It’s that time of year. Weather in New York City feels as humid as coastal Florida. The heat on certain days can be as enervating as the Dubai Desert. Walking down a city block makes you perspire like you’ve just run a half marathon, making you wonder why you’re strutting that woolen suit. Yes, gentlemen, Spring & Summer is here. And you want to dress to the nines. I get it. Seems like an inherent conflict. A paradox of great proportions! So what are we to do, should we choose to continue to look dapper while the sun shines strongest and hardest. Fear not, there are options aplenty when looking to up your sartorial game in the spring and summer months. With that said, here is our comprehensive Spring & Summer Suit Guide!
If you are looking to dress dapper during warmer months, it all starts with your suiting fabrics. While woolen suits can accompany any dapper gentleman year round, replacing your traditional woolens with either higher yarn count woolen suits (and hence a lighter woolen fabric), or alternative fabrics such as cotton, seersucker and linen, will provide your clothing with significantly more breathability, and hence have you feeling much more comfortable.
1. Woolen Suits.
Winter Months: During the winter, one is often required to wear a heavier worsted wool or flannel
Suit for inspiration purposes. So what is a worsted wool suit? Most wools have been created from yarns that have been spun; a worsted wool suit is comprised of woolen fibers that have initially been straightened out on an individual basis, and then twisted and spun together in a yarn. These longer strands create a finer and more durable wool.
Heavier suits are typically designed with a lower ‘super’ number. ‘Super’ count refers to the quality of the raw wool before it has been processed into a suit. Historically speaking, the number was derived from the number of 560 yard long spools a pound of wool could yield (sounds insane right?!?). Therefore, a ‘Super 80’ meant that a pound could yield 80 spools, and a ‘Super 100’ meant that a pound could yield 100 spools. Hence, the super count essentially refers to the fineness of the actual strands of wool. A higher number indicates finer wool, as there are more yarns per pound.
For this reason, winter months are best accompanied by a thicker wool / lower ‘super’ count suit.
Summer Months: If you are looking to maintain a traditional woolen suit aesthetic, opt for a super 150 or super 180 as opposed to a super 100 or super 120 suit that you may be using during the colder months. This will allow your fabric to breathe easily and provide you with a level of comfort during the warmer months. Be careful to ensure that your higher super count suits are constructed from wools that are sourced from reputable mills! While the super count will determine how fine the yarn is, there is no fix for woolen material sourced from poor quality mills.
A higher, super count woolen suit is ideal for the summer months. Courtesy of www.suitcafe.com
2. Linen Suits
Linen is a lighter weight fabric that is ideally suited for spring & summer months. Linen is a breathable, light weight and durable fabric that is perfectly suited for warmer conditions. Its major drawback is that it creases easily, indicating that it should be avoided in corporate settings! Hence, opt for your linen suits when you are out casually with friends or in more relaxed settings such as a summer beach wedding! An alternative to the linen suit that will provide less creasing is a linen / woolen blend, providing the suit with more structure.
Linen suits, next to seersucker, provide the ultimate, relaxed look. If you are seeking out that dapper dichotomy of sophisticated relaxation, you have the option of choosing darker colors in linen, such as charcoal grey or darker brown. However, for that ultimate summer day time look, you are best off employing lighter colors such as tan, creams and off-whites.
For a summer wedding, you could ditch the conventional two or three piece suit look and opt for just linen trousers and a vest. Pair this combination with a lighter white cotton shirt and paisley colored tie, and you are bound to have a winning look!
Looking to forego the full suit look and dress using separates? Breaking down a look using separates with a linen jacket, cotton or khakis trousers and a cotton shirt will yield a relaxed, yet sophisticated summer look!
