Enough denim trotted down SS16’s runways to clothe the gold rush. But amid all the indigo and frayed hems it seemed designers forgot the fact that if you wear jeans when it’s 30 degrees out, your lower body slowly poaches. At least it does if you think your winter selvedge can make the transition through spring.
“This season, denim is taking on a much fresher and lighter feel,” says menswear stylist Hayley Lai. Fabrics are lighter, shades brighter, and brands from E. Tautz to Dickies have even experimented with cuts that let your legs breathe.
Pick right and you can step into the denim trend this summer, without perspiring.
White jeans work in summer because they’re a) practical and b) enough time’s passed that people’s first thought isn’t Andrew Ridgeley. Just like black, white denim goes with pretty much everything in your wardrobe. But unlike black, it reflects heat, rather than absorbs it. So your jeans don’t act like solar panels.
For styling tips, look across the channel. Dark denim is a worker’s uniform; white jeans are worn by the guy who owns the company (and needn’t risk dirtying them up). So even you don’t have a yacht in the harbour, embrace the Riviera aesthetic by combining with espadrilles or Sperry boat shoes and a relaxed Breton tee. Captain’s hat optional.
You know distressed denim is having a moment when Kanye turns up to the Met Gala in jeans that are more hole than fabric. The spring/summer 2016 shows were full of ripped, torn and slashed jeans with everyone from James Long and Tiger Of Sweden to Philipp Plein jumping on the trend. As should you.
The extra holes mean extra ventilation, although approach with caution. It is possible to have too much of a good thing. Stick to a couple of slashes between your knee and pocket liner.
Ditch The Spray-Ons
Make the sunshine your excuse to finally retire the skinny jeans. Skin-hugging denim traps your style as much as your sweat; as seen on runways from Paris to New York, this season’s trending denim is loose and wide-legged. And more fabric means more skin-cooling air flow.
Inspired by Alessandro Michele at Gucci, designers have been ransacking the 1970s for references, according to Lai. So look to straight- and relaxed-leg styles (although leave the flares on the vintage store rail for now) and balance your silhouette with a slim-fitting top.
Raw Denim Isn’t Your Friend
Raw denim gets men on certain internet forums very sweaty indeed. Almost as sweaty as anyone who tries wearing heavy selvedge when it’s hot enough to melt glass.
Instead, look to pre-washed jeans, which soften rigid denim so it’s more forgiving, and fade the indigo so it doesn’t absorb sunshine so readily. The less raw your denim, the less smart. So look to match with T-shirts and boxfresh white sneakers.
Weigh It All Up
The more material you slip into, the more heat it traps. Denim is weighed in ounces, with most jeans being around the 15oz mark; good for cool days, hell on a heatwave commute.
“Thinner designs that use thinner threads offer more comfort in summer,” says Lai. Look for styles below 12oz, which feel like linen but don’t look like your mum might wear them for gardening. And don’t stress the fact that finer fabrics wear out quicker. It just means you’ll get that on-trend distressing the authentic way.