The RF Guide To Summer Suits


Let’s start by agreeing that proper suiting is where dressing like a gentleman begins. Regardless of the reason you wear a suit, be it for work or play, the suit is without a doubt the timeless, basic building block of looking sharp.


With that being said, my motto has always been to buy clothes for the fit, not the price tag or the label. I’ve seen well-dressed men in affordable clothes that look like a million bucks. There’s no excuse. It doesn’t matter if your suit is $300 or $3,000, flannel or wool, single or double-breasted—the point is that you don’t have to break the bank to look great. 


It’s All In The Fit

All bad suits are more or less the same—bad. Good suits, however, are a more complicated species, and identifying what sets the best ones apart from the rest is far from straightforward. There are a lot of details to consider like cloth, color, and finish, but it’s ultimately the cut that matters most.


Buying Off-The-Rack

If you plan on buying an off-the-rack suit, here’s how to get the right fit: look for higher and smaller armholes, narrow sleeves, and shoulders that follow your body’s curves. The side should hug your body, but not so much that it creases when fastening the buttons, and it should hug your shoulders, not hang off of them. (Shoulders are to suits what location is to real estate.) And lastly, there should be firmness when you pull on the jacket. If there’s no firmness, and it doesn’t hug your shoulders, it’s not the right suit for you. These are all things even a great tailor can’t adjust.


A Dress Code For Every Season

A good way to stay cool in the summer months is to keep your suits pretty much exclusive to cotton. There’s a great range of cotton options including khaki, seersucker, linen, whipcord (which has ridges like corduroy minus the fuzziness), and plaid. Play it safe at first. If you’ve never purchased a summer suit before, don’t start with something audacious that you’d be afraid to wear. 


Know The Difference

╳ Wool

A good lightweight wool suit in gray will lighten your look without being too shocking and will accommodate both the strictest of office dress codes and the warmest of days. The measure of such suits comes down to the thinness and the weight of the cloth, which is usually reflected in super numbers, for example: Super 100’s. The higher that number, the thinner the fiber and the more likely it’ll let your body breathe. Then there’s the weight. Wool is measured in ounces, so if you opt for a cloth in the seven-to-ten ounce range, it’ll pull heat away from your skin without trapping it the way heavier wool does.

╳ Silk Wool Blend

Blends of silk and wool are also common in the summer months, because the silk lightens the overall weight of the wool while lending a luxurious sheen to it. The trick is a good balance: too much wool takes you back to winter, and too much silk will cause the fabric to lose its heft. Before you buy a suit, check the label and look for something with a 70/30 or 80/20 wool-to-silk ratio.

╳ Linen

If you are going for linen, make sure it’s cut sharp and well-fitted like all of your other suits. Plaid suits are a great way to show off your personality, but it is imperative that you keep the rest of your look simple to avoid looking like a buffoon. You can tone down the plaid with a crisp white shirt, a skinny tie and a pocket square. No bright color is off-limits when it comes to an impeccably made jacket, from cerulean blue to canary yellow; the secret lies in what you play such a jacket against, whether it’s white jeans or a simple blue shirt—the most important factor is the confidence you wear with it. 


Know Its Versatility

A well fitted two-button suit is the equivalent of a woman’s little black dress—you can’t go wrong with it. It can be smart enough for the office when paired with a crisp shirt and tie, classy enough for a wedding with a floral shirt, or casual enough for a night out with a T-shirt and white sneakers. If styled properly, a well fitted suit will work for any occasion. Just remember to keep it simple and streamlined.



Shop For Your Summer Suit

I’ve selected five summer suits from each one of my favorite suit retailers: J.Crew, Suitsupply, Topman and Zara. Shop them down below and wear them all summer long. Admiring looks will abound.