Richard Press recently wrote about his fondness for safari shirts/jackets to wear around New York during the warm months and his septuagenarian years. Here’s some inspiration for creating your own urban adventures in that trad classic, the tan poplin suit (with some olive and stone thrown in for good measure). — CC
Member of Andy’s Trad Forum:
Joe at An Affordable Wardrobe:
Brooks Brothers then:
The uproar over Obama’s tan suit a couple years back was absurd. He looks perfectly presidential in this suit for the warm months. In fact, he looks better than usual.
Newton Street Vintage:
Unidentified man looking sharp. Or rather rumpled. Call it rumpled-sharp:
Anthony Perkins from “Hollywood And The Ivy Look“:
The man known as “Billax”:
Flusser outfits posted by Maxminimus:
I just picked up a new tan poplin suit earlier this year. It is a warm weather staple for me and I wear it at least once per week May through September. It is also the one item of clothing I own which elicits more comments than any other. The two Flusser pictures look particularly good.
I couldn’t agree more with the editor, who noted that all the uproar about Obama wearing a tan suit was utter nonsense, and that the talking political heads should stick to their job, rather than wandering stupidly into the aesthetics of dress.Most of them haven’t the faintest idea what thy’re talking about and look more like open cans of tuna fish than well-dressed men and women. Obama’s tan suit might have been a bit better tailored — slightly shorter in the length and sleeves of the coat — but he looked perfectly fit, healthy, and well-groomed.
I’ve read that poplin stains extremely easily, and lighter colors (obviously) show stains much more than dark. I’d be scared to wear a tan poplin suit to a summer wedding—the perfect venue in my mind—out of concern that it would almost certainly be ruined from wine stains. Any insight on this from the peanut gallery?
Tan suits have been a staple of my life since I lived in Savannah Ga in the 1980s; where the first one I bought was three piece! Ever since I have always owned one. I find they look best with a well starched white shirt and a proper bow tie.
It’s cotton (or should be) and is therefore expected to wrinkle. Compared with the crap most men wear when the temps reach the 90s, you’ll look great in a wrinkly poplin suit. Polyester doesn’t breathe like cotton, not even the Coolmax stuff.
Funny, though–wool breathes well, as well. The most comfortable summer suit I own is a super 130s (worsted) plain weave. 3/8 lined jacket. Tan. Considering a 7 oz. wool (85%) -mohair blend.
Add an end-on-end or linen shirt and off you go–to brave the humidity and heat.
The unidentified fellow in the rumpled suit looks quite natural and comfortable, as though he dressed carefully in the morning and then forgot about his clothes altogether. My father advised me to dress in this manner when I was a young teenager. Act as though your wearing clothes from the army navy surplus store was his advice as I recall.
Coincidentally, I pulled out the old khaki poplin suit for a visit to hot DC this past week. Very comfortable. And it got me thinking about one of the best purchases I ever made, about 25 years ago — a Brooks poplin sack suit in gray. It was just a classic poplin, but the gray color made it a bit more formal. The fabric had some color texture, resembling gray flannel, but it wore and rumpled like any other poplin. I only ever saw one or two others like it, but it was so useful and comfortable, and always drew jealous compliments on the street. Long since outgrown.
I miss Billax. A lot.
Billax, you magnificent roue!
I echo your comments completely. I miss Billax as well. I even kept his site as my home page (!), and I have noticed that it says that the site is now restricted to invitation only. After he decided to no longer blog he mentioned this as a possibility. If anyone has any clue as to how to gain an invitation, I would be most grateful.
I’m guessing more than a few of us watched Downton Abbey. There were a handful of scenes featuring outdoor summer dress. Lots of light tan suits. Wrinkled as a raisin. Beautifully so. No need to obsess about severely creased pants when the sun shines bright and hot.
Underneath the suit jacket–
Mr. Boyer, I agree on fit. The photo before Obama of the Brooks model is very well done. Nice fit.
Andy, you are teeing us up. To avoid wine stains, I shifted from drinking my wine straight from the bottle to using a glass! Oh yeah!!!
@Andy, if you’re concerned about wine stains from drinking wine, simply drink more wine. Your concerns will vanish like tears in rain.
I’ve seen those gray poplins around now and then. I really wish they still sold ’em. Seems like such a great summer option.
I too was a fan of the gray poplin. I had a BB version in the 80s, and wish I could find another. I tend to wear a tan or olive poplin suit about once a week in summer, and would enjoy having another color option. I recall getting a head shake and “tut tut” from a classmate at Washington & Lee for wearing the gray poplin before Memorial Day one hot May. I had told myself that the usual rules on cotton suits did not apply to gray or navy, but he’s a judge now and I’m not, so I guess he must have been correct.
The Press might have fixated on Obama’s tan suit due to memories of Al Gore’s sudden shift to a wardrobe of “Earth tones.” When he was running for president, some high paid consultant said it would help Gore get the female vote if he wore earth tones.
I snagged a 3/2 roll Brooks Brothers Cotton Wash n Wear after reading this. I’ll have it tailored and have to try it out on a date with the wife. Any got ideas for a tie or pants to with these kind of jackets?
I would suggest charcoal trousers with a proper cuffs a white oxford button down and just about any rep tie. Navy and gold for me. Shell cordovan long wings. I think there should be a generous contrast of tone between the coat and trousers.
jacobsb17 – Congratulations! What color is it? Mine are all suits and were bought some years ago, but it sounds like you picked up a jacket only. Presumably you were lucky enough to get it from a consignment or vintage seller since it is a 3/2 roll wash & wear, which I think is extinct at BB these days. eBay is a good source for the vintage stuff, and sometimes you can pick up an unworn item that still bears the original tags. At any rate, I have seen the light tan jackets worn separately with tropical weight grey wool pants to good effect, and I think that navy would also work, as could some all-out go-to-hell pants. With a darker color jacket, perhaps cream linen or light-colored chinos would work. Virtually any color of OCBD will look good, particularly a university stripe since the jacket is a solid. The pix above show good options. I especially like wearing a blue solid or u-stripe OCBD and repp tie with a tan or olive poplin suit. Pink, blue and yellow solids and red U-stripes also look nice with the olive number. A plaid cotton madras tie with a solid OCBD would be another good choice as would a classic square-end knit tie. Bow or long ties work equally well, according to personal preference. Enjoy your new sport coat (and your date)!
I agree most heartily with Sacksuit. Could not go wrong with that classic combination.
@sacksuit Yeah that sounds like one of hell of an outfit. I wasn’t sure between charcoal trousers or navy chinos. I think like Charlottesville said I should get some tropical weight charcoal trousers. I have a burgundy BB Rep #1 or Bule/Gold Repp #4 to try, wasn’t sure if gold would be too close to the kahki. Unfortunately I don’t have any shell cordovans so I guess I’ll have to stick to my weejuns. I’m still recovery from my days of long pointy toed shoes and other monstrosities, still building up the collection.
@Charlottesville Yeah, There tends to be a lot of 42 and 42L vintage coats out there so I’ve been lucky lately. It’s a lighter Kahki, almost stone but not quite. And yes, I picked it up off etsy, good condition though, not sure if you press wash n wears but a little steam might give it some more life. Ah, a madras tie, I should have thought of that, that is a good option. I think this jacket will turn out to be as versatile as I was hoping it would.
Weejuns would be my second choice sans socks. Glad to hear your getting rid of your excessively pointy shoes unless you feel the need to kill cockroaches in a corner. Finding good 3/2 roll suits and coats is becoming as difficult as finding first folio Shakespeare’s. Good hunting.