When it comes to formal wear for hot weather, linen suits for men seem to be what people consider the gold standard.
But have you ever actually worn a linen suit on a hot day?
A friend of mine was getting having a summer wedding on a mountain in Oregon. He’s an active, outdoorsy kind of guy, and a traditional wool suit just wasn’t his style or good for the outdoors location and vibe of the wedding. So we dressed him in a men’s linen suit — because that’s a classic choice for hot weather. But by the time he walked down the aisle, the suit was wrinkled and didn’t look great. The marriage stuck! But he’s kind of a wrinkled mess in all the photos.
Part of my drive for creating Bluffworks products became about creating clothes that would do well in hot weather conditions — yet look much nicer than your typical shorts and t-shirt combo (or a permanently wrinkled linen suit).
Of course, creating hot weather dress pants isn’t as easy as it sounds — if it were, there would be hundreds of good options, and there really, really aren’t.
What I look for in clothes for hot weather include:
- Lightweight materials that don't trap heat. Feel the weight of a garment. If it seems light for its size, that’s a good sign.
- High breathability that allows heat to exit. We sweat to keep cool, but the sweat has to dry to have the cooling effect. That means you need air flow, so breathability is a must. Not all lightweight fabrics are breathable; a plastic bag is lightweight, but not breathable at all.
- Light colors that reflect the sun. It’s physics! Lighter colors reflect sunlight and some of the heat that goes with it, while darker colors absorb that heat.
- Products that dry fast, and are moisture wicking to keep you cool and dry. Especially in humid conditions, you want fabrics that will wick moisture away from your skin to give you that cooling effect. You also don’t want anything that will retain water for a long amount of time.
- Products that slide over your skin and don’t stick. Remember the feeling of your legs sticking to the naugahyde in the back seat of a hot car? You do not want to recreate that memory with your clothes. Keep in mind, though, that silk is usually not a good option for hot weather either, though, because it retains heat.
Some additional hot weather packing list suggestions:
- Skip the jeans and opt for chinos. Jeans are too heavy and retain a lot of heat and moisture. Chinos are lighter weight and, frankly, a more polished-looking option.
- Choose an unlined blazer. Even a linen or tropical-weight wool blazer that’s lined will tend to retain heat. Go for an unlined option if you need to look classy and stay cool.
- Choose lightweight, breathable shoes. Did you know your feet can produce up to a quarter cup of sweat each every day? Gross. Let them breathe. Going sock-free is fine these days, just make sure you’re not smelly. I’m personally opposed to sandals, but they can work in some situations.
- Pack a hat. That little bit of personal shade could be make or break in the noonday sun. It’s a balance between sun protection and the fact that 95% of your heat escapes your body through your head. So take a hat, but not a hot one.
- Long sleeve shirt. Sometimes a long sleeved shirt can be cooler because it protects you from the sun. When visiting a place like Vietnam, you’ll notice that the workers in the fields are wearing long sleeves to protect themselves. Our new shirt meets all the above criteria: it’s cool, it’s lightweight, it wicks moisture, and it has those long sleeves.
These guidelines help me keep my cool whether I’m at a summer wedding or sightseeing in Havana, and should serve you wherever you roam.