What to wear to beat the heat.
WHAT TO WEAR TO BEAT THE HEAT
• WORDS: A. FOZZARD
Meeting in the summer heat? Wedding when the temperature hits 31? Or a summer party with scarce shade? No problem. Even when etiquette says you need to wear a suit or, at the very least a shirt, there is a way to look good and feel comfortable while the sun is beaming down. And it comes down the fabric you choose.
Science tells us that natural fibres like linen, wool and cotton tend to be the best for regulating body temperature. There’s also something to be said for lightweight fabrics, which is why you’ll find lots of suits coming in at under 270g per metre around at this time of year. But there’s more to it than fibre and weight – the open weave of a fabric also makes a huge difference to its cooling abilities.
When you hold up fabric with an open weave, you should be able to see light through it. To give you a head-start on the ones to look for, here’s a run-down of the best materials for hot weather.
Made from natural flax fibres and with an open weave, linen fabrics are breathable. That means your body heat escapes while the fresh air flows in for a cooling effect. It’s also naturally moisture-wicking, which helps to get rid of that unpleasant sticky feeling when you’re a bit hot.
Suits made from linen will keep you cool when you need to dress smart for an occasion, like a summer wedding. They do tend to crumple slightly during the day, but the upside is the stylish relaxed look a few wrinkles creates. Suits in a linen blend cloth will also do the trick and they’re usually a bit more resistant to creases. If the occasion allows, try to wear your shirt open-necked for even more air flow.
Cotton is one of the most widely-used textiles in the world, and that’s because it’s lightweight, durable and comfortable. All of those features make it perfect for summer clothes, and in particular, summer suits.
If you choose a cotton suit, you’ll get all that comfort and breathability. That means it’ll be ideal for those all-day, hot-weather events, and you won’t overheat while you’re commuting into the office. If you’re looking for even more comfort, choose a cotton suit with a bit of stretch in the blend. That’ll keep it moving with you, and help it last for years to come.
People often wonder if flannel is too hot to wear in the summer. Although a thicker flannel might make you feel like you’re about to melt, lighter flannels are actually praised for their ability to let your body heat out when it’s hot but keep it trapped in when it’s cold.
To make the most of this quality in the summer, choose a flannel suit in a brighter or pastel colour. That will err on the side of casual, working well for relaxed weddings, and it’s also one of the more crease-resistant cloths, so ideal for when you’re travelling. If you like something a bit smarter, a summer-weight double-breasted flannel suit looks dressed up while offering the comfort of a lighter fabric.
Seersucker takes its name from the Persian words for milk and sugar – milk representing the smooth part of the cloth, and the sugar representing the gritty texture. But, since it’s just a particular way of weaving cotton, you get all the benefits of that summery fabric with some visual interest.
Classic seersucker suits lean towards preppy with their blue-and-white stripes, relaxed fit and slightly puckered texture. But if you’re not heading to a yacht party, go with a more modern, neutral suit. Same unusual texture, a lot more wearability.
Tweed might make you think of a country gentleman roaming around the moors, but that couldn’t be further from today’s tweed. When it’s cut for a modern profile in fresher colours and worn with the right accessories, it’ll hit just right between classic and contemporary.
And the best bit? Since tweed is woven with wool, you’ll get the breathability you might not expect from this heavier-looking fabric (see below for more on that). Choose one of our more lightweight tweeds, and you have the perfect trans-seasonal suit you’ll wear year-round, and for years to come.