Jamie Dornan for Hogan Jamie Dornan for Hogan © Hogan

How to beat the heat: What to look for in a summer suit

If you’re travelling to the heat and humidity this summer on business, be sure to follow our guide to suiting up for a hotter than hot climate

by 01 June 2015

If Hong Kong, Dubai or Singapore or any Middle East or Asian city is on your business agenda this summer, your usual office attire may need a little tweaking. A Savile Row tailored wool suit will leave you sweltering before you have even set foot in the boardroom, and cool shorts and a t-shirt, well that will not cut the mustard. Here is our guide to dressing suitably for business when the temperature rises...

The fabric

If you are a frequent flyer, it is most definitely worth investing in a bespoke tailor made suit for such summer and sub-tropical travels. Fabric is crucial, so speak to your tailor to select the most breathable and lightweight fabric. Open weave fabrics will keep you the coolest as the open weave allows air to circulate through the fabric most easily. When you hold the fabric up to the light, you should be able to see through it. Weaves are usually weighed in ounces, and the ideal cool count is something between the seven-to-ten ounce range, with seven being the coolest. Another rating to look for is the ‘S’ number, which refers to the quality of the yarn. The higher this ‘super’ rating the more lightweight the finish – a super 150 or even 130 will definitely give a fine, fresh finish.

Fresco and hopsack are ideal open weave options. Fresco is a high twist fabric that is treated to stay stiff so will not crease as easily as other lightweight fabrics and is a great formal alternative to linen. Hopsack is a little less formal as it is open in structure and less stiff than fresco, but the perfect fabric for lightweight summer blazers if you are looking for a more casual style. If you do want to opt for cotton, go for open weave poplin.

Linen is a popular choice for summer but is quite a casual style of suit so not ideal for all business scenarios. It also creases extremely easily. But if you are looking for a less formal suit option for the more casual of business encounters, go for a silk linen blend, as you will benefit form the open weave of the linen while the silk will help reduce the creasing. Blends such as mohair and silk are also good summer options as is seersucker and easily found off the peg if tailoring is not on the cards.

Blue suit: Burberry London, white shirt: Gucci, shoes: Paul Smith

Blue suit: Burberry London, white shirt: Gucci, tie: Paul Smith, shoes: Edward Green

The colour

Light colours such as baby blue and light grey are ideal, as they will reflect the sunlight, whereas dark fabrics will absorb the light leaving you feeling the heat. If you are bounding in and out of air-conditioned taxis and offices most of the day though, a darker suit, such as navy should suffice.

Related: How to dress like an Italian

The cut

The key to keeping cool is less fabric, so go for single breasted and an unlined or half lined jacket, which will allow more air to pass through the back of the jacket. For maximum comfort and ultimate style, ask your tailor for buggy lined – unlined in the back and lined at the front only only by the suit fabric. Make sure you get the fit to perfection as with such light fabrics and soft construction, a baggy light-weight suit is easily done and a serious faux pas whatever the weather.

suit: Canali, shirt: Gucci, tie: Drake's, shoes: Paul Smith

Suit: Canali, shirt: Gucci, tie: Drake's, shoes: Paul Smith

The shirt

As with your suit, opt for an open weave, as this will keep you coolest - cotton poplin is a good choice and again keep colours light and fresh. A striped or patterned shirt is a refreshing alternative to a shirt and tie for less formal occasions.

suit: Jil Sander, shirt: Emma Willis, shoes: John Lobb

suit: Jil Sander, shirt: Emma Willis, shoes: John Lobb

The shoes

Lighter shades such as tan and brown will work with lightweight fabrics and the cooler summer hues.