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Dressing smart in hot weather: A guide to fabrics that will help you stay cool and look good in the heat

Those who live in countries with a hot climate, such as Thailand, know how hard it is to dress sharp and stay looking fresh throughout the day. You start sweating almost immediately and wearing multiple layers doesn’t help with staying cool either. Even though we can’t influence the outside temperature, there’s something everyone can do to mitigate its impact on how you look and feel. It starts with selecting the right fabric for your outfit.

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Because not all fabrics are made equal, their properties and ability to keep you cool vary. In this article, we will look into different types of fabrics, their properties (such as breathability and colour) and how they behave in hot weather.

Reading this guide should help you choose the right fabric for your next summer outfit when you need to dress up for hot weather, all without compromising your style or comfort.

1. Choose the right fabrics that will keep you cool in hot weather

A: Suit fabrics

As a general rule, you want your summer suit to be made out of a light and breathable fabric. For a man’s suit, there are two types of fabric to keep in mind – one that everyone can see on the outside and the inner lining fabric.

(Outer) suit fabric

Fortunately, there are only a handful of fabrics designed for suiting. The essential ones are:

wool suit dress smart 7116d297
Wool is the most popular choice for men due to its premium look and high quality. It’s light, offers great breathability (because it is natural) and is, therefore, a great choice for wearing in hot weather, particularly lightweight 100% wool – it will keep air flowing freely and prevents from trapping sweat. On the other hand, a suit made from wool is more prone to wrinkling than the other options and ever so slightly easier to tear.
cottom suit dress smart f173fabf
Another great alternative for use in hot wear is cotton. Cotton suits are generally stiff and cool but are considered casual. They are therefore not suitable for conducting business or other formal occasions.
linen suit dress smart b4b1c0e1
Just like cotton, linen is likewise a perfect material for your casual/informal summer suit. It is very light, breathable, but wrinkles easily. One way of avoiding excessive creasing is opting for linen blended with cotton or wool. If you sweat a lot, this may be the perfect option for you.
polyester suit dress smart 18a2c6f2
Microfibre, the higher form of polyester, is a synthetic fabric commonly used in less expensive suits. While microfibre suits may be good enough to wear in cold climate, they are not suitable for wearing in hot countries because the material lacks breathability and traps heat. Microfibre is often blended with more premium materials, such as wool, to help boost its breathability and decrease the shiny microfibre look.

(Inner) lining fabric

Choosing the lining fabric will be the second most important decision when getting your perfect summer suit. Even though others can’t see it, it’s in closer contact with your body and has a massive bearing on how the suit feels. Making the wrong choice here can turn your outfit into a sweat suit. Generally, your lining fabric options are twofold:

silk lining dress smart 2 502502c8
Silk is a natural fiber that has great cooling properties in hot weather. It comes with its drawbacks, however. It’s fairly expensive to make and doesn’t age well.
cupro dress smart fc7ec8ca
Cupro and Bemberg
Cupro is the better alternative to silk that maintains many of its benefits while eliminating the drawbacks. It’s more affordable, yet extremely durable and offers great breathability. This material is interchangeable with the brand name that manufactures it, Bemberg.

Bonus tip: Get a lighter jacket to stay cooler in the heat

You can further improve the hot weather performance of your summer suit jacket by having an unlined or half-lined construction. Why does this matter? Having a partially-lined jacket means there is one less layer trapping the heat in, and less sweating for you. On top of that, it’s also more comfortable to wear.

B: Dress shirt fabrics

Just as important as choosing the right fabric for your suit is selecting the shirt material. A formal dress shirt is typically made of the following two materials:

cotton fabric dress smart 3c4870c3
Cotton is a breathable material that both looks attractive and dissipates heat away from your body. On the downside, it’s prone to wrinkling and costs more.
poly cotton fabric dress smart 77802509
Poly-cotton blend
A cheaper alternative to cotton is a polyester cotton blend. While a shirt made from this material is more wrinkle resistant, it also traps heat and is thus not suitable for use in the hot climate. The blended shirt fabrics can still look attractive while keeping the price for the shirt lower than pure cotton.

Bonus tip: Skip under tees

Skipping wearing undershirts will definitely make your summer outfit cooler although this strategy has a drawback. Sweat otherwise absorbed by the undershirt can result in staining your shirt and thus shorten its lifespan. One way of combating sweat stains is using a deodorant without aluminium.

2. Lighter colours are best for hot weather

Debate about the best fabrics for hot weather isn’t complete without mentioning colours.

In short, wearing lighter colours will make you cooler and make surviving hot weather in style easier. This isn’t just a current fashion trend but is backed by science – darker colours absorb more light and thus trap heat. Examples of light colours are shades of white, beige, pink, yellow, baby blue, greys, creams and tan.

This, however, doesn’t mean your next suit should be all white. You will still need to consider both the formality of the occasion and the intended use.

light colour dress smart 9c53f154

3. Hot weather fabric cheat sheet

To further help you with processing the information and selecting the right fabric, we have created a cheat sheet that ranks the above-mentioned fabrics on a number of factors. You can consider these based on your intended use and other variables:

Suit fabricBreathabilityFormalityProneness to wrinklingDurabilityPrice
Silk (lining)5DNADNA24
Silk (Cupro and Bemberg)4DNADNA43
Suit fabricBreathabilityFormalityProneness to wrinklingDurabilityPrice
Cotton (Long fibre)51-5534-5
Poly-cotton (blend)11-5251-2

4. Our verdict and recommendation

As you can see, selecting the right fabric for hot weather dressing isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. We recommend you to consider a couple of factors that are important to you, such as the formality of the occasion, your budget, the fabric’s proneness to wrinkling and more. This will ultimately lead you to making the best decision. You may also want to read our in-depth guide on getting a perfectly tailored suit, where to go into further details.

Do you have any questions in regard to choosing the best fabric for your summer suit? Feel free to ask us by filling out the contact form. We are happy to help.

If you have found this guide useful, please share it with your friends or colleagues who live in a hot country or are moving to one soon.

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