The cotton suit might be one of the most underappreciated garments in men’s summer wardrobe. Despite that I had for a long time been thinking about getting one commissioned for myself. Today I am taking a look at the result. A suit might sometimes sound like the last thing you want to put on during hot and sunny summer days. There are still many ways to cool down the look and make it appropriate for the weather. First of all by choosing lightweight fabrics and unlined models one can fight the hear. Secondly, different kind of combinations featuring loafers without socks or even t-shirts with a jacket for example can make a difference.
The cotton suit
In the beginning of this summer I finally decided to find a perfect cotton suit for myself. I wanted to be able to wear one at Pitti Uomo in June. As there really ain’t many brands offering such suits, especially in that camel color I was looking for, I decided to order my suit as made-to-measure piece from Vaatturiliike Sauma.
Cotton suit is probably one of the most casual expressions of a suit possible. That makes it appropriate for many kind of occasions from summer weddings to casual Fridays at the office. You can also easily break up the cotton suit into separates. For example you can wear a cotton suit jacket with jeans. And probably no-one will even think that the jacket might be a part of a suit. On the other hand cotton suit trousers can be used as normal chinos. And as cotton cloth typically wears cooler than wool that makes it quite useful even on a warm and sunny day.
Cotton suit – with and without tie
I wanted my cotton suit to be as versatile as possible. I wanted it to be appropriate to wear with and without a tie and the parts to be suitable to wear as separates in case needed. So I chose a tan (or camel) colored cotton cloth by E.Thomas. In terms of color that makes the suit very easy to combine with different shirts, shoes and accessories. I also had in mind either olive green or light blue but the versatility got me to choose the tan. I wanted a jacket with minimal lining and as unstructured as possible. Other features of the jacket are 3-roll-2 button stance, soft shoulders and three patch pockets. Trousers came with double-pleats and 5,5cm cuffs.
Tan is versatile color for a suit. As well as it is for odd jacket and trousers. You can combine it with multiple colors such different shades of blue, brown and green. As usual, the darker the colors of accessories you combine it with, the formal is the ensemble you will come up with.
Dress down – wear the suit without a tie
In most cases I don’t wear suit without a tie. Many times if you want to dress down your suit it is better to opt for example a knitted tie than go without a tie. However a cotton suit with such details as I chose for my own suit definitely works without a tie as well. So when you are making those decisions, pay attention the details and to the whole look. In the end the mirror will tell you whether it is alright to go tieless.
Cotton suit jacket as a blazer
In case you want to make your suit as versatile as possible,there are a few things that are good to keep in mind. First of all the model, structure, fabric and details of the jacket. There are a few patterns such as pin and chalk stripes I would leave only for business use. Secondly, I would also leave very thin and fine wool fabrics only to be used as a full suit. And if your suit jacket features details such as heavy shoulder structure, flap pockets or even a ticket pocket I would consider very carefully whether the jacket is appropriate to be used as a sport coat.
As mentioned above one of the good features of a cotton suit is that usually the jacket can be worn on its own with odd trousers without anyone even thinking that the jacket might be a part of a suit. This of course with the proviso that there ain’t any of the above mentioned details featured on the jacket.
Denim with cotton jacket
I chose the details for jacket so that it can without a doubt be worn as a sport coat with other cotton slacks than my suit trousers. Actually it can be used even with denim slacks and jeans. And no matter are you wearing a tie or not, the ensemble will be casual but still dressed-up and elegant.
Cotton suit trousers with a blazer
When it comes to combining suit trousers and sport coats the same above mentioned rules in terms of materials and details apply. Many times suit trousers can actually be much more difficult to combine with sport coats than suit jackets with odd trousers. Especially if there is any kind of a pattern on the suit fabric. Personally I tend to prefer patterned jackets with plain trousers. Combinations of patterned trousers and plain jacket I hardly ever wear. This might at least partly be result of the fact that usually you want people to pay attention rather to your upper body than to your lower body. Therefore trousers in most cases form the soothing part of the package.
For my suit I chose trousers with a bit higher rise, side adjusters instead of belt loops, reverse double pleats and 5,5cm cuffs. And I came up with trousers that actually derogate from most normal ready-to-wear cotton slacks but are still appropriate to be used as odd trousers. Either with a sport coat or even just with a t-shirt for example.
Denim blazer and camel colored cotton
Blue blazer with light colored trousers is one the most classic combinations there is. However you don’t always need to go for that classic blue blazer. For this post here I chose to wear the double-breasted made of indigo dyed Loro Piana linen. And I combined them with the camel colored cotton suit trousers.
As you can see here, when you use plain trousers, the attention is focused on the upper half of the outfit. And as the blazer in itself is quite bold featuring wide lapels and three patch pockets it is safe to keep also the shirt, tie and pocket square as plain as possible.
Cotton suit and a t-shirt
There are many who consider wearing a t-shirt with a suit inappropriate. However cotton suit which, by definition, is one of the most casual interpretations of a suit makes an exception here. For a casual, hot summer day t-shirt with a cotton suit can be totally appropriate choice. And whereas one should never take his jacket off in case wearing a suit with a tie, with a t-shirt there ain’t such a problem. By taking of the jacket you get a combination of cotton chinos and a t-shirt, i.e a perfect casual summer ensemble.
Sum up – go for versatility
So in case you want to play safe and want as versatile (summer) suit as possible, my advise would be to choose a plain cotton or linen fabric. Then go for a single-breasted jacket featuring patch pockets (or normal pockets without flaps), minimal structure and soft shoulders. This way you will end up with a suit you can also use as separates. You can use the jacket even with jeans and trousers as regular cotton chino slacks.
And keep in mind that even though cotton suit is more suitable for summer, you can also use it during the colder months of the year. This of course depends on the fact how heavy is the cotton fabric you choose. And what color do you go for. But for example a dark blue, tan or olive green cotton suit is totally suitable to wear during fall. And even winter if you just combine it right. For example I will sure keep using this tan colored cotton suit with roll neck sweaters when the time comes.
And finally, if you are looking for a new cotton suit but don’t want to go for made-to-measure or bespoke, here a few options to check out from different price ranges.