The summer months are here and with them come an undoubted vibe of ease and relaxation. Though this laid-back season may translate to a lenience in terms of dress code, there is no excuse for sloppy attire. So, how does the modern day gentleman dress sharply for the office, a meeting, or an event during the hot summer season? Every workplace will have different dress code policies, especially when it comes to summer, but in general, you should always follow the same rule: no matter the weather, it is always important to look professional, appropriate and, if you please, stylish. (Side note: regardless of the work environment you’re in, whether it be formal or casual, let’s leave the flip-flops at home, okay gents?) Instead of viewing the more casual nature of summer dress as an excuse to slack off, we see it as a great opportunity to branch out into different colors and fabrications. We’ve put together a guide on what to look for in a summer suit so that you can stay cool and look cool during the year’s hottest season.
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What to Look for in a Summer Suit
Suits are an essential component of the modern gentleman’s wardrobe. However, one suit does not fit all, and that rule applies to seasons, too. In order to get yourself the best suit, it is especially vital to pay attention to the suit’s construction. The construction of a suit will determine its weight, texture and breath-ability. Opting for an unlined or half-lined suit will allow for much more ventilation and coolness, though you may have to sacrifice some of the suit’s structure. Minding the material your suit is made of will also help to keep you cool, as lighter-weight cloth and a looser weave in the fabric will provide for more airflow and minimize heat.
Summer Suit Fabrics
During the colder months, tweed, wool, and cashmere suits are appropriate, as the material not only looks structured and professional but also keeps you warm. During the summer, however, swap these suits out for breathable, lightweight fabrics that will keep you cool without compromising on appearance.
The Linen Suit
Linen is a classic material for summer and it is one of the most popular fabrics for summer suits due to its lightweight, breathable weave. Made from the fibers of the flax plant, linen has a visible weave and great natural texture. It also wrinkles very easily, which is part of its effortless charm. However, if you’ll be wearing this suit to work, you may want to try a linen blend that also contains cotton or wool. This way you can keep the look of linen without the copious wrinkling.
The Cotton Suit
The cotton suit is one of the most versatile choices, as it allows you to have a refined yet casual look that is extremely summer-friendly. Cotton is stiffer than your wool suiting but it is also cooler. One of the most popular colors for a cotton suit is khaki, but feel free to be adventurous, like with this baby blue cotton suit from Brooks Brothers .
The Seersucker Suit
According to the LA Times , “seersucker isn’t just having a moment–it’s having an entire day.” A style that originated in the South, seersucker has seen a significant growth in popularity over the last few decades. In fact, Wednesday, June 11, has been declared as Seersucker Day to honor this American menswear fashion. Distinguished by its signature striped, crinkled surface and strategic puckering (as well as its funny name), seersucker is a unique cotton fabric that offers the modern man yet another means of wearing a business-appropriate ensemble in the summer without having to compromise on style. Fair warning: seersucker is more casual and would not be acceptable in a formal dress code business. Not ready to commit to that level of seersucker? Opt for a a seersucker bow tie instead.
The Fresco Suit
Most people wouldn’t think to choose a wool suit for the summer. However, fresco wool is an entirely different story. The word fresco is derived from the Italian word “alfresco,” which roughly translates to “fresh” or “in the open air”, and that’s exactly how a fresco suit will make you feel. This fabric consists of multiple strands of yarn, high-twisted wool with an open weave, allowing the fabric to be very airy, yet quite durable. This fabric is designed specifically with summer in mind and although the open weave allows for maximum airflow, the crisp feel and look of the fabric created by the high-twisted wool allows this suit to look extremely elegant and refined. Lightweight wools such as this work much better than cotton or linen because they wick away–not absorb–sweat, allowing you to look (and feel) your best.
The Chambray Suit
Chambray, also known as cambric, is a lightweight cotton fabric that is slightly glossy, very comfortable, and perfect for summer. Recently, labels from Valentino to Armani to J. Crew have been introducing chambray in summer business suiting. The fabric, which is a close cousin to denim, is durable and sturdy but simultaneously flows as you move and is soft to the touch.
Summer Suit Colors
Obviously, navy, charcoal gray, and black suits should always make up the foundation of your business wardrobe. Lighter colors like khakis and light grays will help reflect heat instead of absorbing it. Summer is also the perfect time to start introducing color, vibrancy, and boldness into your wardrobe.
A sister shade to the tried and true charcoal gray, this color will work well with almost any fabric for summer. Try a light gray fresco suit with a bold tie and/or pocket square for a dapper look that is perfect for the office.
Move away from the darker navy suit staple and be daring with shades of blue. This attention-grabbing, yet still refined shade is ideal for adding a youthful and fun flair to your look. Baby blue goes best with linen and a blue & white seersucker is a classic look for summer.
A go-to color for summer and spring, the khaki suit is perfect for any daytime event. Though you should avoid wearing this color in the evening (as it runs the risk of looking informal), the khaki suit looks extremely pulled together with the proper accessories. Wear your khaki suit with a blue-and-white striped button-down shirt and a navy tie, or a pink button-down shirt with a patterned tie.
Shades of Red
Red is popping up more and more in men’s suiting this summer. The SS14 runways were filled with cherry, firetruck, crimson and primary red menswear in every designer’s collection, from Burberry Prorsum to Dolce & Gabbana. If you already have a strong arsenal of basic suit shades in your closet, perhaps the red suit should be your next move!
This rich and saturated color will work well for summer and seamlessly transition into your fall wardrobe. Marc Jacobs and Moschino are coining the berry suit as a staple of men’s summer fashion. And why wouldn’t they? If burgundy is considered a neutral suit color, then berry is burgundy’s wild-child half-brother. A berry suit will undoubtedly make a statement.
Trends to Try
The Shorts Suit
The shorts suit is most definitely having a moment in men’s summer fashion this year. This suit is just like a regular suit except the pants are replaced with tailored, above the knee shorts. Some criticize the informality of this look, while others hail the shorts suit as a guaranteed winner for “best-dressed” men this season. Now tell us, would you sport this look?
The Floral Trend
Floral prints are huge in menswear right now. This summer, the trend takes an upscale approach by integrating itself into suiting. Tom Ford’s Spring/Summer ’14 collection takes the floral trend to the next level with touches of 70′s-inspired color, floral prints head-to-toe, and embroidered silk throughout. Influenced by James Bond and infused with bright, unconventional pops of color, Tom Ford’s collection practically begs men to be more adventurous with their outfits by wearing a full-on floral suit. What are your thoughts, gents? If that’s a little too much for you, opt for tamer floral separates and integrate them into a polished ensemble. Try adding a floral tie or a floral dress shirt into your look for an ensemble that’s both pulled-together and fashion forward. A printed blazer would also be perfect paired with neutral trousers.
Accessorizing Your Summer Look
Accessories will complete a suit and perfectly tailor your look to be as minimal or creative as you’d like. Generally, if you’re keeping the suit light and simple, opt for one or two loud accessories, such as bright socks and a patterned tie. If you have a statement suit in a bold color or pattern, streamline your accessories and keep them simple to refine your look. In keeping with the theme of summer, perhaps accentuate your look with a linen or seersucker tie, and don’t forget the value of a cool tie bar and pocket square! Don’t let the hot weather prevent you from looking like the put together, stylish man you are. Remember these tips and tricks, and you’ll be looking dapper–even in the heat–all summer long.