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 A man wearing a suit and tie, with Navy Blueweather 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.

Hot weather fabrics collage

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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Grant Harris

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.