This feels like a betrayal, but most men don’t dress well in summer. It’s not true of everyone. Some — we’re looking at you, Italy — grasp that warm weather is a spectrum and needs to be dressed for as such. But for the majority of mankind, it seems it’s nigh on impossible to differentiate between a balmy afternoon and pavement-melting heatwave, or understand when a racerback vest is acceptable (hint: never).
Granted, we don’t all get enough practice to master warm-weather style but that’s no excuse to dive into the first sunny weekend half-cocked, half-clad, and burn entirely. Rather than learn summer’s lessons through trial and sartorial error, read on to discover the biggest missteps before the heat hits and keep your cool all season.
At the first long-awaited ray of sunlight, vitamin D deficients shed their garments quicker than their inhibitions, like primitive tribespeople who worship the big yellow disc in the sky as a largely absent heavenly father.
Unless you’re fortunate enough to reside in a tropical clime, stripping down to a vest and shorts is wildly impractical – not least when the cruel sun god suddenly goes in or down and winter comes back faster than bullet-hard nipples.
The less binary solution is to change your fabrics, not your clothes. Swap heavy wools and selvedge denim for lighter versions, sub in breathable cotton and linen mixes and rip out insulating linings (not literally – just buy unlined jackets).
That way, you can cover your modesty without melting like the Wicked Witch’s left-out tub of Ben & Jerry’s.
The only thing more lamentable than busting out a vest in spring is concealing one under a shirt, jumper and winter coat.
While some degree of caution is understandable (and even advisable given the capriciousness of the weather during some months), wearing anything knee-length that’s much thicker than a mac in May is John Wick-level overkill; when the sun comes out and the guns are unholstered, you’ll be perspiring like a rusty hitman.
Layers trap heat between them, so even relatively thin pieces can provide several degrees of warmth when they’re combined. Crucially, you can then adjust your rig’s thermostat to match the atmospheric conditions, adding or shedding down to a T-shirt as required.
Unlike a Sherlockian coat, a denim jacket, military shirt and long-sleeved henley can all be stuffed into a bag – or worn together.
Like a style tightrope, the warmer months positively invite men to put a foot disastrously wrong in one of two directions. Either by letting their mangy dogs out in flip-flops – which are rarely appropriate outside of the beach, if at all – or keeping them suffocatingly muzzled in leather shoes or boots.
What you need is the footwear equivalent of locking them up in the car but cracking the window open just enough so they don’t asphyxiate – and no, it’s not those weird woven slip-ons.
In the summer, leather shoes can precipitate up to half a pint of sweat on your feet. The air-conditioned alternative is the made from the same stuff as your festival tent: canvas. Suede is also more porous and therefore breathable than the polished variety, and won’t blind onlookers in bright sun.
The caveat with both is that spring showers will do serious damage, so protect them with a hydrophobic spray and always check the forecast.
Releasing the mankle (literally) adds an air of summer breeziness to an outfit. But spring the sockless look too early and the elements won’t be the only thing mocking your naked ankle (which, because of the concentration of blood vessels near the surface of the skin, has a surprisingly large effect on your body temperature).
Too late, meanwhile, and you’re sweltering in black business socks when everyone else has clocked off early to water the pub garden.
Don’t impose a full-on hose ban. Before you sock up in the visible or concealed variety – the latter will prevent your leaking feet from kicking out a stink in your kicks, not to mention blistering – check the weather first and determine whether it is likely to be hot, sunny and dry that day.
There are a number of nifty smartphone apps that you can employ for such purposes, but for a more low-tech ‘hack’, use your eyes and a nearby window – or, you know, go outside.
While your bravery in embracing the current trend for pastel shades is to be applauded, your timing is not. Even if you can pull them off successfully, overcast weather will leave you traipsing around more tragically than a recently-fired children’s TV presenter.
At the other end of the colour spectrum, stubbornly clinging to insulating black like a hibernating goth will make everyone else feel hot just looking at you. Lighten up.
Navy is the new black: reassuringly sober but not so severe that you look like an insomniac vampire (plus it’s kinder on pallid complexions). It’s also far more summery – it’s one of the constituent elements of a Breton top, after all.
If you’re feeling adventurous, the sailor-approved shade will help anchor a pale jacket, top or trousers. If not, head-to-toe navy will leave the boat safely unrocked. Consider offsetting it with a flash of white and, if the weather permits, a mankle.
Just because you’re heading to a festival, there’s no need to equip yourself with an entirely new wardrobe comprising of pieces you’ll never wear again.
These days, the temptation to subscribe to the contrived ‘festival’ aesthetic is all too strong. If you don’t package yourself in a pair of ludicrously expensive wellies, a straw hat, some wooden beads like every other Boho bore, you face being ostracised from the festival community. But don’t give in.
Not only does going all-out at a festival come across as try-hard, there are other, and in our opinion, better ways to dress that don’t mean having to sacrifice your signature style.
Stick to practical, versatile wardrobe staples that can be mixed and matched to deal with any scenario that may arise. We’re thinking of seasonal classics like Breton tees, all-rounders like denim shirts and emergency must-haves like waterproof jackets. You can dress them up according to your venue (or cognitive state), then all you need to do once home is concentrate on getting the mud out of them.
How soon you slip into shorts is a personal choice (our rule: once temperatures outside reach 20°C, or 70°F, depending on your locale). But even if your pins emerge a little sooner, at some point in summer, be it for work or a wedding, you’ll have to wear trousers.
Linen’s reputation as a warm-weather staple comes courtesy of its tiny holes, which allow air to circulate. But steer too loose and light and you risk replicating every aunt’s summer holiday style.
It seems counterintuitive but heavier, slimmer-fitting strides tackle both sun and style. Light shades reflect heat, but that means you need a fabric with enough weight to conceal what lies beneath.
Linen trousers can work providing they are cut from a slightly heavier cloth, but unlined cotton chinos offer airflow without the VPL. And they make the preppy look a breeze.
Shedding your outer layer may be one of the prime payoffs of rising temperatures. But without a coat, you lose the convenience of extra pockets. Hence summer’s proliferation of men juggling phones, sunglass cases, keys and pint glasses across Britain’s beer gardens.
Your shorts’ pockets aren’t a stand-in unless you’re wearing cargos. And if you are, then stowing your stuff is a frankly secondary concern.
A summer bag should have enough room for pocket overspill and some post-sundown layers. But it needs to look good, too.
A luxury leather option is too valuable to be tossed at the bottom of a bag pile, but don’t default to canvas; a few weeks of grass stains and knocked-over cans and people will assume you’re sleeping rough. Instead, look for a durable sports option that washes well, in a material like nylon that shrugs off spillages.
Annoyingly, sunglasses — like umbrellas in winter — have a habit of going walkabouts. But that — again, like umbrellas — doesn’t make cheap variations the economic choice.
It’s not always the case, but budget frames can mean budget protection. Your pupils dilate behind tinted pieces of plastic and, without UV filters, more eye-damaging rays flood in.
Look for lenses with full-spectrum protection. If sunglasses carry a CE mark (a European standard of quality) it means they meet industry requirements of allowing in no more than 5 per cent of UV rays.
Style-wise, steer classic. Black, tortoiseshell or metal frames go with every look, so you don’t need to invest in a deep shade rotation. Just don’t let anyone borrow them.
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Aug 19, 2018 0