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It could seem that the suit and summer are antonyms. Nothing could be further from the truth. Firstly, there are many occasions where anything other than a suit will be a serious embarrassment or faux pas. Such occasions often happen in summer (yes, I mean weddings). Secondly, the fact that we put on a suit does not mean that we need to boil and sweat in it. This is a myth. To do away with that myth, we only need choose this magnificent element of menswear wisely. To do so, one has to be aware of several basic principles. What are they? This text will tell you about them.
The photo session for this post was made at Le Grande Bali during my stay at Bali as part of #JakubRoskoszTravels. During this series, I cover interesting spots through photo sessions. This time I chose a Tombolini power suit, 100% wool with a half-lining, with a linen shirt, also by Tombolini. The whole suit is complemented with Jaguar glasses with intelligent Transitions glass, a Tombolini belt, a Junkers, watch, and cult Santoni shoes. How does it all look?
To buy a proper summer suit, the first thing to do is to look at the fabric. If you have no idea about fabrics, and have trouble distinguishing wool from cotton, you just have to study all the possible tags carefully. I strongly advise you trust your senses and reason. It is obvious that a soft, warm flannel (you can tell by touch, by grabbing it) is by no means suitable for hot days. The same goes for cashmere. But if you’re uncertain about the fabric and cannot specify when it should be worn, search the pockets to find the tags. What should you look for? The suit tag should tell you the type of fabric used. Both the main fabric and the lining.
Nowadays, with the rapid development of technology, more and more brands, including luxury brands (such as Burberry and Zegna) have begun to introduce synthetic, high quality fabrics, which can often have better properties than natural ones – but so far, these have been the very few exceptions which only seem to prove the rule.
Hi-tech fabric will not reach the shelves of generally accessible chain stores very soon, and the synthetic fabrics we find there now are certainly not a better choice than natural fabrics. In a nutshell, we should put everything that starts with ‘poly’ or ‘poli’ back on the hanger. Polyester and polyamide are the most common admixtures in suits. The latter in small quantities is not very harmful. It is added to natural fabrics to reinforce them – usually to coats or autumn suits.
Summer models should be made of 100% natural fabric such as wool, linen, cotton and silk, or a blend of these. The least advisable fabric of those popular four is certainly cotton, which creases easily. The creases will not look nice or add charm, and the same goes for linen. Creases on cotton are impossible to remove without ironing, so cotton is rarely used in reputable suit brands.
As we have now arrived at the lining, the inner side of the suit’s fabric, a question arises as to its function: what should it be made of, and is it needed at all in the summer?
The lining is an inner layer, and if it is there, it should be made of viscose or cupro viscose, the copper fiber, which is often used for making linings in higher quality suits.
The fabric of which it is made is crucial, and many uninformed clients do not pay attention to this at all.
Often, the shop assistant, taking advantage of a customer’s superficial knowledge (we’ve heard somewhere that a suit should be made of wool) or complete lack of knowledge, simply mentions that the suit is made of 100% natural fabric, for example wool. Yet it’s often the case that the outer fabric is indeed natural, but the lining is made of a synthetic fabric, such as polyester. This, to put it mildly, is far from ideal, but is a solution often employed by textile manufacturers who are aware that customers don’t pay much attention to it. Let us put ourselves in the manufacturer’s position. Why use a more expensive fabric if one can use a cheaper one, and the customer won’t notice the difference at all? And so, one has to sweat in the suit and “endure the suffering”. The more informed customers are, the better the products on the market will be. Don’t forget that demand generates supply, and not vice versa. So what we find in stores is something we want to have – something we buy. What a pity that we men only know that we want to buy a suit – in fact, that we have to buy a suit – and our meager knowledge makes the sale of such poor quality suits possible.
One should deepen one’s knowledge before purchasing. Otherwise, whether we buy the right product will largely depend on the shop assistant who, knowing our needs, advises and guides us. Let’s not fool ourselves, we don’t live in paradise. Good shop assistants are very rare. A seller who sees a greenhorn coming will sell him a) something that has been on the shelf for a long time and is not easy to sell, or b) whatever generates the largest commission. Sad but true.
When we choose a suit with a synthetic lining, it will not let the air in well, and the natural properties of the wool will be lost through the sticky polyester, which will build a perfect wall between our body and our surroundings, causing nothing but heavy sweating. We all know the look of soaked shirts at weddings when the men begin to take off their jackets. Often, this is not because they’re having such a good time, but because their suits are unsuitable.
The fact that I am an ardent supporter of two solutions is not new. If you look through all my outfit looks on the blog you will see that even the autumn suit shows a half-lined jacket. The last fully lined suit presented (without bespoke) was one made of a delicate fabric (wool, silk, linen), of Italian Loro Piana from Pal Zileri. No lining (which is the reinforcing layer) could shorten the life of such a jacket. With such a delicate fabric, it could wear out even faster. Especially where the stitches are. This model, and the recent bespoke from Tiviano Atelier, are currently my only fully-lined jackets. Unlined or half-lined suits are extremely comfortable and convenient solutions. Have you ever thought how the Italians can wear suits and jackets despite living in much higher temperatures? No lining is one of the reasons why men can withstand heat even above 30°C with a jacket on. As you see during the photo session in Bali, with a temperature of 33°C.
There are many more advantages to such jackets. They are clearly more breathable, therefore you sweat less. A single layer of fabric less also means less weight. We don’t feel like we’re encased in armor. The lightest models, such as Tombolini Zero Gravity, weigh roughly as much as thicker shirts. Jackets made this way endure travelling better when folded. I travel a lot, so the argument of taking up much less valuable luggage space is also very important. Such jackets are also easier when you need to have a tailor do alterations done. But as everything, such suits also have drawbacks, the major one being price.
You would think unlined suits should be cheaper than standard ones. There’s one fabric less to use. Nothing could be further from the truth, even though lining is only used in the sleeves. Yet, unlined suits are much more expensive than lined ones. Have you ever thought why? An unlined suit must be excellently finished inside. There is no room for error. A tailor’s every movement is visible to the naked eye. The stitches and finishing are visible not only from without, but also from within. When we have a lining, it acts to cover up the mess frequently to be found. Since everything which is poorly finished or sewn will be covered with the lining, the finishing is no longer so important.
Another disadvantage is the fact that jackets made this way fit well at the back and waist levels where there is no lining. Buy this is not always the case. Everything depends on the style, the fabric, and our figure. Men’s fashion doesn’t generally like compromises, but in difficult conditions these are inevitable if we want to look sharp.
This post is also available in: POLISH VERSION
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