Dressing for hot weather is no cakewalk. Dressing well for hot weather is downright difficult. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that prioritising both style and sweat-prevention is enough to bring any man to the brink during the warmer months; so it pays to swat up on the basics, those staples that can be mixed and matched to produce looks that are comfortable but still cut a handsome figure.
Here are five easily executed smart-casual combinations you’ll want to add to your repertoire this season, whether you’re by the shore or hitting the city streets.
Short-Sleeved Shirt + Trousers/Chinos
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that short-sleeved shirt shame (SSSS) is a thing of the past. Much more hot weather-friendly than its long-sleeved brother, a short-sleeved shirt looks perfectly smart when teamed with a well-cut pair of trousers or chinos.
Remember to pay attention to fit; the short-sleeved shirt is, despite its simplicity, one of those pieces that can look elegant or erroneous depending on how it sits on your frame. Put simply, make sure yours is fitted enough to flatter your torso and arms, but not so much that it strains around the biceps or neck.
When it comes to legwear, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for styles that are either cropped or that can be easily turned up at the hems. Why? Because you’ll be getting your ankles out and going sockless. Failure to do so will quickly see your efforts undone, so invest in a few pairs of invisible socks or your look will suffer.
Lastly, we’re probably stating the obvious but make sure your top and bottom half contrast or clash; the only head-to-toe colour that works here is white, which makes for a striking summer getup provided you have the skin tone to see it through.
Long-Sleeved Shirt + Shorts
If your biceps have looked better, then swapping a short-sleeved style for something a little more traditional could be your best bet.
The trick with this one is to make sure you match your top and bottom – for example, if you’re opting for a smarter sky blue Oxford shirt up top, then you should pair it with something equally tailored down below. Likewise, if your local climate is cool enough for a flannel or denim shirt, then you’ll need a rugged chino short to team with it.
Much like combo one, it’s worth ensuring your shirt and shorts contrast to some degree, otherwise you run the risk of looking like you’re trying to make the men’s playsuit happen. Not cool.
As for finer styling points (and extra ventilation), we’d suggest you leave a button or two undone (your shirt, not your shorts, mind), roll your sleeves up slightly, and tuck your shirt into your shorts (belt optional).
If you’re scoping this list out in search of the ideal beach-to-bar outfit, then look no further, gentlemen. This pairing works with almost every style of footwear you can think of – from suede Derbies to leather sandals – or even bare feet.
Lightweight Suit Separates
Suits usually mean serious outlay. Which is why it’s probably not within financial reach to purchase one for each season – as well as the many and varied occasions – of the year.
Sidestep crippling expense and maximise your wardrobe’s versatility by opting for suit separates instead. Whether you opt for a linen-blend blazer, a pair of tailored shorts in lightweight cotton or some nattily-cut linen trousers, snapping up a few key separates means you can mix and match your way through the hotter months.
Seeing as you’ll likely want these to work just as well together as apart, it’s best to stick to versatile summer-appropriate hues such as white, beige, stone and sky blue so you can play around with permutations.
T-Shirt/Polo Shirt + Suit
Sure, there’s nothing smarter than an expertly judged suit and shirt combination, but there’s nothing as sweltering in high summer either.
Is there a smart-casual combination superior to a simple T-shirt or polo shirt and a suit? We’re not inclined to think so. Swapping out a restrictive shirt for something more casual instantly ups the comfort factor of your tailored looks, while also lending them a subtle contemporary edge.
Whether you’re dressing down an all-season suit in a darker colour or a lightweight warm-weather style in a brighter neutral shade, remember to opt for a contrasting layer underneath. Navy suit? Try a T-shirt in white, or a Breton stripe. Sand-coloured suit? Go darker with a rich racing green or burgundy polo shirt.
Depending on the occasion, tuck your T-shirt/polo into your suit trousers for a more formal finish, or leave as is to dress down further. Complete the look with a pair of minimal trainers or sophisticated suede loafers.
Shorts + Blazer
We know it might seem like questionable logic to suggest you throw on a jacket if it’s warm enough to wear shorts, but if you select the right style of blazer, this combination is one of the sharpest around and still allows your legs to breathe.
First up, be sure to prioritise lightweight fabrics when shopping for the perfect jacket. Unlined linen, cotton, and linen-cotton styles come highly recommended not only for their breathability, but also their laid-back feel.
Secondly, colours are key with this one. If you’re looking to go down a more casual route, then try throwing a bold hue or design into the mix – a bright red pair of tailored shorts or a blazer featuring a subtle print, for example – but if you’d rather steer smart, then err a little more conservative by combining timeless neutrals such as black, navy, white, grey and beige together.
As tempting as it may be to ditch anything tailored for baggy casual pieces in the summer heat, certain calendar events will require you to scrub up well. Note down these pairings and you’ll breeze effortlessly from a gallery opening to grilling with your mates.
What are your go-to smart-casual formulas for summer?
Let us know in the comments section.