A versatile four-season suit is a wardrobe staple, but it isn’t necessarily appropriate for every occasion. During the warmer months, suits made with summer-weight fabrics and breathable constructions are welcome substitutions for traditional tailoring. Though many retailers offer a few lightweight options for hot weather, respected made-to-measure and bespoke services can produce hundreds of different styles utilizing fabrics from mills around the world.
There are countless fabric colors and styles available in materials like wool, cashmere, silk, linen and cotton. Along with the type of fabric, the construction — whether the jacket is lined, half-lined or unlined — adds to the wearability of a suit in warmer climes. To make sense of it all, we talked to former Suit Supply Vice President Nish de Gruiter. So, before making your next purchase, refer to his simple tips on purchasing a summer-weight suit — you’ll look sharp and stay cool, no matter the situation.
Consider the location and occasion.
Are you buying a suit for work, a wedding or something more casual? “If you go to a wedding, you want to make sure that your suit is half lined and that the fabric also holds its shape really well,” de Gruiter says, referring to destination-wedding linen styles. On the other hand, if you’re working in a warm climate, stay away from fully-linen fabrics. “It wrinkles quite a lot,” he notes.
If you appreciate the casual texture and breathable weave of linen, consider linen-silk blends or linen-woolen-silk blends instead. “Those things still have the feel of a linen suit and also they hold their shape really well,” de Gruiter says.
It’s all about the fabric weave and composition.
For comfort in warmer climates, pay close attention to the weight and breathability of the fabric. For example, a hopsack fabric features a much looser weave than a jacquard or gabardine fabric. “That’s the reason we make a hopsack fully lined,” de Gruiter says. “It holds the shape a little bit better especially if you wear it everyday.”
While the lining of a jacket compliments the fabric, it should also reflect the occasion. “The office guy will be a bit more comfortable with a fully lined jacket so it doesn’t wrinkle that much and it holds its shape a little bit better,” he says. “But if you get travel fabrics, it doesn’t matter if you have a lining or no lining.” Versatile suits designed with those fabrics resist wrinkles and provide increased comfort (read: stretch).
Don’t forget about cotton.
“One of the most overlooked fabrics in summer-weight suiting is cotton,” de Gruiter says. While it is commonly associated with wardrobe essentials like t-shirts, jeans and sweatshirts, it makes the perfect material for a warm-weather suit. It’s lightweight, it doesn’t require a lining and it doesn’t wrinkle as readily as linen.
Mind your shirt.
When you invest in a lightweight suit for the warmer months, be conscious of the shirt you pair it with. De Gruiter sees many people opt for heavy twill or heavy oxford shirts, a choice that negates the positive features of the summer-weight suit. If you choose a suit based on feel and breathability, his advice is simple: “Make sure that your shirts are inline with that, too.”