The Summer Weddings are Coming! How to Suit Up.

Do you know how much we LOVE reader questions? Well we do. This one came courtesy of a woman going to her sister’s summer wedding. But her question is in regards to her spousal unit:

“Is it possible to find linen that is wedding worthy? Is it possible to do linen that isn’t the all-white, middle-aged, golfing in the islands thing?”

So here we go. What follows is your complete guide to summer suiting — linen and otherwise. Because it’s a lot easier to look cool in a suit when you put a little thought into it. And wedding photos are for life.

 

Don’t let this happen to you.

 

Tip #1: Allow yourself enough time for a tailor.

 

And if you can afford a suit built from scratch, do it. It’s always worth it.


Unless you are magical or like the one guy everything is modeled on, I promise you that your suit does not fit you. Neither does your dress shirt. I really doesn’t. Also you are probably sizing up. There should not be much extra fabric involved, and definitely your shirt should not blouse out. Tailors aren’t miracle workers, but if you’re buying the generally right size, they can make your off-the-rack suit/shirt/pants shine.

But don’t just go anywhere. Get recommendations, search Yelp, find the one old dude who’s been at it for years. A dry cleaner is not a tailor.

Relatedly, shop for fit before all else. Everyone’s body is different, and it’s better to look great in your classic suit than be the peacock in an ill-fitting one.

Turns out the particular gentleman in question is very tall and thin, adding to his woes in our boxy suit culture. As a short, thin man I completely related to this. Luckily, anything can be fixed with a basic fit and a tailor.

You really can’t underestimate the power of a well-cut suit. My brother-in-law (who also happens to be both tall and thin), found this bad boy at Zara. Apparently they have a great selection for slim men. He is a classic sort of dude, so this worked great for him:

 

Photo by Kareem Worrell. Also that’s my sister, looking pretty.

 

Photo by Kareem Worrell.

 

Point is, step one is always cut. Everything else — summer or otherwise — is just the sugar.

Also, Dan has scorpions on his tie, because the details matter.

Tip #2: Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. 

Back to our guy. Because it’s important (and a question you should ask yourself), I inquired about his style heroes. His answer, conveyed by his partner, was suitably rad:

“He prefers classic over all else with clean lines. He says he’s somewhere between James Dean and Harrison Ford, and when it comes to formal he’s all James Bond.”

 

Got it.

 

So this tall, thin man wants to wear linen and look Bond/Dean/Ford-ish No problem. She further confirmed that no jacket was fine, though what I’m picturing is actually no tie. Rugged, open-collar, linen, classic.

Depending on the formality level of the event, perfect grey pants and a white shirt can also do it. Does everyone hate Ryan Gosling all of a sudden? Well I don’t and he does an amazing job pulling this off:

 

 

Light grey is a great, versatile summer-suit color. Pop on the matching blazer, and no tie is needed.

Sort of like this:

 

 

Or this:

 

 

Or this, from J.Crew (who definitely size for slimmer dudes with their slim shop):

 

 

Their Ludlow suit comes in multiple colors and looks fantastic on everyone. You could pull that tie right off and still look great.

Tip #3 Get in the spirit.

Okay so I love weddings. I appreciate the sentiment, but more than anything my double Libra soul is just super pumped to see most people put a modicum of effort into wearing clothing suitable to the occasion. No JUICY on your ass, no slouchy mom jeans.

As showcased above, when it comes to summer weddings, unless we’re talking about traditionalists, a slightly more casual linen or khaki is not only appropriate, but encouraged. This is great news for working stiffs — your office suit and your wedding suit can (and, if you have the dough, should probably) be different. Even if you’ve only got one suit, invest in a summer-y shirt and tie.

 

 

Also you can mix-and-match! Like maybe these J.Crew pants (that would fit the gentleman-in-question’s proportions):

 

Ludlow cotton slim suit pant.

 

Plus this blazer from slim-size-oriented Topman:

 

 

Or take a cue from this J.Crew look, mixing a light cotton suit with a chambray shirt:

 

 

I LOVE this. Getting creative with light cotton/linen suits is the most awesome part of summer wedding season. Wear a pocket square! Throw on a blazer! If it fits you, you can do almost anything.

Tip #4 Also if you like color, now’s the time.

I don’t even like Elijah Wood’s face, but I love this whole new deal with bright blue suits:

 

 

Again, no tie. The brown sunglasses are a nice touch, and he looks put together but a little rumpled: perfect for warm weather. Sunglasses, by the way, are the real signal of a summer suit. Buy a dressier pair that look good on you and they’ll be the best accessory you own:

 

I like Ray-Ban Clubmasters so much that they’re my regular glasses AND my sunglasses. I don’t like that this guy is wearing dirty Chucks.

 

For a different take, Chris Pine also does the casual jam well:

 

 

Check out the details that make this a little more exciting: the color of the grey, the socks, the shoes, the short sleeves, the seersucker tie. I’d leave off the belt, but I’m not a belt fan.

Tip #5  Do you.


I did not get their permission but I think we’ve shown this photo before on IBC (if not — thanks in advance, Kareem and Alex!) Here are two very different, very effective summer wedding looks:

 

Kareem and Alex at my wedding in September of 2010.

 

There’s no one way to make a summer wedding work for you. Alex’s sunglasses and the slim fit of his suit signal something a little different than your normal wedding wear. Kareem’s boater and bow tie wouldn’t work on someone who didn’t have the confidence to rock them.

Finding a suit that fits is the first step, and after that everything is up to you.

About Thomas Page McBee

Gentleman first, always. James Dean is my patron saint, poet is my gender. More about me here: www.thomaspagemcbee.com

5 comments

  1. Michael von Braithwaite

    This is a perfect post. I also really love that you noted that working guys who wear a suit to the office shouldn’t (you said didn’t have to, but I say shouldn’t) wear their office attire to a wedding. These are completely different suit occasions and as such require completely different suits. Well played!

  2. shawnaelizabeth

    A slim suit makes me melt. I consider this a sartorial public service announcement for the masculine of center.

  3. Ok, I LOVE this post– mostly because it’s true, but also because I love summer suits. Three years ago, I went to an outdoor summer wedding in NC in a navy, WOOL suit. It was unpleasant, to say the least. I resolved to finally get that linen suit I’d been longing for. The following year I got to debut it at, oddly enough, yet another NC (same city, same guest hotel!) outdoor summer wedding. It is a slim fit, cream colored linen suit and I got compliments left and right. My wife and I were even told by guests we’d never met that they decided we were the best dressed couple at the wedding. Holler! Anyway, I wore the same suit to my sister’s wedding in Miami this past March and the compliments came in again. I even got one from my sister who made a very stylish, beautiful bride. A good summer suit that fits well will never let you down.

  4. Reggie, you should write for us!

  5. I just might have to take you up on that– some day!

IBC LOVES your brain, and we encourage thoughtful, lively discussion. We will, however, moderate comments that are abusive or disrespectful. Stay classy!

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