A Linen Suit breathes easily and is perfect for warmer climates! Courtesy of www.articlesofstyle.com
A suiting staple in the southern gentleman’s wardrobe, seersucker suits have come to personify casual chic, providing a relaxed, dapper look that is prominent. Popular on summer weekends, derby meets and other formal events such as dinner dances in college or with other associations, a seersucker suit will ensure that you stand out, alluding to your ability to dress well even the weather may not permit you to do so!
The term seersucker hails from India, where it was known as ‘Shir-O’Shakar’, which in Persian translates to ‘Milk or Sugar’, referencing the contrasting nature of the fabric – smooth yet crinkled.
Seersucker is a light weight, crinkled, striped summer fabric of puckered cotton. The 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.
Seersucker’s lightweight cotton properties make it ideal for summer and allow for some striking color schemes! When accessorizing a seersucker suit, opt for patterns that are not too busy, especially if worn with a patterned shirt as well. If you are pairing your seersucker suit with a solid colored shirt, you will have more leeway with respect to the tie patterns that you choose.
Pair your ensemble with a pastel colored or animal print silk tie for an infusion of elegance and a vibrant color scheme!
Seersuckers light weight cotton properties make it ideal for spring and summer, in addition to providing for some striking color combination! Courtesy of www.artofmanliness.com
4. Cotton Suits.
For most men, cotton suits seem to be a default choice during warmer climates. However, with a wide array of cotton available on the world market, it is imperative that you have a discerning eye when choosing your summer fabric. Ideally, you want to go for an open weave – one that lets air in more easily. If you cannot see through the fabric when holding it up against sunlight in the summer, you know that it is not a well suited summer fabric.
An incredibly elegant and dapper summer cotton suit, courtesy of www.hespokestyle.com
5. Chambray Suits
Chambray is a lightweight cotton fabric, that is slightly glossy, yet highly comfortable. Chambray, considered a close cousin to denim, is a durable fabric that happens to drape with ease.
Courtesy of www.soletopia.com
Light Weight Fabrics
As mentioned above, lighter weight fabrics are extremely important during warmer months. Once you have settled on an open weave, you can turn to choosing the weight of your fabric. Fortunately, modern, higher quality fabrics have a stunning finish, even though they may not drape perfectly. 7 ounces (210 grams) summer fabrics typically have highly open weaves, though you should be careful to choose the right fabric, because even though some fabrics may be lighter weight their weave may be too dense for the summer months.
Summertime Suit Structure
An often overlooked element when choosing an appropriate summer suit is determining the suits construction. The construction of a suit will help determine its weight, texture and breathability. The lining of a suit often determines structure and rigidity. While some will advocate opting for an unlined suit, I would suggest going with a half lined suit. This will allow your suit to breathe more easily, while still maintain some of the structure with a conventional suit.
Partially lined suits are a convenient half way point between fully lined and unlined suits. These suits are typically lined in the arms and shoulders, and sometimes in the chest area. However, the back of the suit is left unlined to improve suit breathability.
A Half Lined Suit gives you more breathability, and is ideal for spring / summer months!
Summer Dress Shirts
When opting for a dress shirt during the spring / summer months, it is best to go with a solid white or pastel colored light blue or light pink shirt. These summer staples will provide your wardrobe with a great foundation for the warmer months, providing you with a canvas upon which to accessorize your suit!
Looking for something even more dapper, that provides further injection of color and panache! Try out a green or lilac shirt for a truly preppy look!
With regarding to shirting fabrics during the summer months, selecting materials that absorb moisture with an open weave is of critical importance. Materials such as Nylon, Polyester and Rayon should be avoided unless you want to turn into a mess, given that they trap heat. Instead, going with the following summer fabrics will help you maintain both a cool look and feel!
100% Cotton / Seersucker / Madras
These fabrics are soft and durable, and absorb moisture as opposed to trapping heat, leaving you feeling cool. A good quality, lighter weight cotton, is one of the most breathable fabrics around, and so it will allow for a little airflow when drying out dampness.
Linen absorbs moisture but dries quickly, ensuring that you don’t retain those sweat patches!
