Here it is! Absolutely everything you need to know about suiting up this summer!
That much anticipated time of year is quickly arriving. The promise of warmth, sunshine and bikini clad women are set to replace earthy tones, the frigid cold and the very last of those dreaded blizzards. Accompanying a drastic shift of seasons and climate is a change in direction with regard to your fashion sensibilities. As we shift from heavier fabrics and earthy tones to lighter, cooler materials and pastels typically associated with the warmth, there are a range of factors to consider when preparing to dress dapper this Spring & Summer. With that said, here is our comprehensive men’s summer suits guide!
Obviously when the temperatures rise, you want to keep your heat levels in check. This is why you want to be aware of which materials you’re reaching for. The best for summer are linen, cotton and seersucker.
Linen is a classic material for the summer and is one of the most popular fabrics for spring & summer months, due to its light weight. What makes linen so attractive is that in addition to its light weight properties, linen as a fabric is very cool and absorbent. Linen’s wicking properties are far superior to many other fabrics, wicking away 20% more moisture than most of its counterparts.
A drawback to wearing linen is that it wrinkles easily. Therefore, despite it being a natural fiber, it may be best worn when blended with cotton or wool, so as to provide your suit with more rigidity, making it less wrinkle prone.
Cotton suits are one of the most popular choices, as it allows you to have a dapper yet casual look during the summer months. For most men, cotton seems to be an obvious choice as an alternative fabric. However, with the plethora of options available, it is imperative that you look through your choices with a discerning eye. Opt for cotton weaves that breathe well and easily allow air in. If you cannot see through the fabric when holding it against the light in the summer, it is not well suited for warmer weather.
A staple in the Southern Gentleman’s wardrobe, Seersucker has made more of a prominent appearance nationwide. With a fabric that breathes well and lighter colors that have you looking dapper yet relaxed, you cannot beat a seersucker suit, especially for more relaxed occasions such as a beach wedding!
The term seersucker hails from India, where it was known as ‘Shir –o –Shakkar’, which in Persian translates to ‘Milk’ or ‘Sugar’, referencing the contrasting nature of the fabric – smooth yet crinkled! Seersucker is a lightweight, crinkled, striped summer fabric of puckered cotton. The crinkled stripes let air into the fabric, to help you keep cool. While usually utilized within the framework of a suit, seersucker can also be worn as a sports jacket or shirt.
The fabric typically comes in the form of blue stripes on white, but it can also be found in cream or beige. The fabric’s lightweight cotton properties make it ideal for summer and allow for some fantastic color schemes! When accessorizing with a seersucker suit, tie patterns can work well as long as they are not too busy. Pair your suit with a madras cotton tie or an animal print silk tie for additional infusion of color and a more relaxed vibe!
Another incredibly important consideration when building out our Spring & Summer Wardrobes are the colors that we utilize in our ensembles. It’s about time we reduced our over reliance on blue colored just about everything, and introduced a little bit of variety with respect to our color palette.
While fall color greens are of a darker shade and resemble olive, lighter greens are best suited for the spring & summer. A light weight pastel green will allow you to complement the relaxed vibe of spring & summer months.
A preferred color for the spring & summer months, a khaki suit will allow you to exude a relaxed vibe as heat saturation steps up! Though you should avoid wearing this color in the evening (as it can look overtly casual), the khaki suit will look impeccably put together with the right accessories (more on accessorizing below!).
Nothing speaks to dapper sensibilities in a gentleman more than the use of the color pink. Match the seasons with a lighter pink shirt or a tie, and you are bound to make a statement. Not only does pink look damn good – it speaks volumes about your confidence and swag.
While Fall & Winter seasons are typically accompanied by darker variants of yellow, such as mustard yellow, spring & summer should be complemented with a lighter variation of the color. A yellow tie paired against a blue shirt can look extremely crisp during the summer months, as can combinations with more neutral colors such as grey or brown.
An often overlooked element with dressing dapper during the warmer months is the structure of your clothing. The construction of a suit, in addition to your suits fabric (and to a lesser extent color), will determine its weight, texture and breathability. Opting for an unlined or half lined suit will allow for significantly more ventilation, in addition to a relaxed look.
When looking for shirt essentials for warmer months, white, blue and light pink come to mind. These colors will provide you with a great foundation for your summer ensembles, providing you with the right canvas upon which to layer. Light Pink and Blue will inject additional flair into your suits!
These colored shirts will provide a solid foundation as they can pair with both solid and patterned ties & pocket squares. With these three staples in your wardrobe, your options abound for mixing, matching and accessorizing during the warmer months!
Looking for something even more dapper and for an extra injection of color? How about a light green or lilac shirt for a truly preppy look!
No ensemble is complete without a set of gorgeous shoes. For warmer months, loafers and brogues will do the trick! Of the two, loafers offer the cooler equivalent, as they don’t require the bulkiness and socks required with wearing brogues. If you are opting for brogues, a two tone white & tan brogue will provide the perfect summer dapper look that you are seeking!
