Can You Wear A Tropical-Wool Suit in the Winter?

Can You Wear a Tropical Wool Suit in Winter? | CorporetteAre suits made from tropical wool acceptable to wear during the winter, or are they only designed for cooling you down in hot summer weather? And how does the suit color factor in? Reader P wonders…

I bought a dark navy colored suit last year from J. Crew in tropical wool, and I am wondering if it is okay to wear during colder months (I live in New York City). My gut is that since it is very dark with brown buttons, that it can look wintry and also be worn in summer, as it is light weight and breathable. However, it is my first suit in this kind of fabric and I don’t to seem gauche if there is a rule about seasons in which this fabric is appropriate, and when it is not. Any suggestions?

Interesting question, reader P — and I’m curious to hear what the readers say.  My initial reaction here was, OF COURSE you can wear tropical wool suits in the winter! They’re seasonless!  But then I second guessed myself and did some Google research.

So here’s my more researched answer: tropical wool suits are often intended for year-round wear (see Pendleton,  noting that their “lightest weight wools are appropriate for year-round wear,” and BlueSuits, calling it “Seasonless European Tropical Wool Stretch”).  Because they are also acceptable for summer wear, they can be lightweight and breathable — so while they aren’t inappropriate for winter wear, they may be a bit chilly on the most Vortex-y days of the Polar Vortex. (Some of our layering tips for how to stay warm in a freezing office, or thoughts on unlined pants may be of help!) Particularly when you factor in the fact that so many women’s basic suiting is seasonless/tropical wool, though, I would say they’re acceptable for most winter days — particularly for the person who only has to wear a suit once a week or less. If you’re one of those people who wears a suit four days out of five, you may want to buy heavier suits in worsted wool or tweed — but I don’t think you have to.

Ladies, what are your thoughts — is there a difference to you between tropical wool suits and “seasonless” suits? Would you think someone was odd if they wore a tropical wool suit in the dead of winter? 

(Pictured: Ann Taylor Tropical Wool One Button Jacket, $198.)


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  1. I think you can wear a tropical wool suit in the winter, but you can NOT wear a heavy wool suit in the summer, unless, of course, you want to sweat and get all screatchey from the heat. I say FOOEY on hot wool in the summer, even if the wool is lined, b/c you can SWEAT profuseley just from the weight of the wool and the lineing. DOUBEL FOOEY b/c men who see you sweateing think it is them that is causeing you to prespire, when it is ONLEY the wool! I say do NOT wear wool in the summer, period. Wear cotton. It is much more breatheable. YAY!

  2. Anonymous Associate :

    I don’t see why not, unless it is in a color that is obviously a summer color. I live in a WARM climate, and only buy summer weight suits. Never thought twice about wear a standard color suit of this weight when I travel to a cold place.

  3. I’m an attorney in Chicago wearing a Talbots black dress suit in tropical wool as I type. Go for it!

  4. I am wearing the Pendleton tropical wool suit today. It’s charcoal grey and I wear it year round in Seattle, though less in the summer. In the summer I only wear it to court or for interviews. No polar vortex here in Seattle, thankfully.

  5. Great question and great answer, but I’m mostly commenting to say that I’m glad to see the usual “reader question” answer format changed…! The whole “we’ve talked about X[link], Y[link], and Z[link], but not this!” was beginning to wear on me. #smallcomplaintignoreme

    • Anon4This :

      Totes. My favorite would be like, “We’ve talked about whether you should wear shoes with prints for interviews, winter shoes in animal prints, and heels in animal prints, but not flats for the fall in animal prints that are ALSO good for commuting!”

    • I often find those “previously on” links helpful if it’s a topic I need to know something about, but I agree that it does get formulaic!

  6. your readers can’t possibly be this stupid, can they? you don’t actually need to ask advice for when you can wear a suit that looks year-round but the fabric might be different. THIS is why women still lag professionally. get over yourself and realize that the substance of your career is what you should worry about, not the damn fabric of your suit.

    • +1000000

      Kat please tell me you’re not this desperate for content.

    • Anonymous Associate :

      I agree with this too. Some of the topics here are surprising to me, this being one of them. The one that really sticks in my mind though is one about not being able to keep up with male co-workers – literally, not being able to walk with them because you either have shorter legs or are wearing heels.

      I like the blog, but it would be nice to see more posts about substantive things that are not even female specific, like how to get more responsibility at work as a junior person, or tips on making a lateral move, etc.

    • a true feminist :

      @Annie – men seek similar advice about clothing, but they have an easier time getting answers because society supports their efforts to succeed. Men can look to mentors in their family, in the companies they work to, in their circle of friends, to the media, etc. and get such help with little effort. They get groomed for success. Women do not have this support. On the contrary, when a woman asks an innocent question about wearing tropical wool, what does she get? She gets another woman slamming her for asking a supposedly foolish question. In other words, she gets flak from you. If you are genuinely interested in seeing women get ahead in the workplace, I suggest you offer to HELP your career-minded women instead of criticizing them. And your assertion that “the substance of your career is what you should worry about” is RIDICULOUSLY naïve and is, in fact, one of the misconceptions that women have about business. Women often think that just doing a good job is enough to advance their career, when in fact, it is generally not enough, especially in the corporate world. Image matters. Anyone who is successful in business knows that. Clearly, you do not.

  7. Asideralis :

    I don’t see why not. This is a very easy answer.