Spoiler alert: The reason why you were sweating so much at your friend’s wedding wasn’t because the walls were closing in on you as people your age are starting to shack up and leave you behind.
Considering that the temperatures are quickly rising, and wedding season is right around the corner, it’s a good time to take a look at some cooler suiting options that are sure to keep you looking stylish without breaking a sweat.
What To Know
When it comes to the perfect suit for the warmer months, there are three things you should be on the lookout for: weight, construction, and fabric. The weight refers to the type of fabric used, as well as how much of it is used, to make your suit. With construction, lighter, breathable suits tend to have less in the way of inner lining (i.e. the layer of fabric inside the suit jacket that gives it more structure) and the less structure and lining, the cooler you’ll be. Simply put, the best suits for the spring and summer tend to be ones that are both lightweight and casually constructed. Finally, you’ll want to consider your fabric choices. Given the heat, you’re going to want to opt for something other than wool. Sure, wool should be the bedrock of your suiting rotation but in the heat, and especially at social events and weddings, you can feel free to opt for an alternative to that navy go-to.
Summer Suiting Fabrics
During the cooler months, it’s pretty much the norm to wear heavier weights, like wool, tweed, and cashmere. They are designed to retain body heat in colder temperatures, but they can become heavy and burdensome the hotter it gets, right? So, to counteract that, lightweight suits are designed with fabrics that give you more room to breathe. In addition to being lighter weight, the less formal nature of these fabrics goes well with a slightly relaxed suiting style and sensibility. In terms of fit though, don’t let the relaxed vibe influence the fit though, you want your summer suit to fit as trim and sharp as your standard work rotation.
The most popular fabric for summer suits, linen is super light and fairly simple to clean. The only drawback to linen, though, is it’s prone to wrinkling very easily. It can be reduced by sticking to cotton/linen blends that give your suit a little more structure without sacrificing lightness. But in the end, we say embrace the wrinkles, it’s part of the look and they’ll pair well with a cold cocktail.
How to Wear It: If it’s your first experience with linen, keep it simple. A navy, light brown, beige or khaki linen is best. Throw on a crisp oxford, some loafers and no tie for outdoor events. Make it a little more formal by adding a tie with some color and lace up shoes (no socks necessary though). Add a simple pocket square to round out the look.
A very versatile fabric that’s stiffer than wool, but much cooler, cotton is the go-to for even the most casual suiting enthusiast. Because it’s so summer-friendly, there are plenty of ways to wear it. Khaki is the most popular color, but there are variations floating around that sample virtually every color of the rainbow. Darker colors like navy or charcoal are even workweek-ready and can be dressed up for even the most formal work environments.
How to Wear It: Sure, a nice khaki or navy is always great but you can get a little adventurous with cotton by switching out traditional colors for something that shows your personality. Olive green, chocolate brown, or light gray, mix it up. For the work week, go with a simple navy and keep your shirt and tie combo dark and formal to offset the more casual suit. A great suede shoe or loafer is the perfect compliment to any cotton suit, regardless of color. Keep the boat shoes for shorts though, they’re not suit-appropriate.
A style popularized largely in the South and the Northeast, seersucker is known for its pastel-blue striping and crinkled texture. Used to create suits, shirts, shorts, and even hats and ties, seersucker cotton is very breathable and ultra light.
How to Wear It: The keyword here is “casual” and seersucker head-to-toe can be dicey territory. Mixing and matching the jacket and pants with other elements of your wardrobe, like a white dress shirt and navy blazer or the jacket with chinos or navy slacks, will help establish the casual-cool look but keep you from looking too much like The Colonel on vacation or a sunburned Kennedy after a weekend at the Cape.
A close cousin of denim, wearing a chambray suit is like wearing a Canadian tuxedo, but way cooler. Super lightweight and breathable, chambray is a great suiting option for anyone who likes to venture outside of the more popular choices. Plus it’s available in a ton of colors and styles these days so you don’t have to worry about looking like Denim Dan.
How To Wear It: Style it similarly to how you would a linen suit, with a relaxed shirt and tie combo. Keep the shoes classic and simple as well, you want the suit to do the talking.
A Word On Accessories
As with any suit you were throughout the year, the right accessories can bring the whole look together. Usually, if you’re going with a lighter-colored suit, it’s best to keep any accessories in contrasting colors to a minimum. A colorful pocket square and patterned tie are a few understated finishing touches you can try. Additionally, feel free to bring the summer fabrics to your neckwear also, a cotton or linen/blend tie is the perfect complement to any of these suits.
Whether you’re going to a garden party, summer wedding, or outdoor event, there are plenty of ways to look your absolute best this season without running the risk of melting into a puddle before it’s time to toast.