Staples for a hot climate – Reader question

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Dear Simon, 

I recently read your 2014 article, 'The staples of a good wardrobe' and was wondering how you would modify it for warmer climes like Hong Kong and Singapore?

Grey flannel isn’t a great option for most of the year here, cashmere is hard with the humidity, and an overcoat is less needed than it is in the UK.

I'm trying to decide what sort of jacket to have made while Solito is here in HK – donegal tweed vs cashmere herringbone etc and what would work better in this weather?

Thanks

Harry

navy-hopsack-jacket-and-cream-cotton-tie

Hi Harry,

Thanks for the question. Apologies for not replying to it sooner (and to all other readers for not featuring many reader questions recently).

The topic is timely, even if it might not seem so right now in the northern hemisphere.

For while it's cold outside at the moment, warm weather will be here in four or five months, and having bespoke tailoring made requires planning ahead. 

My five wardrobe staples for hot, tropical countries like Hong Kong or Singapore would be:

 

1 A navy worsted suit

This one goes unchanged from the first list. Still the most useful and versatile thing in a tailored wardrobe, and perfectly wearable in warmer weather. 

You may end up going for a lighter weight of wool, say 9oz rather than 11oz, but bear in mind how much time you actually spend indoors, in air conditioning. And that heavier cloths will usually last longer and drape better. 

2 A high-twist grey suit, such as Fresco

High-twist wools are generally more breathable than other worsteds, and hold their shape better than cloths of an equivalent weight. 

The classic here is Fresco from J&J Minnis, though I find it a little too harsh in texture and prefer Crispaire from Holland & Sherry. Do consider other high-twists your tailor offers though. There isn't much difference between them. 

These cloths are often particularly nice in shades of grey, and make nice trousers as well as suits. I am wearing a pair of grey Crispaire trousers in the image above.

3 A navy hopsack jacket

Inevitably, these lists have some boring choices in terms of colour and pattern. Plain navy, then plain grey, then the odd check or paler tone. 

But this is because they are simply the most versatile. They are the staple of the wardrobe. They go with the most things, you will end up wearing them most often, and they are more suitable to more situations. 

Hopsack is particular weave of cloth and very useful in lightweight jackets. It can work for trousers too, but in heavier weights. Otherwise it can be too delicate. 

If you want a little interest, and variation from that navy suit, then perhaps go for a double-breasted style rather than a single. Pictured above is my DB jacket from Neapolitan tailor Elia Caliendo. 

However, it's worth noting that much as I love this jacket, I am currently having a single-breasted version made (by Ettore de Cesare) as that will be certainly be more versatile. 

4 Pale silk/wool/linen jacket

As a slightly more casual jacket - and perhaps to go with those grey Fresco trousers - I'd have something in a light colour, either plain or with a subtle pattern. 

The colour is most likely to be some version of cream, tan or a similar light brown. My tan jacket from Elia is a good example, as is my oatmeal one for winter. 

Other than pale grey, which can be hard to combine with trousers, this group of colours is the most versatile and conservative. Others tend to be too bright for a professional environment. 

A subtle pattern will be most useful, with bold windowpane checks a little too loud. And pure linens may also be too casual - sharp and stiff when first worn, and becoming very wrinkled over time. Most summer jacketings from Italian mills like Loro Piana or Drapers tend to be some mix of silk, linen and wool instead. 

5 Linen bomber or blouson

Last but by no means least, an even more casual jacket to be worn with high-twist trousers or with chinos (many brands now do nice cotton/linen mix ones for summer). 

Where the pieces listed in the original piece were suede or cashmere, here we go for a linen one. (Cashmere's natural warmth makes it particularly problematic in warm weather, while suede will not breathe.)

And as before, in navy. Readers may remember my navy Hermès bomber from the summer, which is perfect (Hermès generally do a version every year). But other Italian brands like Loro Piana or Corneliani will often have similar models.

tailoring-suit-jacket-japan

Also pictured:

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Shaftoe

This is another helpful post especially for those of us who live in the tropics. May I suggest that a safari jacket ( cotton/linen mix) in tan/light brown is a useful option to the linen bomber or blouson. It can be paired with the trousers suggested in the post…and spectator shoes!
Do keep the great posts coming.

