Tailoring and the heat can be difficult partners. A well-tailored warm-weather look can be tricky to pull off, and events such as an August wedding or garden party can cause more consternation than they should. So let’s fix that.
At its best, a summer wedding suit can be a little more sophisticated, even glamorous, than your more sober business suiting, exhibiting the kind of polished, confident tailoring you’d want for a more formal affair. That means no outré colors or corporate stripes, please. Warm, dusty pinks, understated taupe or dove gray will all age well. Your look should also be as comfortable as it is sharp—but not too sharp, lest you detract from more important attendees (say, the bride).
As a starting point, choose a suit cut in something crisp, lightweight and breathable. Unless you plan on being barefoot on a beach, don’t fall for the romance of the pale linen suit: You could have it pressed, wrapped in tissue and hand-delivered by the Marine Corps, but you’d still end up looking more creased than an old paper bag. Opt instead for something in either a blend of wool, silk and linen (which will give you some of the latter’s breezy looks without the creasing); an open-weave wool fresco; or, our favorite, a wool-and-mohair tonic, which is known for its smooth texture and subtle sheen. The mohair content in the fabric develops a natural gloss as it’s scoured and finished during the weaving process. It’s called “tonic” because of this shiny finish—and because it was the cloth of choice to wear to cocktail parties in the 1950s and ’60s. Today, tonic suits look sharp, breathe in the heat and make for handsome wedding attire, whether you’re groom or guest.
Cloth aside, this is a rare opportunity to turn up the heat, stylistically speaking. Well-balanced peaked lapels are more elegant than notched ones, and one-button jackets are cleaner than two-button, while an understated three-piece or double-breasted suit is a mark of respect for the occasion’s formality. Whatever the cut, here’s a simple setup that will see you through summer events: Pair your suit with a plain powder-blue shirt with a classic spread collar; a subtly textured tie in gold, plum or petrol blue; polished dark-brown penny loafers (save your black ones for colder weather); and a neatly folded white linen pocket square with navy shoestring edges on show. It’s a formula that works every summer, no matter how hot it gets.