We Brits have long been dogged by our clunky approach to summer dressing. Too much of the wrong thing, too little of the right, it stands to reason that people on an island best described as ‘soggy’ are going to struggle when the mercury begins to rise. And don’t even get us started on the moves we break out on foreign shores (one-side pouches are never OK, by the way).
So here, with the help of seven menswear icons, is how to torpedo that bad Brits abroad stereotype this summer, without breaking a sweat.
It’s a safe bet to assume that none of us are – or ever will be – even half as cool as Clint Eastwood, but that’s no reason not to die trying. Although perhaps best known to millennials as the guy that spawned a Gorillaz song, in his heyday Clint made summer dressing look like a cakewalk.
Take a leaf out of his book and play preppy the right way. That means no fire engine-red chinos or loose-fitting powder pink polos with upturned collars. Instead pop on a slim-fitting polo shirt in a colour that hasn’t been tainted by Rahs and wear with regular-fitting chinos or trousers to skilfully walk that smart-casual line. Cool, clean, classic.
Move Like Jagger
Mick Jagger doesn’t get enough credit in menswear’s canon of iconic dressers. Sure, some of his stage outfits would only prompt piss-taking if worn down your local (and yes that Will.I.Am hook-up was near-catastrophic for his credibility), but off-duty Jagger offers up some looks worth stealing.
Proving it’s not just the French that can comfortably nail Riviera chic, Jagger’s iconic summer uniform of a Breton top and tailored chinos is something you’d do well to channel now. Take it right up to date with a slim fit and swap loafers for minimal leather trainers. Satisfaction, no sweat.
When he wasn’t soundtracking the 1980s, Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry was busy racking up an impressive collection of white and beige linen suits (because it was the 1980s).
While perms might still be festering in Room 101, Ferry-esque lightweight, breathable linen tailoring is making a comeback – and this time round you don’t need a yacht to jump on board.
If a full linen suit – and its maddening tangle of creases – isn’t your thing, then try a wrinkle-resistant linen-cotton two-piece instead. Darker shades of grey and navy will make for the easiest wears but if you’re feeling braver, opt for a full-on cream linen suit and dress it down with a T-shirt and trainers for a contemporary take.
Looking cool never felt so, well, cool.
We get it, the Hawaiian shirt has long been an indicator of poor taste. But, way before it became the default barbecuing uniform for suburban dads, some men were doing this shirt justice.
Like Montgomery Clift – not only a regular fixture of the Golden Age of Hollywood, but pretty much the progenitor of the Hawaiian shirt’s golden age too. Clift excelled at taming this loud print, making it seem not brash, but bold and sophisticated.
With a few canny styling tricks, you can too. Above all, keep it simple, letting your Hawaiian shirt do the talking. Team with a pair of white, beige, grey or navy tailored or chino shorts and some slip-on suede trainers for a low-key tropical twist.
Marlon Brando’s unfussy style – tees, trousers, crew neck jumpers – should in theory be universally achievable. In practice though, not having leading man good looks and Stanley Kowalski guns means you probably won’t make such basic pieces look as good as he did.
But just because you can’t smoulder as effectively in a white T-shirt and jeans, it doesn’t mean they aren’t a timeless pairing. Provided you nail the fit of both (slim but not chest-hugging for the tee, straight- or slim-leg for the jeans), this look transcends trends – it’s positively Facebook-proof.
If you want to nail the Brando uniform, you’ll need to consider quality. Any old white tee and jeans won’t cut the mustard, so opt for the best materials you can afford.
Play The Field
A quick Google will testify that Robert Redford had one of the greatest wardrobes – both on- and off-screen – of all time (close your eyes and point and you’re pretty much guaranteed to land on a killer outfit). Which means he can teach you a thing or two about looking suave in summer.
More specifically, you should riff on his love of that old classic, the field jacket. The beauty of this wardrobe perennial is its construction: not too bulky or lightweight, it makes the ideal top layer for summer’s more inclement days.
Wear yours with a grey T-shirt and beige chinos for a fresh take on this military-inspired must-have.
The King Of Cool
Is there a man more celebrated for his style than Steve McQueen? It might have become something of a menswear cliché to praise the actor’s ability to pull together a damn fine outfit, but hey, there’s no smoke without fire.
The key to McQueen’s eternal appeal? His appreciation of simplicity.
Tap some of his style nous by looking to a surprisingly simple combination: a crew neck T-shirt and some denim shorts. However, it’s imperative you get the fit of your shorts right – too loose and you’re a lesser-known member of Limp Bizkit, too tight and you’re suddenly on the set of Geordie Shore. So, go for a cut that’s neither too snug or too loose.
For a little extra McQueen-inspired magic, shade your eyes in a pair of Persol 0714s – the glasses that made the actor’s turn in The Thomas Crown Affair one of the most iconic style moments on-screen.