The remarkable heat in London over the past two weeks has led to a few questions from readers as to the best way to stay cool in tailoring. Here are my top five tips.


1 Wear linen


Linen is a wonderful cloth: breathable and cool to the touch. Although each has other benefits, ceteris paribus I vastly prefer it to cotton, fresco or other high-twist fabrics.


Linen will wrinkle, of course, but go for an 11-ounce weight or heavier and the effect will be reduced. And you don’t need to have it in cream or tan either, so there need be no concerns about associations with colonial overlords. Navy linen can be nice, and my favourites are chocolate, tobacco brown and grey.


2 Go sockless


“But it’s hot today, and I don’t have a linen suit.” So first thing: take off your socks. If you generally wear over-the-calf socks, like me, this can make a vast difference to the coolness of your legs. It goes against the point of over-the-calf, of course, as you are exposing ungentlemanly leg hair, but needs must. The look is particularly effective when everything else is formal: navy cotton suit, shirt and tie, calf slip-ons…and bare ankles.


If you find this uncomfortable, try the cut-away socks that sit below the line of the shoe – often called trainer socks. Trunk in London sells some good Tabio ones, as does A Suitable Wardrobe.


3 Wear a hat


Keeping the sun off your head keeps you cool. You may feel sweaty – and cooler, therefore, when you take the hat off – but the direct sun is always hotter. So wear a nice panama. Not a tiny little trendy trilby, but a proper hat.


If you want to avoid those colonial associations, again, try it in a colour other than cream, such as Brent Black’s caramel-coloured Safari editions. And wear it with a bit of panache. Think Jude Law in The Talented Mr Ripley: cocked back, or tipped to one side, with big bronzed grin.


4 Lightweight everything


There are lightweight versions of almost everything you wear. Lightweight shirtings, lightweight chinos, linen socks, unlined shoes and of course lightly constructed jackets. The problem with all of them is that the weather is rarely warm enough for long enough (at least in the UK) to justify it. There will be perhaps three weeks a year when I think I really need a lightweight shirt.


The one item that I think it is worth investing in is a Neapolitan jacket. Anyone can use a lightweight cloth, but I have tried summer jackets from four English tailors and none of them compare to a Neapolitan construction. Get one in a lightweight wool/silk mix, and you can wear it with a cardigan when the weather cools down.


5 Put up with it


You can wear more clothes in the heat than you think. First, it is often cooler to be covered up, as mentioned under point 3. Direct sun on the skin is the enemy. And second, you get used to wearing more clothes over time. Even in the depths of winter, most men today would feel weird in mid-weight flannel, because they’re not used to it. Try wearing that lightweight Neapolitan jacket for a few days and see if you get used to it.  



Picture: At Camps de Luca, Paris. Hat just out of shot; stiff Corthays not quite suited to going sockless.
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wu ming

Hi Simon, brilliant article. I also prefer wearing more clothes in the heat, because I tend to feel undressed wearing only a shirt or a t-shirt. But what I worry about is the increased volume of sweat ruining a jacket. I once inherited a suit that had been worn in a a very warm climate and even two dry cleaning did not get the odour out. Also it stands to reason that bespoke suits would suffer from this problem more than RTW, because of the higher armholes. Any thoughts?

Anonymous

Simon,
Have you moved on from Graham Browne?
Ralph

wu ming

D Major in Fulham is only slightly more expensive than Grahame Browne and are full bespoke. D for Dimi, the cutter there is there Dimi Major’s son.

L Cool B

Living in a tropical climate, I have one addition to tip 5: wear an undershirt. Even though that may sound counter-intuitive, it keeps your shirt from looking all crumply and sweaty.

Андрей

Simon,

What is the suit you are wearing in the photo?

Is it KHL’s linen?

Andrey

Anonymous

Simon

In short, that suit in your photograph is simply stunning and you look incredibly stylish and sophisticated. Can you confirm the material and the choice of hose.

Bradley

Anonymous

Wilfrids? Nice!

Anonymous

I had a feeling they came from Steven! Beautiful shoe and I agree corthays are a pleasure to wear

Anonymous

Hi Simon,
This is an excellent post!
I smiled while reading one line, and thinking only a Brit could write that!…
John

Christopher Ashley

Air conditioner nightmares in summer, over heated offices in winter, giving one no chance to climatise. Climate control used to be a good suit.

