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It seems like you’ve just nailed the basics of dressing smartly when life hands you a curve ball – summertime heat. While you still want to channel that sharp, sartorial style you’ve worked so hard to cultivate, you’d like to feel cool and comfortable as well.
What’s a gent to do? Less is more sums up summer dress codes for most men. However, depending on your choice of summer attire, it can make you appear slovenly and less than presentable as well.
How can you ensure your clothes enhance your appearance even if the temperature reads 100 degrees, especially if you're trying to nail that crucial first impression without wearing tailored suits? Here's our recommendations for dressing for comfort while looking presentable no matter what the weather.
Hot Weather Dressing Guidelines
Clean: As long as you look showered, well-groomed and are wearing stain-free clothing, you are good to go. Use antiperspirant deodorants and soaps with menthol for keeping your body cool. Trim your hair, especially the hair on the back of your neck, and opt for a close shave.
Light: Wear light coloured clothing and select fabrics made with natural fibres such as cotton, linen or tropical weight wool. Consider looser fits as they facilitate airflow.
Understated: Wear quality garments with cuts and patterns that complement your figure. Pay attention to unstated dress codes and dress accordingly.
Summer Shirt Styles
- T-Shirts: Ideal for casualwear, the T-shirt is appropriate for work outs, beach wear and other occasions where close-fitting garments are called for. In the US, a quality designer T-shirt is appropriate for wearing to class, the café, or even the bar. However, it should be made of 100% cotton, and the fabric should not be thin or transparent. It should fit properly in the torso area. Keep in mind that a Polo, short sleeved shirt, or a long sleeved button- up shirt are more versatile than T-shirts.
- Short Sleeved Polos: Keep your polo shirts in reserve for true casual events on weekends and wear a button-down short sleeved shirt during the week. Polo shirts are available in several acceptable hues and contrast so you can wear bright colours without drawing too much attention. The best fabrics for polo shirts are either smooth weaves or more casual rough weaves, which have visible texture. Ideally, polos should be made from cotton, but a 15% mix of other fibres is acceptable.
- Button-Down Short Sleeved Shirts: A step up in formality from polos, this shirt poses some difficulty in achieving a great look. For example, a button-down short sleeve that is too large or too small cannot be concealed by another garment. Consider altering such shirts to ensure a perfect fit at the shoulder points and along the torso. The sleeves should cover at least 25-80% of the bicep (from shoulder to elbow). Always remember that the less the bicep is covered, the more casual the shirt becomes. The circumference of the sleeve should range from between one to four inches.
- Long-Sleeve Business Shirts: Usually the only appropriate choice for wearing to work, select a light colour to stand out from all the others wearing white shirts. You could even consider a lightly patterned fabric to express your individuality. Cotton with appropriate weaves and weights that transmit the body heat and moisture are the ideal for summers. A long sleeve shirt rolled up to the mid-forearm or beyond can give you a stylish look. It is preferable and dressier than wearing a short sleeve shirt because you can unroll the sleeves if necessary.
- Undershirts: Wear a V-neck undershirt made of 100% cotton beneath your short sleeve and long sleeve button-up shirts to protect your shirts from sweat and fabric-staining antiperspirants.
- Wearing Shirts Un-tucked: If you want to wear your shirt un-tucked, make sure that the length of the shirt and the height of the jeans/shorts overlap by the right amount. Depending on your size and the type of shirt, aim for an overlap of two to four inches. T-shirts should be given less of an overlap while button-down short sleeves can be given more. Un-tucked shirts look best on younger men, especially when they wear jeans.
- The Summer Jacket: These are ideal for weddings, outdoor parties and other events held in hot weather. Fabrics used for summer jackets include:
- Cotton: The best fabric for the summer, its strength, durability and natural wicking properties keep you looking cool. They tend to wrinkle easily and are considered to be less casual.
- Tropical weight wools: These are a good alternative for hot weather as they are lightweight. However, they are also warmer than cotton. Nevertheless, wool has an unbeatable drape and feel. If the jacket is half-lined and conservative in colour, it could end up being a very versatile garment.
- Seersucker: Usually made from cotton with a striped pattern (think blue, brown or grey), the strength of the seersucker lies in its slack tension weave. Two warp beams enable a tight weave in one direction and a loose one on the other. This makes the seersucker a very breathable fabric.
- Linen: Made from a plant-based fibre (flax), linen wicks away moisture and disperses heat. However, linen fabrics are rough and wrinkle easily. This makes them the least casual summer fabrics.
- Unlined and Half-lined Jackets: By adjusting the inner construction of a jacket, you can reduce its heat-retaining capacity. Completely unlined jackets are perfect for warm weather as they dispense with entire layers of fabric. However, this makes them less formal so they are best matched with casual cotton garments and classic accessories. Half-lined jackets retain their linings and shoulder pads, but eliminate the lining on the lower half of the jacket. When choosing half-lined jackets, the lining should be made with a viscous Bemberg material. Bemberg is a natural manmade fibre that comes from wood pulp and is more durable. It also wicks moisture better than silk.
If you need some new summer garments to round out your wardrobe, we'd love to show you the lastest styles in linen suits or odd trousers or jackets to match your other outfits. You can stop by our Sydney showroom at your convenience or make an appointment to meet with one of our style specialists. We'll help you design a summertime style that rocks.
Original idea for article from Antonio Centeno, author of the internet's most actionable men's style guide. We recommend a read!
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