Confession: Of all four seasons (or for us Southern California-dwellers, two and a half), summer is probably my least favorite. Generally, I prefer the novelty of cozy sweater and boot weather. However, when the fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk summer heat kicks in, the only thing I truly look forward to are summer wares. The light and bright frocks, cut-off shorts, and lightweight summer suits tend to tie me over until pumpkin spice latte season returns. The latter in particular seem to be working their magic on me this year as the temps change from warm to "yikes, it's hot."
It's no secret that power suits have been en vogue for a while. And, although in years past, suiting was limited to structured and heavy blazer-trouser combos (hello, Melanie Griffith in Working Girl), these days, the classic duo has been refreshingly reinvented. Signature jackets and pants will always be chic no matter the year or season, but for summer, the materials and formatting are allowing for more breathable, sweat-free wear. Think lightweight linen and cotton fabrics, short and mini-skirt sets, and vest options in lieu of traditional blazers.
Ahead, you'll find my guide for navigating the fabulous world of summer suiting. Because the best things truly come in pairs.
Re-Work The Old Standbys
For those who want to wear their go-to fall and winter suits in the dead of summer, don't fret. It can be done with a little strategic maneuvering. For instance, swap out your blazer and layered button-down for a cooler linen topper or (my personal fave) a classic white T-shirt. And if you want to keep your winter suit's jacket on, swap out the matching trousers for denim Bermuda's or trendy bike shorts for a solid '90s moment. While both suiting options may seem casual, a pair of kitten-heeled sandals or ankle boots and dainty accessories will dress them up in an instant — and save you from heat-induced hyperventilation.
Classic Suiting, But Make It Summer
As sophisticated as a black or navy suit might be, in the summer it's just not a smart option. The dark hues will attract and trap heat like no other. As someone who appreciates a structured blazer and pant set, I like to opt for lighter shades for formal occasions or important meetings. White or sherbet-colored duos are ideal for a fresh summer suit. Layer a sheer cropped top or bodysuit underneath to keep the heat at bay.
Lose The Sleeves & The Pants
Again, as a stickler for a classic suit, a sleeveless short set in the summer holds a ton of appeal. While still chic and elevated, the combo keeps my body cool and can be dressed up or down with the simple addition of a sneaker or wedge.
Opt For Materials That Breathe
Part of the reason suits can often be so synonymous with colder weather is their usual heavy fabrications. But a thick wool or velvet does not a suit make. For summer, I go lighter and pick duos in linen or cotton blends that allow for some natural ventilation. (Bonus point if the suit comes in a cute mini skirt set or traditional gingham pattern.)
Think Outside "The Suit"
The beauty of a spring or summer suit is that you can basically mix and match your separates to your heart's delight — and I take full advantage of this seasonal sartorial loophole. Luckily, brands are privy to this principle and offering ready-to-go summer sets that are an upgrade to the traditional structured pant suit. Some are creating sheer, blouse-like jackets while others are making lightweight robe-pant combos that are comfy, cool, and completely chic.
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