How To Handle The Heat

Unlike Britain, some countries do actually get a summer [ed: ironically, we are now in the middle of a UK heat wave]. Some overseas readers might even get too much of a summer for our liking (I’m looking at you, western United States). We British are a perennially miserable lot that like to moan about the weather at every opportunity and then lose our heads as soon as the sun finally decides to show its face and the temperature rises to an almost stifling 15 degrees.

Summer here consists of one or two days a month when all the men deem it acceptable to remove their t-shirts and walk around in public; women start wearing clothes that are almost always less than flattering; and everybody gets so comprehensively burnt they turn blue.

But just because we don’t experience anything like hot weather, it doesn’t mean that FashionBeans can ignore those that do. As a response to comments on a previous article highlighting the need for a piece devoted solely to those of you lucky enough to experience an actual summer or, at the very least, temperatures that regularly top 25 degrees, it’s time for a guide to handling the heat.

Key Piece: Shorts

If you are fortunate enough to be in a situation in which you need to fight proper heat, the ‘less is more’ mantra certainly rings true. If the temperature is high enough to make walking bare foot painful, then unless you’re completely acclimatised to the heat, jeans and even most trousers are a no go.

Shorts will therefore be the obvious choice. Your choices are pretty much endless, but I would certainly suggest you avoid denim styles – many of which tend to be close fitting and heavy. Chino shorts, on the other hand, are a great lightweight basic to have in your wardrobe, especially in neutrals like stone or navy.

To push things a little further try pastel shades of pink, yellow, purple or green, all of which are extremely versatile and will inject a bit of life into any outfit. Make sure you also take note of Alex’s great article on patterned and embroidered shorts, which will help separate your look from the masses.

For the smarter dressers among you, tailored shorts are a solid option. Often cut slightly straighter and available in lighter materials such as linen or seersucker, they can be a refined way of keeping cool. Neutral colours will again provide maximum versatility, but you could certainly look out for examples in stripes or checks (think madras) for something a little different.

We must briefly reference swim shorts here, which were covered comprehensively by Ben Jones recently in a two part series. Find the right pair and you can effortlessly glide from beach to bar without the hassle of changing your clothes.

  • Allsaints Mitre Deck ShortsAllsaints Mitre Deck Shorts
  • River Island Red Skinny Stretch Turn Up ShortsRiver Island Red Skinny Stretch Turn Up Shorts
  • Orlebar Brown Setter Short-length Swim ShortsOrlebar Brown Setter Short-length Swim Shorts
  • River Island Blue ShortsRiver Island Blue Shorts
  • Marc By Marc Jacobs Harvey Cotton-twill ShortsMarc By Marc Jacobs Harvey Cotton-twill Shorts
  • Reiss Gold S Formal Pinstripe Tailored Shorts NavyReiss Gold S Formal Pinstripe Tailored Shorts Navy
  • Topman Blue Nautical Motif ShortsTopman Blue Nautical Motif Shorts
  • River Island Blue Aztec Stripe Turn Up ShortsRiver Island Blue Aztec Stripe Turn Up Shorts
  • Carhartt Chino Shorts Johnson Regular Camo TwillCarhartt Chino Shorts Johnson Regular Camo Twill
The Tees

When it comes to hot weather, I stand by the idea that simplicity is the key to success; over-think or over-complicate things and you’ll soon find yourself hot, uncomfortable and looking less than great. The humble t-shirt is an under-appreciated wardrobe staple, yet it should be one of the first things you reach for as soon as the mercury rises.

But rather than just stick to plain colours (which work perfectly well I might add) why not embrace the current industry print trends and seek out more interesting designs, patterns, shapes or motifs? Traditional graphic tees are out, but those with a unique and individual focal point are in.

When it comes to the fit, think slouchy and comfortable; slim or tight fitting tees will quickly become a nightmare if you are prone to sweating, and they will be naturally far warmer than those that give you a bit of breathing space. Size up, roll up the sleeves and just let it hang loose.

