Ah, the early days of summer. The time we start sporting Ray-Bans with shivering confidence, swap portable duvets for actual outerwear and maybe even go wild by showing a bit of ‘mankle’.
As the temperatures gradually inch upwards, however, our knits are rendered unnecessary and our pea coats inappropriate. So what’s a man to do?
Well, the good news is you can now start getting day-drunk without judgement. The bad news, though, is that your wardrobe is likely unprepared for the sudden sunny onslaught (thanks, global warming) and there’s minefield-scope for mistakes (flip-flops in the city, bulky cargo shorts, and any other abhorrent crimes against humanity).
There is hope, however. With a little expert advice, we present five looks to match various states of (un)dress and climate. So whether it’s bottoms up in the beer garden or time to make noise for Murray at Wimbledon, you can ensure your style rises with the mercury.
Floral Shirt + Chinos
Nothing says “Summer, come at me,” like a floral shirt. But it’s, perhaps unsurprisingly, drastically underemployed in the average bloke’s rotation. Why? Well, we’re no shrinks but it probably has something to do with the fact that it’s covered in flowers.
Still, you don’t have to look like a 1970s wallpaper on a particularly good acid trip; there are styles that strike the balance between too bold and too boring. Opt for something with light or dark neutral colours as a base and you’ll see your warm-weather style flourish.
As for your lower half, you’ll need to steer muted to keep the print grounded. “Part Romeo + Juliet-era Leo, part 1940s holiday in Portofino, your shirt – as the colour piece – should be twinned with a neutral trouser,” says Jenna Riddle, freelance stylist.
Overshirt + Jeans
Too cold for a pasty-armed gun show? But too hot to dig out your winter cover-up? Enter the overshirt (more affectionately known as the ‘shacket’) – the perfect choice for the opening spring/summer months.
Whether sports-led for athleisure devotees or checked for the hunter gatherers, there’s an overshirt to match every taste. Just make sure you take yours in nylon if what you want is warmth, or pick up a naturally breathable style in cotton or linen if you’re more keen on staying cool.
This unlined between-season piece carries many of the hallmarks of a blazer, meaning it’ll be right at home in a range of smart and off-duty looks. “Wear with a crisp white T-shirt and tailored trousers during the week, or dressed down with jeans neatly turned up at weekends,” says Robyn Ferris, Junior Buyer at Mr Porter.
Polo Shirt + Summer-Ready Trousers
Polo shirts are increasingly a ‘thing’. Partly because we’ve finally learned not to pop their collars; and partly because menswear’s maintaining its major stiffy for the 1970s.
Usually constructed in breathable, lightweight cotton or cotton piqué, the polo – first popularised by René Lacoste – was born out of a need to keep cool. But it’s this time-honoured staple’s versatility that secures its top seed position. Lending your casual looks a bit of polish and your smarter looks some comfort in the heat, it’s a smart-casual summer must-own.
Wear yours with a pair of tailored trousers or chinos. And remember you don’t always have to – when it comes to polo shirts, at least – steer sober. Update the classic silhouette by experimenting with textures, prints and an injection of colour,” says Darren Skey, Head of Menswear at Harvey Nichols.
Oxford Shirt + Sweatshirt/Jumper + Shorts
If it’s good enough for Ivy League students, then it’s good enough for us. This approach to hot-weather dressing – favoured by the men of Yale, Harvard and other institutions of prep – is a formula that fares just as well off-campus, ensuring you look put-together on days when the mercury’s bubbling.
“First off, the shorts: think a tailored above-the-knee cut for a universally flattering fit,” says Martha Gill, International Fashion Executive at The Sunday Times. “Gone are the days of TOWIE short shorts, and unless you’re a regular at Download festival, three-quarter cargos are strictly off the menu. Top half, your classic Oxford shirt can underline a sweater to ensure versatility in tricky weather.”
A fine-gauge jumper works particularly well in sustaining the upper-crust collegiate feel, but that’s not to say it always needs to be standard letterman fare. By introducing a sportier sweatshirt – think Supreme, Stone Island or The Elder Statesman – you can court both Ralph Lauren and Roots Manuva vibes. Ideal.
Short-Sleeved Shirt + Shorts
After years of misuse, the short-sleeved shirt has emerged from the sin bin to take its rightful place in the menswear pantheon. Which is good, because a shirt with shorter sleeves is a no-brainer once the temperature picks up.
“Focus on cut, cloth and quality,” advises Philip Start, founder of Shoreditch-based menswear brand and retailer Mr. Start. “Even boxy cuts should be slim, but not tight.” That means no bicep-hugging fits (even if you have been hammering the hammer curls), but nothing that makes you look like a walking tent either. And no more than two buttons undone, please – you’re (probably?) not a Russian oligarch.
Similarly, your shorts should end just above your knee and either fall straight through the thigh, or taper. Opt for a pair that’s too tight and it’s instantly a game of Hot Dogs or Legs.
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What are your trusty warm-weather combos? Have we missed one of your go-tos?
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