While the focus of this article is on summer suits, we will delve into shoe options for the summer months across a range of looks!
Loafers provide an elegant, yet relaxed dapper summer look that is ideal for both casual and business settings.
For a more formal dress look, a two tone white & tan brogue will provide that ultimate summer dapper look, whether you are dressing for a beach wedding, the Kentucky derby or the local country club!
Two Tone White & Tan Brogues provide an ideal look during the summer months! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
While fabric is your most important consideration for dressing dapper during the summer months, color considerations should be equally important. While Fall & Winter seasons are typically associated with earthier tones such as darker greens, burgundy, navy and mustard yellow, Spring & Summer months are accompanied by lighter colors such as pink, lilac, blue, light blue and green. Employing lighter colors will go a long way towards ensuring that you are dressed the part during tropical weather!
Light Pink – Nothing makes a style statement like a gentleman embracing light pink! Embrace your inner effeminate side, and display that you are not afraid to mix it up. Light pink can help create some of the most visually appealing combinations, whether you are using it as a base with your cotton shirt, or accessorizing with a pink tie, pocket square or lapel flower.
To view The Dark Knot’s range of pink silk ties, please click here.
To view The Dark Knot’s range of lapel flowers, which includes some beautiful pink lapel flowers, please click here.
A pink suit makes for the ideal summer look! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Green – While Fall Season is typically associated with earthier tones of green, such as olive, spring & summer are best accompanied by lighter, pastel green shades, that will help you exude a sense of relaxed debonair.
To view The Dark Knot’s range of stunning Green Silk Ties, please click here.
The Dark Knot's Nantucket Fish Green w/ Blue Printed Silk Tie, provides for that ultimate, summer, relaxed dapper look! Courtesy of www.thedarkknot.com
Lilac – While bolder men may often employ darker shades of purple to show off sartorial inclinations, it’s lighter counterpart, lilac, is often overlooked. Lighter purple, also known as lilac, is a great way to mix up your spring & summer combinations with unique color schemes. While other colors in this list will undoubtedly help elevate your style game, creating your ensembles using overlooked colors will take your style game to another stratosphere! Pair your suits with a lilac shirt or accessorize with a lilac tie, pocket square or lapel flower for that ideal spring / summer relaxed look!
A Lilac Shirt creates a relaxed yet elegant look during the warmer season! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Yellow – While darker, earthier shades, such as mustard yellow, best accompany cooler months, warmer months are best paired with standard yellow hues. Accessorize your suits with a yellow tie or pocket square to truly make a dapper statement during the warmer season!
The Dark Knot's Falmouth Birds Yellow w/ Blue Silk Tie creates an incredible look during the Spring / Summer months! Courtesy of www.thedarkknot.com
Khaki – Listed last on this list, because this is the option people think of most easily when dressing for the summer months. A Khaki Suit will allow you to exude a relaxed air when the heat steps up! Though you should avoid wearing this suit in the evenings, a khaki suit will look incredibly well put together with the right accessories.
A Khaki Suit provides the ultimate relaxed dapper look during the spring / summer months. Courtesy of www.hespokestyle.com
Accessorizing Your Summer Suits
While exercising discretion in choosing appropriate suit and shirt fabrics and colors for warmer weather is essential to looking dapper in the summer, your accessories will really allow you to stand out against your contemporaries. No introduction to accessorizing in any way shape or form can be done without a color wheel. Given that accessorizing, by definition, requires adding layers of clothing, an understanding of color theory is of critical importance.
Color wheels are largely divided into two camps; cooler colors, represented by green, purple and blue, and warmer colors, represented by orange, red and yellow. Using this basic division of color, we can start to create color schemes that provide contrast and color as we progress further with our color experimentation. Using this color wheel below, we will introduce color schemes from the least progressive, yet elegant (monochromatic), all the way to the most aggressive color scheme that provides the ultimate pop of color (complementary).
