Rules of Style: Brooks Brothers' Fashion Director Glen Hoffs on How to Wear a Suit in the Summer

"Don't necessarily listen to what the salesperson is telling you. Just see how you feel in it."

Images courtesy of Brooks Brothers.

American heritage brand Brooks Brothers has a long and storied relationship with the suit. And with its 200th anniversary approaching (in 2018), the brand and its team of designers have seen a lot of changes in the way men dress.

"There's so many more options in terms of color in tailored clothing now," said Glen Hoffs, the fashion director at Brooks Brothers. "There's a much wider range of shades of grey or blue, all the way into brighter shade like a Venetian blue that still looks professional but modern and updated."

These days, that's the balance this brand is trying to strike not only in its standalone collection, but also in projects like its one-off collaboration with Supreme and its Black Fleece line, designed by Thom Browne.

We sat down to talk with Hoffs about how to suit up in the summer without breaking a sweat, a strategy for preventing the ring around your collar, and why you shouldn't listen to the salesperson when shopping for the right fit.

1. Summer in New York is pretty brutal sometimes, so you really want to think about lighter weight, unlined garments. There's this trend back towards the more traditional way of doing garments without a lining. It's actually more expensive to do it without, but the lining does add heat to a garment.

2. There are a lot of great tropical wools for a businessman who wants to look professional. You want a super-fine fabrication that's lightweight and still maintains its shape. We have a product that we call BrooksCool that's the perfect summer suit because it doesn't wrinkle, helps the wearer stay cooler, and looks fresh all day long.

3. I personally love a tennis shoe with a suit. I think it's a great look, but it all depends on your personal style and where you're going. Maybe you put a polo shirt on under the suit instead of the dress shirt. Not everybody can pull that off, and it really depends on where you're going and how you're trying to present yourself.

4. The first sport coat that you should probably get is a navy blazer. I think for a lot of guys, it's a turning point in your life when you get your first jacket. A lot of our customers are introduced to the brand getting their first navy blazer.

5. Suits start with the shoulder, and at Brooks Brothers our suits have always had a very natural shoulder. What that gets you is a very clean profile that doesn't really change a lot with fashion. The runway may show a little bit of a padded shoulder, but that's really not going to change for Brooks Brothers.

6. One thing that's very difficult thing for a lot of guys, especially if they work out, is finding a suit that lays flat across the chest. If you're working out, that drop between your chest and your waist can be a difficult fit to figure out, but that's what makes the difference between a suit looking really great or really inexpensive.

7. Don't necessarily listen to what the salesperson is telling you. Just see how you feel in it. A lot of guys like to get in front of the mirror and start raising their arms like they are going to a swimming competition, but that's not what you're doing in a suit. Just see how it feel on your body.

8. There is a really redeeming quality to looking well pressed, especially in business. It just makes you look more put together when your shirt looks well pressed, so one of our key shirts is a non-iron product. A cheap shirt can make a good suit look pretty bad, pretty quickly.

9. When I wash my shirts at home I always spray the inside of the collar even if it doesn't look dirty. I think that oils do build up in the fabric of the shirt and adding the extra soap to the collar really helps get all of those oils out. I have two tricks: one is called Fels Naptha and the other is just Shout.

10. A double-breasted style always looks better on someone who is tall and lean. The lines on a double-breasted blazer just makes someone who is a little shorter or a little heavier in the middle look shorter and heavier.

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