Make sure you keep your eye out for lighter weight cottons and even linen versions this season.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Shorts and T-Shirt Outfits Lookbook

minimum express 2012 minimum express 2012 minimum express 2012 minimum summer 2013 minimum summer 2013 minimum summer 2013 h&m summer 2013 saturdays surf nyc ss13 pull & bear ss13 gaudi ss13 uniqlo ss13 Woolrich John Rich & Bros ss14
Example Outfit
  • Reiss Chingley Short Sleeve Stripe Crew RoseReiss Chingley Short Sleeve Stripe Crew Rose
  • He By Mango Cotton Bermuda ShortsHe By Mango Cotton Bermuda Shorts
  • Asos Desert Boots In SuedeAsos Desert Boots In Suede
Key Pieces
  • Allsaints Shale T-shirtAllsaints Shale T-shirt
  • He By Mango Slub-cotton Henley T-shirtHe By Mango Slub-cotton Henley T-shirt
  • Gant Rugger T-shirt With All Over PrintGant Rugger T-shirt With All Over Print
  • Topman Villain Finley T-shirt Topman Villain Finley T-shirt
  • J.crew Ikat-print Slub Cotton-jersey T-shirtJ.crew Ikat-print Slub Cotton-jersey T-shirt
  • River Island Blue Tie Dye T-shirtRiver Island Blue Tie Dye T-shirt
The Vests

The vest maintains something of a love/hate reputation wherever you seem to go. They divide opinion like almost nothing else in menswear, in part due to certain stereotypes attached to the piece – think Geordie/Jersey Shore, guys with low cut racer-back vests and their nipples on show etc. But I would argue that the vest is a menswear classic and a ‘how you wear’ not ‘what you wear’ item that works well in context.

Big men and string vests aside, this is one item that will definitely become your best friend during the warmer months. Often much thinner and of course less covering than a t-shirt, they are much better at helping you deal with heat than any of the other options available to you.

Avoid wearing plain, neutral vests; these are just too simple and uninspiring to work in a stylish, individual outfit. They look as though you are just about to hit the gym or genuinely don’t care what you look like – keep those for lounging around at home. If you’re going to wear a vest in public, go bold.

Make sure you pay close attention to where you are wearing your vest. Beach: fine. Seafront: fine. Park: fine. Going shopping, going for dinner, going to the pub or going to a club? Don’t even think about it. Or at the very least, put on an over shirt. Vests are inherently more revealing; they suggest confidence, which can quickly turn into cockiness or arrogance. Not everybody wants to see your arms or bulging pecs and there are certain environments in which covering up shows better manners and a maturity. Be smart.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Short and Vest Combinations

uniqlo ss13 minimum summer 2013 asos ss11 saturdays surf nyc ss13 saturdays surf nyc ss13 allsaints ss12 h&m summer 2013 primark polka dot vest ss12 primark ss12
Example Outfit
  • Topman Burgundy Tie Dye VestTopman Burgundy Tie Dye Vest
  • Reiss Atom Shorts Light GreyReiss Atom Shorts Light Grey
  • New Balance 576 Suede SneakersNew Balance 576 Suede Sneakers
Key Pieces
  • Allsaints Mirach VestAllsaints Mirach Vest
  • Selected Vest With StripeSelected Vest With Stripe
  • Jack & Jones Vest With StripesJack & Jones Vest With Stripes
  • Topman Taxonomy Print VestTopman Taxonomy Print Vest
  • Easy Printed VestEasy Printed Vest
  • Reiss Vince Striped Vest RaspberryReiss Vince Striped Vest Raspberry
The Shirts

Wearing shirts in serious heat is a tricky business. To my mind, close fitting, traditional formal shirts are going to be far too hot, simply because of the long sleeves (of course you can roll them up) and their proximity to the body. Obviously they can’t be avoided if required for work or a formal occasion but in a casual context, there are better options available to you.

As with tees, look for shirts with a slightly looser cut, giving you more room to breathe and let air circulate. In hot climates being restricted by tight clothing looks a bit odd. Linen and madras checks are great for putting together relaxed, casual hot weather outfits that still retain some structure and formality.

Personally, I would keep casual shirts un-tucked and just let everything hang loose. Don’t be afraid to try short-sleeve shirts either, they are trending for SS13 and are a superb high summer addition to any man’s wardrobe – not to mention they could be just the thing to make your outfit stand out from the crowd.

Finally, a ready made alternative to the short-sleeve shirt comes in the form of the polo. Recently covered in our men’s fashion basics series, a polo shirt is a notch above a t-shirt and can bring a touch of elegance and refinement to a simple, casual summer outfit. They are available in a wide variety of styles, materials, colours and patterns this season, so you are bound to find one that suits your personal style.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Shorts and Shirt/Polos Combinations

