When the temperatures start rising and you’re breaking a sweat just standing, all you want to do is shed layers and cool the fuck off. Still, there are certain occasions in high summer that warrant something spiffier, something that frames your body, something that shows others that you’re the master of your domain. And nothing telegraphs that better than a suit. It is a style that, since what feels like time immemorial, allows you to keep up appearances. But before you reach for any ol’ thing on the rack, know that the best suits for summer are ones that are built to withstand the heat.
You have to pay attention to three major factors: fabric, silhouette, and color. Not all suits are created equal, meaning that there are styles that are better for some seasons than others. And if you have a wedding, big meeting, or other professional event to attend in the coming weeks, throwing on layers of corduroy, wool, or cashmere in navy and black is a recipe for disaster. Back sweat is a real thing, folks. So to help you avoid that scenario, we rounded up the best suits to wear this summer, and all summers after.
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Best Performance Summer Suit
ABC Classic-Fit Pant
Ah, Lululemon. The brand that made athleisure super cool also offers suits that offer equal parts comfort and style—and will work for you come rain or shine. This blazer, for example, is made of a water-repellant fabric with two-way stretch. Feel free to move around at your, well, leisure. Ditto that for the pants, which are equally stretchy and comfy.
Best Cotton-Linen Summer Suit
Ludlow Slim-Fit Unstructured Irish Cotton-Linen Suit Lacket
Ludlow Slim-Fit Unstructured Irish Cotton-Linen Suit Pant
The Ludlow put J.Crew’s tailoring on the map when it debuted in 2008. Over the years, the just-slim-enough silhouette has been made of every material, from wool to seersucker to corduroy—and also in every conceivable color and pattern. But for a professional vibe in the summer, a cotton-linen option in subtle blue check is our Ludlow of choice.
Best Light Blue Summer Suit
Tailored-Fit Suit Jacket
Tailored-Fit Suit Trousers
A loose chambray shirt with some fitted jeans and a whole lot of swagger is the quintessential summer look. Just see Elvis in Roustabout. Or ask Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan. But if a situation calls for something spiffier, try a chambray-colored suit from the always-reliable Banana Republic, a brand that never ceases to offer goods that are sharp, comfortable, and won’t break the bank.
Most Relaxed Summer Suit
Cropped Straight-Leg Trousers
Easy, breezy, and always elegant: that’s what encapsulates Barena best. The brand’s blazers—this one made of a lightweight wool-cotton blend—typically boast a soft shoulder and a relaxed fit; it pays particular attention to the drape of its garments, meaning they only get better the more you wear them. The trousers? Well, they’re made to match, both in fabric and in feel.
Sharpest Summer Suit
Off-White Havana Suit
No roundup of suits, regardless of the season, would be complete without Suitsupply. As long as the brand keeps on turning out suits like this one—cut slim from cotton by Italy’s E.Thomas mill, and featuring enlarged lapels reminiscent of ones found at the coolest rumba clubs—that’s not going to change.
Best ‘Suits Optional’ Summer Suit
Technical-Pleated Straight-Leg Trousers
Master of all things pleated, Issey Miyake has the perfect suit to lounge in as soon as the warmer weather hits. The brand’s suits are so lightweight you won’t feel like you’re wearing a two-piece at all, and wearing a suit for fun is the biggest flex of them all.
Best Striped Summer Suit
Italian Cotton-Linen Madison Suit
A striped suit often calls to mind one of two characters: Beetlejuice or Patrick Bateman. Neither can be seen in Todd Snyder’s take on the ubiquitous pattern. Made of on a cotton-linen blend, this single-breasted two-piece is both impeccably tailored and east to wear; it nips and hangs loose in just the right areas. And the details are not to be missed: a butterfly lining (so even less layers) and a double-vent in the back of the jacket, and sleek front pleats on trousers.
Most Lightweight Summer Suit
When it comes to lightweight tailoring, leave it to the Italian suiting whizzes at Lardini to make beige suit in cotton with a little bit of silk blended in for some added elegance.
Most Colorful Summer Suit
Unstructured Washed-Linen Suit Jacket
Straight-Leg Linen Suit Trousers
Richard James is brand known to many who frequent Saville Row. Its suits are tailored and cast in an array of bright colors that make an elegant statement. This double-breasted two-piece definitely represents that credo, but is made more summer-ready with the use of linen in an effervescent shade of pink.
Best Designer Summer Suit
Crease Single-Breasted Blazer
Drill Slim Box Trousers
Leave to Off-White to bring something unexpected to traditional styles. Case in point: this roomy, single-button suit, made of synthetic materials with stretch. It’s as refined as it is comfortable, and it’s definitely a fit that’ll allow you to hang loose.
Best Classic Summer Suit
Tonal Plaid Wool-Silk Suit
Ermenegildo Zegna has been making suits since 1910, refining its technique over the decades. The brand’s pieces are always made of the best materials and cut in way that imparts distinction—like this wool-silk two-piece with just the right amount of shine to turn heads in every room you’re in.
Most Comfortable Summer Suit
Linen, Wool, and Silk-Blend Blazer
Straight-Leg Pleated Linen, Wool, and Silk-Blend Drawstring Suit Trousers
Brunello Cucinelli is the name to know if you’re a fan of perfectly cut, classic tailoring in muted tones. And there might not be a more comfortable blend than wool, silk, and linen when it comes to keeping cool. Factor in the drawstring on the trouser, and you have the coolest, most comfortable suit in the market.
The key features to consider before purchasing a summer suit….
Fabric: As we mentioned above, the choice in material is what really differentiates a summer suit from, say, one for winter. You’re going to want to opt for fabrics that are easy, breezy, and lightweight; ones that allow for maximum air circulation. Some of the best options include cotton, linen, seersucker, silk, and tech fibers—or blends of two or more of these fibers.
Silhouette: It is best to avoid styles with an excess amount of fabric, ones that could appear sloppy when not properly tailored to fit your body. You also want to stay clear of options that are too constricting; let your body breath a little. Of course, there are exceptions, but it is best to find cuts that fit just right.
Color: Dark colors attract heat. It’s science. So if you really want to keep things light, try suits in cream, soft shades of gray or blue, or, if you want to be adventurous, pink. And if you must wear standard black or navy, make sure the fabric is up to snuff.
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