You don’t need to reserve your checked suits for winter, says Aleks Cvetkovic.
It still surprises me, in this line of work, how timid men can be when it comes to checked tailoring. A plain jacket always seems to win out over a check or stripe – admittedly, sometimes with good reason.
Not all of us are lucky enough to be able to wear whatever we choose to work, for example. In corporate environments today, many men feel hard-pressed to wear a suit that isn’t plain navy or grey (fun fact, in the grey old days, if you worked in finance you were only allowed to wear suits cut with a certain kind of stripe, which denoted your rank on the corporate ladder within the bank), and certain checked fabrics can feel a little too ‘trad’ for a creative office.
This is a shame, because there’s a real joy to be found in wearing a sharp checked suit – and let’s park punchy tweeds and winter flannels to one side for now. A sharp check (in my view at least) is tonal, muted and anything but overpowering – particularly suited to the warmer months.
Observe the latest offering from Drake’s. Alongside a couple of subversive checked summer jackets – I say subversive because normally you’d associate earthy checks like these with winter tweed (thumbs up to Drake’s for clever design) – the brand has made this chic linen suit in a mid-blue 9oz glen check from Solbiati, arguably the finest of all Italy’s linen mills.
To complement this luxurious Italian cloth the suit is made in the Drake’s house style with a Neapolitan cut, natural shoulders and lightweight chest canvas, finished with relaxed patch pockets and a three-roll-two closure. The trousers feature single reverse pleats (again, for an authentic nod to Neapolitan tailoring) and side straps to keep them on your hips. The result is a suit that’s the antithesis of stiff – it’s easy to wear, understated and versatile.
Moreover, a subtle check like this is, if anything, even more wearable than a plain cloth. Thanks to its muted colour and soft surface texture, you can dress it up or down with ease – it feels less corporate or polished than a plain suit might, but it’s far from unkempt. Try it with a point collar shirt and printed tie (this would work with any of Drake’s linen and cotton Bengal stripe shirts – the brown or orange versions in particular) or break it up and wear the jacket with chinos, or even jeans. When it really heats up, the trousers look the part paired with a warm-coloured casual linen shirt: this season’s rust spread collar, or red awning stripe, for example.
One final word on the way this suit feels: Solbiati doesn’t do dense, heavy linen. The mill’s cloths are chic, breezy and refreshing to wear. This piece is no exception. It will move with you as you go through the day, and crease just as you’d like it to. In fact, with its cool blue colour and the check’s subtle slubs, it’s as easy as can be.
So, if you thought a check might be a little too stiff for you this summer, this is well worth a try.