Go Beyond the Khaki Suit This Summer, But Still Stay Cool

Time to change up your warm-weather standard.

Source: Vendors via Bloomberg

It is cotton suit season.

At the Cannes Film Festival last month, men from Ryan Gosling to Clive Owen to foot-in-mouth French comedian Laurent Lafitte ventured beyond tuxedo territory and explored the cooling embrace of light-colored cotton suits. The material is perfect for the breezy, sunny Cote d'Azur, but it works in so many occasions—even the office.

Left: Model wearing a cotton suit from the Todd Snyder S/S '16 runway show. Right: Model wearing a gray cotton suit from the Bottega Veneta S/S '16 runway show. 
Left: Model wearing a cotton suit from the Todd Snyder S/S '16 runway show. Right: Model wearing a gray cotton suit from the Bottega Veneta S/S '16 runway show. 

This past season, colored cotton suits also stomped down the runway at fashion shows for brands like Bottega Veneta and Todd Snyder. 

The looks were single breasted, with au courant notched lapels and a slightly relaxed fit—perfect for slouching around on hot days.  

Jorma Taccone wears a chambray cotton suit, styled by Sam Spector, at the 2016 Billboard Latin Music Awards in April.
Jorma Taccone wears a chambray cotton suit, styled by Sam Spector, at the 2016 Billboard Latin Music Awards in April.
Photographer: Telemundo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

"A khaki suit is a great starter suit when a guy begins to explore seasonal fabrics in tailored clothing," says Eric Jennings, VP and fashion director of menswear of Saks Fifth Avenue. But a man shouldn't stop there. "Once he has the perfect khaki cotton suit, then it’s time for him to explore seasonal fabrics in other colors."

Jennings suggests that the colors "beige, blue or olive are best" to experiment with at first. "Avoid pastels—they can be fun worn as a separate trouser or sport coat, but not as a suit."

Banana Republic brand ambassador Kevin Love Kick wears a light cotton suit.
Banana Republic brand ambassador Kevin Love Kick wears a light cotton suit.
Source: Banana Republic

How to style a cotton suit? Pair it with a crisp white sneakers or a dress loafer (with or without socks), depending on how formal or casual you want to go.

Celebrity and fashion stylist Sam Spector, who has dressed the likes of Neil Patrick Harris and Jake Gyllenhaal, says "I love a cotton suit with a knit polo underneath, with a tee and sneakers, or with a light-weight crewneck knit sweater." Spector continues: "The same suit can be worn in all these different ways making it a great staple piece to have for summer."

Todd Snyder, president and founder of his eponymous label, agrees. "It's very versatile.  You can dress it up or down depending on the occasion," he says. "It's perfect for a wedding with a shirt and tie or you can wear the jacket with off-white jeans and a tee for a summer dinner."

Here are five great options to try out this year.

J.Crew Ludlow Suit in Light Navy Chino

Source: J. Crew

Navy is an easy, masculine color to pull off, and unlike khaki it goes with almost everything. Since it's a staple, don't go for one that's too dressy. The J.Crew Ludlow suit is reasonably priced, and well-cut. ($456, jcrew.com)

 

MP Massimo Piombo Green Cotton Suit

Source: Mr Porter

This olive suit from Massimo Piombo is different enough to make a statement, but doesn't veer into peacock territory. If you're new to the color, ease in by breaking the suit into separates, wearing the blazer with a pair of dressy jeans or the trousers with a soft spring sweater on top. (Blazer, $720, mrporter.com; Trousers, $165, mrporter.com)

 

SuitSupply Mercer Navy Stripe

Source: Suit Supply

You don’t often come across a pinstripe cotton suit, so when you do, snag it. If your day-to-day or special events have a more formal bent, this is one way to stand out while staying cool. ($499, suitsupply.com)

 

Dsquared2 Gray Stretch Cotton Suit

Source: Farfetch

If you'd rather whisper than shout your style choices, a light gray cotton suit is close enough to khaki to feel classic but different enough to get noticed. The peak lapels on this Dsquared2 option help it stand out. ($1,690, farfetch.com)

Boglioli Blue Cotton Suit

Source: Mr Porter

This is the most playful option on this list; Italian label Boglioli's sky blue number will make you the star of any party, so be sure that's what you want before you throw it on. If you do, keep everything else simple, and pair it with a crisp white shirt and light calf-skin loafers, without socks. ($1,395, mrporter.com

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