Ask me: wave #5 (black suits & summerwear)

In the last couple weeks, I’ve been getting a pretty heavy load of questions, so I truly apologize if it takes a while before I can answer all of them. I promise though, I will get to your questions eventually! And for the record, I do love getting questions, it makes me feel great to help you out (if I can) in your sartorial journey.

I’ve noticed two particular questions that have been repeated several times, so instead of answering you all separately, here are some good representative questions that may cover yours, more or less. Note: the answers are a bit edited from what I might have written via email, mainly because it’s for a broader audience this time around.

1339061656746751 Ask me: wave #5 (black suits & summerwear) Source: ImgFave

How versatile do you think the black suit really is? Is it faux-pas to wear at less formal events than funerals and the like? I come to you with this because there are a lot of conflicting views about this floating around on the interwebs, but you’ve managed to maintain a down to earth approach to style, I feel. – Panu

Ah, black suits. I’m glad you asked this question.

In the menswear world, as you probably have noticed, you’ll hear that black suits should be avoided and that you can only wear them for funerals, blah, blah.

So yes, the truth is that a black suit will be less versatile than a solid navy or charcoal suit. Black is an intense color, and it can come across slightly severe, leading people to avoid it in more casual situations. However, this doesn’t mean that black suits aren’t wearable or can’t look good (or even great).

For just about any evening cocktail/loungey event where the lights are soft or dimmed, I think black suits can look wonderful, and sometimes even more appropriate than suits of other colors. Something about night time and black suits shouts the word “classy” to me. Anyhow, in those cases, I say definitely wear your black suit. Of course, just like any other suit, it should be tailored properly, and worn with confidence… but you’ve already heard me talk about that part ad nauseum

Also, don’t feel the need to stick with the traditional white shirt and black tie, when wearing a black suit. By all means do so if the event is very formal, but otherwise, I would stick to experimenting with other colors with your shirts and ties (violets, pinks, light blues, grays, etc) to decrease your formalness. For the color of your shirt, remember to use colors that are slightly muted/faded, and less intense. You’re trying to decrease heavy contrasts, since the whole reason people don’t recommend black is because it’s already so highly contrasted to everything else.

The trickier part is during the day, or at the office. In these cases, I would likely opt for a gray, navy, brown, or tan suit if you have the choice, but if you want to wear your black suit, just make sure the shirt and tie, once again, have more variation. Adding pops of color and different patterns tastefully to the black canvas will do wonders, and decrease the formalness of your attire.

So in all, I think some people take the whole “no black suit” thing a bit too intensely. Yes navy and gray may be more appropriate, but they can also be more vanilla as well! Wear your black suit in confidence and I guarantee you, 99% of the people won’t even care about the fact that it’s black, but instead will compliment you on your sharp look. After all, you are donning a suit, man.

j crew ss2010 presentation 4 Ask me: wave #5 (black suits & summerwear) Source: Hypebeast

I’d love to dress like you, I really like button- up shirts and cardigans, but there’s something that makes me doubt I can do this every day: Where I live, summers are hot. And I mean HOT. Around 40 or 45 degrees Celsius, with around 90% humidity. What can I do about that? Sure, I can dress well next winter, but what can I do about spring and summer? Cheers from Argentina – Brian

Because it’s currently fall/winter around here, most my posts have been dedicated to wearing more layers, keeping yourself warm, etc. I will certainly get into posts about cooling down with spring/summer clothing in the next few months, but I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be of assistance earlier! There’s a lot to talk about, but I do have some tips for keeping cool, though I can’t pretend that I live in a 90% humid 45 degree place.

Here are tips that come to mind:

1. Wear more breathable fabrics. Linen, madras, chambray, seersucker, other light weight cottons… these are your go-tos. Stay away from wools, furs, and leather. Even if you layer, you’ll find that by using a bunch of light, thin, breathable fabrics, you can actually keep pretty cool.

2. Keep things simple. As long as a v-neck t shirt or henley is well-fitted and free of any designs or embellishments, it could potentially be all you need on a hot summer day. Pair it with some chinos, or shorts that end slightly above your knee, and you’re good to go. Don’t feel the need to add complexity to your outfit just because you want to look dapper. Truth is, you won’t look good if you’re incredibly uncomfortable.

3. Get jackets that are unlined. More fabric means more warmth, so use very light, unlined jackets if it’s cool enough to add a jacket to the mix. Remember again to wear more breathable fabrics. For example, an unstructured, seersucker jacket could be a good addition to your wardrobe during the spring or summer.

4. Wear no-show socks or no socks at all. Keep your calves and ankles cool by wearing shorter socks. Aesthetically, no-show socks are probably best. If you’re daring enough, you can also go sockless in the summer to cool off. Some of you may fear that if you forgo socks, you’ll stink up your shoes. A great remedy is to use Goldbond or some other powder to suck up the moisture, keeping your feet cool, and your shoes dry.

5. Summer = light colors. Wearing blacks, navys, and charcoals won’t do you any good in the summer. Darker colors absorb heat, so keep colors on the lighter end of the spectrum.

6. Canvas sneakers, boat shoes, driving moccasins and are your friends. In the summer, stash away most of your thick, heavy boots. Instead, opt for lighter, more breathable shoes, like canvas sneakers, boat shoes, or driving moccasins.

7. Wear undershirts if you’re going to wear a dress shirt. If you’re not in the mood to wear polos or t-shirts, you can still pull off button-ups in the summertime as they are usually made of thin, lightweight fabrics. However, donning sweat stains on your button-ups doesn’t do anyone any favors. Wear light V-necks (or naval striped crew necks in casual situations, I’m a fan of those) underneath your lightweight dress shirts, roll up the sleeves, and stay sweat-proof.

And lastly, remember that comfort is always important, even when it comes to being stylish. Summertime is when you’re likely to be most active, moving around, and interacting with others. If you’re not comfortable in your clothing, you’re not really helping anyone out, including yourself.

Alright so there you have it, my thoughts on black suits and summer wear. I’m happy to hear your thoughts as well! Just leave a comment below if you’d like, and we’ll keep the conversation going.  Till next time…

  • http://www.facebook.com/wolvensong Wolf Mariano Derito Ashby

    It´s awesome to see I´m not the only Argentines having the same problem!