Summer Formal

It’s officially summertime. And for many of us, this means long hours in a hot office, along with uncomfortable commutes, for the foreseeable future.

While you must always uphold your standards when it comes to dressing for business, formality expectations are slightly lowered during the high summer months. A significant part of the workforce will be away, external meetings are less frequent, and let’s face it: we all tend to work a lot less when the sun is shining.

A style fact that everyone should keep in mind is that it’s much better to underdress slightly in order to maintain a fresh, comfortable look than to sweat profusely, appear red-faced and suffer from heat-related inconveniences just because you insist on wearing your three-piece wool suit during the summer.

With this in mind, below we offer a few tweaks you could potentially make to your office attire over the coming months. They will help you keep your cool and look smart at work, and if you play it right, might even lift your spirits, with a subtle hint of resort wear giving you the feeling of dressing for holiday…

1) Summer Colour

A simple colour change goes a long way in summer. This does not necessarily mean swapping your dark flannel suit for a white linen one, but rather choosing a colour scheme that will better complement your tan, reflect daylight and, yes, keep you cooler.

Put away the black, charcoal and pinstripe suits and consider replacing them with light grey, petrol blue or tan versions. Although colour alone doesn’t seem like a life-changing choice, this alteration will also allow you to adopt a whole new set of warm-weather-friendly shirts and accessories.

If you work in jeans, during this time of the year you might be able to consider a lighter wash, or white/coloured pair. Just make sure they’re not ripped and that the wash is kept as consistent as possible throughout. The same rules apply if you’re more of a chino guy.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Lighter Coloured Pieces - Summer Business Wear Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

suitsupply ss15suitsupply ss15de fursac ss14sarar ss14tommy hilfiger tailored ss14jaeger ss13austin reed ss14massimo dutti may 2014Brioni ss15sanahunt ss14massimo dutti april 2014mj bale ss12
2) Materials

This may seem obvious, but adapting your material choice for specific times of the year will improve your overall look. After all, you don’t forget to wear a jumper on a cold day, so why insist on warm clothes and thick fabrics during the summer season?

Ditch wool and other heavyweight materials for lightweight cottons, linens, silk and mixtures thereof. This applies to all clothes, including suits, knitwear, trousers and shirts.

Just make sure that the fabric isn’t transparent/sheer and it doesn’t crease too easily. Wrinkled linen is a great look for off-duty hours, when you want to appear effortless and nonchalant, but those same values don’t come across well in the office. If you have a long day ahead, think about how that particular fabric will look after just one hour of your hectic routine.

Of course, regular readers will already understand the importance of seasonal fabrics, but do you also know how to choose denim that is lighter (12 Oz or lower in weight), or t-shirts in finer cottons, such as Egyptian, pima and Sea Island? The difference it can make to your overall comfort levels is huge.

Since we’re talking materials, let’s make sure to cover everything: consider your underwear. Natural fabrics that allow your private parts to breathe will spare you the hassle of heat rashes and sweating in even less desirable places. Sorry to bring this up, but we couldn’t ignore it. During summer, go for 100 per cent cotton briefs/boxers/trunks to ensure you keep your cool everywhere.

Key Pieces
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Tailored Cotton ShirtHe By Mango Slim-fit Tailored Cotton Shirt
  • United Colors Of Benetton Cotton Stretch Suit JacketUnited Colors Of Benetton Cotton Stretch Suit Jacket
  • Topman Light Grey Skinny SuitTopman Light Grey Skinny Suit
  • Asos Crew Neck Jumper In CottonAsos Crew Neck Jumper In Cotton
  • Reiss Driver Twill Cotton Shirt Lt BlueReiss Driver Twill Cotton Shirt Lt Blue
  • Reiss Jude V-neck Cotton Jumper GreenReiss Jude V-neck Cotton Jumper Green
  • Richard James Pink Cotton-poplin ShirtRichard James Pink Cotton-poplin Shirt
  • He By Mango Houndstooth Suit BlazerHe By Mango Houndstooth Suit Blazer
  • J. Crew Rugged Cotton V-neck SweaterJ. Crew Rugged Cotton V-neck Sweater
  • Sunspel Cotton BriefsSunspel Cotton Briefs
  • Calvin Klein Underwear Cotton Boxer BriefsCalvin Klein Underwear Cotton Boxer Briefs
  • He By Mango Check Cotton Boxer ShortsHe By Mango Check Cotton Boxer Shorts
3) Accessories

It probably doesn’t make sense to you when women talk about their summer handbags or jewellery. After all, what’s the difference?

Although a summer bag won’t help you feel cooler, it will certainly play a major role in justifying your summer attire. Consider tan leather or canvas bags to pair with lighter suede shoes such as loafers or Derbies during this time of the year. Plaited or webbed belts are also a good call.

When it comes to your neck wear, why not try a cotton, linen, chambray or knitted silk tie in a bright or light shade? All of these will add texture to your ensemble in a refined way, while marking you out as a gentleman that pays attention to the finer details AND knows the importance of material choice.

