Sure, in a couple of weeks I’ll need to buy some swimsuits and face the unflattering lighting in those tiny dressing rooms with the fun-house mirrors that make me look short and squat (and don’t bother telling me that’s all in my mind – it’s my party and I’ll lie if I want to). But right now, I’m focusing on the more office-friendly summer suit.
First of all, to paraphrase: if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the wool. In other words, choose your fabric wisely. Look for light-weight, breathable fabrics such as silk blends, cotton or linen (if you can handle the wrinkling and inevitable ironing task).
Along this same vein, fabric color is key. If you’re mostly inside the office, you can still wear darker colors. But if you’ll be outside a lot, choose lighter hues that will reflect light and keep you cooler. (Such as white, beige, ivory, light grey.)
Remember: just like our mothers told us on those days in high school when we moaned that our face was breaking out or our hair was in the dreaded growing out stage: “It’s what’s inside that matters.” Your summer suit should be unlined or half-lined. Avoid any extra padding or heavy lining that doesn’t breathe. You won’t be able to either.
There are a variety of brands that carry wonderful options, and they can be found in a range of prices. These are some of my favorites, from economical to eek!:
H&M offers inexpensive separates, that when combined can make a wonderful summer suit alternative. With blazers, pants, and skirts starting at $25, you can end up with a $50 suit if you’re shrewd.
Jones New York has adorable seersucker suits in the $200 range. Consider mixing up the jacket and skirt/pant so that you don’t look too much like a bar-code.
Ann Taylor carries a variety of summer suits in the $220 range (once you figure in the price of the jacket and skirt/pant together).
Theory sells linen-blend and cotton twill separates at Nordstrom that run in the $600 range (or less on sale) when combined to create a suit.
Burberry if you can splurge, because they are in the $1500 range. These classically elegant clothes can be considered investment pieces.
Have fun picking out some comfortable, chic summer suits. Come back in a couple of weeks to see what I’ve discovered about the best swimsuits – that’s right, I’m taking one for the team and heading into the racks to investigate. If it’s traumatizing I may need you to send chocolate. And kittens.
It might be tempting to reach for your go-to, black-wool suit every morning, but trust me – show up dressed like that during the summer months and you’ll look like you haven’t checked a calendar in eons.
So, may I suggest this fabulous white, sleeveless Gerard Darel suit I recently happened upon?
Notice that because you’re showing more skin (your arms), you’ll want to keep the rest of the suit loose. This balances the bare-arm to maintain a sense of professional decorum. Leave the fitted, nipped/tucked, sleeveless outfits for the Miami Beach clubs.
Pops of color (blue blouse and saffron purse) keep the suit from looking too plain or stodgy:
Tip: I wore the same color shoes as the pants to elongate my legs:
This suit is a wonderful alternative to traditional office garb and its airy design keeps you cool in hot weather. I like to think that its free-flowing lines emanate a billowing Gehry, but that just may be wishful thinking.
Photography credit: Erica Hampton