Hey Gents,

As we approach summer, now is a great time to start contemplating the transition of your wardrobe from heavier to lighter fabrics.

Vice versa for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, of course (bummer, but you’ve had your fun).

BL Linen Suit

The items I personally look forward to rotating the most are my suits and sport coats. Out with the tweeds and heavy wools, in with the summer-weight stuff, the lightweight cottons, and the linens.

My friends at Black Lapel gave me a chance to check out some of their new suiting, and suddenly, I have a new summer favorite.

Now if only my travel plans were equally as impressive as this suit.

I’ve mentioned Black Lapel quite a few times on the site before. They contributed a set of suit-buying tips for my first eGuide, Graduating Your Style. They tux’d me up for my wedding. We even have an exclusive perk set up for Cladright members.

Not only have I known these guys for years, they also happen to make an awesome product, one which I happily endorse and use.

I won’t go into detail about the custom suit ordering process since I covered that in my tux article.

I mostly just wanted to show you how great this new suit turned out, and also give you a few tips if you’re a first timer. Oh! And tell you about the sweet #SuitCity Instagram contest that’s taking place right now.

Less writing, more photos

Black Lapel released several new fabrics on their site for spring / summer suits and blazers. All are made from an all-season wool or wool linen blend, and several (if not all) can be made either as a suit or blazer. Click the photos to make them larger.

BL Linen Suit BL Linen Suit

I went with the Light Blue Wool Linen suit, which is perfect for warm weather locales, both because of the fabric and the color.

(Insider tip: Living in or traveling to the NYC area? BL has a ton of fabrics to choose from, but this is only accessible to in-person clients, since you have to physically look through the fabric books.)

If you plan on your suit jacket doing double duty, consider the details. For example, patch pockets will lend a more casual vibe (which transitions better to a blazer), as do lighter or contrast-colored buttons instead of black.

BL Linen Sport Coat

You’ll notice I considered the buttons here, but went with slanted flap pockets instead of patch. Will that stop me from wearing this jacket as a blazer? Nope! See, I practice what I preach (“Know the rules, then break them at will.”)

My reasoning is that the buttons and the fabric carry much of the casual vibe already. If this were, say, a fine wool navy pinstripe suit with black buttons, I wouldn’t do this.

Keep in mind, this suit is available in a three-piece and a double-breasted version. Looking for a five-button version? Unfortunately, you’re out of luck. (Actually, you’re not. BL will probably accommodate your request, but please, don’t request this.)

A few tips to keep in mind

You’ve read a bunch of suit-buying tips. You might’ve even found some that are specific to MTM or online ordering.

Here are a few that I forgot, but then immediately remembered, as I went through this process again.

Measure twice, enter once

Getting the right measurements are crucial to receiving a well-fitting suit. The first time you do this, you probably won’t have the perfect garment. Most likely, you’ll need to tweak things here and there with your tailor.

However, Black Lapel is great at minimizing this issue. Concierge reaches out to customers individually if there are any discrepancies in the measurements posted. That’s because they have enough measurement data to know when there’s an outlier, I assume.

The first time I did this, I listed my thigh circumference measurement as 35 inches (whoops). I actually double-checked all my numbers too, so I’m not sure how I messed that one up.

They quickly wrote me back and asked if I really did have a 35-inch thigh (I don’t). They said it nicely, of course, in case I actually did have tree trunks for thighs.

Even if you’re experiencing a worst case scenario, BL has an incredible guarantee so you can rest assured you’ll be happy with your order.

Measure with clothes on

For my tux, I took my measurements in boxer briefs and a T-shirt. I didn’t notice a difference at first, but this time around, I remeasured myself while wearing a dress shirt and trousers. I got a noticeably better fit with this suit (basically, more room where it counts).

BL Linen Sport Coat

I don’t believe this is explicitly stated (perhaps it’s just understood), but to put it out there: Take your measurements with clothes on.

Taking measurements with clothing on or off may not make a huge difference, but if you’re trying to achieve the best fit, I believe BL has adjusted their system to take into account the fact that customers are measuring with clothes on.

