While there is very much a practical reason to switch up to lighter and more breathable fabrics during the warmer months, summer fabrics have their own distinctive personality that suits the carefree nature of enjoying the sun. Summer dressing is all about ease, comfort and simplicity – and that’s hard to do when you don’t have a basic understanding of how your clothes work in the heat. We’ve done a roundup of some cool fabrics to give you a better understanding of your summertime options.
Let’s start off with probably the most quintessentially summer fabric: linen. Linen, even of the heavier variety, stays cool in heat. That’s thanks to its characteristic open weave and natural fibers that make up the fabric. Its gauzy texture gradually softens with every wash, making it extremely comfortable on the skin. Linen’s also notorious for holding its wrinkles and creases but I consider that part of its charm. There are better things to do during summer than ironing. In terms of clothing, a linen shirt is a classic and so is a casual linen trouser. It’s a shame that their linen suit is seriously underrated; the fabric enables you to look smart even on the hottest of days.
Named after the Indian city from which it came from, Madras is lightweight and breathable making it a fantastic to wear during summer. Inspired by Scottish tartans, the people of Madras reinterpreted the patterns but with their own palette. While the fabric is packed with colours, the washed cotton turns them muted and soft. It’s that lived in quality that makes it unique. Now a staple for the American prep wardrobe, madras works best in shorts, paired with a simple button down or polo. Madras also comes in shirts and lightweight jackets for men who care to be more daring.
Having been recently resurrected from its workwear heritage into the modern classic menswear bible, chambray has become an iconic staple. It’s also become synonymous with summer, thanks to its soft nature and ultimate versatility. Though seemingly American, it originated in a French town named Cambrai, hence its name. Chambray is woven with a coloured (usually blue) warp and a white weft. While known in its casual shirt form, more and more designers are utilising finer chambrays in dress shirts because it pairs so well with other fabrics. It’s one of those no-brainer fabrics and it’s hard to go wrong with anything you put with it.
Seersucker is a quintessentially American summer fabric with its origins deep rooted in the South. Characterised by its striped pattern and puckered texture, the fabric was originally worn by British colonials in India and then brought to the States where it was originally considered a poorman’s fabric. Picked up Ivy Leaguers in a bout of anti-establishment rebellion, seersucker quickly spread across the country. It’s popularity has seen a resurgence in the last couple of seasons, coming in the form of not only the traditional jacket and trouser, but also in shirting and shorts. The cotton fabric is not only comfortable, the stripe pattern adds a certain charm to any outfit and the irregular texture keeps it away from the skin promoting air circulation. In a modern context, it works best as a separate that pairs well with solids.