Michael Drake once gave an elegant description of summer clothing that I really liked: “fawn colored linen suits with blue chambray shirts, raw silk neckwear, and woven straw hats.” That’s what I realized I had in hand a couple of weeks ago. A swatch of tobacco linen suiting recently came from W. Bill in London. It’s a heavy 14oz cloth, which means it’ll rumple, but not crinkle. The color has a slight golden tone to it, just as you would expect to see in the brown wrapping of a fine cigar. I’ll be using it for the cigar linen suit I’m hoping to have made up.
I also received swatches of Simonnot Godard chambray from A Suitable Wardrobe. Many people think of chambray as the heavy, denim-like material used for workwear, but it can also be made into a light, open weave that’s perfect for casual, tailored dress shirts. I ordered a couple meters to be sent to Hong Kong, where they’ll be made into a light blue, button-up shirt with a semi-spread collar, French placket, and plain front.
Lastly, there are the accessories. Emmett London recently sent me a navy, dotted raw silk tie. It’s not too unlike the one that Drake’s sells, but it’s a touch wider, which I prefer. And though it’s not pictured below, you can trust that the straw Panama was resting not too far away.
Together, I think these elements achieve a certain casualness through texture instead of pattern. As Simon Crompton recently put it:
“Texture is usually a more sophisticated twist than pattern or colour. A failure to understand that has led to men buying shirts with coloured buttonholes, flowery inner collars and cuffs with coloured binding. There is a much more mature way to express yourself.”
Here, each piece is traditionally colored or patterned, but the materials - linen, chambray, raw silk, and straw - give a certain informality through their coarseness, roughness, and nubbiness. Of course, this ensemble probably won’t be wearable until next year, as I still have to have the suit made, but I look forward to wearing Michael Drake’s suggestion for summer clothing once it’s all done.
If you’re looking to add a bit of the same texture to an ensemble, consider the raw silk tie as a starting place. Makers these days include Drake’s, Burberry, E. Tautz, Gant Rugger and even Club Monaco. Emmett also has a few others on their website listed under “torn silk.” Finally, you should also consider smaller operations such as Panta and Marshall Anthony. Along with Drake’s, they probably make some of the most handsome options around.
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