Everything you know about summer fabrics is wrong!
Best recipe to stay fresh during the summer? It’s elementary, Watson: lighter clothes!
You have probably been told about linen already, and how great it is. Yet, I’m here to tell you that everything you have been told is actually sort of wrong.
The best fabric for the summer isn’t linen, it’s Merino wool. Merinos Sheep are rare and precious. Their wool is the most expensive on the market, but there is a reason why: this kind of wool absorbs moisture, it is breathable, lightweight, creaseproof, it will keep you fresh even during the hottest summer days, and - on top of all that - it looks gorgeous and it feels like heaven. The problem being: it’s expensive. So much so that it used to be called “the gift of kings” at the times of the Spanish Empire.
(Here’s a short video to show you how a sample of Loro Piana “Royal Wish” fabric (90% Merinos 10% silk) looks and feel like…
My friend Marian Vitel - tailor in Rome - told me that Loro Piana makes one of the best sorts of Merino wool money can buy nowadays. Their summer worsted, for example, is made from wool coming from Australia.
This is what the Italians usually call “fresco lana” (“fresh wool”). Frescolana weights between 7 and 9 ounces, circa. When you find the numbers “120s”, “140s”, “160s” and so on and so forth on the label of your clothes, it means that you are dealing with some sort of worsted fabric. The higher the number, the thinner the warp, and - at least in theory - the better the quality. Provided it is woven in the right way, fresco lana is the king of summer.
I know Luca Rubinacci would disagree, but I think that linen only arrives second in this ideal chart. Yet, not the kind of linen you are thinking about. The best linen for the summer is in fact heavy linen. Heavy linen doesn’t wrinkle as much as light linen does; its natural colours are light brown and yellow. Wear a double breasted linen jacket over a colourful striped shirt and you’ll look elegant and blasé at the same time. Alternatively, go for a classically cut suit the colour of ice, like the one you see in the picture.
Only now we can deal with seersucker. This is the quintessential American summer fabric. Due to its structure, seersucker doesn’t adhere to the skin as much as normal fabrics do and therefore it allows the air to circulate more freely. That will keep you fresh. If you do decide to go for a seersucker jacket, stick to traditional patterns and colours. This wonderful seersucker jacket belongs to Marco Gabizon (Sartoria al Corso).
In my advice, cotton is the least important summer fabric. I find it heavier than any other fabric I have mentioned and I can justify its existence in this list only due to its cheap price. However, you could use a well-made “go-to-hell jacket” in cotton if you are attending an informal evening cocktail. In that case, pick bold colours and be brave!
What to look for in a summer suit
I won’t discover sliced bread: the most important element of a summer suit, regardless of its fabric, is structure. The point being: less is better. Let’s avoid padded shoulders and other non-essential elements. In very hot climates, the ideal summer jacket is always unlined - when not completely deconstructed - and preferably in light pastel colours. Another essential characteristic of a good summer jacket is the fabric’s weave: the looser the threads, the better. Also, the fabric itself should be 100% organic, because synthetic materials tend to be less breathable. For an extra tip, don’t wear tight clothes during the summer. Choose, instead, jackets and trousers that are one size larger than usual, this will allow for a better circulation of air on your skin.
A Splash of Summer colours
A gentleman is allowed to wear more vivid colours during the summertime for a number of reasons. First of all: Navy blue, charcoal, and dark grey attract sun rays and therefore will make you feel uncomfortable. Instead, light browns, light blues, light greens, whites and off-whites will reflect most of the sun rays and keep you fresher. Also, this is the time of the year in which you are almost required to wear solid white shirts. White shirts are a summer staple in every respectable gentleman’s wardrobe. Personally, I think that cornflower blue is a wonderful summer colour, followed by light grey (a neutral colour) and lavender, or light pink. The one thing gentlemen tend to underestimate regarding the right colours for the summer is that, if you do wear the right colours, you will be much more approachable and fun to be around. Light pastel colours will make you look more friendly and the fact that you’ll be fresher will make it easier for other people to stick around. Obviously, if you are a lawyer or you work in a bank, you would still be expected to wear your imperishable (and frankly quite boring) Navy blue suit together with the obvious seven-folds silk necktie, but you will probably be ok with a linen shirt, provided it is made of the best materials money can buy.
What if I Want to go Casual?
There is arguably nothing more classy than a light blue shirt worn over a pair of khaki Dockers, or five-pockets trousers. These days you can wear a pair of canvas shoes without causing raised eyebrows or shrug shoulders. In fact, casual has evolved so much in recent years that even the most classically dressed gentleman can safely skip his beloved necktie in almost every social occasion. You’re allowed to experiment when it comes to casual, just leave the dark shades in the wardrobe.
Summer accessories? What to skip and why?
First of all, skip belts. I don’t like belts in general, but they are especially uncomfortable during the hottest months of the years. Use braces, instead. braces are fresh, hip and comfortable. Skip also normal ties and choose knit ties: they are fresher and lighter than normal ones. Whatever you do, don’t go out without a good pair of sunglasses. These days it is easy to pick from a large range of extremely well-made as well as inexpensive sunglasses. Personally, I love wooden sunglasses - especially the ones made by The Cassette Company. Lastly, get yourself a nice pair of suede loafers, driving moccasins, or espadrilles and wear them with no-show socks for a fresh and updated look. In terms of shoes, the Italian brand Ame Delan will give you the biggest bang for the buck these days… oh, and don’t forget your lemonade!
If you wish to know more about the Sartoria al Corso, head over to my blog, A Gentleman in Rome!
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About The Author
Roman-born style blogger, image consultant, and personal shopper Andrea Loquenzi Holzer, a.k.a “John Cravatta” (instagram: john_cravatta) blogs at “A Gentleman in Rome” (www.agentrome.com). Former wonder boy of Italian politics and journalism, he left the scene very early on in his career, claiming to be “extremely skeptical” about mainstream media outlets and the political scene itself. Before dedicating himself entirely to the world of style, he has published extensively for several different media outlets in Italy and abroad (such as L’Occidentale, Longitude, and Pj Media) on the subjects of politics, economy and history. He holds a degree in International Development from “La Sapienza” University and a Master Degree in European Studies from the “LUISS Guido Carli” University.<