Dressing for a Warm Climate

Michael Alden of The London Lounge recently asked me the following question:

Many of our [London Lounge] readers are preparing their wardrobes for Spring and Summer. I have always felt that the Anderson & Sheppard style of tailoring always worked exceedingly well in warmer weather as long as the choice of fabrics was correct. Rigid, lightweight fabrics like frescos and Irish linens when hand sewn and without lining always seem to be the best solution to warmer weather. What advice would you give our readers about garments, their sewing and choice of cloth, destined for these seasons?

The truth is, there is no magic, secret formula for making coats for warm climates. It’s just common sense, with three main tenets:

1. Only use fabrics which are extremely light.
2. Only use fabrics that are extremely breathable.
3. Always build the suits with a very light internal structure.

A sample bunch of fine linens from Dormeuil, the cloth merchants on Sackville St, around the corner from Savile Row

A sample bunch of fine linens from Dormeuil, the cloth merchants on Sackville St, around the corner from Savile Row

Allow me to elaborate:

We’re all aware how wonderfully cool cottons and linens are. The downside, of course, is that they do look as if you’ve been sleeping in them after a few hours of wear. Still, it’s the honesty in these fabrics that gives them their charm. We all know they crease badly, but that’s their style.

But if we want to stay cool, whilst still wearing the proper, formal business attire, what’s on offer?

Your standard worsteds (Super 90′s} are usually out of the picture; the lightest this quality is found is usually about 9 ounces (light enough in one of our suits).

In very lightweight wool fabrics you’re usually looking at finer quality Super 120′s/150′s. These do indeed crease, however the compromise in comfort is a fair exchange. Besides, I’ve taught you how to press, haven’t I?. These materials are going to cost more, but that’s par for the course when you get into these lightweights.

Another option, which is a very viable one, are the modern ‘High Technology Materials’. These probably sound as scary to you as to me. Especially with names like, “Supertronic” ( now called “Business Class“) from Scabal. Believe it or not they don’t have a strand of man-made fibre in them just a very tight weave in the cloth that literally makes them bounce back into shape. It’s all good, honest and most importantly, cool, pure wool.

Even without their unsettling names, if you take a look and feel the texture of these materials, I’m sure like me you’ll find them a little, dry to the touch and you could be convinced there must be something awful in there, like polyester. But there is none- this as I said is simply the way the cloths are spun to produce this robust, stretchy texture, even in 7 ounce materials.

This is the main problem with these materials. Customers and tailors alike feel that these cloths are somehow hiding something, unlike something traditional as a cotton or linen. Our minds trust them, but our hearts do not.

That’s about it. Compromises do have to be made in warm climates, but c’est la vie. Still, if you follow the obvious three rules above, you can still look good and keep cool at the same time.

Image reproduced from englishcut.com

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About Thomas Mahon

Thomas Mahon is one of the most experienced tailors on Savile Row with a list of clients including royalty, celebrities and business icons. Tom has almost thirty years experience of hand tailoring in Savile Row including five years at Savile Row’s most famous and respected tailor, Anderson & Sheppard. His clients experience the traditions and expertise of the finest bespoke tailoring available today using a soft and unstructured style typical of Anderson & Sheppard. His workshop is based at Warwick Hall in Cumbria and also meets clients at his office in London, Tom also makes regular trips to visit his growing international client base in Europe, the USA and further afield. When not creating beautiful bespoke suits, travelling to see clients or sharing his sartorial advice with his internet followers, Tom enjoys teaching sailing and is the boats officer for the Sea Cadet Corps near his Cumbria home. For the full story visit www.englishcut.com
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