Clocks have gone forward, the mercury is rising, and the sun shone for a whole eight minutes recently, all of which can only mean one thing. No, forget the beach body. It’s time to make sure our suits (not our stomachs) are summer-ready.
Of course, a suit is a year-round essential that transcends time and trends, but that’s not to say when it comes to dressing for inclement spring – and later, sun-soaked summer – months, there aren’t a few smart choices to be had.
From modern and classic styles to brightly coloured and patterned designs, here are the six suits needed to make this season the hottest yet, sartorially speaking.
The Contemporary Suit
A well-fitting, single-breasted, two-button suit with a fuss-free notch lapel and minimal trouser break is the epitome of modern. Is that it? Can we move on? Not quite.
Take advantage of merino wool’s natural temperature regulating properties as a smart way of staying cool and comfortable on balmier days, while keeping the chill at bay on colder ones. Likewise, a wool in the Super-100 to 130 range is ideal. The S number refers to the fabric’s fineness – the higher the number, the more delicate the material. You won’t bake in the heat, but it’s still heavy enough that you’ll only need a raincoat when the weather turns.
As we begin to transition into high summer, it’s also worth considering 100 per cent cotton (or cotton-linen blend) options for optimal lightness and breathability.
Colour is dictated by where the suit will mostly be worn. Charcoal, grey and navy suits are the safest bets for professional environments. Perfect for moving from office to bar, these refined hues have a timeless appeal that can be livened up with the right tie or kept simple and classic.
The Classic All-Season Suit
Particularly pertinent when the weather is decidedly, well, undecided, spring is the perfect time to invest in a suit that works for all seasons (given that we regularly experience all four in a single day between March and May).
The key to this well-rounded wardrobe weapon is to select a colour, fabric and design that isn’t specific to any season.
Opt for single-breasted, peak or notch lapel design in an all-seasons worsted wool, which provides warmth in the winter and is light and airy in summer. The cut should also be kept classic: tailored but still roomy enough to allow you to move freely and promote air circulation when temperatures rise.
On matters of colour, avoid extremely dark shades such as black that will absorb sunlight, making the suit too hot to wear during the height of summer. Similarly, steer clear of overly light shades, which will look out of place in winter. Hit the sartorial middle ground with a navy or mid-grey in block colours or classic patterns such as pinstripes or checks.
When it comes to styling, a classic suit often needs little more than a solid white, blue or pink shirt, a complementary tie and a pair of brown brogues or black Oxfords or Derbies (depending on the colour of the suit).
The Occasion Suit
For a sleek alternative to sober navy and grey options that’ll serve well for almost any warm-weather event, opt for something in a bolder (or even, softer) shade of blue or a seasonally-appropriate neutral such as beige.
To remain smart but with a cool air of informality, style this suit with a slim-cut shirt, textured tie, printed pocket square and pair of quality loafers or chunky brogues (socks optional).
Equally, to dress it down for a casual wedding or garden party, lose the tie, unbutton the shirt collar (or better yet, try a grandad collar) and pair with clean white sneakers for an outfit that packs an effortless sense of sprezzatura.
The Double-Breasted Suit
Old-school double-breasted suits were once typified by boxy, loose cuts that did little (read: nothing) for a man’s physique. Fortunately, today’s versions are slimmer all over, which when combined with peak lapels that make the chest appear wider, create a flattering ‘V’ body shape.
Thanks to this update, the classic, masculine style is also no longer just for bankers or TV mobsters. The DB – as we call it in the trade – can be found in a range of shades and patterns, from solid navy to grey windowpane check (and what man doesn’t look good in either of those?), which work for a variety of occasions.
The number of styling options has also opened up greatly in recent years. Wear as part of a full shirt and tie look, opt for a louche open neck or go all the way to the other end of the spectrum by using a T-shirt as your base layer.
The Statement Colour Suit
Looking to make a bigger sartorial splash? The spring and summer months are the best in which to experiment with colour, and this season it’s all about earthy tones like camel and bottle green, as well as pastel shades of pink, green and blue.
If going down the statement suit route (providing your build permits) it’s advisable to opt for a skinny to slim cut, which aligns perfectly with this style’s contemporary, youthful feel. Slightly cropped or turned-up trousers also work to further emphasise this fashion-forward approach.
When it comes to material, suits in bright colours tend to look best in lightweight cloths with a bit of texture, such as cotton poplin or linen.
Aside from an air tie or white T-shirt, the main thing to wear this suit with is confidence. It’s important to be honest with oneself and understand that if you’re going to feel awkward donning a cherry red two-piece, you’re more than likely going to look awkward too.
The Patterned Suit
Patterns are a great way of individualising formalwear, with polka dots, botanical motifs and large windowpane checks particularly prominent this season.
Despite being popularised by front row regulars like Tinie Tempah and Harry Styles, you don’t have to be at – or indeed, in – a fashion show in order to pull off this look. Simply make sure the fit is glove-like (any sizing issues will be amplified by a pattern) and style with a neutral colour shirt or T-shirt (black or white works particularly well here) and clean leather sneakers or loafers.
Alternatively, if pattern popping head-to-toe sounds like a step too far, consider suit separates as an easy entry. Combine a printed jacket with a more traditional block-colour trouser for a refreshing, but less risky, update.