As it gets warmer, men begin the annual transition from heavy to lightweight clothing to beat the heat. However, lightweight clothing alone isn’t enough to keep you cool – beyond the actual weight, the material and the weave also matter. In this article, we will discuss the importance of finding the right kind of lightweight summer sport coat, why you should wear them and what to pay attention to during the buying process.
8 Secrets of a Great Summer Sport Coat
It’s easy to assume that as long as the fabric is lightweight a sport coat will be perfect for summer, but that is simply not the case! While weight is certainly one aspect, it is not the only one, and a lightweight fabric on its own does not necessarily make for a good summer garment. Here are the 8 main points you should consider when buying a sport coat for warm weather.
1. Start with the Right Weight…
It goes without saying that a summer sport coat should be lightweight, but what exactly does that mean? Ideally, a leightweight choice would fall around 8 to 9 oz (240 – 270 grams); any lighter and you’ll have to make compromises in terms of looks and drape. Chances are a 7 oz fabric will look too flimsy and wrinkle easily. That being said, high quality weavers are innovative and manage to produce progressively lighter fabrics without sacrificing the look of the garment.
2. …but Remember the Weave Is Just as Important
The weave of the fabric is extremely important because a tightly woven fabric restricts airflow, whereas an open weave fabric (such as a fresco ) makes you feel every little breeze. Therefore, take a close look at the weave. Hold the fabric up to the light, and you will see how open or closed it is. You can almost see through a very open weave fabric, whereas a tightly woven fabric doesn’t allow you to see much. Gagliardi’s sport coat has a semi-open weave because while I can see through it to some extent, I have have seen and felt other fabrics that allow more airflow. At the same time, it is much better suited for warm weather than regular suiting fabrics.
3. Opt for Texture
Unlike suits, which are often used in more formal environments, a sport coat is a bit more casual. It helps you to look well dressed without being overdressed, even if others don’t wear them. As such, you should opt for a fabric with some texture which will add to the casual nature of the coat. Materials such as linen or cotton are often used for sport coat fabrics for that reason. Often blended with silk or wool, these fabrics are usually woven with yarns or irregular thickness, which results in little knobs and irregularities. These are by no means defects but intentional because they provide the fabric with that distinct summer look.
The Gagliardi sport coat I received is tailored from a fabric originating from the Italian mill Bottoli and woven of 60% linen and 40% cotton, which lends it a beautiful texture and a crisp hand. The cotton helps to make it wrinkle less than pure linen and it also feels a bit softer because of it. When worn it keeps its shape, draping nicely on one’s body.
4. Go Unlined
Even if you have the most openly woven fabric, you will still restrict the airflow if you add a lining to your coat. Linings are typically added to a suit to protect the outer fabric and to allow the jacket to glide more easily over the shirt that is worn underneath. Most linings are made of viscose, an artificially made fiber based on natural cellulose, cupro or Bemberg. Although lightweight, these lining fabrics are woven tightly in order to not to rip any threads, but no matter how light it is, it will always add extra weight compared to a coat without any lining. Silk is the most luxurious lining but during the summer time, it acts as an insulator just like any other lining. There are two types of linings that fall under the designation of “unlined”.
Completely unlined jackets are very rare, because it means that not even the sleeves have any form of lining. While it maximizes the air flow, the jacket fabric will often catch the shirt, which makes it prone to not-so-attractive bumps and wrinkles. Generally, unlined jackets are only worn in the hottest climates and only available bespoke because it is actually more time consuming to tailor an unlined jacket. A lining also serves to hide seams and hems, so an unlined coat must be very neatly finished relative to its covered counterpart.
If you want a jacket that is made of cashmere or very soft flannel for the winter, with little or no interlining, unlined can work, but for more textured summer fabrics, it’s not something I personally suggest. Instead, I prefer half-lined coats over completely unlined ones because they are more comfortable to put on and drape better.
Most summer jackets feature a “half” lining, which means that only the shoulders and sleeves are lined. This allows for comfortable movement, smooth layering over the shirt, and decent fit without compromising the airflow in the back, where it feels particularly refreshing when a breeze hits you.
