Summer Guide to Suit Fabrics
Summerís finally here, and your standard black suit just isnít going to cut it in the hot weather. Here are some great fabric options to keep you cool while looking your sharpest.
Cotton is what most of your clothes are likely made from; t-shirts, socks and everything in-between. This is because the fabric is light-weight, breathable and machine-washable which makes it a great choice. The downside, however, is that it wrinkles relatively easy so keep a bottle of spray-on wrinkle releaser in your desk drawer and youíll go toe-to-toe with the best wool suits in the office without passing out midday from the heat.
It takes a little bit of swagger to properly pull off a linen suit (see Johnny Depp in The Rum Diaries), but no other fabric can keep you as cool when youíre having some outdoor after-work drinks. The downside to linen is that you are going to get a few wrinkles, even if youíre wearing the suit correctly, so you will need to learn to just roll with it. When you look really good nobody will pay attention to the wrinkles anyway. Going with a darker color, such as a navy, will help conceal some of the wrinkles can easily transition from the office to the night club- just ditch the tie and youíre set.
No fabric has nearly as much of a sordid past as seersucker. Originally it was worn by the lower class in the southern states in the 1920ís, then it was co-opted by university undergrads shortly thereafter and has since become the fabric of choice for southern lawyers since the end of the Great War, the US senate even holds an annual ďSeersucker ThursdayĒ, which is exactly what it sounds like. All you really need to know about this fabric is that itís lightweight and slightly crinkles -- so youíll get a lot of texture up close. White shirt work great with it.
As it turns out, silk isnít just for ties but be wary however, as a good quality silk suit naturally comes with a fair amount of sheen. You can balance this out by keeping everything else simple. Avoid things like fine checker patterns or bold stripes. Slim fit is a must with silk; anything else and you run the risk of looking like a Saudi oil baron -- unless thatís the look youíre going for.
Wool is a staple of the suit business, and for good reason: itís insulating, and it wicks away moisture better than almost any other fabric. But wool suits make terrible choices for summer, lest you want sweat a lot. Wool suits should really only be worn in the summer if/when the weather looks a bit murky and cool. If youíre looking for something with the insulating power of wool, but the lightweight feel of cotton, try a wool-cashmere blend; it required a little more upkeep than standard wool, but is much less heat-stroke inducing if the weather decides to break that day.
Depending on where you live, a lightweight summer suit can be a luxury or a necessity. Regardless, itís important to remember that a summer suit is just that: a summer suit; completely seasonal. So donít be afraid to play it up a little as well and go for a fabric that will make an impression at the office.
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