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Style Q&A: Hot Weather Professional Wear, Suits for Larger Frames, and Proper Graduation Attire

Grant tackles your questions regarding looking professional in desert climates, buying suits for guys with big frames, and looking like you’ve learned something on graduation day.

 

1. I’m a desert southwest guy now living in the Deep South and because of the humidity I’m a sweat machine. I’m now at a job that is very casual but shorts would be pushing it. I’m decently comfortable in a polo shirt and chinos but it seems that might get a little boring by the end of the summer. Do you have any recommendations for casual hot weather work wear? - Dan

The southwest can be brutal when it comes to summer heat.  Phoenix is the hottest city in the states with an average of over 100 days a year of 99 degrees or higher.  This can limit your wardrobe choices especially if you’re a profuse sweater.  Polo’s and chinos are great for a summer casual look but as you’ve witnessed they can get a bit stale.

Believe it or not the solution is outerwear.  That’s right, wear a jacket when it’s hot as Hades outside.  The key is wearing the right jacket.  It has to be unstructured (no lining), lightweight, breathable, and versatile.  Since lighter fabrics are prone to showing wrinkles you’ll want to stick with dark colors for the office which will minimize the effect.  Keep the lighter colors for weekends and the golf course.

Fabrics like fresco, linen, hopsack, voile, chambray, seersucker and Sea Island cotton (the lightest and highest quality cotton available) all make good options when it comes to jackets, pants, shorts and shirts.  There are an infinite number of options with these fabrics.  They can be dressed up and dressed down.   A solid navy linen suit does well for business.  Glen Plaid Sea Island cotton pants are a great look.  Chambray jeans are the cooler side of the denim version.  A voile dress shirt and a hopsack sport coat can go from the office to the happy hour.  Add these warm weather fabrics to your wardrobe and you’ll stay cool throughout the summer.

2. I’m buying my first suit and, I have a larger frame. What should I look for in a suit that is flattering to my shape? – Andrew D.

By larger frame I assume you mean larger shoulders and chest and possibly a bit more weight overall.  You’ll want to streamline your frame which will in turn make you look taller and thinner.  Squeezing into a slim suit may not be the best option for you.  Fitted is good. Tight is bad.

Go for a two button, single breasted solid in navy or gray in worsted wool with slim lapels and flat front pants with no cuff.   The two button will lengthen your chest and increase your height visually.  A solid color won’t make you look wider and it’s the most versatile for your first suit.  The slim lapels, flat front pants, and no cuff all make you look taller and thinner.  Most men with a large frame have more junk in the trunk.  A double vented jacket will cover your rear comfortably and will keep you modest when you slide your hand in your pocket.  Avoid peaked lapels as they will only accentuate your large frame.  A shawl collar will soften your upper body but this is best reserved for more advanced suiting.  Enjoy your first suit.

3. I’m graduating soon and I’m having a dilemma with what to wear. As of right now, I plan on wearing a navy blue cotton sports coat, white shirt, madras tie, and some “faded black” cotton trousers from a 3 piece suit I recently bought from J. Crew. The color is more of a beige/grey than it is black. The shoes are some dark brown Sebago beef roll penny loafers. I’m in TN, so I plan on not wearing socks.

My question is, is this too casual for the event? The construction of the cotton sports coat and penny loafers add a sense of casual that I want, but I’m afraid that I may be too casual. - Yovanny D.

Congratulations on graduating. It’s an accomplishment you should be proud of. You should also be proud of your attire for the occasion. If you’re going for the casual look then you’re spot on. But first thing first—you should not be wearing suit pants with a blazer. A suit is a suit because the jacket and the pants are made of the same material in the same color. Instead go for chinos to keep the casual look in effect.

Whether or not this ensemble is “too casual” depends on the location of the ceremony (inside or out), the time (day or night), and your overall comfort level. If the ceremony is outside during the day then you’re good to go. If it’s inside at night then you’ll want to go with your three piece suit. In the end it all depends on your comfort level. If you’re comfortable and confident that’s all that matters.

 

 

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About

Grant Harris is Owner & Chief Style Consultant at Image Granted; a Washington, DC based Image Consulting Company dedicated to solving the complex image, style & fashion issues of today's professional man. He has a healthy obsession with socks. Follow him on Twitter & Facebook.

 
  • Toby

    You’ve missed the point of question 1, which was about dressing for humidity not for the dry Southwest.

  • Aaron

    1. Buy some Sperry’s or other leather loafers you can wear sockless. Also, try carrying handkerchiefs to wipe the sweat off your face.

    3. I think a jacket isn’t needed for a graduation. Consider that you will be in academic regalia, which serves as outerwear. A shirt and tie is plenty IMO.

  • http://www.bonobos.com/invite/abcd3fg15789 David

    Bonobos just got a new shipment of seersucker and linen pants/shorts/suits for the summer. They also stock a huge variety of boat shoes.
    Get $50 off your $100 purchase by signing up for their mailing list:
    http://www.bonobos.com/invite/abcd3fg15789

  • http://www.hendrickspark.com/ Aydika

    As a personal mens’ Style Expert, agree 100% on the pant adjustment in question #3. Suit pants should never be worn as a blazer, or as separate at all. This “wears out” one piece out more than the other, leaving you with a mis-matched suit (not to mention the mis-matched looks along the way). Blazers are designed as separates for a reason. And congrats to Yovanny on his graduation!

  • Grant Harris

    @ Toby – Whether in southwest dry heat or the deep south humidity these fabrics and the combination therefore of will serve any man well.

    @Aaron – Good points but you are assuming that this graduation is one with caps and gowns. Many private school and other institutional graduations do not require cap and gown. My personal graduation did not. Even if it does, the gown will come off afterward for pictures and partying and a jacket will be a samrt option to look classy.

    @David – Thanks for the info. I have yet to try Bonobos but it sounds like they are a popular option.

    @Aydika – Thanks for backing me up on this one!

  • http://www.asseenontvlife.com/beauty/micro-touch-max-review.html NotCathy

    What ever you wear of any occasions or whatever your style is, the most important thing is, you know how to carry your attire for that occasions.

  • Dan

    As a recent graduate myself, if you are wearing a cap and gown to the ceremony, I would recommend not wearing a jacket. At my ceremony, the room was extremely warm and a jacket would have just made an already long ceremony unbearable. If you want a jacket for the pictures later, bring it with you and throw it on when you take the gown off.

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