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Summer suits for men: An expert reveals the rules you need to know

How to stay cool in a suit

man in a suit and tie
Ellie S. Photography / Jeffrey Scott

The summer is rapidly approaching, and that means you have two choices. One: You can roast for three or four months while you suffer through the hotter seasons in your suit and tie. Or two: You can learn how to wear a suit in the warm weather and look fantastic, feel fantastic, and not be stuck replacing all your white dress shirts because you sweat through them. Summer suits for men can feel like a whole new level of suit knowledge that you may feel overwhelmed trying to tackle. But you know we here at The Manual would never let you navigate that on your own.

And we’re not alone in that endeavor. There are people in the tailored clothing industry who thrive on helping men understand their world. They are the ones with their feet on the ground. They work with you to figure out what fits best, and they put you in the right suits for the right occasions. Your suit guy is a wealth of knowledge, and one of our suit guys is Jeffrey Appelson of Jeffrey Scott in Princeton, New Jersey. We reached out to him to allow him to walk us through some key rules to nailing that summer suit look.

Get the right fabric

man in linen suit
Ellie S. Photography / Jeffrey Scott

The first and most important aspect of your summer suit is the fabric. While wool is your usual go-to for suits, there are other fabrics for warm weather and cool weather that amplify your suit wardrobe and allow you to adjust to the season. Cold weather has flannel and cashmere, and warm weather has linen and cotton. There is one aspect of the suit, whether it is a wool suit, a cotton suit, or a linen suit, that is more important than anything else. Breathability.

“Fabric should be breathable,” Appelson says. “This can be a wool, linen, or even a wool/silk/linen blend. My preference is an open weave, high-twist wool that is both breathable and wrinkle-resistant. Dugdale Brothers has a collection called Tropical Air that is the perfect choice. Most people think linen is the only breathable option in summer, but their high-performance wool is the perfect choice and a better option than linen, surprisingly. Lastly, the weight of the fabric…lighter weight can be more breathable, yes. However, a heavier-weight cloth in an open weave will actually be more breathable than a lighter-weight cloth in a different weave, like a twill. Plus, the heavier cloth will provide a better drape”

What to do with the lining

half-lined suit jacket
Ellie S. Photography / Jeffrey Scott

Ok, so you have picked out the suit fabric, and you are ready with something breathable and comfortable. Now, there is a little matter of the suit lining. In every suit, there is an inner construction that helps the jacket keep its shape when it drapes. Of course, when the temperatures rise to the triple digits, every layer becomes more and more important. Appelson gives a little insight on how to make the lining work for you.

“The lining isn’t as important as the type of fabric when it comes to breathability,” he says. “However, a half-lined jacket where the back has no lining or a fully unconstructed jacket (completely unlined) will provide slightly more breathability, given the lining is removed.”

Brighten your day

cream colored linen trousers
Ellie S. Photography / Jeffrey Scott

You know we love color here at The Manual. Whether we are telling you to ditch the blues and grays or convincing you to adopt a socialite archetype, color is an expression of your personality. Of course, not every color works perfectly in every season, but the warmer months of spring and summer bring with them brighter hues. But don’t just go brighter; there is a mentality that is vital to finding the right colors.

“Summer means brighter colors, so have fun with it,” Appleson commands. “Baby blue, yellow, white, and cream are a few of my favorites. A cream trouser is an essential piece for a summer wardrobe. Stay away from darker colors like black and charcoal unless you’re attending a formal event that requires it.”

Style your look for summer coolness

man in suit and tie leaning on building
Ellie S. Photography / Jeffrey Scott

Finally, you have to put these ideas together into something that will look amazing. Whether you are dressing up something casual or dressing down something formal, the right accoutrements are vital to scoring the perfect look.

“My go-to look for summer is some nice linen trousers with a camp collar short sleeve button down, tucked in, of course,” the professional advises. “This is a great casual look that is still more stylish than most gents wearing shorts and a golf polo and will keep you cooler than a full suit. If you’re wearing a suit, I like to opt for no tie and at least two buttons undone. Showing off a little chest is sexy. No undershirt, or go with a tank underneath that has a lower-cut neck. This is the way.”

Some of the best add-ons to these looks are the right loafers or drivers, cufflinks to spice up the ensemble, or even a summer hat to keep the sun at bay. In any case, take these tips and make your summer one of style.

Some of our favorite add-ons

Bruno Magli Xander Suede Driving Moccasin: Nothing completes a great summer-tailored ensemble like a solid pair of drivers. While there are dozens of brands on the market, there is nothing like the Italian excellence of Bruno Magli, and these cream-colored slip-ons will elevate any of your summer looks.

Cufflinks: While you may be ditching the tie, you can keep the elegance of formality without adding layers by wearing cufflinks. The best part of adding these to your wardrobe is they can add your own personal flair to the look while staying subtle. Cufflinks.com is perfect for the job since you can grab something quick or design your own for a special occasion.

Overland Chateau Panama Fedora: There is just something about a great hat that says completion. A strong fedora has been a staple of the gentleman’s wardrobe for a century. Sure, they may not be the number one style item like they used to be, but throwing on this fedora will get you all the compliments and (forgive the pun) top off your style.

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Mark McKee
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
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