Right at this strange point in time, everyone is at home, hunkering down in their loungewear. We've got no arguments there. But when lockdown lifts and you realise summer is just around the corner, in what state are you going to re-emerge? At Oliver Spencer, we’re partial to a little contrarianism because as with most things in life, if you’re following the crowd, you’re rarely thinking for yourself. If you’ve been with us for even a short amount of time, you’ll know by now that we don’t follow trends and we don’t pretend to set them either. Instead, we craft timeless clothing that we love using fabrics we’ve poured hours and hours of research into. Summer naturally calls for lighter fabrics as we stow away our woolens and reach for linen, cotton, and seersucker. The aforementioned crowd invariably lurches to a frenetic dressing-down of their collective wardrobe: shirts are forgotten for tees, or, lamentably, vests; tailored trousers, like Cinderella, are left to flounder in the darkest recesses of your home as all manner of shorts venture out to play their part as the ugly sisters; and tailored jackets… well, they become the sartorial equivalent of leprosy.
We’re part joking of course. Tees, shorts, and polos are all integral to a casual summer style but the point we’re trying to make is that modern lightweight tailoring is not just suitable for summer dressing, it’s perfect precisely because it's so versatile. The secret, we think, is to mix up the codes of menswear, using casualwear or workwear elements to counterbalance smarter or more traditional tailoring shapes. You can come at this in one of two ways: thinking of tailoring in terms of a suit - which you dress down with casual shirt styles or tees - or coming at it from a separates point of view, using either a blazer, tailored trousers or both. The former is always going to be the smarter option just because of the uniformity of matching your top half with your lower half, so let’s start with that.
The Unstructured suit
For many of us, the word “suit” initiates a Pavlovian response that conjures up images of anodyne navy blue or charcoal office uniforms, when in fact the suit is a wonderfully versatile piece of kit if you broaden its remit and think beyond the parameters of work. The crease-free merino wool suits of your 9-5 serve a sartorial purpose in the cooler months, but from now until September, it's the cotton and linen styles that you should be getting excited about because they have degrees of natural crumple to them that offer a more casual look. Furthermore, at Oliver Spencer, we create unstructured suits, meaning we strip away all of the canvassing and padding that would typically line a traditional wool suit so that you have the most natural fitting and softest draping jacket possible. This makes them perfect for relaxed summer occasions such as weddings since they have all the classic suiting details but with none of the rigidity and they are far easier to pair with polos, camp collar shirts and t-shirts than a classic blazer.
Where we are truly unique is with our trouser options - we cut multiple trouser styles such as pleated, fishtail, drawstring and judo, in the same jacket cloths, which gives you a number of different fit options depending on what you require. Want to go with a smarter aesthetic? Opt for a pleated style and pair them with loafers. Want to mix style codes for a casual look? We’d suggest the judo pants with their thigh pocket. The point is, with a number of different trouser styles to choose from, you can style out the suit jacket in a variety of ways.
Go your separate ways
The other option, of course, is to think about summer tailoring in terms of separates. Maybe you already have a great selection of jackets and blazers but require some different trouser styles to broaden your options or vice versa. Using separates is a great way to do this. One rule of thumb is to go darker on the top and lighter on the lower half which has the effect of making you seem taller. Separates also have the added advantage of making layering easier since you can be more versatile in what you choose to wear. For example, you may like the formality of pleated trousers but prefer to wear them in a more casual way with a Breton t-shirt and a chore coat such as our Hockney and Coram jackets. Similarly, you may have a summer evening event that requires a casual blazer but tailored trousers would be a formal touch too far, hence you could mix it up with judo or drawstring pants. Therein lies the defining advantage of Oliver Spencer’s tailoring - it can be everything and anything you want it to be.
One of our most versatile casual tailoring pieces is the Solms jacket, which has the benefit of featuring a lapel that can be turned up to create a hybrid Nehru collar, which just gives you yet more styling options. This informal style, in a mid-weight cotton, easily bridges the gap between our tailoring and outerwear. The Eden cloth, featuring a subtle herringbone design, is durable and can even be washed at 30 degrees. Like all of our tailored jackets, the Solms comes unlined, making it the perfect casual option for spring and summer.