Given the clement weather of late, the thoughts of those of us who are sartorially inclined naturally turn to our wardrobes and, invariably, the distinct lack of summer clothes in them, in particular, summer suits.
The most popular of all summer suits is, of course, the linen suit. However, it is popular for reasons that are perhaps not as obvious as we might think; whilst the cliched linen suit has always been a lighter shade of ivory or beige which you’d think is good for reflecting the sun and it’s heat, the real reason the linen suit is good in the heat is that linen flax, which is what the cloth is woven from, can absorb more than 20% of it’s own weight in moisture – mother natures very own Gore-Tex, if you will.
Historically, linen suits were made and worn in natural shades, but they are now produced in the most wonderful array of vibrant colours; from white to tan, from inky navy blue to sky blue, from pink to bright red, from sage green to bottle green and everything in between and all of which lend themselves to suits which are ideal for the summer months; when we throw caution to the wind and feel inclined to dress in brighter colours.
However, this poses the million dollar question: which colour is the right colour for us..?
In fact, it was whilst waxing sartorial about this very topic with one of Brown in Town’s new patrons, a journalist no less, who had quite the keenest sense of style of any journalist I’ve ever met – you’d think they were all well turned out in a Clarke Kent kind of way wouldn’t you, but this could not be further from the truth, regrettably – which caused him to enquire how I dressed the men on our books; what was my modus operandi. To which I responded that, having ascertained the application of a suit (or chosen garment), my next line of enquiry, or consideration, are the colours which can be worn by the wearer, or, rather, the colours which one should NOT wear.
To which our muse responded with a question which no-one else has ever posed before; why do I choose to dress men in this way, why do I focus on the colour of a man’s suit first, and not the cut of his jib, or the design of his suit?
So I thought for a minute and I recalled an experience I had had early on in my career when attempting my first ‘summer suit’ and learned a lesson which I live by to this day and which I endeavour to instill in all of our patrons: just because you can have anything, does not mean that you should!
For I learned that whilst blue is a good colour for me, sky blue is most certainly not. I gave no thought to the fact that, albeit I can wear navy blue well, sky blue would react with one’s particular shade of pallid and make me look as anemic as a microwave chip. Not the look I was going for, as you might imagine.
So why did I choose sky blue: because our friends at Richard James on Savile Row had a beautiful bright blue suit made of mohair and wool from Delfino (mohair having a microscopic weave is a great suiting cloth for the summer months) and I thought how beautiful it looked and how it looked the very picture of summer. Which it did; on the rail in the Richard James concession in Selfridges.
For all of it’s benefits, the shortcoming of bespoke tailoring, particularly when one is uninitiated, is having to select the cloth for one’s suit from a book (known as a ‘bunch’) as opposed from a rail of suits
which are ready made and on display in various colours and in a range of sizes; which you can try on for size and also for colour. There is nothing like trying on a suit to ascertain if it’s colour is right for you.
In fact, I use this off-the-rail analogy when offering advice to those embarking upon the bespoke journey for the first time: when commissioning your first tailor made suit, choose a cloth (and a design, for that matter) not dissimilar to that which you would be comfortable buying off-the-rail. Pay it safe in other words. There will always a be another opportunity to have another made once you’ve had time to consider what might be nice to experiment with the next time around.
And so I made it my raison d’etre to impart the wisdom which I gleaned from this experience to one’s patrons and do my level best to prevent any one them from making the same mistake that I had. Of course, you can only lead a horse to water. Moreover, if a groom comes to Brown in Town for morning dress, then we shall make him morning dress, whether or not black, dove grey and stripes look flattering on him.
However, if the world is indeed your oyster, and one is only interested in having a suit made that you will take great pride in wearing, and not one that you won’t, our advice is to choose any colour, as long as it’s your colour.
Enjoy your Summer..