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How to Choose The Perfect Summer Men's Suit

Updated on June 19, 2011

Can I wear my regular suit in the summer?

Summertime is all about beaches, sandles, hammocks, and lemonade on Grandma's front porch. It's also wedding season, which can cause a dilemma. You're usually expected to wear a suit, but it's also usually hot. Hot and humid temperatures and suits are not generally a good combination. Most of the suits you own are probably made of wool. If you bought it at a cheaper department store like JC Penny's it might even be made of polyester, which is a fancy name for plastic. Polyester is an absolutely brutal material to wear in warm weather. It traps heat and sweat in, so you feel like you're in a sauna. 

What suit should I wear for a summer wedding?

Although most people think that the right color makes a summer suit, your first concern needs to be the material. Cotton is the standard for the lightweight summer suit, but also look for suits labeled as linen or twill. Seersucker would be another great choice of material, although it's really just a type of cotton. 

One thing you need to know about these materials is that they don't have the same stretch as wool, so they tend to show wrinkles a lot easier. Seersucker is basically pre-wrinkled, so it looks fine this way. Other cotton suits will have wrinkles no matter what you do, so you'll just have to get used to this. You can iron them, but as soon as you sit down for five minutes you'll find the wrinkles are back. 

The finer details for buying a summer suit

The first thing you should look for is a slim cut. Because cotton gets wrinkly, you want to avoid any extra fabric. That means a nice tailored fit is an absolute must. If your suit is a size too big you'll look like a hobo. Another detail is the lining of the jacket. It should be only half lined. If it's fully lined, you really have to question what the designer was thinking. The whole point of the suit is that it should keep the wearer cooler during the summer, so why should it be fully lined? 

What color should a summer suit be?

The classic color for a summer suit is khaki. Yes, khaki is actually a color, and not a style of pants. Other alternatives are light colors like light blue and light gray. Some less experienced suit buyers will think they need a white suit. They'll end up looking like a Tom Wolfe Halloween costume. Don't be that guy who wears a white suit. It just screams "I thought I knew what I was doing". 

How to wear a summer suit

Some things you can do with a light-colored summer suit that you can't do with your stodgy charcoal suit include the following: wear loafers or boat shoes, go without socks and hem the pants to show some ankle, and wear a button-up shirt that is not a standard solid color dress shirt, including gingham patterns or chambray. You can even forego your typical leather belt in favor of a ribbon belt.


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  • GracieLake profile image

    GracieLake 6 years ago from Arizona

    These are very helpful comments. This came up when Arnold Schwarzenegger, as California governor, was always wearing a light colored suit in a sea of dark suits in Sacramento on blistering hot days. He did it for effect, because he understood this dressing concept.