Dugdale on summer suiting
Robert Charnock – chairman of heritage cloth merchant Dugdale Bros & Co – offers his thoughts and expertise on summer suiting options.
There’s no mistaking that a perfectly tailored suit is a perpetual style staple all year round, but when the warmer climes of summer descend it can often be difficult to obtain the equilibrium between sartorial triumph and keeping cool. Robert Charnock – chairman of heritage cloth merchant Dugdale Bros & Co – offers his thoughts and expertise on the topic to The Rake, exploring a selection of key cloths and why their qualities make the perfect choice for a summer suiting composition... Looking towards lightweight linen One of the most timeless stalwarts in summer fashion, linen is a fabric steeped in rich sartorial history. It’s no wonder it remains a firm favourite among tailors and fashion houses across the globe, when looking for inspiration for their summer collections and garment creations. Hailed as one of mankind’s earliest materials, in the times of Ancient Egypt the cloth was used for both clothing and in ritualistic ceremonies. Often referred to as ‘woven moonlight’ – due to its soft and luxurious feel – this term perfectly encapsulates the classic elegance that linen exuded not only millennia ago, but also in today’s modern-day fashion landscape. While some linen is manufactured in bulk in many parts of the world, Dugdale Bros is committed to providing high-quality fabrics which represent local craftmanship and pay homage to the illustrious history of the fabric’s origins. This passion for provenance was the inspiration behind one of our sophisticated linen collections – Lisburn. Its incredible versatility is one of the key reasons it performs so well during the warmer months, and heat adaptability is crucial for summer garments. But why exactly is it a prevailing favourite among tailors? Its hard-wearing yet breathable nature spans the whole garment, affording effective air flow. However, another motif of summer is colour. Vibrant colourways are a pivotal ingredient that can’t go overlooked in the recipe of creating a well-tailored and statement suit, and linen is a great canvas upon which to expand your palette. Staying cool with wool When temperatures are climbing, a robust, heavy fabric is the least desirable for a summer suit. That’s why, as well as looking for a cloth that’s versatile, another pivotal feature to consider is notable lightweight characteristics. Wool may not be the first textile to spring to mind when thinking of well-ventilating materials, but what about ‘cool wool’? Dugdale's longest-standing cool wool cloth, New Fine Worsted, is a 9-10oz fabric crafted from Australian merino, and what makes it so summertime-savvy is the high degree of breathability – created by the construction of uptwisted yarn and open weave, which allows air to traverse freely through the garment. In turn, this makes it incredibly flexible when transitioning from the high heat of the day to the cooler evenings. As well as comfort, suits crafted using high-quality cool wool offer enhanced performance when it comes to faster crease recovery and shape retention over longer periods of time – particularly useful during periods of hot weather. The olde-worlde feel of New Fine Worsted is favoured by Marylebone-based Anglo-Italian, where the cloth’s formal structure is harmoniously offset by the firm’s unconstructed Neapolitan house style – offering a contemporary take on a legacy fabric. Another of our cool wool collections, Tropicalair was originally developed in the 1960s for the Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysian markets. Its open-weave and high-twisted features make it perfect for tailoring summer jackets and blazers to be worn in more humid climates. Sporting sumptuous silk Linen and super-fine cool wool may be ideal summertime fibres, but if you have a fancy event in the height of summer, silk also warrants some contemplation. Known as one of the world’s softest fabrics, silk is a luxurious alternative. Made from the finest Italian silk and premium Irish linens, Dugdale's Cascade collection is cool to wear and offers a naturally rich handle. The key to choosing the right silk is ensuring it has enough weight to allow a graceful drape, all the while remaining effortlessly lightweight. Silk has long been renowned for its temperature regulating properties too, making it a comfortable cloth for summer jacketing. To summarise the musings of what symbolises ideal summer suiting, it’s important to keep full-garment breathability in mind, as well as excellent drape and a lightweight feel. Once these boxes are ticked, couple it with an extravagant splash of colour or bold pattern and your bespoke suit for those balmy summer days is both functional and elegant.