We mentioned previously that people generally avoid tailored attire as they perceive that layering up equates to heat, hence not suitable for warm weather. Sweating profusely in a suit is not a situation one wishes to be in. However, it is still possible to suit up while staying cool and comfortable in a warm surrounding. The key is to choose summer or warm weather suitings. Most men choose suits made from polyester as their first, and maybe, only suit. A polyester suit may be easy on one’s budget but does not breathe well. The fabric restricts airflow, making its wearer sweat more. For warm climate, choosing the correct fabric for your suits is important, comfort-wise and aesthetic-wise. In this second part of the article, we will introduce several fabric options for warm weather: linen, cotton and tropical wool.
Linen – King Of Warm Weather
Linen comes from stems of the flax plant. It is one of the earliest-produced textiles, stretching back to 10,000 years ago. Historical records have shown that linen was a valuable textile during the Ancient Egyptian civilisation, being used to make their garments, for burial shrouds and mummification.
The process of manufacturing linen, from ploughing until weaving flax threads to form linen fibre, is laborious and time-consuming. As a result, linen garments tend to be more expensive than their in-class cotton counterparts.
A linen suit is a recommended choice for the tropics, or anywhere that experience warm weather all year round. In sweltering heat, linen clothes are your best friends. The fabric’s loose weave makes it lightweight and more importantly, extremely breathable. It absorbs moisture, but unlike cotton, linen dries quickly, helping to reduce heat retention in overly warm conditions. As a result, a linen suit keeps the gentlemen cool and fresh under the hot blazing sun.
However, linen lacks elasticity. It does not spring back easily once it has been creased. Repeated creasing breaks linen fibres, making the wear visible after some time. It also wrinkles easily. Thus, linen may not be the fabric of choice for gentlemen that emphasise on looking neat and pressed.
Donning a linen suit is a great way to dress in summer style while exuding a casual vibe. It is suitable for suits, shirts and even jackets. It is also a more casual alternative to cotton and wool. One can opt for a linen full suit, either in light or dark colours, when attending parties. Due to its relaxed nature and its tendency to wrinkle, linen suits are not suitable for office attire.
Cotton – Styling In Comfort
Another type of plant fibre that is an ideal choice in a warm climate is cotton. Referred to as the king of comfort, it is a popular choice for those who prefer natural fabrics. Derived from cotton plants, it is popular both as fabric for clothing and home textiles.
Cotton originated in the Middle East. It was introduced to Europe when the East India Company imported a huge amount of cotton into Britain in 1664. The Industrial Revolution further improved cotton’s manufacturing effectiveness, and its popularity has grown since then.
Cotton is a lightweight fabric that absorbs moisture from perspiration much better than linen. The air between your skin and fabric cools down as the moisture evaporates, releasing heat. It also has great breathability, letting air through easily which offers more comfort in a warm and humid climate. At the same time, cotton suits are easy to maintain. Most cotton suits are tough enough that they fold down well and will not be damaged when compacted in a suitcase.
As tough as it is, cotton suits tend to shrink easily. Thus, they need extra care during cleaning. They also wrinkle easily, but not as bad as linen.
A cotton suit is best for business semi-formal or casual events. It delivers comfort without compromising style. It is versatile enough that one can wear it as an ensemble or mix and match with jeans, or a simple cotton shirt. For office wear, opt for heavier weight cotton, as it helps the fabric keep its silhouette. Adding a little extra room in the waist and thigh will also help you feel more comfortable, as the fabric does not stretch well.
Wool – Elegant And Cultured
Wool accounts for the majority of suitings, due to its refined aesthetics. Compared to linen and cotton, a wool suit provides a more polished look. Its soft, naturally-textured surface absorbs dye well, creating a smooth, solid look and a natural lustre which makes wool suits look rich. The fibre is flexible enough to be spun and woven into cloths of different weight. Hence, wool can remain classy both in the heat of the day or the cool of the night.
Mankind learnt how to remove and spun the sheep’s fleece to produce clothing around 12,000 years ago. Over time, better methods for shearing fleece and weaving yarn to make wool have been discovered. Fleece from a sheep’s shoulders and sides are prized as it makes the best quality wool.
Tropical wool comes from tightly twisted, worsted-spun yarns and is the best choice for warm climate. Its loosely woven nature leaves larger gaps in the weave, making the material porous and more breathable. This allows the fabric to dissipate heat and wick moisture, keeping perspiration at bay. This also contributes to greater tensile strength and resistance to abrasion. Therefore, it doesn’t wrinkle as easily as other fabrics.
From business-formal to casual occasions, wool suits have their place. Tropical wool with hopsack weave is great for blazers and jackets. It is soft, very breathable and crease-resistant. The basketweave texture adds some character to the garment. However, its open weave makes it delicate and sensitive to rubbing, unsuitable for elegant trousers tailoring. Thus, for full suits, opt for Fresco instead. Fresco has a tight but open weave, making it better in resisting wrinkles, perfect for travel suit pants.
Blended Fabric – Getting The Best From Different Fabrics
Linen, cotton and wool are natural fibres that possess their own good and poor characteristics. The increasing demand for better quality fabrics has sped up the development of blended fabrics resulting in a new fabric with unique properties. This process not only retains some of the original fabrics’ characteristics but also greatly reduce the cost.
A common blend is cotton and polyester. Polyester contributes more wrinkle resistance while cotton provides moisture absorbency and heat dissipation. This type of blend is suitable for tropical weather. Another blended fabric suitable for warm weather is the linen-silk blend. Silk adds softness and drape to linen, producing a new fabric with a soothing feel and does not crease easily, with the breathability similar to linen.
Bespoke Tailoring For Warm Weather
Of course, there are other aspects that need to be considered as well. The suit’s colour, structure (e.g. full-lining or half-lining) and fit (e.g. loose or slim fit) could also make the wearer feel warmer or otherwise. When tailoring a suit, all these need to be factored in. With all the complexities that go into tailoring the perfect menswear, it is best to have your suit crafted by an experienced tailor.
Sky Ng, the bespoke tailor of Gent’s Props can guide you in choosing a suit of your liking, suitable for Malaysia’s warm climate. Gent’s Props has a wide selection of suitings to be tailored into any attire of your choice. During the first consultation with him, be honest about what you expect of your suit. By doing so, he can custom-make your suit based on your requirements. Do check out his Instagram page or contact him at +6012 280 0812 for an appointment.
In the next chapter, we will explore how one can still adhere to a casual dress code while remaining sartorially elegant. Many have mistakenly associate being “suited and booted” with dressing formally, thus hindering many aspiring classic menswear enthusiasts to suit up during casual meet-ups. Come back again when we explore how to be effortlessly casual, and yet appear dapper.