Gagliardi’s Sport coat is half lined and neatly finished on the inside with beautiful hems. I tested it in 95 degree Arizona heat and could feel the breeze.
5. Select a Sewn Interlining
One of the most important aspects that many men do not consider for summer clothing is the coat’s interlining. In order to get the 2 dimensional fabric into a 3 dimensional shape, interlinings are used to keep the sport coat in shape and hence more than 99.99% of sport coats have feature an interlining. Basically, you can have two different types of interlinings: fused and sewn/unfused interlining.
The interlining has a huge impact on breathability.
- Top quality garments have a sewn interlining and no fusing, which is also called full canvas. These are best to keep you cool because they allow air the flow freely.
- Value sport coats often feature a half canvas construction, which means that the chest has sewn interlining, while the bottom part of the front quarters are fused. In terms of breathability, these are better than fused and worse than all canvas.
- Cheap garments feature an all fused construction because it is the least expensive option. This is the worst option, because you will sweat much more in these sport coats even though the fabric is the same.
Now, even if you go with a full canvas construction, not all canvasses are alike. Some are stiffer with more horsehair, while others are softer. For a summer jacket I recommend a full canvas or at least a half canvas construction with as little interlining as possible. You want a lightweight, airy coat and so you should add as few additional layers to reduce insulation.
Gagliardi uses a half canvas construction and a soft canvas, but the coat is crisper than the fine blue jacket I reviewed a few months ago, and very similar to the linen blazer I discussed over a year ago. For the money, you get a great value because full canvas is usually only reserved for top quality garments with a higher price tag.
6. Go with a Bold Pattern
For summer coats, a pattern serves a functional as well as a stylistic purpose. Because of the open weave of the jacket, a pattern will help mask the transparency which would otherwise reveal the color differences underneath. Some great pattern options include checks, seersucker, or a go really bold and choose a rowing blazer. Windowpanes work especially well when they are bold and glen plaids are perfect. Avoid other stripes, including pinstripes, as well as solids because they look too much like suit jackets. Gagliardi opted for a glencheck inspired pattern that is ideal for a summer sport coat.
7. Embrace Strong Colors
Unlike for a more muted winter wardrobe, your summer wardrobe is the perfect place to choose vivid hues of blue, green or red. Skip grey or dark navy and go with white, ivory, orange or yellow accents instead. Brown can work too. At the end of the day it all depends on the combination. The Gagliardi coat is a perfect example for summer colors. The base pattern consists of white and mid-blue, making it look light airy and summery. The orange overplaid makes it unique and interesting. Simply perfect.
8. Choose a Single Breasted Cut & Details
Personally, I am a huge fan of double breasted jackets but if you want to stay cool in the summer, single breasted coats are definitely the way to go because a DB jacket adds another layer of fabric that makes you feel warmer, not cooler.
To underline its more casual character, I suggest you go with patch or angled pockets to give the outfit a more casual edge. You don’t want a suit jacket in a different fabric, you want a sport coat that makes you look great.
Obviously, Gagliardi fits right in there and with its boutonniere loop it is ready for some decorative boutonniere flowers in your lapel. The cut of the jacket is very trim and slim so you will definitely look dapper wearing one. In my opinion, Gagliardi offers a nice range of summer sport coats in different colors and slim fits which are perfect for the men who appreciate the Mediterranean look but who don’t want to spend too much. Their customer service is superb and worldwide free shipping helps to test things out. Personally, I own several similar jackets in green and blue because I really enjoy the opportunity to wear bright odd combinations while the season lasts.
Finding the right summer sport coat for you is easy if you pay attention to 8 key features: weight, weave, texture, lining, interlining, pattern, color, and cut. If you are into custom clothing, make sure to order your coats when it is still cold so they arrive before it is too late to wear them. Luckily, you can always rely on ready to wear and Gagliardi is specialized in spring summer menswear at an affordable price with Mediterranean flair. Click here to take a look at their collection.