Our summer calendars are light on engagements in Ascot’s Royal Enclosure. We’re still waiting on that invite to Henley Regatta. But damp barbecues? Day-to-night drinking sessions? Booked solid till September, thanks.
Here’s how to boss any social engagement this season.
The Heatwave When You Still Have To Go To Work
Britons lust for sun until it actually arrives. Then we rediscover a national inability to handle heat. Train tracks warp. Headlines scream that “Oxford is hotter than Dubai!” And men everywhere shed clothes like they’re lined with napalm. But a glimpse of nipple won’t be welcomed at your morning sales meeting.
You have two weapons in the fight to stay cool and decent: fit and fabric. Skinny- and slim-cut clothes trap warm air against your already sweaty skin. Loosen up and it starts to flow. “A boxy shirt will keep you cool on those hotter than hot days,” says Nick Eley, head of menswear design at ASOS. The shape is already off dress code, so don’t push it any further with hula girl patterns – plain white designs reflect heat and the rancour of HR.
Your materials should be just as breezy. Linen and light cotton are riddled with tiny holes, which ensures air circulates. “Linen is a great option in tailoring or for granddad collar shirts,” says Olie Arnold, style director at Mr Porter. “Lightweight chinos are also office-worthy.” If shorts definitely aren’t, then a slight roll gets some ankle skin on show, to help your body dump heat. But won’t get you handed a P45.
- Suitsupply Havana Blue Plain
- Reiss Tate B Wool And Linen Blazer Charcoal
- Ted Baker Onetwos Linen Blazer
- Uniqlo Men Premium Linen Button-down Collar Shirt
- Suitsupply EGYPTIAN COTTON White Plain
- Classic Fit Egyptian Cotton Cavalry Twill White Shirt
- M&s Collection Cotton Rich Super Lightweight Chinos
- Reiss Bennett Straight Leg Chinos Stone
- Suitsupply Grey Linen-Cotton Trousers
The Wedding With The Vague Dress Code
Weddings used to be simple. If the sun was up, your wore tails. Once it dropped, black tie. But dress codes have mutated. Today’s couples demand things like ‘rural chic’, ‘Shoreditch formal’, or just ‘fabulous’ – a request so nebulous it could mean a suit or short shorts. How do you make sure you’re not the only guy with his thighs out?
You dress up. “You want to be smart, but not as smart as the groom,” says stylist Kitty Cowell. The smartest move of all is to find out what he’s wearing ahead of time, then drop a rung or two down. If he won’t spill – or you don’t want him to know you’re trying to pick an outfit the day before his wedding – then you’re safe in tailoring, with removable trimmings.
That doesn’t mean the outfit you wear to work; the shade should be celebratory. “Wear separates rather than a full suit,” says Arnold. Neutral combinations – think navy with brown/beige, grey with blue, white with charcoal, etc. – will work in any pictures, whether the wedding party is in tails or tees. The shirt should be plain, with a classic point or button-down – not spread – collar. Then if you’re the only guy who turns up in a tie, you can pocket it.
On which, your breast pocket should star a bright silk square, which complements your suit jacket – yellow or pink is suitably nuptial. If it turns out even that’s too much, you can move it to the pocket inside your jacket.
Finally, shoes. “A monk-strap is more interesting and will work both smart and casual,” says Arnold. If you do need to take your look down yet another peg, nip to the bathroom and ditch the socks.
- Suitsupply Havana Blue Plain
- Tommy Hilfiger Patterned Blazer
- Saturdays Nyc Navy Nomad Stretch-cotton Canvas Suit Jacket
- Uniqlo Men Easy Care Slim Fit Oxford Shirt
- He By Mango Slim-fit Cotton Oxford Shirt
- Polo Ralph Lauren Slim Fit Oxford Shirt
- Topman Limited Edition Grey Marl Skinny Fit Suit Trousers
- Incotex Slim-fit Cotton-blend Twill Chino Trousers
- Bottega Veneta Slim-leg Cotton And Linen-blend Trousers
- Suitsupply Monk Strap Dark Brown
- O’keeffe Bristol Suede Monk-strap Shoes
- Reiss Felix Double Monk Strap Shoes
The Lunchtime Drink That Finishes At Breakfast
It always starts with the best intentions. A quick pint, a catch-up, then home to mow the lawn. But it’s so nice out, the first sun we’ve had in ages. One more, for the road? Well, you can’t leave before the rounds are level. Dark comes, as do shots, and suddenly you’re Googling local fry-ups.