Given that accessorizing, by definition, requires the ability to layer your clothing, an understanding of color theory is of paramount importance. When matching ties & accessories to your suits and shirts, a color wheel serves as a great foundation. Color wheels are largely divided into two camps: warmer colors, represented by orange, red and yellow, and cooler colors, represented by green, purple and blue. Using this basic division of color, we can create simpler color schemes that don’t involve a contrast, or stronger schemes that do. We will introduce various color schemes starting with the least contrasting ones and working our way up:
Monochromatic Color Scheme
The simplest of color schemes can also be one of the most elegant. This involves pairing a darker variant of a color against a lighter one e.g navy tie against a lighter blue shirt. This helps to create an elegant scheme without the contrast associated with stronger schemes such as triadic and complementary schemes (please see more below).
Neutral Color Scheme
This involves utilizing colors that are neutral and don’t create any specific contrast i.e grey, black, brown and white, which work with a multitude of colors.
Similar Color Scheme
A relatively simple color scheme, this involves utilizing colors that are adjacent to to each other on the color wheel. Choosing colors on the same side of the color wheel creates a sense of familiarity, and subsequently a low level of contrast. Examples would include a light blue shirt with a green or purple tie.
Triadic Color Scheme
Welcome to bolder territory! Now we are talking about color schemes that really make a statement. Triadic color schemes involve choosing accessories combinations using triangles formed within the color wheel. Hence blue, red and yellow form a triadic color scheme, as do purple, green and yellow.
Complementary Color Scheme
The strongest color scheme, this involves choosing colors that are diametrically across from each other. This creates the strongest contrast between warm and cool colors, and hence the most visually striking. An example would include a blue shirt with an orange tie.
Now that we’ve established a foundation for color theory, let’s look at some examples for accessorizing.
While woven silk is a great year round fabric, printed silk, linen or cotton can really accentuate your summer vibe! Printed silk involves screen or ink jet (printer) printing, which essentially means a design is being printed on plain satin silk. Jacquard or woven silk involves looming machines that literally weave fabric from different colored spools of yarn, which creates texture and a heavier feel. As a result, printed silk ties are lighter and therefore more appropriate for the spring & summer months.
With that said, a large percentage of printed silk ties in the market do look like they have literally been designed for tropical weather. With seamless patterns often embodying a certain theme, such as safaris, beach weather or sports equipment, printed silk ties are a great way to inject fun & personality into your wardrobe, while simultaneously piquing others interests as to what your hobbies are.
Linen and Cotton
Both have lighter weight fabric properties, are considered a great alternative during the Spring & Summer Months, given the textural variation that they provide with a standard woolen suit. Moreover, paired with a seersucker, linen or cotton suit they help to accentuate the relaxed vibe that you are looking for.
This lighter weight will have you feeling cooler, and are often unlined, leading to a lighter feel. Color schemes for linen & cotton ties often include pastel colors, which are ideal for spring & summer.
Another ideal alternative during warmer months, because they underline the casual character of your ensemble and are more breathable than regular ties.
Looking for something with a bit of kick this spring / summer? Opt for a triadic color scheme, with a pink or coral (variant of pink) tie against a blue shirt! Alternatively, a yellow printed silk tie will pop off beautifully against a lighter blue shirt! If you really want something bold this summer, an orange tie against a lighter blue shirt will pop off fantastically! Want something with a semblance of color but without the contrast associated with the above schemes, opt for a similar scheme, and go for a green shirt with a blue tie.
Just as with ties, silk is a fabric that will look appealing year round. With its natural sheen and strong vibrant colors, silk pocket squares are ideal for any setting, irrespective of occasion or season. However, if you are looking for textural variation and some additional visual intrigue to your ensemble, cotton and linen pocket squares offer a great alternative.
Cotton Pocket Squares are ideal for you aspiring dapper gents that are looking for more creative folds, to give your ensemble some extra kick and panache. Whether it’s a two, three or four peaked fold, or something more complex, a cotton square will allow you that flexibility, with its rigid points and sturdier fabric structure.
Linen Pocket Squares also provide textural variation, along with being a middle point between silk and cotton alternatives. Linen has the rigidity to allow for more complex folds that will show off crisp pocket square corners, while at the same time maintaining its suppleness for puff folds that are typically associated with silk pocket squares.
With a Pocket Square, your best bet is to find a square where a color of your tie or shirt is either a secondary color in the pocket square, or where there is a complementary color in the pocket square. An example would be a blue tie with a burgundy square that has a hint of blue, or a blue tie with a grey square that has a hint of lilac or purple in it!
Looking for other ways to spice up that summer ensemble? How about a lighter colored lapel flower? For those of you that feel you are sufficiently evolved with respect to your style game and are willing to experiment with bolder colors and patterns, you can opt for louder, more colorful socks. However, just as with other elements related to pattern and color coordination, your socks should sufficiently contrast with the rest of your ensemble in order to really stand out. Hence, argyle / checkered socks would work best with solid suits versus plaid suits, while solid socks would best complement patterned suits. Are you looking to really step forward into bold territory? Embrace paisley or polka dot socks!
And that’s a wrap for this one! I hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it.
This guest post was written for Gents Lounge by Rishi Chullani. Rishi decided to take on entrepreneurial flair in the fashion world after 10 years in the corporate realm. Originally from Hong Kong and having lived in the US for 10 years, his broad travel and life experiences have provided him with depth in perspective that has contributed to his men’s accessories and style platform The Dark Knot. Rishi’s goal is to help gentlemen dress better, and believes that his vision is wholeheartedly reflected through his e-commerce site and blog, The Dark Knot.
header image via GQ.com