Courtesy of www.classicshades.com
Monochromatic: Often an overlooked color scheme, a monochromatic color scheme is incredibly elegant and one of the simplest color sequences to execute on. A monochromatic scheme entails pairing a darker or lighter variant of a color together. An example would include a navy tie against a light blue shirt, or a burgundy tie against a light pink shirt. In the examples above, navy and burgundy are darker (shades) variants of lighter colors such as blue and pink. Because this color scheme is using colors from both the same side of the color wheel (either both cool or both warm colors), and from the same literal spoke (color) of the wheel, this is considered the least progressive one.
Similar Color Scheme: The next color scheme on your evolution to sartorial domination, a similar color scheme employs adjacent colors on the color wheel. Typically utilizing colors on the cooler side of the color wheel, examples would include a blue shirt with a green tie or a light purple shirt with a navy or blue tie. A similar color scheme allows you to wear different colors without creating strong contrast, as both colors are on the cooler side of the color wheel.
Neutral Color Scheme: An effective and simple color scheme, a neutral color scheme utilizes colors that are of a neutral tone, such as greys and browns. These color schemes don’t create any specific contrast, and hence can be used with a multitude of colors. Examples would include a grey tie against a white, blue or pink shirt, and a brown tie against a green shirt.
Triadic Color Scheme: Graduating over to more complex color schemes, a triadic color scheme uses colors that form a triangle on the color wheel. Examples include blue, red and yellow & purple, green and orange. Great combinations include a red or burgundy tie against a light blue shirt, a purple tie against a light green shirt or a mustard yellow (darker variant of yellow), against a light blue shirt. Notice how this color scheme is utilizing both warm and cool colors, helping to create a significant degree of contrast. It is this strong contrast between warm and cool colors that helps to create a visually appealing aesthetic!
Complementary color schemes: The boldest of the color schemes, a triadic color scheme involves using two colors that are diametrically across from each other on the color wheel. Examples would include blue & orange, red & green and purple & yellow. As you can see, these combinations will create extremely strong looks, whether in the form of ties, pocket squares, lapel flowers or even socks!
The key when using a color wheel is to choose color schemes and colors that you would be comfortable with, and work from there. While it can be great to get out of your comfort zone, sticking true to your personality and the types of colors that you like wearing is also of paramount importance! It’s often that balancing act that makes dressing stylistically so much fun!
While woven silk is a great year round fabric, alternative fabrics such as printed silk, linen or cotton can really help accentuate your summer vibe! All of these alternative fabrics are lighter than traditional woven silk. With woven silk, threads are interwoven by warp (vertical) and weft (horionztal) threads criss crossing each other, using a weaving machine. This creates depth to the fabric, and by virtue of the sheer number of threads, more weight.
To view The Dark Knot’s range of beautiful silk ties that are ideally suited for the summer months, please click here!
Printed Silk Ties
With a printed silk tie, hand screen printing (using large stencils that outline the design, with color subsequently poured in), or ink jet printing are used to print a design on a satin weave of silk. Hence, printed silk ties are lighter, due to lesser threads being used, with the design emanating from an actual printing process.
With that said, a large percentage of printed silk ties in the market place do look like they have literally been designed for summer weather. Initially popularized by brands such as Hermes and Ferragamo, these unique neck pieces are often accompanied by a theme, such as sea life (fish, crabs), hobbies (tennis, golf, sailing), adventure (safaris), or general lifestyle (palm trees, beaches). These printed silk ties are a great way to inject personality into your wardrobe, while piquing others interests in regards to your hobbies & lifestyle!
Animal Printed Silk Ties, such as these, by The Dark Knot, provide for a novel and charming look during the spring / summer months! Courtesy of www.thedarkknot.com
Linen & Cotton
Given their lighter weight fabric properties, these ties are ideal for warmer months. As mentioned above, both linen and cotton are lighter, more breathable fabrics, that are ideal for warmer months. These ties are often unlined, resulting in a lighter, cooler feel. Linen & Cotton Ties are often presented in lighter pastel colors, making them an ideal choice during the scorching heat!
