With the mercury rising, a suit isn’t exactly front of mind. In fact, you can probably think of nothing worse. Nevertheless, sometimes duty calls and whether it be a summer wedding, cocktail event or simply surviving the commute, there is a fail-proof way to keep your cool, even when the temperature says otherwise.
Borne out of necessity, the linen suit has been a summer suiting mainstay for decades and it runs the full gamut of sartorial splendour. From unlined, drawstring versions to swanky three-piece double breasters, there’s one for every occasion.
But where to begin?
When picking out a summer suit, fabric comes first. And while purists may dispute it, your suit doesn’t need to be 100% linen. I wouldn’t go past a cotton or silk blend. It has all the benefits and style of a linen suit without the creasing. Plus, it’ll keep its form from desk to sundowners.
Talking cut, we take our advice from the best. And as master tailor Steve Calder points out, ‘the Neapolitans do it best, with a super light canvas, no shoulder pads and unlined trousers.’
What Shirt To Wear With A Linen Suit
It’s easy to be tempted by the simplicity of linen on linen on linen. And hey, for the most part it works. Particularly if there’s no tie required (see the impeccable Mr Pine below for reference). However, if you’re skewing towards the more formal side of things, it’s better to look broader afield.
For a cocktail event, there’s nothing better than contrasting a neutral linen suit with a plain poplin shirt. Throw on a taupe jacket and pale blue button down and you’ll be ready to roll (and give yourself a stand out tan in the process).
If you’re going even more formal – and let’s face it, sometimes the mood can strike – there’s no looking past a sateen finish shirt. This fabric provides sensational contrast against the open weave of a linen suit and it also looks perfectly in keeping should you need to add a tie into the mix.
What Shoes To Wear With A Linen Suit
Linen suits can easily be weighed down by your more standard lace ups. Instead, opt for a loafer or – if it’s a more casual affair – the humble sneaker. Both should be worn sans socks with ankles well and truly out to air. Even though you’re wearing a suit, let’s not forget that it’s summer after all.
If you’re feeling particularly bold, smoking slippers can cut an even more striking figure. Stubbs & Wootton has a stand out range that errs more on the side of Eddie Redmayne at the Oscars than Hugh Hefner at the Playboy mansion.
What Tie To Wear With A Linen Suit
Balancing a tie with a linen suit can be tricky. It’s already 40 degrees and I’m in a suit, you want me to add in a tie as well!? I know, it’s unpleasant. But sometimes the occasion demands it. So what’s the least painful way to go about this?
Because linen tends to have a natural matte finish, steer away from high gloss, wider variations. They clash with your suit and make it look like you’ve whacked on your work tie. Instead, have a toy with knitted versions – these winners will be in keeping with the rest of your ensemble and are a great way to freshen up an older suit.
Linen Suit Accessories
It can be tempting to adopt a more is more attitude when it comes to accessorising a linen suit. They’re the perfect blank canvas and you could go wild on prints and colours if you so chose. But this is one of those instances where restraint is key.
A simple pocket square added to a plain navy linen suit with a white shirt is the epitome of gentlemanly elegance. Whether you select a more traditional silk iteration or double up on the linen, this is all you need to pack that extra bit of sartorial punch. Follow in the steps of these gents below where less is more.
How To Care For Your Linen Suit
Linen is a notoriously difficult fabric to care for, mostly because of its propensity to wrinkle.
This being said, there are a few easy to ways to iron out the creases, if you’ll pardon the pun. One of my personal favourites is hanging your suit up in the bathroom when showering. This has more or less the same effect as a steam iron and helps creases fall out naturally. It also beats paying for dry cleaning after every wear.
And then of course, you could simply let nature take its course. There’s a certain roguish charm to a well-worn linen suit and a good one should rumple softly over time. It may well be the part of your look you never realised you were missing.