he by mango spring 2011 minimum spring 2013 ben sherman ss12 ymc ss13 CALIBRE ss13 new look ss12 he by mango ss12 pull & bear ss13 he by mango ss13 h&m summer 2013 massimo dutti june 2013
Example Outfit
  • Slowear Glanshirt Slim-fit Seersucker Cotton-blend ShirtSlowear Glanshirt Slim-fit Seersucker Cotton-blend Shirt
  • Asos Cotton ShortsAsos Cotton Shorts
  • J.crew Kenton Suede Derby ShoesJ.crew Kenton Suede Derby Shoes
Key Pieces
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Mao Collar ShirtHe By Mango Slim-fit Mao Collar Shirt
  • Orlebar Brown Morton Slim-fit Linen ShirtOrlebar Brown Morton Slim-fit Linen Shirt
  • Allsaints Malo ShirtAllsaints Malo Shirt
  • Reiss Homestead Garment Dyed Shirt OchreReiss Homestead Garment Dyed Shirt Ochre
  • Reiss Mccaan Striped Shirt Soft BlueReiss Mccaan Striped Shirt Soft Blue
  • Topman Yellow Tie Dye High Roll ShirtTopman Yellow Tie Dye High Roll Shirt
  • Topman Cream Twisted Cable Knit Polo ShirtTopman Cream Twisted Cable Knit Polo Shirt
  • Allsaints Saints PoloAllsaints Saints Polo
  • He By Mango Cotton Polo ShirtHe By Mango Cotton Polo Shirt
  • Uniqlo Men Dry Shirt Collar Short Sleeve Polo Shirt AUniqlo Men Dry Shirt Collar Short Sleeve Polo Shirt A
  • Reiss Westin Pique Polo Shirt With Logo MintReiss Westin Pique Polo Shirt With Logo Mint
An Extra Layer

Sadly, high temperatures don’t always stick around and as day turns to night, you might find yourself in need of another layer to take the chill off. Lightweight outer layers are the key here because even if you do find it getting a little chillier, it is never going to feel truly cold.

Fine, lightweight knitwear is always a solid choice. If you live in a hot country, really make the most of brighter colour palettes and go all out – warmer weather makes people more receptive to bold hues and they always look better in the sun.

If knitwear isn’t for you, look no further than the over shirt. However, don’t be restricted to actual over shirts, just opt for something a little thicker than your standard shirting. Denim or heavier weight flannels will do the job well and you can change your choice depending on your situation. I’ve been using a checked flannel over shirt from H&M for a long time now and I wear it almost constantly.

What I particularly like about the over shirt is its layering capabilities. Some of you might remember an article Matt wrote a while back about layering one shirt under another; I’ve become a huge fan of this technique and I wholeheartedly recommend you take a look at it for some unique inspiration.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's High Summer Outfit Inspiration - Lightweight Over Layer

h&m summer 2013 h&m ss13 Chevignon ss13 asos ss11 selected ss13 Woolrich John Rich & Bros ss14
Key Pieces
  • Allsaints Yin ShirtAllsaints Yin Shirt
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Medium Wash Denim ShirtHe By Mango Slim-fit Medium Wash Denim Shirt
  • Topman Grey Twill Long Sleeve ShirtTopman Grey Twill Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Reiss Hurst Logo Vee Neck Jumper Airforce BlueReiss Hurst Logo Vee Neck Jumper Airforce Blue
  • He By Mango Waffle Knit Cotton CardiganHe By Mango Waffle Knit Cotton Cardigan
  • John Smedley Lewes Striped Merino Wool SweaterJohn Smedley Lewes Striped Merino Wool Sweater
The Shoes

Shoes are fairly simple. Avoid leather or anything too stifling, wear flip-flops/sandals on the beach and make sure you wear secret/invisible socks to stop your feet stinking.

My personal suggestion would be suede Derbies or a pair of lightweight loafers, although espadrilles, boat shoes or canvas trainers are more casual options that may suit your personal style:

  • Reiss Stasko Tassel Loafers TobaccoReiss Stasko Tassel Loafers Tobacco
  • Grenson Marcel Chocolate Suede Tassel LoafersGrenson Marcel Chocolate Suede Tassel Loafers
  • Topman Tan Suede BroguesTopman Tan Suede Brogues
  • Asos Derby Shoes With Coloured SoleAsos Derby Shoes With Coloured Sole
  • Vans Era 59Vans Era 59
  • Nike Air Pegasus 83 OgNike Air Pegasus 83 Og
Final Word

Staying stylish yet comfortable in hot weather is a delicate balancing act of the right fit, colours and the materials. There should be an acceptance that you cannot have everything at once, so certain sacrifices must be made – namely that slim fit we all know and love. By choosing clothes carefully we can save ourselves a great deal of embarrassment and hassle and still look just as good as normal.

I hope this article has helped those of you lucky enough to experience such hot climates. Unfortunately it is impossible to consider every variable, option and choice when it comes to what you might or might not want to wear, but with a few simple guidelines, you can ensure that you look as good as possible, whatever the temperature.

Let me know your thoughts and any helpful tips you have in the comments section below.