by Claude T. Hector

One of the hardest parts about working in an industry that requires that I wear a suit every day is the conundrum that summer presents. How does one look cool while staying cool? Luckily, the clothes we enjoy all fall and winter come in lighter fabrics for the spring and summer.

The outfit I'm wearing in these photographs is made up of only light weight materials - and mostly linen. When it comes to dressing up this time of year, linen is a workhorse. The secret behind linen lies in the way it's woven. Linen tends to have more space between it's fibers than wool does. This makes the fabric more breathable and keeps you cooler. Linen is also absorbent, which helps as well. It is, however, prone to wrinkling. This vexes some men to distraction, but I enjoy the wrinkling and embrace that aspect of the fabric. I was told once that wrinkling on the sleeves of a linen sports jacket were called memories and I've enjoyed them ever since. You can see my jacket in these photos has already acquired quite a few of them.

The sweater vest under my jacket is also 100% linen. You may of course decide to forgo this layer on a hot summer’s day, but it’s for spring time in New York, where the temperature can be all over the place during the course of a single day.

My shirt is a favorite that happens to be a blend of linen and cotton. You'll find that many brands have been blending linen with other fabrics like silk; cotton or wool. In the case of my shirt, the linen has been blended with cotton in order to make the shirt less wrinkle prone while keeping its breathability.

I rounded out my outfit with a pair of linen trousers with a houndstooth pattern. One thing I enjoy about this particular outfit is that it shows how widely linen can vary. The sportcoat has the slubby, rough texture and muted color that linen is known for. But the trousers have a smoother weave, and the knit vest is both more saturated in color and has a slight sheen that linen sometimes gets. Together, the pieces form a picture that coheres without being too homogenous in color or texture. 

This outfit is an off duty look for me that can easily be worn to a more casual wedding. But there’s nothing wrong with wearing linen in more conservative colors like blue or white as well. Even tiespocket squares and socks are being made in linen to keep even the minor details of your outfit more seasonal. Try them all out and stay cool in every way possible this summer.

Photos by Donell Woodson