Men’s guide to lightweight summer clothing

Seersucker jacket in coral from Samuel Windsor

Smart tailoring doesn’t need to make you feel hot under the collar
Image source: Seersucker jacket in coral from Samuel Windsor

If you’re a fellow who likes to keep his cool while all about are losing theirs, then you’ll need some threads to help with climate control. Lightweight fabrics afford you the same smart look as regular clothes, but provide better air circulation so that, when the mercury climbs, you’re able to carry on without breaking a sweat. Here’s our guide to men’s lightweight clothing.

How is the weight of fabric measured?

Blue summer suit from Samuel Windsor

This super fine pure new wool suit is much lighter than the winter-weight equivalent
Image source: Blue summer suit from Samuel Windsor

The weight of a fabric is measured in grams per square metre (GSM). The higher the GSM reading, the denser the fabric. Typically, a lightweight fabric measures somewhere between 30-150 GSM. Medium weight is 150-350 GSM, and heavyweight is anything above that. But not all clothes called ‘lightweight’ are made from a lightweight fabric.

Confused? Don’t be. In clothing terms, the word lightweight is applied comparatively. Take a suit. Your rustic Harris Tweed suit comes in at around 300-330 GSM, but nobody would say that was a medium weight suit. At the other end of the scale, a lightweight worsted wool suit doesn’t dip into genuine lightweight territory – but it’s lightweight compared to the same suit in the winter range.

Clear? Summer weight chinos are lighter than your bog standard ones but nobody will be able to see shades of skin through the fabric. For us, lightweight denotes less densely woven cloth that will help keep you cool and smart.

What are summer-weight chinos?

Summer-weight chinos in plum from Samuel Windsor

Summer-weight chinos are a wardrobe essential
Image source: Summer-weight chinos in plum from Samuel Windsor

Need a smart casual look? Naturally, you’ll be reaching for your chinos – but did you know there’s a summer option? Summer weight chinos are crisp cotton trousers that are absolutely ideal for warmer days at the office, lunches out, for travel – you name it – if it’s a go-to summer trouser you’re looking for, this is it.

But summer dressing is about so much more than just wearing lighter fabrics. Now is your opportunity to display a little more in the way of colour too. Why not try a pair of light blue summer-weight chinos twinned with a patterned linen shirt?

What are summer-weight moleskins?

Summer-weight moleskin trousers in navy from Samuel Windsor

Summer moleskins are a great way to add light-weight gravitas
Image source: Summer-weight moleskin trousers in navy from Samuel Windsor

Looking for something slightly weightier, whilst still maintaining that summer fabric feel? Try lightweight moleskins. This versatile fabric is manufactured by weaving two layers of cloth together in a sort of thread ‘sandwich’, before shearing it apart so that you’re left with two pieces of luxuriously soft moleskin.

As the name suggests, lightweight moleskin trousers are made using a lighter backing cloth. The result is a slightly thinner fabric, but with the same soft, tactile feel. Wear on greyer days and twin with a Tattersall shirt. Or, if you’re looking for a more casual vibe, opt for a cotton polo shirt in a contrasting colour.

What are summer-weight shorts?

Seersucker shorts in green check from Samuel Windsor

Seersucker is a lightweight fabric that helps air to circulate
Image source: Seersucker shorts in green check from Samuel Windsor

Just because they’re shorts doesn’t necessarily mean they’re made from lightweight fabric. In fact, most tailored chino shorts are just that – lopped chinos. That kind of short is great when you’re in need of something quite substantial – like when you’re out for a summer hike or walking the hound.

But for those times when it’s simply too hot for words – a lightweight fabric is a far better option. Choose from lightweight cotton chino shorts, or give a pair of preppy seersucker shorts a try. This naturally dimpled fabric is famously cooling.

What are summer-weight blazers?

Summer tweed slim-fit jacket from Samuel Windsor

Summer-weight tweed is an elegant option on warm days
Image: Summer tweed slim-fit jacket from Samuel Windsor

Are you looking for a smart summer blazer to see you through the warmer months? If so, you’ll be delighted to know that there are many lightweight options from which to choose:

  • Lightweight tweed jacket: Ideal for summer weddings and graduation ceremonies – in fact, for whenever you want to lend proceedings a celebratory feel, a lightweight summer tweed jacket is a comfortable and stylish option.
  • Oxford jacket: A light cotton jacket that’s smart and refined, an Oxford jacket is a good choice for celebrations when the weather is simply too hot for wool. Try a light grey Oxford jacket over your plum summer chinos.
  • Boating blazer: A tailored jacket that makes a lasting impression, a summer boating blazer is for village fairs, an afternoon at the cricket and of course yacht club regattas. If you want to say it loud and proud, this is the summer blazer for you.
  • Linen jacket: No rundown of summer jacket options would be complete without mention of this timeless classic. The flax fibres used to make linen yarn are naturally water absorbent and moisture wicking, making a linen jacket comfortable on even the hottest days. Wear yours with cotton chinos.
  • Seersucker jacket: Seersucker’s dimples help to hold the cloth away from your skin, and aid with air circulation, which is why seersucker jackets are such a favourite with gentlemen from the Southern United States where the summers are brutally hot.

What is a summer suit?

Stretch cotton summer suit in navy from Samuel Windsor

Breathable cotton suits make formal occasions a breeze
Image source: Stretch cotton summer suit in navy from Samuel Windsor

Lightweight summer suits are a must if you’re to keep your cool at the office or at any smart function for which a suit is required. A linen suit is, of course, the classic summer suit for men – timeless and supremely classy.

Another alternative is a cotton suit – the look and feel is chic and urban – and with added elastine, you get that little bit of stretch too, which is great for when you spend time sitting, standing or moving around.

And don’t forget wool – it’s still a great choice for summer. Lightweight summer wool suits are always smart, and comfortable enough to wear to work, or for smart summer events. Go for brighter colours to differentiate your summer look from your winter staples – try airforce blue rather than navy, tan rather than brown, and light grey rather than charcoal.

What are summer shoes?

Classic lightweight brogue in navy from Samuel Windsor

Lightweight summer brogues are a smart option with chinos or suits
Image source: Classic lightweight brogue in navy from Samuel Windsor

Summer brings some excellent footwear options for discerning gents. Now’s the time to experiment with different leathers and choose lightweight shoes with a slightly more relaxed vibe.

  • At the smarter end of the scale, you might wish to consider penny loafers. This most preppy of footwear options looks great with chinos – try a pair in suede.
  • Dressing more casually? Chukkas are a lightweight boot that’s nice for a night on the town, or semi-smart settings. Or for slightly smarter occasions, you could try a crepe soled boot in coloured suede – very natty when worn with jeans or moleskins.
  • Casual dress calls for deck shoes which for us, are the quintessential summer shoe for relaxing, socialising, and of course – boating. Go for a lightweight sole and a soft leather upper that will allow your feet to expand as the weather heats up.

We hope you’ve gleaned some useful tips for choosing lightweight clothing and footwear options for summer. Just bung on a Panama hat and you’re ready for some long summer days and balmy evenings.

Posted in Men's style guides.

What's your thoughts on the subject?