Suit for all seasons – simple guide to four-season suits

Posted by Atte Rytkönen on 18.3.2017 in General

Is it possible to have a suit that is appropriate to wear around the year? A suit for all seasons? The question is interesting and worth of consideration, especially if you happen to live somewhere that has four distinct seasons. Is owning a four-season suit even a possibility in that case? In this post I take a look of one of my recent new suits to go through this question.

Suit for all seasons - Brown worsted wool suit with subtle herrinbone pattern is a good choice for a four-season suit.
Brown worsted wool suit with subtle herrinbone pattern is a good choice for a four season suit.

A four-season suit

If you live somewhere that’s always hot or always cold, then buying a four-season suit is quite simple. You just need to choose either strictly light or strictly heavy weight fabric for year round comfort. But f you live in a place where each season is strongly defined, then there are a few more things to consider. To make a suit perform better for you all year long I personally would pay attention especially to the three following points.

  • Fabric – fiber and cloth construction
  • Color
  • Design (pattern and details)

With all this details you should find a balance that don’t shout any “specific season” of the year.

Suit for all seasons - brown herringbone suit with brown striped shirt and brown shantung silk tie. Perfect combination for wintry Florence
The brown herringbone suit with brown striped shirt and brown shantung silk tie. Perfect combination for wintry Florence.

First of all, in terms of color, stay within the usual suspects, blue, gray or brown. But avoid very light shades of color which look too summery for the winter season. Also avoid extremely dark shades of color that absorbs sunlight. Those very dark shades easily make the suit too hot to wear during the summer months. Secondly, choose a classic design that is in style year round and designate no particular season. The right color and design will also help you to combine the suit with different kind of accessories.

Suit for all seasons – versatility is the key

Naturally you need to pay attention to the combining the suit with right kind shirts, shoes and accessories. If you are looking for a suit for all seasons, you should choose a fabric that you can combine with thick oxford cloths shirts and heavier weight ties during the fall and winter. On the other you can’t choose too heavy fabrics such as tweed for example, so that you can wear the suit with lightweight shirts and ties during summer season. Cotton or linen are fabrics that are good for summer season and cashmere or cashmere and wool blends good for fall and winter. But my choice for a four-season suit would be pure wool. Worsted wool to be exact.

In terms of weight the optimal choice would probably be something from 240 g/m to 280 g/m, depending on the stucture of the suit. This kind of fabrics provide warmth in the winter but are still light and airy in summer. Then a few simple points about the construction and fit of the suit.

Suit for all seasons - combination of worsted wool and shantung silk.
Worsted wool with shantung silk. And some wool-silk fabric in the pocket.

Construction

In terms of construction, opt for full canvas or half canvas construction. Avoid fused suits as they do not “breathe” or evaporate moisture in the same way than canvassed jackets do. This will probably make you feel much more sweaty and sultry. To read more about the differences of the constructions, check out the post about made-to-measure suits. In terms of lining, full lining is a good choice for a business suit made of light weight wool fabric. Half-lining or an unlined option where only the shoulders and sleeves are protected by lining, is a suitable option to create balance for a bit heavier fabrics.

Fit

As always, the fit of the suit can make a huge difference. Even if you would like the fact that your suit is tightly, to make the suit as versatile as possible, make sure that you don’t go for too tight fit. Especially during fall and winter season you can use layers to bring some warmth by adding a cardigan or knitted vest into your outfit. And if the jacket is too tight, that’s not possible. To keep your whole body warm, you can also opt to use ultra-thin thermals under trousers made of silk or  smart wool for example. And this is good to keep in mind when you think about the fit. Again, if the trousers of the suit are too tight, the legs will get stick and that will not look good.

One good option to add versatility is also to buy a three-piece suit. The vest will give you more possibilities for different kind of combinations and it will keep you warm during colder months. And during warmer seasons it is easy just keep the vest in your closet.

Suit for all seasons - close-up of the brown herringbone wool fabric and details.

Worsted wool suit for all seasons

Over 90% of all suits are made of worsted wool fabrics. They are made of ‘combed‘ fibers and hence are fine and smooth, unlike the normal woolen fabrics like tweed and flannel that are coarser and fluffier. Then there are fabrics like hopsack or fresco that are loosely woven wool varieties. And linen or cotton as mentioned above. These fabrics are great for summer sports jackets for example, thanks to their light weight and airiness. But especially if you happen to live in the Nordic countries, those fabrics are simply too lightweight to be used around the year.

So worsted wool is a recommendable choice. In general it is highly durable and very long-lasting. And it is good to keep in mind that the worsted wool can as well be woven to be light, medium or thick either for season-specific wear, or year round wear.

Sum up – Brown herringbone worsted wool suit by Herrainpukimo

Then a quick look on one of my newest suits. Would this meet the definition of a suit for all seasons? The suit here is made of brown herringbone Holland & Sherry worsted wool. I ordered the suit in November but I wanted something that I could be able to wear at least from early fall days to early summer. And well, as the summer here is quite short, that would basically made the suit appropriate around the year.

Suit for all seasons - brown suit with Barbour Bedale jacket
The brown suit with Barbour waxed jacket and printed moghul scarf.

Dark chocolate brown – easy to combine

I did not have any brown suits in my rotation for years, but as said in my post about brown suits with brown accessories, I have recently started to appreacite the color again. The shade of brown fabric I chose for the suit is in fact quite dark. But it is not the darkest you could imagine. In fact the color quite chocolocate brown with dark shades in it. This kind of brown is easy to pair with lighter shades brown, multiple shades of blue and as well with orange, purple, pink and burgundy for example. So in terms of color the suit is in my opinion suitable to wear around the year.

Fabric and fit

The fabric I chose is actually quite heavy (370 g/m). So basically it is a fabric that is meant mainly for colder seasons. Due to the weight, weave and fibers the fabric is also very durable and ideal also for more intensive use. But as the fabric is on the heavier side of the range, I wanted to balance the ensemble. So when I ordered the suit I chose to go with minimal lining, which makes it a little bit lighter. In terms of construction the suit is ideal for year round use and despite the fact that the fabric is quite heavy, I  feel that I have a suit for at least three seasons of the year.

Suit for all seasons - shades of brown in Florence.
Shades of brown.

So I probably won’t use this piece when it’s sunny and the temperature goes beyond 15 or 20 degrees. But still I won’t take this suit to the storage even for summer. As the Finnish summer ain’t that hot anyway, I am sure there will be days when I can wear this suit. And then I will probably do it with a lightweight button-up shirt and some suede loafers.

What I wore – Pitti Uomo 91 day 1

For this look here, which is actually the look I wore for first day of Pitti Uomo I paired the suit with a shirt featuring thin brown stripes and the brown DLA shantung silk tie. The shoes are calf leather adelaide oxfords by Crockett&Jones. Finally I chose the Symposium pocket square to bring just a little pop of burgundy and blue color to finalize the look. As you can see, I wanted to go for mainly monochrome attire with different shades of brown.

Suit for all seasons - brown calf leather adelaide oxfords with the brown herringbone suit