Dress Code: The Best Lightweight Suits For Summer

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Dress Code: The Best Lightweight Suits For Summer

Words by Mr Chris Elvidge and Ms Molly Isabella Smith | Photography by Ms Wanda Martin | Styling by Ms Otter Hatchett

19 June 2019

Come summer, a suit might be just about the last thing you’d want to wear. And, understandably so. We’ve all cursed the gods as we sweltered our way through a summer wedding ceremony, or arrived to the office damp from an airless commute. Suits are, generally speaking, pretty unpleasant things to wear in the heat.

But not all suits are created equal. With the right fabrics and construction, they can actually rank among the most comfortable and practical garments in your entire warm-weather wardrobe. And if that sounds like a preposterous claim, please hear us out. We’ve brought together six of Europe’s finest tailoring brands to change your mind.

If you’re looking for a quick introduction to MAN 1924, you could do worse than to check out a few of the photographs of Messrs Carlos Castillo and Jorge Navares circulating on the internet. Why? Because the look and feel of this Bilbao-based brand is entirely indivisible from the effortless, laid-back personal style of the men behind it. With that in mind, we’ve channelled our inner street-style stars for this look, which is built around an olive cotton version of MAN 1924’s unlined Kennedy jacket and a fringed cotton scarf from its long-standing collaboration with LOVAT&GREEN. There are beaded bracelets aplenty courtesy of Brazilian jewellery designer Luis Morais, plus gold-framed sunglasses from Californian eyewear specialist Mr Leight. And, in keeping with the MAN 1924’s northern Spanish roots, we’ve completed the look with a pair of espadrilles, a jute-soled sandal native to the Iberian Peninsula.

For proof that the boundaries that once defined the world of men’s tailoring are beginning to blur, look to Berg & Berg. Founded in 2009 by husband-and-wife duo Mr Mathias and Ms Karin Berg, this young, Stockholm-based brand offers a uniquely Scandinavian take on classic Italian tailoring. And while the collection is made in Italy, it’s also the sort of stuff that wouldn’t look out of place worn alongside other Scandi brands such as Our Legacy or Acne Studios. As the brand’s creative manager Mr Andreas Larsson explained to us earlier this month, the aim is to produce “classic garments which fit into a modern environment”. This old-meets-new approach to style is something we’ve demonstrated here by matching up the brand’s Black Dan II checked blazer and Claes polo shirt with a cotton-twill baseball cap in a vibrant shade of orange from Norse Projects – a brand hailing from just across the Øresund in Denmark. Worn with shorts and boat shoes, it’s a great summer proposition, whether you’re exploring the cobbled streets of Stockholm’s Gamla Stan or the piazzas of Tuscany.

If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you and your best friend went into business together, let Messrs Saman Amel and Dag Granath be your guide. The duo, who grew up playing football together just outside of Stockholm, started Saman Amel, their made-to-measure atelier, in 2015 and just launched their first ready-to-wear line exclusively at MR PORTER. Characterised by contemporary cuts and a colour scheme inspired by Sweden’s seasonal landscape, the collection is a lesson in how far tailoring has come in a few short years. “A suit should not make you feel very different from wearing jeans and an army jacket,” its namesake founder tells us of their ethos. “For summer, we prefer Italian fabrics that are lighter and have a finer hand-feel… they’re woven less densely than the average office suiting in order for air to breeze through the cloth.” Hence the taupe wool-hopsack blazer, pictured, which happens to be a personal favourite. “It is one of those pieces that you can wear smartly with brown Oxfords and a crisp white shirt, but also with polo shirt and loafers,” Mr Amel explains. We’ve gone for the latter option, with the addition of some ever-so-slightly flared trousers and woven intrecciato Bottega Veneta loafers lending a subtle 1970s air to proceedings.

Boglioli always gets it right. The fourth-generation family-owned company was well ahead of the curve in moving towards the softly tailored, sportswear-inspired silhouette that’s so prevalent today: take its easy-wearing hopsack blazer, for instance, which has been on MR PORTER’s list of wardrobe essentials for years. Another modern classic in the Boglioli lineup is the unstructured K-Jacket, which is rendered here in cream linen. Worn with the matching trousers, it makes a compelling claim to be the new go-to suit for summer weddings – although we should stress that it’s more versatile than that. We’ve added a linen shirt and tie, the latter also from Boglioli, and a pair of burnished-suede Derby shoes from Brunello Cucinelli. The final flourishes? A peek of pocket square and a pair of tonal brown sunglasses by Garrett Leight California Optical.

If you’re not familiar with Caruso, this effortless look is a fairly accurate summary of the tailor’s output. Based in Soragna, a medieval town in Italy’s Parma province, the brand has been making suits since 1958 and, though meticulous when it comes to production, each design is defined by a relaxed sensibility that’s idiosyncratically Italian. Hence the ecru pleated trousers you see here; as well as the superior (and more forgiving) fit, it’s the cotton, linen and silk fabric that makes them a keeper. At MR PORTER, we’ve never met a camp-collar shirt we didn’t like and seeing as they’re the perfect compromise between a smart shirt and a casual tee, this long-sleeved linen iteration feels like the perfect pairing. The hint of a silk scarf makes us think this guy possesses a slight bohemian streak, while the sleek slides and streamlined tote, courtesy of Bottega Veneta and SAINT LAURENT, respectively, plant this look firmly in the present.

Brunello Cucinelli is based in Solomeo, a picturesque medieval town in the rolling hills of central Italy. From this idyllic spot, it makes some of the world’s finest menswear – everything from sumptuous cashmere knitwear, shoes and leather goods to wonderfully soft tailoring, all crafted without compromise. This double-breasted pinstripe suit showcases the brand at its best. Utterly relaxed, it’s rather more suited to a summer city break than it is to an air-conditioned office, but it still offers a level of refinement that you simply don’t get anywhere else. (And did we mention it’s exclusively available at MR PORTER?) We’ve styled it here with a slub linen T-shirt, also from Brunello Cucinelli, and a pair of John Lobb’s Levah sneakers.