Use or Lose: Summer Suits

There are two wardrobe philosophies. The first is to set aside anything that you haven’t worn in a year and get rid of it. I’ve done some of that. The second is to never get rid of anything since all fashions are cyclical and your clothing, if well made from good material, will once again be au courant.

Tan gabardine suits were once a staple of the Palm Beach set. By 1935, they were considered “a campus uniform”.

Sometime in the last five years or so, the fashion press decided that the only tan suit you should own should be made of cotton or linen. Fine choices both, although I find a cotton drill suit a bit heavy here in the South and poplin versions are thin on the ground.

Linen is comfortable enough, although most of it is fully lined when you buy off the rack. It’s cheaper and easier to line a suit than it is to finish the seams nicely and the lining will help stave off wrinkles. At least to a certain extent. You are wearing linen, after all.

(Tan linen, three-piece slim cut suit by J. Crew)

The slimmer fit of today’s clothes makes summer suiting not as comfortable as the fuller cuts of days gone by. Cut that close to the body, the slim suit doesn’t allow for a lot of air to circulate.

There are some days when you just want that kind of loose comfort that the drape cut lounge suit affords. But these things are cyclical. The slim cut celebrates youth, the drape, maturity. Gabardine is a very forgiving material that drapes very well. Full cuts call for the trouser and the coat to both be on the roomy side.

I think of this as a Ronald Reagan suit. Perhaps because it has something of the 40’s or 50’s silhouette. Or I might have purchased it during that administration. Regardless, I think I’ll keep it. My guess is that fuller cut suits will be back .

Greenish-tan gabardine suit, two button, notch lapel, ventless jacket with double pleated trousers, tailored with a full break. I feel like I’m wearing a robe and pyjamas. Just right for late summer and a lazy day. Circa 1988. Some things have to wait a bit more. I’m not sure this will ever be fashionable again.

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