For an ideal summer look, pair your linen or cotton tie with a seersucker, linen or cotton suit, providing that ultimate, relaxed dapper look!
Few items provide textural variation and intrigue like a linen tie does. Courtesy of www.indochino-review.com
With a recent resurgence in knitted ties, it is no surprise that knitted ties have become a popular go to option during the spring / summer months!
Knitted Ties are on the less formal end of the neckwear spectrum, and can be used to dress down a suit or dress up more casual attire. Because Knitted Ties are characterized by their textured, loosely woven appearance, and are more breathable than silk, they are ideal for spring / summer months!
While Knitted Ties wouldn’t typically be worn to a formal business setting, they are ideal for less formal situations involving a more casual dapper look (e.g chinos with a buttoned down shirt and blazer).
Knitted Ties come in a range of fabrics, from silk to wool. However, for warmer months, silk knitted ties will offer the most breathability and a lighter weight feeling, while woolen knitted ties are more ideally suited for winter months.
A Knitted Tie provides incredible textural variation against this summer seersucker ensemble! Courtesy of www.hespokestyle.com
Tie Colors During The Summer
When strutting a tie during warmer seasons, try opting for a triadic or similar color scheme that incorporates blues, pinks, corals and greens. Examples would include a pink tie against a light blue shirt, a coral tie with a blue shirt, a blue tie with a light pink shirt or a green tie with a light blue shirt.
If you really want something bold this summer, an orange tie against a lighter blue shirt will pop off fantastically.
An Orange Tie against a Blue Shirt can create an incredibly bold & stunning look during the Spring / Summer months! Courtesy of www.mystyleweekly.com
Pocket Square Fabrics
Just as with ties, silk is a fabric that will look aesthetically appealing year round. With its natural sheen and strong vibrant colors, silk is ideal for any season. However, if you are looking for textural variation that adds to your layered aesthetic and provides a material that is more in line with the seasons, opt for cotton or linen.
A Silk Pocket Square can add a level of panache to your ensemble, irrespective of season! Courtesy of www.thenordicfit.com
Cotton Pocket Squares
Ideal for summer months, given their textured fabric. For aspiring dapper gentlemen looking for more creativity with their pocket square folds, the rigidity and structure of cotton will allow you to create a wide range of folds, whether it’s a two, three or four peaked fold, or something more complex.
Linen Pocket Squares
Also providing great visual aesthetic, a linen pocket square falls somewhere in between silk and cotton in terms of structure and rigidity. 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.
Linen Pocket Squares will provide your ensemble with versatility. Courtesy of www.soletopia.com
Pocket Square Colors during Spring / Summer Months
With a Pocket Square, your best bet is to use the secondary colors in your tie as your primary color in the pocket square, or vice versa. For example, a blue tie with a hint of pink in it could be matched perfectly with a pink or burgundy pocket square. During the summer months, opt for lighter colors where you can. Even if the primary color of your pocket square is not a pastel, trying to use a pocket square with a hint of a pastel color (e.g secondary color or even the hand rolled edges), can work fantastically!
Looking for other ways to liven up the summer ensemble? How about a lighter colored lapel flower or tie bar. Garnishing your outfits with smaller details will really allow you to stand out, injecting your ensembles with further flair and personality!
For those of you that are sufficiently evolved with your style game, you can opt for louder, more colorful socks. However, just as with other elements of your ensemble, your socks should contrast sufficiently with the balance of your suit and accessories!
And that’s a wrap for this one! I hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it.
To view The Dark Knot's range of Spring / Summer Ties, please click here.
To view The Dark Knot's range of exquisite silk & linen pocket squares, that are ideal for warmer months, please click here!