“I promise that once you try on a suit that is specifically designed for warmer temperatures you’ll never go back,” explains Finlay Renwick, Editor at Saville Row-based label Drake’s when I ask him how to find the perfect summer suit. “It’s why the Italians look cool as a cucumber in Florence in August.”
Now, I don’t know whether it’s because of Brad Pitt’s recent foray into suiting, a post-pandemic penchant to dress to impress, or the fact that I’m now on the wrong side of thirty, but my urge to go everywhere looking sharper is increasing daily.
When I say suit, I don’t mean a three-piece velvet double-breaster, wandering around town like Willy Wonka’s protégé, nor do I want to turn up to my local like a 50p 007, instead I’m in search of a lightweight summer suit, something pleasing on both the eye and on the body, with a few pockets, and a big dash of sophistication.
“Look for something light, unstructured, and a bit relaxed, something you can wear to work or to a September wedding,” says Renwick.
“Avoid anything that makes you feel cinched up or awkward. Barena, Officine Generale, and (I’m a bit biased) Drake’s, all make great workwear-meets-tailoring tailoring. Our Games suit will change your life. I even wear them on flights, Don Draper style… sort of.”
For the last decade or so, I’ve mostly worn versatile activewear. The kind of ensemble I could comfortably run in or attend fairly casual dinner in, so to switch to suiting might read like a midlife personality crisis – but it most definitely probably isn’t.
Growing up (and still living) in a working class naval town on the south coast of England, 99% of the fashion consists of a short-sleeved Ralph Lauren polo, straight denim jeans, and a pair of classic Timberland full-grain boat shoes.
It’s so much the norm to dress like a generic #bloke, even in 2022, that I’ve been jeered for even carrying a tote bag in my time.
That being the case, if I’m going to bring myself to dressing more formally, even on informal occasions, I want to do it right, because if it isn’t a funeral, wedding, or you’re off to your latest court hearing, you’re considered overdressed.
Brands like Drake’s, A Kind of Guise, and those mentioned by Renwick offer more than their fair share of suits, but how do you know what material works best for each season?
“It’s always a tricky period to dress for, and I definitely don’t always get it right,” admits Renwick.
“I’d say a heavier linen works well. Then either a brushed cotton or a lighter fresco wool, which is still breathable. As much as material, a suit that has a soft shoulder and is unlined will make a huge difference to how comfortable it is.”
According to Renwick, footwear is just as important as the suit itself, and alongside a sturdy pair of Paraboot’s Michael, he says he’s open to a good sneaker, too.
“I subscribe to the basic philosophy of the looser/wider/more relaxed, the bigger/chunkier your trainer should be,” he explains. “I think a New Balance 991/992 is a good suit trainer.”
While the suit purists will likely snarl at the very thought of wearing a pair of sneakers with a suit, it does make things a little easier when it comes to giving a blazer and trousers a more casual vibe.
That being said, however I decide to piece this together over the coming weeks and months, it’ll take some doing to look as cool as an Italian in Florence in August.