the suit as a whole, the jacket and the trousers. There’s no point ignoring the individual parts that make up the whole, especially when looking to curate a versatile, timeless wardrobe.
Breaking up a suit into separates is an easy style move that’ll give you so much more wear out of your tailoring, prolonging its life in the process. This resourcefulness allows the linen suit to become the fulcrum of your high summer style, bringing a suave touch to your off-duty looks while becoming a staple within your formal wear rotation.
A lightweight blazer is an absolute must-own for any modern gent – that timeless navy version you’ve been relying on throughout autumn/winter has earned a break, and your linen suit jacket makes the perfect substitute.
Whether you’ve chosen a light or dark hued suit, this blazer will instantly take any of your current smart-casual looks up a notch without causing you to overheat:
Example Look One: Summertime Navy Blazer
The navy blazer is one of those pieces that every menswear publication lists as an essential, and rightly so. That being said, your current wool version isn’t going to work all year round, so why not pick up a seasonal alternative?
A navy linen suit jacket allows you to keep all of your current outfits the same, yet it will be infinitely more comfortable to wear once temperatures rise.
Try pairing yours with white chinos – they’re more versatile than you might think – and a lightweight shirt made from natural fibres. Don’t be afraid to inject some colour or pattern via the shirt for an individual twist.
Complete with loafers for a sophisticated look that’s suited to every smart-casual event you’re set to attend this summer, from the Henley Regatta to Wimbledon. You can always add a tie and/or pocket square to take the formality up a notch, if required:
- He By Mango Slim-fit Micro Check Shirt
- Reiss Silva Peak Lapel Light Blazer Navy
- Mr.hare Mens Blue Arno Suede Summer Loafer
Example Look Two: A Lighter Look
Pale and pastel shades are well geared towards summer both in appearance and function, with lighter hues reflecting light and thus keeping you somewhat cooler in the sun.
The easiest way to wear a washed out jacket is by giving it a darker background to contrast against. But that doesn’t only mean black and navy – any colour that is a couple of shades below your blazer will work just as well.
Here we pair a light khaki jacket with a blue chambray short-sleeved shirt to demonstrate. Reference the current short suits trend by combining with tailored shorts, negating some of the stuffiness by opting for a bold coloured pair.
Finish with driving shoes and you’ve managed to master both the light coloured linen blazer and short suit in one ensemble:
- Ben Sherman Spot Print Chambray Short Sleeve Shirt
- Asos Slim Fit Suit Jacket In 100% Linen
- Browns Soft Poplin Shorts
- Topman Selected Suede Loafers
Banish any preconceptions you have of sloppy linen trousers by opting for a suit in a contemporary lean fit, which will help create the sharp lines and tailored appearance we desire.
Perfect for outdoor events in twenty plus degree heat or when you simply want to add a refined touch to your weekend attire, that linen suit is looking like more and more of a bargain every minute now, isn’t it?
Example Look One: Off-Duty
Tailored trousers are no longer the reserve of the office, get them working overtime by slotting them into your casual looks at the weekend.
The outfit below has sports luxe references, but we give it a sophisticated edge with the introduction of our linen suit trousers.
A lightweight bomber is the perfect choice for when the temperatures drop in the evening. Here we opt for an on trend varsity jacket, which we layer over a plain polo and finish with some statement runners:
- Reiss Polo Shirt
- Gant Rugger Chambray Varsity Bomber Jacket 191074
- Incotex Slim-fit Linen And Cotton-blend Trousers
- Valentino Contrasting Suede Mesh And Leather Trainers
Example Look Two: Two Suits Are Better Than One
Splitting your suit into separates isn’t always about dressing down. Mixing and matching your tailoring collection is a wonderful way to bring variety to your professional and formal ensembles.
The key here is picking differing colours or shades, creating a contrast for maximum visual impact. Below we play with a timeless blue palette, taking a light greyish-blue blazer and pairing it with standard navy trousers, crafting a strong, dynamic look.
Continue the blue theme with your choice of shirt. Gingham is not only on trend for 2014 but makes a versatile addition to any shirting collection.
Sandals may seem an odd choice for a tailored look but this outfit is ideal for a beach wedding and some black leather sandals are much more practical in this scenario than brogues. Just remember to keep your feet and toes in good condition if you’re taking this breezy approach:
- John Lewis Large Gingham Check Long Sleeve Shirt
- Reiss Nassau B Three Button Textured Blazer Light Blue
- Ami Slim-fit Cotton And Linen-blend Suit Trousers
- Allsaints All Saints Settet Sandal
Giving yourself a plethora of lightweight options is pivotal to seeing out the high summer season in style, and this applies even more so to your tailoring collection. Keep wools for autumn/winter and favour lightweight linens and cottons come July and August.
Even if you’re not a daily suit wearer, a linen suit can quickly transform of all of your current warm-weather looks – both smart and casual – when utilised as separates, offering unrivalled versatility and comfort.
So, will you be introducing this suit into your rotation this season? Or are you one of those men that just cannot stand wrinkles? How do you like to style yours?
Drop us a comment in the box below…