Having your tailor make the final tweaks? Write those changes down

BL provides you with a little cheat sheet when you order a suit. Take this with you to your tailor and have him or her write down the changes being made (e.g. pant leg taken up 1”, suit jacket taken in 1/2”, etc.).

When your tailor is done, try on the suit, and assuming the fit is now perfect, take that cheat sheet and update your measurements on the Black Lapel site. If you’re unsure about how to update the numbers (even I was a bit confused), I’m sure concierge would be happy to help.

Next time you order a suit, it should fit perfectly upon delivery, assuming you didn’t gain or lose a bunch of weight.

Want something special? Ask for it

BL Linen Sport Coat

I can’t promise anything, but I’ve heard stories of BL concierge bending over backwards to accommodate special requests.

Do you like your leg opening to be a certain width? Maybe you want your lapels to measure exactly 3.25”? Looking for a triple-vented jacket? (Just kidding about that last one.)

Ask them if it can be done. Never hurts to ask, right?

Always dressed to the nines? You could win #SuitCity

suit-city-twitter

Black Lapel is running an Instagram contest called #SuitCity. All you have to do is:

  1. snap a photo of your handsome self in your best suit,
  2. post it to Instagram, and
  3. tag your photo with #BlackLapel and #SuitCity to qualify.

It doesn’t have to be a Black Lapel suit, but if it is, you could also tag #MyBL.

Each week, they give away mystery prizes (from gift cards to full custom suits!) to the guy with the best look. I know my readers are a stylish bunch, so start snapping and tagging away.

By the way, here are links to Black Lapel’s Instagram and EG’s Instagram.

That’s all, folks

Thanks for indulging me. Hope you enjoyed checking out the suit!

Which one’s your favorite? Are you a Carnegie Copper Windowpane sorta guy? Perhaps a Gramercy Gray Birdseye guy? Or maybe you like the Light Blue number I had on?

Would love to hear which one’s your favorite in the comments below.

Lastly, in case you’re looking for a great pocket square to go with your summer-weight blazer or suit, we have a few you may like over at Fifth&Brannan. Check them out here.

PUBLISHED May 1, 2014


Barron is the Founding Editor of Effortless Gent and the Cladright Association. He's from San Francisco but currently living in New York. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr.



  • http://www.themodestman.com/ Brock

    Great post, awesome suit. I really have to try Black Lapel soon. And yeah, just because a jacket doesn’t have patch pockets doesn’t mean it can’t be worn separately. What a crazy rule!

    As far as the breathability, how much more comfortable are you in linen than wool? How noticeable is the difference on a warm day?

    One more tip for buying custom online – send the suit maker photos of you wearing other shirts/suits that fit well (or don’t fit) along with the exact measurements of those clothes. This gives them another point of reference and is VERY helpful. Measuring yourself is much more subjective than measuring a piece of clothing.

    More photo posts, please!

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Thanks Brock.

      I don’t wear suits enough to notice the minute differences in comfort (as far as temperature), but I think a lightweight wool would work just as well. This a blend that has more wool than linen (75/25), so texturally it feels a lot nicer than some of the 100% linen fabrics I’ve felt.

      Great point w/ sending in photos, thanks for sharing that!

  • Jason

    Re: light blue linen suit, did you order it with the full canvas option or half canvas. Is either one better for hot weather?

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      I went with the default half canvas option. As far as warmth, while there are different thicknesses of canvas, it doesn’t play as big a role as the lining would, or the fabric itself.

  • http://www.iamchris.ca/ Chris Jones

    I didn’t realize they had more fabrics than what is available on their site. I’ve already had them send me swatches for all of their new fabrics and wasn’t entirely sold on the new wool linen fabrics until I saw your photos. The photos they have on the site just don’t do it justice.

    I really want something to be worn as more of a casual blazer, but their fabrics all tend to be very dressy. I feel odd wearing my navy suit jacket as a blazer. Perhaps the casual accents you mentioned (light buttons, and patch pockets) would help that, but I’d like a blazer that is a big lighter weight and less smooth fabric. I’ll bug them about it :)

    Great article. I really love my Black Lapel suit!

  • http://www.paulevansny.com/ Paul Evans

    we need to get you in some of our shoes barron

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      @disqus_S6NR4FNeJr:disqus I agree :)