A Guide to Summer Fabrics (Linen, Seersucker and Lightweight Cotton and Wool)

When it's hot outside, most guys have one priority when it comes to getting dressed: comfort. In other words, you want to stay as cool as possible and avoid sweating, without sacrificing style.

Summer fabrics

Model is 5'8" and 155 lbs, wearing the Everyday Seersucker in pink (size 3) and Lightweight Stretch Chinos in stone (size 30x29)

On the weekends, you can ditch the dress shirts and trousers for short sleeve shirts and shorts. But what about during the week? And what about those days when it's so hot that you find yourself overheating in short sleeves and shorts?

The answer is summer fabrics. We're talking about linen, seersucker, lightweight cotton and lightweight wool. Let's discuss each of these fabrics and find out why they're perfect for the sweltering summer season.

Summer Fabric #1: Linen

Linen is probably the most popular warm weather fabric. With it's textured, crisp, semiopaque appearance, linen is instantly recognizable, bringing to mind images of carefree, island-hopping vacationers and dapper summer wedding goers.

Linen Short Sleever

Model is 5'7" and 150 lbs, wearing the Linen Short Sleever (size 3)

While cotton is made from - you guessed it - cotton plants, linen is derived from the flax plant. Like cotton, linen is natural plant fiber. But it has properties that make it very different from cotton.

Compared to cotton, linen is very strong and durable. Most fabrics will soften up and conform to your body over time, and this is especially true for linen.

Yes, linen is a wrinkly fabric, and this deters some men from wearing it. But don't worry: wrinkles tend to get better as the fabric becomes more supple over time. Plus, slightly wrinkled linen is a very carefree, elegant look.

In our opinion, a lightly wrinkled linen jacket embodies what the Italians call sprezzatura (studied carelessness). Basically, it shows that you care about style and appearances...but not too much.

Linen is inherently breathable, and it has natural moisture-wicking properties that make it perfect for the hot summer months.

Summer Fabric #2: Seersucker

The word seersucker is derived from Persia, and originates from the words sheer and shakar, which translates into "milk and sugar," two distinctly different textures.

The weaving technique causes the threads to bunch together and gives a purposefully wrinkled look, which also means you don't have to press seersucker shirts.

Seersucker first became popular in Britain's warm weather colonies like India and was adopted by American prepsters in the 1920s.

Traditionally worn in the Southern United States, a region that gets notoriously hot and humid, the advantages of this handsome fabric translates well for any summertime occasion.

Seersucker shirt

Model is 5'8" and 155 lbs, wearing the Everyday Seersucker in blue (size 3)

Seersucker is made with specific weave that's breathable, and the texture allows for more airflow between the fabric and your body. In addition the details in the cloth provide a subtle visual differentiator from traditional cotton weaves, so you'll stand out from the crowd just enough.

PMNYC seersucker shirt

Seersucker fabric shirts are ideal to keep you looking cool as well feeling cooler during the hottest days of summer.

We're proud to offer our Everyday Shirt and Short Sleevers in fine seersucker from Portugal.

Pair one of our seersucker shirts with our new lightweight chinos for your go-to warm weather outfit. Dress it up with an unstructured blazer, loafers and classic shades. Always switch up your fabrics to be season appropriate and choose lighter colors to complete the shift.

Summer Fabric #3: Lightweight Cotton

Not all cotton is created equal. Just like there are different levels of quality (e.g., low quality cotton vs. premium quality cotton), there are different types of cotton.

Specifically, cotton comes in many different weaves and many different weights. Fabric weight is typically measured by grams per square meter (GSM). In other words, how much does one square meter of fabric weigh?

In the U.S., fabric weight is measured by ounces per square yard. So, for example, if you see a pair of 18 oz jeans, that's some pretty heavy denim. PMNYC Jeans are 12-13 oz, a comfortable four season weight.

Approximately, you can divide fabrics into:

  • Light, 30-150 GSM (linen or silk)
  • Medium, 150-350 GSM (oxford, chino)
  • Heavy, 350+ GSM (denim, canvas)

Cotton is the most popular fabric for clothing, which is why you can find it in pretty much any weight you need. Lighter weight cotton is better for clothes that will be worn during warmer seasons.

Lightweight Stretch Chinos

Model is 5'8" and 155 lbs, wearing the Madras Short Sleever (size 3) and Lightweight Stretch Chinos in stone (size 30x29)

For example, our Lightweight Stretch Chinos are made from lightweight cotton twill with a hint of stretch. They're also garment dyed for a soft, broken-in feel. The end result is a great looking pair of summer ready pants.

Summer Fabric #4: Lightweight Wool

Just like with cotton, there are many different types of wool fabric. Everything from worsted flannel and tweed, which are perfect for cold weather, to tropical weight wool that breathes like linen.

The wool used to make a tweed suit might be 300-400 GSM, while a "summer weight" wool would be closer to 200 GSM.

These lighter weight wools (also called featherweight or tropical) usually have a looser, more porous weave than heavier wools like flannel. This makes them breathable, allowing air to move freely through the fabric.

Unstructured Navy Jacket

Model is 5'8" and 155 lbs, wearing the Unstructured Navy Jacket in navy (size 3)

For example, our Unstructured Navy Jacket is made from 100% breathable, lightweight Italian wool. This, combined with minimal lining and soft shoulders, creates an airy, breathable jacket that's perfect for spring and summer.

Stay Cool Out There

Whether you're wearing shorts and a t-shirt or a suit and tie, taking advantage of these lightweight, breathable summer fabrics will help you stay cool, no matter how hot it gets this summer.