The short answer is yes, but it’s got to be the right kind of wool suit
Summer can be a real pain in the you-know-what for the suited gent. I don’t care how comfortable you feel in a suit, the inherent extra layers can get downright steamy and sticky in the warmer months. Therefore, it’s even more crucial that you make deliberate and smart choices when picking your summer suiting fabric.
We all the know the standard summer fabric choices. Linen, of course, is the big one and cotton also gets a lot of play. However, guys tend to avoid wool like the plague the minute t-shirt weather hits. And yeah, I get the instinct, but if you don’t know the beauty of a summerweight wool suit, you’re really missing out.
In all actuality, the right wool suit just may be your coolest option for the months of may through August. That’s because the same thing that makes wool so insulating in the winter makes it light and breathable in the summer – the natural crimping of wool fibers. Unlike cotton or poly fibers, which lay flat and weave tightly together, wool fibers have a lot of creases and crinkles that allow for pockets of air.
So, it really comes down to choosing the right wool. Obviously, lightweight is important. The thinner the fabric, the less insulating qualities it will have, which is the other attribute of wool you want to be steering away from when it’s warm. A lot of brands even market certain wools as “tropical” weight. That’s what you want.
Next, you want something with a looser weave – sure, a hopsack is gonna be a step above, but even a regular worsted wool is fine. Avoid anything bonded, mercerized, or any other treatment that will kill breathability.
Along those lines, your wool can be as breathable as you want, but the wrong lining will cancel that right out. An unlined, or partially lined suit will be best, but you can also opt for a breathable liner as well. Look for silk or bemberg and steer clear of polyester and other artificial fibers.
Finally, look for a lighter color. Not only will it look and feel more seasonal, but the lighter shades absorb less heat from the sun. In all fairness, I’ve read that the science behind that concept may not be entirely sound – but to heck with that, I’ve been out in the sun in all black and it’s far toastier.
So next time you’re in the market for a sharp, warm-weather getup, fight the instinct to ignore wool – it might actually be your best bet.