Summer style? More like sweltering, sweaty style for most men. If you think wearing a black, heavy-weight polyester suit in heat is a breeze, well my friend, you are in for a world of hurt, or hot, should I say.
Compare that to a light grey suit, crafted in wool and linen with double vents on the rear to swoosh air up the back. Throw in a hot-climate friendly lining for good measure.
The result is dramatic, you’re no longer dying. The difference in comfort is without question, day and night.
If you’re not accustomed to summer weather year round or hot temperatures for that matter, a winter suit is not going to be your closest friend. In reality, it’s going to be your worst god damn nightmare as you melt into the sidewalk!
Luckily, there are a few rules you can follow to add a little of paradise to your summer style. From materials, to undershirts, shoes, tips I’ve learned over the years and beyond, you’ll find everything you need to know below.
1. Stay hydrated.
It’s a no brainer. Now, while the recommended intake for an adult male is around 13 cups, or 3 liters per day, who has time to keep track of that? To make things easy, just carry around something like a CamelBak Chute 1L Water Bottle. Fill it up three times per day and you’re golden.
2. Take note of the material.
Ideally, you want to wear a suit with an open weave fabric. By this I mean, fresco, linen, cotton, high twist wools, and seersuckers. In reality, it’s hard to go wrong with seersuckers or linen in my opinion.
Wool: Unlike lightweight linen, it hides wetness and manages the wrinkles better. While you might think wool equals warm, the reality is that wool is super absorbent, not to mention quick drying; two things you really need in the summer time. Keep in mind that wool doesn’t always mean heavy-weight, the truth is, it’s rather light.
Consider Tropical Worsted Wool, an open weave worsted wool fabric. Or, go with Fresco, a high twisted wool with a plain weave crafted from multiple yarn. With an open wave, it’s ultra breathable, though not as soft as Tropical Worsted Wool.
Silk: While it doesn’t handle sweat all that well, it does have a high absorbency going for it. Generally speaking, save silk for the ties and not the suit jacket. It works wonders to fight off the dreaded hot and clammy feeling you get around the neck.
Linen: Ultra breathable with a track record of keeping cool dating all the way back to the Egyptians in 5000 BCE.
Seersucker: Made from cotton, Seersucker features a distinctive weave with threads that compacted together.
3. Get a suit jacket that’s half lined or unlined.
If you look inside most suit jackets today you’re generally going to find one common theme: A silky, smooth texture. While it looks luxurious at first glance, it’s actually there for a different reason. In reality, the construction helps you slip your arms in and out of the jacket with ease.
For most days with a low temperature, you sort of forget all about it. When the summer time rolls around, the feature you used to take for granted, turns into this big hassle. The truth is, a great deal of suit jackets today have a lining that’s constructed with synthetic fibers. Take polyester or viscose for example; both of which breath terribly in comparison to natural fibers.
Granted this is not the case for every single suit jacket out there, for a good majority it’s true. To deal with it, you’re going to want to a suit jacket that’s either half lined or unlined. Now, while you might think unlined would be cheaper, let me tell you now, that it’s certainly not. Why? Because it requires more interior finishing which ups the price. In other words, it needs to be sewn more carefully because all the seams are exposed.
Cost aside, an unlined jacket is worth every penny when you start to consider how breathable and lightweight it is. On certain loose-weave fabrics such as a seersucker, certain liens and hopsack, fitting a lining is difficult to begin with anyways.
On an unlined jacket, the name implies it all. However, most of the time the sleeves will still be lined. You always opt for no sleeve lining to up the cool factor. Of course, the sleeves of your dress shirt can often stick to the sleeves of your suit causing some movement issues.
The other option to consider is a half-lined suit jacket, where the lining covers the upper back and shoulders. The back is left bare.
4. Choose the right color.
Chances are you already know the difference between wearing all black and all white in the summer. The dark the color, the more heat it absorbs from the sun. When it comes to suits, aim for lighter colors. Think light grays, tans, soft blues, creams, etc. Avoid black, navy, and dark solid colors when possible.
5. Loose the undershirt.
The good news is you’ll stay cooler. The bad news is you won’t be able to wear your shirt twice without needing to wash it immediately. If you still want to wear an undershirt, then go with a deep v-neck made of either bamboo or linen. Just make sure that it doesn’t show should you go tieless and unbutton your collar.
6. Drop the socks or cuff your trousers.
Master the look by wearing a pair of loafers. Avoid buying a trousers that are a shorter length. It will look like you bought the wrong size on accident. Not to mention, you can’t really adjust the length to your idea of perfect as you could with a full length in the first place.
7. Open up your collar and lose the tie.
If it’s business casual in an environment where showing respect isn’t a requirement, then consider dropping the tie and unbuttoning your collar. For some of you I know this won’t be possible. Regardless, if it is just take note of your undershirt and pay attention to the collars. The last thing you want to do is to be looking exhausted in a hot suit with your collars flapping around as if they’ve just given up too.
8. Consider chewing gum.
While gums like spearmint or peppermint won’t physically make your body colder, they will send a signal up to your brain. Remember, perception is reality. If you think about how hot is it and dream of the desert with a dry mouth, you’re going to feel hot. If you think of a snow-capped mountain with a piece of gum in your mouth to reinforce that idea, suddenly things start to feel more comfortable.
