My tailor friends at A Suit That Fits (that's a sponsored link, costs you nothing, I get loyalty points for click-throughs) have been designing again. The summer is coming and Mighel Critten, after a sweltering season last year, has come up with a cotton suit.
He doesn't wear the trousers. They ended up looking a bit too much like pyjamas, he says. The jacket and waistcoat, though, he's happy with.
He looks pretty good in it. This is for two reasons. First the suit is designed around him as you'd expect from any tailoring service - but more importantly he's young and has a frame bordering on "wiry", certainly on the slim side.
That's why I won't be getting one, and why I can't honestly recommend it to anyone with a build like mine (think "really must go on that diet sometime"). I do have an unstructured jacket at home - in other words it has no lining or padding so it sits exactly on my frame, hanging more like a tee-shirt.
It's not a flattering look. It is not good on me, it is bad and ugly - emphasising all the wrong bits. Charles Tyrwhitt had an unstructured jacket in the catalogue a while back and the blurb said, euphemistically, that if you were lucky enough to be blessed with an athletic frame this would look marvellous on you.
Ahem. Very few of us have, particularly after gravity's had a go at any muscle structure we might have neglected over a period of time.
Other tailors feel strongly about cotton. "It will crease immediately and you will like you’ve been dragged through a hedge within the hour. There are plenty of viable (and more affordable) options out there if you do your homework," says Adam King of Surbiton-based King and Allen (not a sponsored link by the way). He suggests wool/cashmere blends (although the cheaper ones can be scratchy so either get a swatch or visit a tailor and have a good feel of the fabric first) or a mohair. He also suggests mohair, and watch the lining. "Ideally it should be made from 100% natural fibres. Manmade fibres do not breathe as well and cause sweating," he says. Light grey is a good summer colour, he adds. There are also specific summery fabrics - King recommends the Holland and Sherry CrispAir range, although it's not cheap at £799 for a suit compared to the £499 the company would charge for something in a "cool wool".
Then there's linen. I have a couple of linen suits, one of which is only part lined (I bought mine last August from A Suit That Fits but King and Allen has also offered a similar half-lined idea for almost a year, ask for the Dragonfly Lining). This is cool enough and in a good dark blue it looks pretty good as well, hanging right over the chest and shoulders and since it's tailored it has all the nips and tucks needed to keep me looking lifelike. The other one is also tailored and looks fine, but it has a full lining so isn't as cool - and I don't wear the trousers because, wait for it, I went and ordered a pale linen suit. You have to have a certain whatsit to carry that look off, and "expanded waistline" is 100 per cent the wrong shape.
I'd be interested to hear what other men do in the summer for a formal meeting when an ordinary suit is just too hot.