Sun, sea, sand, suits, and separates

Ever since the 1920s, when Europe's cognoscenti escaped the northern capitals for the idyllic landscape of the Côte D'Azur in France and that ellipse of Ligurian coastline just over the border in Italy, Mediterranean style has been admired from afar but rarely imitated well. Granted, wearing an unstructured linen suit atop a terry cloth resort collar polo as you stroll down to the butchers in Rochdale on a chilly May morning doesn't quite have the same sartorial calling as cycling through the cobbled streets of St. Tropez to pick up the charcuterie, but that's not to say we shouldn't pinch a few tips from the Mediterranean play book...

What is the style?

In short, lightweight unstructured tailoring and separates in cotton and linen fabrics, mixed up with a variety of loose linen shirts, terry cloth tees, and myriad polo and short-sleeve shirt styles, bookended with loafers, sneakers, espadrilles, sandals or even bare feet (not advised in aforementioned Rochdale - no offence Rochdale).

The tailoring

We're not talking navy blue fully canvassed business attire here. No, summer suits are lightweight, unstructured and typically/ideally made from linen or a linen and cotton blend so that they drape in a natural way, with a soft shoulder, and have a dry textural finish to the cloth, so as not to look too polished. It's the type of jacket you would feel comfortable wearing with shorts, and the type of trousers you'd be happy pairing with a plain white t-shirt and sandals. "Smart beach restaurant with your feet in the sand and your hands on a good Provençal rosé" goes a long way to describe it.

Fairway Jacket Wigmore Light Grey

Fairway Jacket
Wigmore Light Grey

Fairway Jacket Sheldon Navy

Fairway Jacket
Sheldon Navy

Double Breasted Jacket Calcot Cream

Double-Breasted
Jacket Calcot Cream

Whether you prefer the suit or separates is totally up to you, but the latter tends to be a more informal option. Always go with the darker colour on top and lighter trousers - it's just easier on the eye somehow. Add a roll-up or two to your trousers or jeans for a more casual finish.

The shirt

Brook Shirt Kildale Indigo Light

Brook Shirt Kildale
Indigo Light

New York Special Shirt Pool Blue

New York Special
Shirt Pool Blue

Grandad Shirt Longstone Navy/Red

Grandad Shirt Longstone
Navy/Red

Stiff formal collars be gone! A tie is not going anywhere near your neck so why bother with a stiff spread collar? You'll be wanting linen and cotton shirts with a soft-rolled collar or even no collar at all, in the shape of a grandad shirt. The shirt needs to be casual enough to wear on its own, and to take any formal edge off the suit jacket. Button-down collars are a great option and have a nice preppy edge too.

The polo

Speaking of preppy, the polo shirt is a key element to this Mediterranean style of suits and separates, bringing a neat sporty element to the look that instantly dresses down the tailoring. A fail-safe option is the classic cotton piqué style with the traditional ribbed collar and arm bands, but styles cut from linen, cotton jersey, and terry cloth (hat-tip to Picasso above) provide a little something extra in terms of style, texture and comfort.

Tabley Polo Shirt Morval Sky Blue

Tabley Polo Shirt
Morval Sky Blue

Hawthorn Polo Shirt Duport Navy/Cream

Hawthorn Polo Shirt
Duport Navy/Cream

Tabley Polo Shirt Lulworth Navy

Tabley Polo Shirt
Lulworth Navy

Once you've got your fabric down, the only other considerations are neckline and colour. Of the former, you've basically got the classic two- and three-button placket, one-button loop, open collar (including camp, Cuban, resort collars), and a zip-up option. Buttons are smarter in general, while the family of open collars are great since they have little to no structure and can be worn on top of your jacket lapels, rather than underneath, which adds a bit of flair and colour.

Colours are really a personal preference so we're not here to tell you to wear one over another. Bright tones are great to contrast lighter coloured suits, but at the same time, neutral tonal looks can be very chic so it's a win-win whichever way you shake it.

The short-sleeve shirt

Riviera Short Sleeve Shirt Portloe Blue

Riviera Short Sleeve
Shirt Portloe Blue

Riviera Short Sleeve Jersey Shirt Lulworth Green

Riviera Short-Sleeve
Jersey Shirt Lulworth Green

Riviera Short Sleeve Jersey Shirt Morval Navy

Riviera Short Sleeve
Jersey Shirt Morval Navy

The slightly dressier alternative to the polo thanks to the button fastening, the short-sleeve shirt is another key element to the Med man's wardrobe and a very useful strategy to dress down a suit. Collar preference and fabric are your main considerations here. Cuban collars and camp collars have just the right dose of Miami to convey a relaxed summer look, especially when you wear the collar on top of your jacket lapels, whereas a typical soft spread collar is slightly more formal on a sliding scale of casualness. Fabric-wise, same goes: linen, seersucker, terry cord and cotton jersey are all excellent choices.

Tees

Plain. Striped. Loose. Cotton. Linen. Crew neck. Done.

Conduit T-Shirt Duport Navy/Cream

Conduit T-Shirt
Duport Navy/Cream

Heavy T-Shirt Tavistock White

Heavy T-Shirt
Tavistock White

Oli's T-Shirt Lulworth Navy

Oli's T-Shirt
Lulworth Navy

Shoes 

Often your last thought, but really your shoes can set the tone for your entire look. A linen suit and polo shirt with loafers is an entirely different vibe to linen suit and polo shirt with sandals. This look doesn't really have a low-water mark when it comes to casual shoes, but it does have a ceiling when it comes to smart shoes so keep your footwear relaxed at all costs. Loafers, lo-fi sneakers, sandals, hell even slides given the right circumstances.

Solovair x Oliver Spencer Brown Suede Loafer

Solovair x Oliver Spencer
Brown Suede Loafer

Edwin Loafer Navy Suede

Edwin Loafer
Navy Suede

Yogi Lawson Dark Brown Leather Moccasin Shoes

Yogi Lawson Dark Brown
Leather Moccasin Shoes


Shop Summer Tailoring

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published