From my window here on the East Coast it appears that spring continues to give us the slip. The delightful and rosy dogwood flowers that normally flutter to the ground look as dead and lifeless on the bough as frozen spinach. However, next week I have a wedding to go to in Playa del Carmen. So I need a suit that won’t give me the slip if I sweat.
Luckily, Tom Kearnan, the Tom Ford of digital custom suits, takes my phone calls. Kearnan (second from right in the photo above) is the Director of Apparel and Merchandising at Vancouver-based Indochino, which crafts and delivers such suits across the globe. Everything he has told me about the breathability of wool makes me think my regular Savile Row fabrics will suffice. He is, after all, the one who first sold me on custom suits. I like the drape, I like the look, I like how they still fit great if I do or do not go to the gym.
So here are 10 surprising spring suit lessons from my call with Kearnan, where I discovered that everything I thought I knew is wrong…
“If you take care of your suit, it will take care of you. I don’t travel with a garment bag, I put my suit directly in my suitcase and hang it up in the bathroom when I get there. I never send them out for pressing.”
1. A spring suit literally is a lighter weight suit.
“A four-season suit is heavier, 275 to 400 grams per meter on the fabric. Summer-weight wool is closer to 220 grams. But a real spring suit is going to be a blend. Wool/linen blends, cotton/wool, wool/silk and mohair. Mohair is one of our best-selling suits, it has a sheen to it. It’s the original sharkskin. You can try and find these on the labels, but what matters is if it feels lighter.
2. If you only get one, wool is still your best bet.
“You have to know your occasion and what you’re comfortable with; we’re made to measure, so we would likely be able to guide someone. But if it’s a business suit or for a formal occasion, I would stress wool. That will look more finished. When you get into cotton and linen, you have to be prepared for a few wrinkles.
3. Suits are getting more colorful.
“Right now we’re seeing an explosion in color. The bulk of our suits still sell in shades of grey or blue. But we are having some huge success right now with the brighter blue and burgundy and deep green.”
4. Linen doesn’t follow the rules.
“It will wrinkle no matter the quality, unlike wool. You’re going to have to be okay with it having some wrinkles.”
5. Consider a three-piece for hotter climates.
“If you’re going to a wedding and you want to lose the jacket and still look formal in your vest, then by all means go for the three-piece. Stay cool by doing your jacket ‘half lined,’ where the back of your jacket only has a half lining. The front panels and sleeves are still fully lined and constructed. But leaving the back open makes it weigh considerably less while increasing breathability.”
6. Sport coats can step up.
“Again it’s, what’s your occasion? Wool silk is more formal. Those come in more what I would call micropatterns. On-fashion checks and such. They do carry themselves a little more formally. I did a whole group of printed cottons and we did vintage pinups and bicycles.”
Khaki Stretch Cotton Blazer ($380), Khaki Leaf Printed Stretch Cotton Pants ($230), Pink Gingham Wrinkle-Free Shirt ($99); Navy Bike Embroidered Stretch Cotton Suit ($599), Summer Green Oversize Check Shirt ($129); Stone Vintage Pinup Embroidered Stretch Cotton Suit Blazer ($380), Stone Stretch Cotton Pants ($230), Stone Peony Print Shirt ($129)
7. You can ditch the suit bag.
“If you take care of your suit, it will take care of you. I don’t travel with a garment bag, I put my suit directly in my suitcase and hang it up in the bathroom when I get there. I never send them out for pressing. I’m able to hang them up, leave them in the room of the shower and wear them the next day.”
8. You can pull off sneakers… if you do it right.
“If I was to recommend a sneaker I would say something very clean like Common Projects. If you’re going to do that, lose the tie and wear a button-down and do the no-sock look. Usually it is pulled off better if your pants are a little cropped. It’s not about putting on a formal business suit and wearing a pair of sneakers.”
9. Matching rules go out the window.
“I don’t believe in matching anything. Have fun with a pocketsquare. If you know the color of the bridesmaids dresses, play off that. It keeps your own identity but sticks with the theme of the party.”
10. A relaxed look can be good if you’re not the one getting hitched.
“Being a groomsmen you don’t want to take away from the bride or the groom. Notched lapel, center vent, two flat pockets. That’s a suit you can also wear for business.”
Indigo Shadow Herringbone Suit ($699); Mixed Bright Indigo Twill Suit ($699), Blue Pinpoint Oxford Shirt ($99); Mid-Gray Windowpane Suit ($699)
Note: Watch for the model looks at the top of the page to hit Indochino later this month!
Burgundy Wool Stretch Suit ($699), Light Blue Gingham Shirt ($129)
Deep Teal Herringbone Suit ($699), Turquoise Plaid Shirt ($129)
Slate Gray Textured Twill Suit ($799), Quartz Dobby Twill Shirt ($129)