Another one of my recommendations above. At one time I owned stock in Wrigley Jr. Company before they were bought out by Mars Incorporated. I bought into them for a good reason. Of course, I chewed a lot of gum in the process. Simply put, they know how to make great candy and 5 Rain Spearmint is a solid example of that. It’s long-lasting and the flavor is top notch.
9. Wear loafers instead of lace-ups.
Your feet will thank you.
Of course, beyond the shoe type consider the often overlooked, insoles. A pair of summer insoles can offer dramatic relief from hot and sweaty feet.
10. Add a small or portable fan to your office desk, alongside an emergency kit.
Let’s face it, not everyone in the office will agree on the perfect room temperature. The slim girl in a dress is freezing while the overweight guy who hasn’t hit the gym in years is burning up. Of course, the boss could be looking to cut down on the energy bills too. Get around all of that and give yourself a nice breeze on demand on a with a small office desk fan.
Also consider throwing a little emergency kit in your office desk drawer. It can include things like spare cologne, face wipes, deodorant, a cooling towel and so on. To really be prepared, keep a few spare shirts at your desk.
11. Take comfort in the shade and air conditioning.
Easy enough right? If you want to avoid the heat from the sun, avoid it. If you want to cool down a bit, go indoors and bask in the comfort of the AC.
12. Invest in a cooling seat cushion.
Either for your car or for your office chair. While the morning trip to the office might be easy given the lower temperatures, the drive home is often the worst. If you have plans for after work, the AC will only go so far. Sure, it will cool down the front of your body, but not the back where all the sweat tends to collects against the hot leather.
If you don’t have cooled seats in your car from the factory, you can take comfort in knowing there’s plenty of aftermarket ones out there. Best of all, the technology has really improved over the years. The Snailax SL26A8 is a good choice. It offers 3 cooling levels, and in the winter you can make use of the 2 heating levels.
There’s also all sorts of cooling cushions for your office chair that aren’t clunky or noticeably unattractive.
13. Lose the jacket on your commute.
Save yourself earlier on in the day from heat exhaustion by putting your jacket and tie after you’ve walked in the office. Remember to hang your jacket up using the back seat hook or lay it down neatly if you’re in a pinch.
14. Carry a handkerchief everywhere you go.
Your hands suck at wiping sweat away, your handkerchief does not. A quick dab on the forehead, eyebrows and neck can make excessive sweat far more manageable.
15. Wear dress shirts with natural fibers.
Much like the suit jacket material I mentioned above, when it comes to dress shirts don’t just settle for any kind. Go with a long fiber cotton over a short fiber cotton. The difference can be found in breathability, softness and of course, durability to handle to high heat.
16. Watch what you eat.
Believe it or not, but what you eat affects how much you sweat. Perhaps the biggest food of them all to watch out for is fat. It moves extremely slow through the digestive system, which in turn requires more energy to digest it, thus making you feel warmer. Of course, this is also true for foods like peanuts, brown rice, fresh ginger, and yes, beer. Peppers will make you sweat more, however, in return more sweat equals more cooling sensation for the skin.
When it comes to foods that actually cool you down, you want to choose ones with a higher water content. Think watermelon or leafy greens.
17. Material isn’t all the matters!
There are a few things you need to consider such as: Are your sleeves roomy enough for enough air flow? Do the vents on your jacket allow the maximum amount of air to flow up the back as possible? If you aren’t sure if you’re the vents on the back of your suit are cut, check now. It’s common for most guys to forget all about them.
18. Give yourself time to cool back down.
If you go for a run or work out in the morning, don’t rush into work afterwards. Instead, relax into the day and give your body enough time to adjust its core temperature back down first.
19. Don’t sweat like a roasted hog.
Deodorant vs. Antiperspirant. For some of you, perhaps you may have a problem with excessive sweating? Naturally a suit does more than protect your body, it keeps you warm. However, if excessive sweating is a problem beyond your control, you might want to look into different solutions. The cheap deodorants at the grocery store don’t always work for everyone.
Another thing to consider is when you apply it. Did you know that the best time of day to do so is after a shower and just before bed? In reality, the worst time to apply any kind of wetness protection is the moment you are a sweating like a hog.
20. Don’t be such a cry baby, the world already has enough of those!
Suck it be, be a man. Look, I get it, during the summer time wearing a suit gets hot. It’s like sliding lava from a volcano over your body and walking around like you’re on fire. Now, I know most of you don’t live in a tropical climate, so you haven’t had time to get conditioned to the high heat. However, what else can you really do about it? Until they invent self-cooling suits, you’re going to have to do what men have done for generations: Deal with it!
To me, suits are a treasure with a long historical past. If you can’t handle the occasional downsides in contrast to all the upsides, perhaps you shouldn’t be wearing one in the first place. I’ve known plenty of gentlemen that sells cars in the extreme summer heat; never have I heard any of them make a fuss while wearing a suit. Try jumping in a car that’s been baking in the sun all day, reaching temperatures of 130 to 172 degrees. The seatbelt alone will melt your skin right off. Do you think they tell their customers they can’t go pull up a car and close a sale because their too hot? No.
And this is with the modern invention of air conditioning! Just think back to all the gentlemen years ago who wore suits on a daily basis with absolutely zero relief, other than standing out in the shade. You have an easy life! If you can afford the luxury of a suit in the first place, why in the world are you even complaining?