Five smart alternatives to a linen suit

Samuel Windsor's five alternatives to linen suits

Image source: still from ‘Agatha Christie’s Poirot’ – ITV television series

Resplendent in his linen suit and panama hat, Hercule Poirot was unruffled and immaculate as he cruised down the Nile. But sadly, for many of us, if you mix humidity, a rotund mid-section and a full linen suit, the result is a rumpled sweatball swaddled in moist rags. Fortunately, there are other ways to keep your cool this summer. Here are five crisp alternatives to the linen suit for graduations, christenings, weddings, and all manner of smart summer events.

1. Seersucker jacket and chinos

Seersucker is traditional air conditioning for men and is made by bunching cotton threads to give the fabric an uneven, textured appearance. The rumpled surface keeps you cool by holding the cloth away from your skin, allowing the air to circulate.

British colonials first co-opted what was originally a traditional Persian cloth, and from there, seersucker made its way to the overheated gents of the American South. Then, via preppy college professors this old-world fabric catapulted into fame as a favourite for today’s elegant blazers. Wear your seersucker jacket with summer weight chinos and you’ll look cool on even the hottest of days.

2. Summer blazer and chinos

A summer blazer which takes its cues from the boating wear of times past, this option gives you all the room you need to stay comfortable under the sun’s hot glare. Originally designed to enable chaps to row without removing their jackets and scandalising the ladies, a summer blazer should be roomy enough for air to circulate.

Think big, bold stripes to cut a dash at any summer event, and add a crisp cotton shirt and lightweight chinos. Do remember, that while the varsity boating fraternity make it a rule never to wash or repair their jackets, you’ll continue to look dapper by taking yours to the dry cleaners once in a while.

3. Structured twill jacket and chinos

If you’re a busy man about town, you might want to choose twill over linen. This soft cotton cloth with a distinctive diagonal weave is renowned for its flattering drape. The jacket’s half-canvas construction means it’s robust enough to resist creasing on even the hottest day, long after your linen suit has shrivelled in the heat.

A fabric with a military edge, choose block colours like navy or stone, and pair with chinos that contrast. Remember, as with most textured fabrics, wearing a twill jacket means the rest of your ensemble should be plain woven.

4. Summer tweed jacket with gunmetal trousers

You might have thought tweed was only for winter, but summer-weight woollens offer a flexible, stylish alternative to a linen suit. That’s because wool fibres are breathable and wick moisture away from your body, making your summer tweed jacket cool enough for warmer weather.

Half canvas construction gives your tweed jacket a more formal feel, making it ideal for contrasting with smart casual trousers or even smart indigo, black or charcoal jeans. Wearing a tie? Give your look continuity by opting for a knitted number.

5. Linen blazer and chinos

Just because you’re opting out of wearing a full linen suit doesn’t mean the coolest of all fabrics isn’t getting a mention. While your offspring won’t appreciate you looking like a crumpled mess at their graduation, linen mix blazers offer a crease-resistant compromise that’s well worth consideration.

What makes linen so good for hot weather is its open weave. Air passes right through the fabric, meaning it’s always cool to the touch. Add some cotton to the mix and you get the best of both worlds – comfort and crease resistance. Wear yours with cotton chinos and rise above the heat.

Do you have any wardrobe tips for helping gents to stay cool in hot summer weather? We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below.

Posted in Men's style guides.

What's your thoughts on the subject?