Seeking Selections for Seersuckers

Seeking Selections for Seersuckers

Q. You wrote about seersucker suits a few weeks back and I would like to wear less heavy fabric in the summer, but don’t think I would be comfortable in a full suit that color. Are there seersucker jackets that can be worn with other pants?

A. Absolutely. A seersucker is about the only suit you can break up; also, there are separate seersucker blazers. But that is far from your only option.  Something about summer has always prompted men to loosen up a bit with what they wear. As it gets warmer, men transition from heavy to lightweight clothing to beat the heat. But changes in weight are not the only summer differences. For men who often complain about the many limitations that are imposed on their clothing choices throughout most of the year, now is the time to break out. I urge you to take advantage of your wider range of options in warm weather – especially as to formality and color.

Even in the most traditional suit-shirt-and-tie circles men end up wearing casual blazers and sport jackets much more often than formal matched suits when the weather is warm. And the colors they can wear on a day-to-day basis are a lot more varied. This is true in both business and social settings.

For every industry and for every company, the business dress rules are different. Many firms, such as those in financial services, still require men to wear some form of jacket every day. On the other hand, if you teach, or you work in manufacturing or sales, or in the many tech industries, wearing a suit could be totally overdressing. You would stand out and look really strange. Even so, if your field is still somewhat formal, and especially if you enjoy clothes enough that simply wearing shirtsleeves makes you uncomfortable, summer blazers and sport jackets are your go-to answer.

Courtesy Hickey Freeman

Blazers and sport coats, like suits, have been around for ages. They are a basic part of classic menswear. Traditionally, a sport coat (or “blazer”) was meant as a casual, weekend alternative to the business suit that men wore throughout the workweek. As dress codes have become much more casual, the sport coat has become more popular. Today’s ideal spring/summer jacket is lightweight, likely to be unlined or half-lined, and what is known as “unstructured” (minimal shoulder padding with the thin inner canvas constructed of more flexible material). The standard cut is single breasted, has a notched lapel, a two-button closure, either patch pockets or flap pockets, and usually a center vent.

A navy blazer may be the most versatile item in a man’s closet, but if that is his only option besides suits all year long, things can get pretty boring. The hierarchy progressing from more formal to more casual tops for summer goes something like this: navy blazer, medium blue blazer, stylish ivory-colored silk tweed, jaunty light blue and other pastel-colored sport coats in linen and/or cotton blends, wearing the top half of a seersucker suit as a sport jacket, and an open shirt worn as a “jacket” over a Tee shirt. In the hopes of introducing a refreshing bit of sartorial daring into your summer wardrobe, any of these colorful possibilities provides a welcome change of pace from the rest of the year’s dark (and staid) limitations. I am especially fond of light pink, sky blue, or even a white linen/cotton jacket as an unexpected look for a summer wedding or party. I wish more men would give it a try. Expect compliments.

Incidentally, to help keep your sartorial cool now that the weather has started getting sticky, it’s a good idea to keep a jacket in the office for when the air conditioning is a bit too high, for unexpected client meetings, or for a business lunch. Wear it with well-cut lightweight dress pants, khakis, or jeans. And just about any shirt from a white broadcloth, to a button-down, or a nice polo works well.

Good news for partygoers and sharp business dressers as well: Now is the perfect time to give your summer wardrobe an upgrade. It’s true, we are already well into the hot weather season, but it’s definitely not too late to add a fresh new jacket or two. As I have pointed out before, since men’s classic clothes change almost not at all from year to year, why not benefit from the many summer sales that are in progress with a few new items purchased on vacation or at your local men’s shop?

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