Real People: The Much Neglected Cotton Suit

May 20, 2015

Real People: The Much Neglected Cotton Suit

A cotton suit might be the most under-appreciated garment in a warm weather wardrobe. The material can feel cheap when compared to wool, which makes people feel like they shouldn’t drop big bucks on it. Plus, it’s never quite clear when you’re actually going to wear such a thing. To a summer wedding? Possibly. Lunch at a fancy hotel restaurant? Maybe. But those don’t seem like they come up often enough to justify a big expenditure. 

A good cotton suit has many advantages, however. For one, it’s the most casual expression of a suit possible, which is great in today’s age, when wearing a business suit can look out of place in many environments. It can also be easily broken into separates. So, even if you don’t find an occasion to wear the suit, the cotton jacket can be worn as a sport coat and the trousers as chinos. 

If you get a cotton suit, get something unlined, so that it’s as breathable as possible, and consider the color. Navy is an obvious choice, but you might be better off getting a navy suit in tropical wool, which will allow you to use the jacket as a sport coat in slightly more formal settings. 

A better choice, I think, is khaki, like our friend Nii in Atlanta is wearing above. His is a perfect shade of tan – light enough to look summery, but dark enough to not show dirt. Olive would also be good, as it looks great in cotton, but is harder to pull off in other materials (an olive wool suit can look a bit dated if not done right). 

You can dress a cotton suit up with a silk repp tie, like Nii above, or play it down with a slubby Matka or silk knit. For an even more casual look, ditch the tie altogether and wear the shirt open collared. Even if you don’t wear the suit as a whole all too often, you’ll feel like a million bucks when you do. 

(photo via adabraka-sartorialist)