Extend this warm-weather update to any accent you can turn into a summer statement. For instance, matching your socks with your (light coloured) trousers as opposed to your (darker) shoes, or even going sockless (look for the styling tips below to see how to go sockless successfully).

Think about a pocket square that screams ‘summer’ or a piece of jewellery that you would never wear with your grey flannel suit in winter (a beaded bracelet, for example). Other options could be coloured spectacles, mirrored sunglasses, a canvas strap watch – hell, even a printed wallet will do the trick.

Remember that the price point for these seasonal pieces should be lower than what you would spend on year-round garments or accessories. You’ll likely wear them for a specific period of time, and may even want to replace them each year to keep your look fresh.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Summer Accessories - Business Wear Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

digel ss11thomas pinkGagliardi ss14Clements and Church 2013austin reed ss14louis copeland 2014reiss ss14j crew ss14suitsupply ss15Gieves & hawkes ss14massimo dutti june 2011he by mango ss14
Key Pieces
  • He By Mango Paisley Print Silk Pocket SquareHe By Mango Paisley Print Silk Pocket Square
  • Paul Smith Animal Pocket SquarePaul Smith Animal Pocket Square
  • Reiss Darcy Slim Silk Knitted Tie Royal BlueReiss Darcy Slim Silk Knitted Tie Royal Blue
  • Aquascutum Silk Micro Print Pocket Square greenAquascutum Silk Micro Print Pocket Square green
  • T.m.lewin Grey Green Club Stripe TieT.m.lewin Grey Green Club Stripe Tie
  • Limited Edition Pure Cotton Chambray Textured TieLimited Edition Pure Cotton Chambray Textured Tie
  • Asos Smart Leather Look HoldallAsos Smart Leather Look Holdall
  • He By Mango Canvas Tote BagHe By Mango Canvas Tote Bag
  • Daniel Wellington Nottingham Gold Canvas Strap WatchDaniel Wellington Nottingham Gold Canvas Strap Watch
  • Paul Smith Woven-leather Wrap BraceletPaul Smith Woven-leather Wrap Bracelet
  • Miansai Anchor Rope BraceletMiansai Anchor Rope Bracelet
  • Comme Des Garcons Zipped Leather PouchComme Des Garcons Zipped Leather Pouch
  • Falke Airport Wool And Cotton-blend SocksFalke Airport Wool And Cotton-blend Socks
  • Asos Classic Glasses With Clear LensAsos Classic Glasses With Clear Lens
  • Thom Browne D-frame Matte-acetate GlassesThom Browne D-frame Matte-acetate Glasses
4) Summer Styling Tips

After making the adjustments above, it all boils down to how you dress on a daily basis, so take a look at some of the key summer styling techniques below:

Go Sockless

If you choose to go sockless, make sure your trousers are short enough (or rolled up) to show off a bit of ankle. This rule applies to EVERY type of legwear, from suit trousers to jeans:

Men's Summer Business Wear - Going Sockless Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

he by mango spring 2013massimo dutti may 2012he by mango ss14austin reed ss14de fursac s14mj bale ss12
Undo An Extra Button

The general rule for a tie-less shirt at work is undoing the first button only, and no more than that.

If you have a nice tan, and it’s a really hot day, you can get away with a second undone button. It will help you keep cool and is acceptable from the start of July to the end of August:

Men's Tie-Less Business Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

zara man august/september 2013boglioli ss12sarar ss14massimo dutti may 2012digel ss14massimo dutti 2013
Try A Pair Of Trainers

This will work if you traditionally go to work in chinos/jeans and your office dress code is slightly more relaxed.

You know the trainers you’d usually only wear for the commute? Well, they will look OK in the office during high summer, especially if they’re minimal white/grey/black leather versions:

Men's Summer Business Wear Lookbook - Separates With White Trainers - Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

bally ss14selected homme ss14jaeger ss14tommy hilfiger summer 2014he by mango summer 2014mr start ss12
Try Alternative Neck Wear

Silk, cotton or linen scarves can complement this summer business aesthetic and even replace your tie for an external meeting, for example.

Make sure you wear them in an individual way, and you don’t look like you’re trying too hard. They needn’t be expensive, since you’ll probably be wiping off sweat with them anyway:

Men's Summer Business Wear Lookbook - Lightweight Silk/Cotton Scarves - Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

angelo nardelli aw13massimo dutti nyc 5th avenue ss13massimo dutti march 2014dunhill ss15sarar ss14he by mango ss14
Lose An Accessory Or Two

This is another great warm weather styling tip: the fewer items of clothing and accessories you have on, the more relaxed and summery you’ll appear.

We already recommended losing the socks. But why not lose the belt, the tie or even the blazer (consider replacing with a waistcoat) on the hottest days of the year?

Men's Summer Business Wear Lookbook - Lose The Accessories Such As Ties, Belts or Blazer - Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

selected homme aw13austin reed ss14strellson ss14zara editions 2013suitsupply 2014ovadia & sons ss14DE FURSAC SS13he by mango september 2012reiss ss14
Final Word

So, there you have it, a few tips on how to look cool in the summer. What can you get away with in the office? Any other ideas we missed?

Let us know in the comments section below…