Summer has arrived, and with it comes the sultry heat that can turn even the most dapper gentleman into a wilted mess. But fear not, for the key to staying cool and looking sharp lies in your choice of summer fabrics. This season, it's all about reaching for lightweight and breathable materials that will keep you comfortable, no matter the humidity levels. From breezy linens to breathable cottons, the options for summer fabrics are as varied as they are stylish. And with the right combination of open weaves, soft textures, and light hues, you'll be well equipped to beat the heat in style.
So, join us as we explore the 6 summer fabrics that will keep you cool and fashionable all season long.
Linen: A fabric that's stood the test of time, much like the pyramids of ancient Egypt, where it was first woven into garments. With its charming wrinkles, it's the epitome of relaxed elegance, making it just as suitable for a casual day out as it is for a formal suit.
Linen's popularity dates back to the Middle Ages, even among the less fortunate. From sheets to shrouds, napkins to towels, and of course clothing, linen was the fabric of choice.
Fast forward to the 18th century, and cleanliness was all the rage, with fine linen shirting and underwear becoming a symbol of wealth and high-society status. How often one could change their linens was a measure of their financial standing, and Irish, Belgian, and Italian linens were the cream of the crop.
By the 19th century, good hygiene was a must-have, and those who could afford it, changed their linens frequently and bathed regularly. In Italy, linen is still an art form, with white being a classic, but tasteful colors like olive and navy, as well as pastels, also finding a place in fashion. Black, on the other hand, is reserved for the evenings, much like a tuxedo at a fancy gala.
Whether you’re looking for an elegant suit or a comfortable, casual option, linen is the perfect choice. Its timeless, versatile, and an all around wonderful warm weather fabric.
Wool has been the king of the tailored garments since the 18th century. With its natural moisture-wicking properties, wool has always been the go-to material for suits. But with the advent of technology, wool has been transformed into something even better. The second half of the 20th century saw the rise of "Super" cloths - wool that is lighter, softer, and yet more durable than its predecessors.
Gone are the days when people had to wear heavy and stiff suits. Today, we have wool that weighs less than eight ounces per yard, and still keeps its shape. But, not all wool is created equal. The best wool comes from merino sheep in Australia and New Zealand. After shearing, the wool is sent to mills where the fibers are stretched out and combed flat. The result is a fabric that's perfect for suiting.
To determine the fineness of the wool, it is graded. In the olden days, this was done by hand, but today, an electron microscope is used to measure the fibers in microns, which are much finer than a human hair. The higher the "super" number, the finer the cloth.
This new technology has made wool crease-resistant and gives it a beautiful drape. And, let's not forget the best part - wool will keep you cool on a hot summer day. So, if you're in the market for a new suit, look for one made from super cloths. You'll be happy you did.
- a traditional worsted cloth that has been popular since the 1920s
- a great choice for summer. It’s a cloth who’s yarns have been twisted before being loosely woven
- crease-resistant and breathable
- can weigh as little as seven ounces and still be wrinkle-free
- great for your travel wardrobe
- Lightweight cashmere can weigh from 7.5 - 8.5 oz.
- It’s extraordinarily soft and the color shades look good when dyed, but it’s not very durable or wrinkle-resistant.
- It’s too delicate for trousers, but appropriate for sports jackets - special occasions only.
- Its fragility can be mitigated by blending it with other natural fibers like silk and wool. A blend like this would have the crease-resistance of wool, the low luster of silk, and the softness of cashmere.
- Fleece from angora goats, specifically kid mohair (young goats) because it’s finer, softer, and has a lower sheen than that of mature goats, which have a rough hand. It’s prized for its luster.
- usually blended with merino wool, enhancing its softness and stretch (10-35% mohair is common, but it can go up from there)
- due to its stiff fibers, mohair is cool-wearing, durable, and wrinkle-resistant
- colors are deep and beautiful from aubergine to midnight blue
- Mohair is dressy—perfect for evening wear in the city
- Usually seen in neckties and known for its soft luster/shine
- The production of silk has a long and storied history dating back to Neolithic China about 5,000-6,000 years ago. It took until 130 BC for silk to finally arrive in the West via the Silk Road—trade routes set up between China and Greece.
- Once considered a rare luxury, silk is now in great supply. However, it is still valued for its incredibly soft hand and beauty
- Silk is almost always combined with linen and wool to add resiliency to the garment, while still retaining silk’s signature softness
- Sport coats and dinner jackets containing silk are a good choice, as well as silk shirts
- has been cultivated for use in clothing since at least 6,000 BC and has played an important role in history- its durable, absorbent, widely available, and used in just about any article of clothing you can think of
- In general, cotton is great for warm weather, but its ability to cool is still largely determined by its weave. For example, a plain weave like poplin will always cool better than a twill weave, but nowhere near as well as a specialty weave designed for warmer weather. This means that your choice will depend not only on the style you’re going for, but also the local weather conditions. Choose wisely.
- a summer classic suit with alternating rough (puckered) and smooth stripes. This is achieved through a technique called slack-tension weaving.
- It’s naturally wrinkled
- Originating in India, the style became quite popular in the American South because it was a practical option for people who labored with their hands. But as the seersucker eventually moved north, it was quickly adopted by the upper class, which transformed it from a working class garment to something of a status symbol.
- striped in blue and white is the most common, but other color combinations are available with the alternating white stripe