A man is at his most handsome when he’s wearing a good suit. But there’s nothing attractive (or comfortable) about sweating, so in summer months it will pay to stay away from the wool and tweed. When the mercury starts climbing, consider cotton, linen, silk or seersucker to keep you looking cool as well as feeling cool. The following guide steers you through each option, helping you make an informed decision about the right fabric for your ideal summer suit.
Recommended to Read: The Ultimate Guide to Men’s Summer Suits and Accessories
Cotton is a natural fibre, and therefore feels airy and cool with its comfortable breathability. If you’re likely to be breaking a sweat due to temperature, exertion or excitement, then it’s also very forgiving, as it absorbs moisture well. You will also enjoy the easy maintenance of cotton, as it’s machine washable.
On the downside, you might feel a little more restricted as there’s no natural give or stretch in the fabric. And depending on the colour, cotton can show up water marks or moisture more easily than some other fabrics; a light grey cotton suit in the rain might develop a temporary polka dot finish. When it comes to maintenance, your suit will be fine if it’s been properly pre-shrunk, but if not, then it might shrink a little after a clean and press, and it’s also likely to show wear and tear over time.
The verdict: Comfortable, forgiving with perspiration, but not the best over a long period of time = could be the right choice for a summer wedding suit.
Look for linen
There’s a reason that linen is the fabric of choice in tropical countries; this lightweight material is fantastic for keeping you cool. If you’ll be travelling to hot climates, or have a tendency to feel overly warm, then linen is a good option.
The negatives are that its lightweight nature makes for easy creasing, so lots of moving between standing, sitting and walking could leave you crumpled by the end of the day. It also stains more readily than some fabric, so you might want to avoid the red wine.
The verdict: Turns down the heat, but won’t stay looking crisp = a good choice for summer parties, or lunching out in warm countries.
Celebrate in silk
Silk has a reputation for luxury, and it lives up to the hype with its soft texture and cool finish on the skin. You will be comfortable all day in silk thanks to its high breathability.
However, silk does react badly to excessive perspiration, so it’s best worn in moderate climates, or for gentle pursuits.
The verdict: cool and tactile but doesn’t like sweat = save the silk for dinner parties and spring weddings, but give it a miss for summer weddings.
Search for seersucker
Seersucker’s crinkling effect is permanent, which comes with the bonus that no ironing is necessary. The crinkling aids air circulation, making it a comfortable choice in hot weather. It also comes in a range of colours.
Unfortunately, it’s extremely expensive, and its cool-factor makes seersucker unsuitable for cold weather. It might be too much of a gamble to spend a lot of money on seersucker for an August wedding, just in case the Great British Summer lets you down.
The verdict: Breezy and easy, but only good for hot climates = invest in seersucker when you’re guaranteed hot weather.
Making the right choice
Each fabric has its own benefits and pitfalls, so think carefully about how your suit will be used before you make a decision. Consider how much wear it will get, in what weather, and how you want to feel while wearing it. Among these options, there is something to help every man to look his most handsome, while still feeling cool.