Edward Harris

Hi Simon,

What are your tips for matching shirts, ties and shoes to a white or off-white linen suit? I original chose pale blue shirts and a pink tie, but quickly realised that I looked like one of the gangsters from The Untouchables. I am also far from convinced by the light tan Oxfords from Rosetti which I generally wear with white linen – something closer to the vintage oak in this picture would, I suspect, be both more mature and stylish as well as a better match for colours. Any advice?
Ed

Anonymous

Hi Simon,

Having recently received a pair of fresco trousers and a pair made from fabric from H&S I would be interested in trying linen (or a linen combo) for next summer. Could you recommend a few cloth firms and their book names? Also, is 11oz the right weight or would you ideally recommend something heavier?

Cheers,
Scott

Alexander Hugh Jarce

This sockless notion has got to stop! It really is a bad joke. If you wear good leather shoes with cotton or fine wool socks your feet stay cooler than anything else.
You can also enjoy a flash of colour instead of scrawny ankles. Bare feet in shoes is hard on your feet and harder on the shoes( nothing to soak up the sweat!!)
Pull on some socks and get over the heat,I work in a welding shop so know something of serious summer heat.

James Marwood

I’m currently working with a client who insists on a very informal dress code. I’ve found the Riviera polo shirts from Sunspel to be excellent, both for beating the heat and looking acceptable to me and the chaps I’m working with.

Tim

Overall, I’m not a fan of the sock-less look either. I think it can be passable without a tie or wearing a polo shirt because of the casual look. But when a tie is added to a suit, even a linen or cotton suit, it brings up the entire outfit and bare ankles just seem too stark and out of place in my eyes. Oh well, to each his own.

Fred

Dear Simon,
I am convinced and want to have a linen suit made up.
Would it be better to use a Neapolitan tailor or a British one?
For functionality a Neapolitan tailor seems sensible, less lining. Or maybe a tailor like Anderson and Sheppard, with their drape cut?
Lovely article.
J

jdiaz

I live in Seville (Spain). From June to September, during the day, temperature remains over 35 degrees celsius and sometimes even over 40. My advise is: do not wear a suit. If you have to wear one, just go to any other city by the sea or head north to another country with temperatures compatible with life.

StewartR

Always glad to read advice on keeping cool. I’ve had a few linen suits and jackets which look great for about an hour then I begin to look like I’ve slept in it. I do think more work needs to be done by manufacturers on the subject of lighter weight fabrics, there’s a huge market. Holland & Sherry have made strides in this area. Cotton farming issues may also be impacting on availability and sending weavers to explore new fibres. Linen is a great staple for any wardrobe though maybe I need to select a better one. I totally agree with the sock tip though.

Martijn Stolze

I was wondering, in relation to this, what the best cotton weaves are for hot weather, in particularly for dress shirts.

Evan Everhart

MARTIJN STOLZE:

I’d suggest voiles, pinpoint Oxford cloth, end on end, or madras (it doesn’t only come in plaid, it can also be found in solid and professional colors), just ensure that the fabric is at least 2 ply pure cotton that must be ironed. The non iron stuff always holds in more heat. Fine quality linen can also be nice, but just ensure that it is in a plain weave as the sturdier weaves will hold in more heat, again. Silk is also a nice option, if woven properly, or silk linen blend.

Might I suggest Aertex as an interesting option? It is a woolen, but designed for ventilation and strength. It is a washable woolen, at least mine is. If yr having it made up, you can ensure that it is washable, by addressing that issue with yr maker.

Cheaper linens will bind on you in tropical humidity though.

Peter Z.

Dear Simon,
What would your advice be for wearing a suit in a formal environment when the weather is 35 degrees Celsius? Would a 2-ply high twist work or would you go for linen? Usually at that point I am about to give up on any of my sartorial knowledge and hope of being stylish. That’s when I just get my driest and lightest linen everything (grey trousers, white shirt, navy jacket as I don’t have a suit in linen.) I know I am not supposed to wear separates in linen and I agree, but sometimes I feel these rules are obsolete when you are on the verge of boiling (esp. as many of the offices do not have AC).
Thanks for any advice you might have
Peter

Peter Z.

I was looking through some high twist cloth bunches and had a hard time picking. VBC/Drapers didn’t have anything in plain dark navy in the 2 ply, the Finmeresco 3 ply was too fine and sleek. Which high twist would you go with for that weather? Crispaire (I haven’t seen it in person)?
P.S. I have read the high twist article but haven’t had the chance to look at all the fabrics in person.

Ian

Hi Simon,

You mentioned wearing 11oz linen, does that apply for shirts as well? or is lighter linen fine?
Also, is there much difference between fresco and other high twist wools for trousers?

Ian

Would a linen shirt (especially in white) have the problem of being a little transparent/see through? Especially when wearing without a jacket.

Ian

I don’t actually have one yet, just tried on once. I am fairly dark skin. I also have a cheaper & thinner white dress shirt which is very slightly see through.