One minute you’re swimming in a sun-soaked pond; the next, you’re swimming your way through sheets of monsoon rain. For some of us, the onset of summer means high temperatures and cloud-free skies, but for others good weather isn’t exactly a dead cert once June rolls around.
So how best to dress when one summer’s day can serve up several seasons’ worth of weather?
Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail
Before we start getting into specifics, you should know that above all else the key to dressing for changeable summer weather lies in smart planning.
Now – when the sun’s splitting the rocks outside – we’re as enthusiastic about spending ten minutes outfit-planning as you are. But, skip this step, and you run the risk of contending with sodden threads or cold turkey-level shivers if the weather turns.
Flexibility is the name of the game here: your summer looks should be able to withstand the odd shower and nip in the night air, but you’ll also need to be able to strip them right back when you start to sizzle.
“If you’re commuting to work and it’s muggy and humid, I’d suggest packing your shirt in your bag and changing into it once at the office,” says Shaunie Brett, Style Director at online men’s personal styling service Thread.com.
“If you roll your shirt instead of folding it, you should avoid too many creases, and a few creases are a small price to pay for a fresh, sweat-free shirt when you get to the office.”
Try wearing a plain T-shirt instead, though be careful with your colour choice: “Beware grey T-shirts!” warns Brett. “They only exaggerate sweat patches.”
Image: Zara 2015
Layer Up, Strip Down
While it’s tempting to hotfoot it to the park in nothing more than a racer back vest and a pair of shorts when it looks like a heatwave is set to hit, experience (and a few summer colds) has taught us that it’s worth preparing for all eventualities.
“Go for an outfit composed of multiple thinner layers rather than single layers,” advises Brett. “This allows you to peel off a layer or two, and adapt your look depending on changes in the weather.”
Try wearing a vest you’d happily wear on its own as your base layer, and then throw a loose-fitting tee or short-sleeved shirt over it. This way, you can shed a layer if there’s a spike in the mercury. Or try wrapping a loose-fitting cotton sweatshirt or overshirt around your waist – you’ll look on the money and feel snug when the dusk air starts to bite.
“An overshirt is a useful layer when the weather is patchy,” explains Brett. “There are loads of good ones about at the moment, but if you have a casual shirt that is a thick enough material, such as denim, twill or flannel, you can use this as an overshirt and just wear it open over a T-shirt – a good solution if you’re switching between the heat of the outdoors and air-conditioned buildings.”
Whether it’s a day-long BBQ or garden party you’ve got in the calendar, no one wants to see your nipples ready to cut glass come evening. So remember to take something to fend off the chill once the sun goes down.
Easily thrown over a tee or short-sleeved shirt, a light gauge knit should be your go-to guard against an evening breeze. Try a thin cotton cable knit to lend your look a preppy, nautical charm or keep an eye out for open-weave jumpers for a sheer effect that’s sure to look sharp while keeping you comfortable.
- River Island Lightweight Marl Pocket Jumper
- Topman Selected Homme Navy Stripe Jumper
- Asos Cardigan In Cotton
- Folk Waffle-knit Cotton Sweater
- Club Monaco Ribbed Cotton And Linen-blend Shawl-collar Cardigan
- He By Mango Stripe Patterned Sweater
- Reiss Jump Contrast Detail Jumper Grey
- M&s Collection Pure Cotton Crew Neck Jumper
- He By Mango Textured Cotton Sweater
Pack A Mac
As much as we like to complain about it, wet summer weather isn’t exactly exclusive to the UK – and whether it’s sudden, short-lived downpours or day-long drizzle your climate throws at you, you’ll need something to cover up.
“It’s important to have an emergency layer packed away somewhere,” says Brett. “Luckily, with utilitarian and ergonomic designs dominating outerwear this season, there are tonnes of showerproof options that you can pack down small and stow away until the heavens open.”
Brett suggests specialist outdoor brands such as The North Face and Patagonia, as well as Stone Island, the Italian label favoured for its technical prowess. Danish label Rains and French pack-a-mac purveyors K-Way also offer a slew of minimal styles that are versatile enough to team with most looks and don’t require much bag space.
- Topman Rains Blue And Orange Jacket
- Patagonia Parka With Hood Water Repellent Regular Fit
- The North Face Mountain Jacket
- Stone Island Flock Nylon Hooded Shirt Jacket
- K-way Le Vrai Claude 2.0
- Stutterheim Stockholm Raincoat
Dark Clouds? Ditch The Denim
“If there’s a chance of a shower, avoid heavier fabrics such as denim,” says Brett. “Once it’s soaked through, it takes ages to dry.” Not only that but you’ll pong of whatever smells your jeans have picked up since their last wash too.
Instead, keep an eye out for pieces in fabrics that are lighter but that still offer some protection, such as cotton twill or seersucker.
Image: Simons.ca SS15
Mind Your Step
“Footwear becomes an issue when the weather is patchy,” explains Brett. “My advice is: don’t wear sandals!” It’s true, getting caught in a deluge in a pair of shorts and leather sandals is a special kind of misery.
So – while sandals, pool sliders, and suede and canvas footwear styles are appropriate for days forecast to be fine – Brett suggests you’re better off opting for some leather boat shoes or low-top trainers (covered generously with a good leather protectant) to keep your feet from getting irrigated.
- River Island Tan Brown Leather Boat Shoes
- River Island Brown Leather Boat Shoes
- Kg By Kurt Geiger Sorrento Boat Shoes Navy
- Filling Pieces Mountain Cut Sneaker White Bizarro
- Reebok Npc Uk Ii White Blue & Red
- Vans California Old Skool True White
Quick Temperature-Regulating Tweaks
- Pick up a seasonal scarf or two. Sometimes even a jumper seems too stifling a solution to a summer breeze. Lightweight scarves (crafted in fabrics like cotton, linen, silk, or blends thereof) not only take the bite out of a blowy day, but also add a hint of the Riviera to your look.
- Roll up your sleeves. When a tee or short-sleeved shirt won’t cut it, roll your shirt sleeves up to the elbow and let your arms breathe. This styling tip will help instantly relax the aesthetic of your outfit, too – perfect when moving from the office to after-work drinks.
- Scrap your socks. Although this won’t always be occasion-appropriate, where acceptable, swap your socks for invisible socks/trainer liners and slip on a pair of loafers or boat shoes.
- Invest in a bag. Whether it’s a beach-ready tote or minimal backpack, this is where to stow your additional layers when they’re not required.
- Gucci Medallion-print Silk-twill Scarf
- Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories Palm Tree Embroidered Scarf
- Topman Khaki Light Weight Scarf
- River Island Navy Gingham Lightweight Scarf
- Paul Smith Accessories Classic Polka Dot Wool-silk Scarf
- River Island Grey Striped Lightweight Scarf
- He By Mango 2 Pack Invisible Socks
- Topman Grey Invisible Liner Socks
- Pringle No Show Trainer Socks In 3 Pack
Dressing for hot, dry weather isn’t rocket science: stock up on lightweight, breathable fabrics and some unlined tailoring in light neutral hues and you’re set. But throw a shower or brisk wind into the mix and your wardrobe’s going to need to work harder. Take note of these tips to never get caught out again.
How do you dress for unpredictable summer weather? Are there any key pieces you swear by for changeable days?
Comment below to give your two cents.