Anonymous

I have suits in fresco cloth from both Minnis and Smith. Whilst both do their job well, I prefer the Finmeresco, especially the 4 ply, as it has a softer hand and is dryer than Hardy Minnis’ version of.

Not tried the Crispaire. Maybe that’s a good place to go for the next commission.

T.

Thank you for this, Simon; it’s a good post. The photos are also somehow very captivating in this one.

On item no. 4 though, at times a wool/silk/linen mix would not be cool enough for very very humid weather (in Singapore or Thailand for example, it can get up to 34-35 Celsius with high humidity quite often). In these cases, pure linen sport coats would not be a bad choice I suppose?

-T

Nick Inkster

A couple of suggestions; members of the London Lounge cloth club can access one of their own known as Brisa, a fresco a couple of notches up from those mentioned above. Also, I really do recommend bamboo as an excellent cloth for humid climates.

John

Hi Simon,
I just have a question related to the main topic of the post: what about blends of wool and mohair? I’ve read that this kind of fabric were suitable for hot climes. So what’s your take on this?
John

Winot

Speaking of Loro Piana, any idea when their London sale starts? And is it likely to be replicated on their eShop?

Thank you.

Winot

To answer my own question, the Bond St Loro Piana store has a sale on now until the end of the month (possibly rolling over to February). 30% off a number of items.

S

I wish you do an article on the Brisa London Lounge cloth. For me this is the ultimate warm weather cloth. Porous like (and thereby cool) like Fresco, but soft like butter.

Thanks,
S

Richard

Simon,

Happy New Year. Can I ask your advice about weights of cloth for morning dress. I get hot and sweat very easily and only ever wear this in the summer. Given that it is three piece, what weight of cloth would you recommend and what is the lightest you would recommend? Obviously it needs drape and hang properly.

Many thanks

Anonymous

Smith 3 ply Finmeresco comes in a variety of suitable greys, will drape perfectly and is as good as any cloth at keeping you cool in the heat.

John

Hi Simon,
Happy new year!
Happy new year to PS’s readers too!
John

Jackson Hart

Simon,

You note above that you like Crispaire. I was induced, probably by a tailor who had an excess of this material on hand, to have no less than two suits made in this material and I hardly wear either because I find it, while somewhat heavy, too porous for the winter and, while porous, too heavy for the summer. Could it more accurately be described as an “Autumn” material or does it come in several weights?

Anonymous

Simon just read with interest your post on weaves – you have an extraordinarily useful resource in your blog. Thank you for sharing as much as you do.

I travel frequently to tropical countries and do so routinely with carry on luggage only. I am having W&S make a pair of odd trousers for me and had them send some swatches of high twist yarns over to me. I specifically asked them to include some Finmeresco swatches as from what I read this is comparable to Fresco but may be slightly less casual.

My wife is liking the lightest grey swatch which is a high twist 7 or 8 oz Holland and Sherry fabric, whereas I am more partial to a middle to dark grey Finmeresco listed at 10-11 oz. Either one will go with my navy blazer but I would appreciate your thoughts on whether I might expect one or the other to be more suitable – given that I look for crease resistance and comfort in temperatures around 35+.

Thank you for your time.

ANONYMOUS

Hi Simon,

May I know the switch number for this grey crispaire?

Anonymous

What grey tone has the trouser? Is it dark grey?

Anonymous

What makes more difference in hot climate, changing the fabric from let’s say 11 oz to 9 oz wool or changing the suit construction from an english structured to a neapolitan?

Anonymous

Does a high-twist like Crispaire feel noticeable cooler than a lightweight wool suit?

When you leave wrinkling aside isn’t a linen suit best suited for hot weather?

Anonymous

Yes, I mean linen is the best material for hot weather and wrinkling is the only reason why it isn’t used more.

Anonymous

Becasue you included both, are lightweight wools and high-twist wools on the same level of formality?

Anonymous

Are there situations where you prefer a 9oz suit to a high-twist suit in summer?