Linen suits in corporate environment – yay or nay?

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  XavierWT 2 weeks, 4 days ago.

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  • #8968

    Rob
    Keymaster

    Greetings, MFA! Long-time lurker, first time poster, so please be gentle!

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    TL;DR: Is it acceptable to wear linen suits in a corporate environment when your body is trying to murder you in high summer? If not, what’s the best option?

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    I work in one of the largest banks in Australia, and it’s oddly casual (as far as dress code is concerned); most guys just wear a plain or simply patterned shirt and some nice pants and call it a day, but there is a surprising number of guys who get away with polo shirts, or even t-shirts underneath a nice sweater. There are a large number of guys who wear ‘business suits’ as I call them (plain and simple, no real flair or standout pieces), and a very few who take the time to add a little more ‘depth’ to their look – matching ties and pocket squares, timepieces, tie bars, etc.

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    I’m currently in an entry-level role, and starting the serious search to step into my first management role; so I feel the need to up my game in terms of fashion. To clarify, I actually *want* to up my game as well, and have been wanting to for some time, it just feels like now is going to be the best time to re-do the wardrobe, albeit piece-by-piece.

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    The big problem I find is that I run very hot – my wife refers to me as her ‘human furnace’; I will easily run around in jeans and a t-shirt in the middle of winter, and in summer will often run out of clothes to take off to cool down in an air-conditioned room. For these reasons I have been drawn to linen for just about everything I can, but I am uncertain if I can get away with wearing a linen suit and still look professional. I’ve tried looking for summer suits that aren’t linen, but all of them (that I’ve found) are remarkably weighty and warm despite being ‘summer’ suits.

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    So MFA, is it advisable to wear a linen suit in a bank, and if so, what sorts of things should I look out for? Would it change my choice of shirts/shoes/ties/etc.?

    #8969

    XavierWT

    It’s highly dependant on workplace culture.

    I used to work for an international corporation in laid back locations, and I’d get away with fashion forward suiting which was more casual than business in nature. If I was at the New York or London location, I’d probably not have been able to wear that same type of garments without being percieved negatively.

    Corporate culture advice is completely different than fashion advice. Looking business appropriate does not mean to look good.

    #8970

    thesilentist

    In my opinion, linen suits aren’t business appropriate.

    Tropical weight wool and “fresco” weaves will be more business appropriate.

    Linen is more casual and very “resort” in execution. If no one else had worn a linen suit at the office, then I wouldn’t recommend being the first.

    Probably not what you want to hear but I’m just trying to save you from spending a chunk of money you might regret.

    #8971

    danhakimi

    Depends on the particular office. You can always try asking around.

    Lining and structure also count. The most breathable — and most casual — suit you’ll ever see is unstructured unlined linen. Probably not office-friendly, but let that be one extreme in your mind while you try to figure out what you can do.

    Half-lined is good. Polyester lining is bad. heavy canvas is bad. Heavyweight wool is bad. Light canvas/structure is good. Light wool is good. Open weaves are good. Blends involving linen are good, but the more linen, the more dangerous. You want something that won’t wrinkle.

    Then, remember, you want to keep it as businesslike as possible. Flap pockets and notch lapels are safe. Darker colors are good.

    #8972

    pipkin42

    I agree with /u/thesilentist that tropical wool would be preferable, but it sounds like lots of your coworkers dress casually, in which case at your specific office you’ll probably be OK.

    Is your direct boss a man? If so, does he wear only wool suits? If so, it might be best to stick to his example.

    #8973

    tgderuty

    I think it’s absolutely fine from may to August (November to February for Australia). If you have dark linen suits you might be able to extend the margins a bit. Full beige i’d restrict to the height of summer.

    If you’re worried about appearing too casual, keep wearing a tie and proper work shoes, just make sure linen is only about the heat not the attitude.

    During the other months I’d go for tropical weave wool or something of the sort.

    #8974

    ed_is_ded

    Where in Aus are you?
    It depends on the culture of your work place really.

    Perhaps go for suits with half lining or more looser weaves?

    #8975

    Kysimir

    I wear my linen outfit when its 110F or higher, or on Friday, but never when giving a presentation or meeting a client.

    People love the outfit, and I work in an extremely conservative field.

    #8976

    [deleted]

    I’d say no. Casual suits are a somewhat peacocky move. It’s why business-casual attire in offices has moved toward polos and simply button-up shirts and slacks, and not toward cotton or linen or silk suits, which are more appropriate for a celebratory beach wedding.

    The second part of the calculus is that you actually want to move up in this office. If you want to be promoted, the safe strategy is to not rock the boat and keep your attire conservative. I don’t think peacocking would ever help anyone get ahead.

    #8977

    GuiltyVeek

    If the bank is already that casual, go ahead wearing Linen.

    As far as banks, most people will wear a suit to the office and just leave the jacket hanging on the chair or something if it’s that hot. It’s not like you’re in front of a client all the time, nor if you’re in an entry level role at such a large bank, will you be facing clients that often.

    #8978

    anonixiate

    That’s actually a really good point – I’m already somewhat known as the ‘loud shirt guy’, and while I still intend to be known for a little fashion flair, I’m trying to move beyond that stereotype.

    #8979

    anonixiate

    I’ve been wondering about lining/structuring, actually.

    I find the hardest part is that a lot of the recommended places on MFA for suits are in the USA, and some of the terminology is different to that used in Australia. Finding ‘tropical weight’ wool here is a nightmare, despite the abusive summers.

    #8980

    anonixiate

    All my line managers are male (at the moment), and they all wear blue/grey ‘business suits’.

    Hard part for me is often how to bring colour and flair into it, when everyone around me (especially management) is fairly conservative in their clothing.

    #8981

    anonixiate

    Sounds like I’ve got my casual Friday suits sorted! I’m not much of a beige/light colours guy, but I reckon I could find something that can work.

    #8982

    jcm0265

    If all your managers wear conservative suits and you’re looking to get into management, I’d be careful getting too risky. A linen suit, while great in appropriate setting, may be seen negatively by your superiors.

    Also, ties and pocket squares should compliment one another but not match.

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