Summer Textures

There’s no denying that Fall and Winter are the most exciting months for getting dressed up. It’s hard to beat the rich textures of tweed, flannel, cashmere, madder, and so forth, so it’s of no surprise that the cool months are peak season for menswear nerds. That said, there’s no reason that the warmer months have to be without the visual interest of the others. These months require a slightly different approach, but can be just as richly textured as any other season.

Last week I was in Las Vegas for trade shows, and although I was not a fan of the balmy triple-digit temperatures while there, it did give me an opportunity to wear some summery clothing that was very texture-rich. Here are some of the fabrics and weaves I reach for when the weather heats up:

Hopsack. Hopsack is a weave of fabric that is a bit more casual than a traditional plain weave due to its 2×2 basketweave pattern. Hopsack can come in a variety of “gauges,” but all of them will appear coarser than their plain weave counterparts. This coarseness adds some exceptional texture and breathability that make it a great choice for summer tailored clothing. I have two hopsack blazers – one is a very fine Loro Piana fabric with a tight weave and a bit of a sheen; the other is the SuitSupply jacket shown above, which has a much coarser and more matte finish (more coming soon on this jacket). The rougher finish of hopsack does make it feel a bit more fragile – it can be very susceptible to snagging – but somehow that only adds to its charm. Hopsack can be made out of pure wool, or out of blends (the SuitSupply jacket above is a linen/silk/wool blend, and it wears quite cool because wool is a very underrated summer fabric and mixes well with other materials).

Cotton/linen shirting. I love cotton/linen blends for shirts because they maintain the best qualities of linen – the subtle texture and the breathability – but the added cotton keeps the shirt from becoming a wrinkly mess. A rumpled linen shirt can be great in the right context, but to me that context is on a beach and stained with sunscreen, not under a blazer. Proper Cloth has a few options for cotton/linen blends, and I’ve bought a couple over the years. This one is a cotton/linen oxford weave from Cancilini, and its has some great striations that give it subtle depth and texture. For those that are interested, this shirt is built with Proper Cloth’s Soft Roma Cutaway collar – a bit more aggressive than what I typically spring for, but I like it in this context.

Linen pocket squares. A white linen pocket square is the most essential square you can own (if such a frivolous thing could ever be called essential), but it looks its best against similarly summery fabrics. This one is $20 from Kent Wang, a great price for a simple piece. I suppose you could go all out and buy some $100 cotton squares that would look quite nice, but that’s just not my style.

Raw silk ties. Most silk is made by dropping live silkworms in their cocoons into boiling water, and then slowly unraveling the single silk thread. Raw silks are created when the silkworms hatch and eat their way out of their cocoons, and in doing so turn that one thread into many shorter ones of variable lengths. This variability gives raw silk its nubby, rough texture. I’m not exactly sure why people associate raw silk with warm weather; perhaps it’s because the uneven, coarse texture fits in with all the other seasonal textures mentioned above, or perhaps it’s just because there are too many textures for cold weather so we might as well give this one to the warm months. Either way, raw silk is a great way to introduce some visual depth into your summer neckwear. Most major tie brands will have raw silk ties like shantung or tussah this time of year. The one above is by Breuer for Khakis of Carmel. I also like Conrad Wu’s raw silks quite a bit.

How do you add texture to your summer clothing?