The accidental all-nighter means you’re moving from day to night, hot to cold, beer garden to, potentially, nightclub. The best way to cope with all six scenarios is layers – and a bag to stow them in. One like Miansai’s reversible tote (£110.84, eastdane.com), which won’t annoy bouncers, but can stand up to grass – and the cloakroom – without you stressing stains.
Your shoes need to toe the same line. A pair of sleek minimal leather trainers are comfortable enough for an all-dayer, and will pass the dress code test (leather also wipes clean, just in case). “Team them with simple black jeans, a white tee and a leather biker jacket,” says Cowell. In your bag, stow a post-club hoodie and a portable phone charger. Or spend eternity trying to flag down a cab.
- Allsaints Rowley Leather Biker Jacket
- He By Mango Flap-pocket Suede Jacket
- Reiss Sussex Suede Bomber Jacket
- Uniqlo Men Packaged Dry Crew Neck Short Sleeve T-shirt
- Reiss Bless Marl Crew Neck T-shirt
- Nudie Jeans Fairtrade Organic Cotton-jersey T-shirt
- Uniqlo Men Stretch Selvedge Skinny Fit Jeans
- A.p.c. Petit Standard Slim-fit Denim Jeans
- Levis 505c Slim-fit Tapered Stretch-denim Jeans
- Buddy Bull Terrier Low Night
- Adidas Stan Smith Premium Leather
- Common Projects B-ball Low Leather
The Barbecue Where It’s Guaranteed To Rain
What is Britain’s summer without an al fresco party that plays out beneath grey skies, people shielding drinks from drizzle as their chef curses sodden coals? Someone glances up, points out a patch of what might be bright sky, more in hope than faith. You shiver in shorts and regret ever doubting the Met Office.
Pragmatism beats dressing for the day you hope will happen. But you can still keep your (beer) glass half full. “Even if it’s not 35 degrees outside, it’s nice to pretend with a printed shirt,” says Arnold. A Cuban collar has long been the favourite of uncles who don’t know their limits. But stick to this season’s new slim-fit takes, in muted tones, and your nod to tropical weather comes across as smart, not ‘zany’.
To outflank the inevitable, top it with something waterproof. Your prudence might upset your host, so you need outerwear that doesn’t look like you expect torrents. “Aigle’s lightweight coats are practical, but still look cool,” says Cowell. The brand’s safari jacket (£180, aigle.com) gives this season’s key piece a British summer-ready makeover, with a rainproof polyester shell and tuck-away hood in the collar. Just in case.
- Man Safari Jacket Lusern
- He By Mango Nylon Field Jacket
- Rains Mac
- Reiss Palma Printed Blend Shirt
- Gant Rugger Slim-fit Printed Button-down Collar Cotton Shirt
- Topman Selected Homme Grey Faded Shape Print Short Sleeve Shirt
- Uniqlo Men Selvedge Slim Fit Jeans
- Reiss Westbury Slim-fit Chinos Airforce Blue
- He By Mango Slim-fit Garment-dyed Chinos
The Birthday Drinks Your Ex Will Be At
You’ve split your DVDs. Argued about who gets the dog. But your social circle doesn’t divvy up as easily.
School friends are simple. Ditto colleagues. But there’s equal claim on your university mates. And if your erstwhile other half won’t back down, why should you? So now you’re about to meet for the first time since the tears and you need to look good – see-what-you’re-missing good. But you can’t let anyone know you made an effort.
Before you think about clothes, fix what they’ll sit on. The gym, every day, says Eley. (The body this four-week plan builds should stir the heartstrings). Then, clothes that say you’re doing just fine, thanks, without labouring the point. Because if you debut a satin souvenir jacket people will assume you’re struggling with a post-breakup reinvention.
Instead, buy the best basics you can afford: a blazer that you’ve had tailored; slim-fit jeans cuffed just so; a Henley shirt that showcases your new bench press PB; a haircut from a high-quality barber.
Great materials and the perfect fit mean no one will be able to put their finger on why, but you know what, you’re looking just great, especially considering… you know. Then accessorise with a smile – and ignore you ex’s glances.
- Suitsupply Hudson Brown Herringbone
- Hugo Boss Stone Narvik Slim-fit Stretch-cotton Twill Blazer
- Oliver Spencer Blue Theobald Slim-fit Linen And Cotton-blend Jacket
- Schiesser Karl-heinz Long Sleeve Henley
- Massimo Alba Garment-dyed Cotton Henley T-shirt
- Topman Grey Grandad Long Sleeve T-shirt
- Topman Levis 511 Slim Fit Jeans
- A.p.c. Low Standard Slim-fit Dry Selvedge Denim Jeans
- Acne Studios Ace Skinny-fit Stretch-denim Jeans