Q It seems that all stores are currently having summer sales. I find it hard to pass up a good deal. But I have a question: if I buy, say, a summer suit now with only a month or so left for the season, is that really a bargain?
A Yes, that’s one of the big advantages of men’s clothing over women’s. An item of clothing that a women’s store is selling now may be something that’s very “hot” this year, but no one will want at all next year. Such a scenario is very hard to imagine happening in men’s clothing, and especially in men’s suits.
Men’s summer suits consist of light wools (usually in blue and gray), cotton poplins (usually in khaki and olive tones) and cotton seersuckers (most often in light blue and white). None of these have the slightest chance of going out of fashion next year. Granted, some costume design elements may change over the years; they include: the width of the lapels, the slits, the double buttons, the shoulders, the square cut versus the fitted cut, etc. But even these changes are so slight that they will not be noticeable in the next few years.
You are correct that the seasonal period for summer costumes is only a few months. Seersucker suits have the shortest season; they are generally not worn until Memorial Day or after Labor Day, regardless of the weather. In contrast, khaki and olive suits have a longer season. Made of cotton or lightweight wool, they are worn from early spring to early to mid fall, as long as the weather remains warm. Woolen khaki suits cover a slightly longer season than cotton ones.
Comfortable gray and blue suits in light wool are versatile bargains for men on hot days and in hot offices. Light gray and light blue suits are eye-catching and slightly casual, perfect for summer wear and warm weather. You can wear a dark colored suit whenever you want.
As my regular readers know, I really like suits in the khaki color range for several reasons. I love that they offer a change of pace from the overdose of more standard blues and grays that men wear all year round. I love that introducing a different color (a shade of brown) into a man’s wardrobe allows for brown shoes and belts and a whole host of lighter, brighter colors for shirts and the accessories. I also love that they flatter most men’s coloring. And that they’re almost always cheaper than darker suits, even when they’re off sale.
My recommendation for a “summer suit” to buy now is a cotton poplin khaki. Keep in mind that although cotton suits are less expensive than wool ones, they are more difficult to tailor properly. Before buying a cotton suit, make sure it’s close enough to a perfect fit (especially at the shoulders). If you already own a khaki suit, you might consider a traditional summer seersucker.
As for ideal complements to buy, check out the “on sale” charts for a nice brown belt, cognac-colored leather loafers, a nice blue shirt or two, a few colorful ties, and maybe a little blue handkerchief. pocket in silk -and-brown. You will find that the end of season sales offer huge discounts on such well-known brands as Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Jos. A. Bank, Hickey Freeman, Joseph Abboud and many more (some also 80% off).
Choose carefully and you’ll look great…on a shoestring.
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