Resident style consultant and founder of men’s style blog The Chic Geek, Marcus Jaye answers your questions – from building a bold all-navy look to tracking down affordable linen tailoring.

Summer-Ready Monochrome

“I’m a big fan of wearing lots of all-black and monochrome looks and have found that my wardrobe has really drifted towards catering for that, and only that (with the exception of a bit of navy here and there).

“How can I make my monochrome style summer heat-friendly?”

Xian, via contact form.

‘Monochrome’, more commonly known as black, white and grey, looks great in the warmer weather. The trick here is to keep the colour palette, but change the material.

Now, you could look to traditional summer fabrics such as cotton or linen to keep you cool, but how about trying something different and a little more exciting?

One of the most interesting modern materials is MicroModal, a variant of Modal that features especially fine fibres. For those that don’t know, Modal is a type of rayon: a semi-synthetic cellulose fibre made by spinning reconstituted cellulose (in this case, often sourced from beech trees).

It bears similarities to cotton (it’s breathable and absorbs water well) but, because it’s engineered, it’s a little sturdier and resistant to shrinkage. Modal also cools you as you become hot and retains its colour well – so that black T-shirt really does stay black.

British brand Derek Rose uses some of the best MicroModal in its loungewear – including hoodies, T-shirts and joggers – all available in a palette of colours perfect for monochrome looks. They might seem pricey (T-shirts start at £68) but the material is expensive to produce.

Basel Black ULTRA SOFT STRETCH CREW-NECK Basel Black ULTRA SOFT STRETCH HOODIE

For a more affordable alternative, check out Uniqlo’s AIRism range. Exclusive to the Japanese brand, AIRism is a light and breathable fabric, made up of polyester and elastane.

It’s much quicker to wick away moisture than a standard cotton T-shirt, thus keeping you cool, dry and comfortable, and there are plenty of monochrome-ready hues available.

MEN AIRism Crew Neck Short Sleeve T-Shirt - white MEN AIRism V Neck Short Sleeve T-Shirt - dark gray

Monochrome Spring/Summer Outfit Inspiration

reiss ss15 zara 2015 zara 2015 theory ss15 mango man 2015 mango man march 2015 gieves & hawkes ss16 zara aw15 club monaco may 2015 burberry black label ss15 pull & bear black label 2015 river island high summer 2015

Scent-Free Hair Care

“I’ve been hunting for some new grooming products recently, particularly hair products, many of which are overly fragrant. Could you recommend some brands that produce products that are fragrance-free?”

Alex, via contact form.

The problem with fragranced products is you either like the fragrance or you don’t. Often a fragrance isn’t added as an extra touch but is actually there to mask the (not so pleasant) smell of the product itself. Some scents can be too feminine, while others are too musky. Some people react or are allergic to fragrance, while others would simply rather do without.

Whatever the reason, it’s good to have a simple, fragrance-free set of products, particularly if you’re going to add your own EDT or cologne at the end anyway.

There aren’t many products specifically targeted at men, but there are plenty of unisex products which might be of interest, such as this Neutral Scent range from Green People, which includes a shampoo, conditioner, sun cream and more.

Neutral Scent Free Shampoo 200ml Neutral Scent Free Conditioner 200ml

Also worth considering, Philip Kingsley has a collection of ‘No Scent, No Colour’ shampoos and conditioners, while Suncoat makes a fragrance-free hairspray and American brand Jack Black does a superb selection of hair styling products that are not only free of fragrance, but parabens and colourants too.

NO SCENT NO COLOUR SHAMPOO NO SCENT NO COLOUR CONDITIONER Suncoat Fragrance Free Hairspray 210 ml

JACK BLACK TEXTURE CREAM (96G) JACK BLACK HAIR GEL (96G) JACK BLACK CLAY POMADE (77G)

All-Navy Everything

“How can one pull off an all-navy look?”

Reinier, via contact form.

To pull off an all-navy look successfully, you need to pay particular attention to the fit and details.

There are two main ways to go: smart or sporty. If you’re thinking smart, you could try a full navy suit teamed with a dark blue shirt and tie, or take a less formal route by combining a classic navy double-breasted blazer with raw indigo jeans or navy chinos.

Alternatively, for something that leans a little sportier, look to combine lightweight bombers, sweatshirts and tees with navy tailored joggers, chinos or jersey shorts.

When I think of navy, I always think nautical, and although this would technically mean diverging from your all-navy route, you could break up the navy with white for some light contrast that still keeps your look minimal and fresh. Try a striped Breton top or add a crisp white shirt underneath your jacket.

If you’re going monochrome (in the truest sense of the word) with an all-navy look, then you can either keep with the theme by opting for accessories in the same colour but different textures, or opt for contrasting hues or patterns to add a pop to the neutral backdrop.

zara aw15 massimo dutti nyc 5th avenue ss15 mango man 2015 reiss ss15 CERRUTI 1881 SS16 j crew ss15 boss hugo boss ss15 massimo dutti 2015 burton ss15 reiss ss14 corneliani ss15 aquascutum ss15

Keeping It Casual (With A Shawl Collar?)

“Can a shawl collar blazer be worn casually, e.g. for evening dinner and drinks?”

Jonny, via contact form.

Of course, you just need to dress it down with a polo shirt or T-shirt.

The best shawl collared blazers for dressing down are crafted from lightweight cotton or silk and come unlined for a more laid-back feel. Preppy US brands such as Gant Rugger, Polo Ralph Lauren, Club Monaco, Brooks Brothers and J.Crew make some of the best casual styles on the market.

Consider this windowpane check version from Gant Rugger or this jacquard cotton style from J.Crew. Combine with slim jeans/chinos and finish with a pair of Derbies, loafers or minimal leather trainers.

club monaco 2015 zara aw15 gieves & hawkes ss16 j crew february 2015

Key Styles

LUDLOW DINNER JACKET IN JACQUARD ITALIAN COTTON Grant Shawl Collar Blazer

JAKE B SHAWL COLLAR BLAZER WHITE Houndstooth Shawl Collar Blazer

Affordable Linen Tailoring

“Where can I find a good linen suit for under £250?”

Fergus, via Twitter.

Before we discuss linen suits, what I would say is: they have to be structured and fairly slim-fitting to look contemporary. If your linen suit is at all baggy, you’ll come off a little bit Lord’s cricket spectator circa 1985. Not ideal.

Unlike many traditional summer items like swim shorts, which are now readily available year-round, linen suits are pretty seasonal, arriving for summer and disappearing as soon as autumn starts setting in – so you’ll need to move quickly.

Currently, John Lewis has this handsome navy linen version for £199, while Marks & Spencer has a ‘Linen Shop’ which not only offers tailoring, but shirts and accessories as well.

M&S COLLECTION Grey Regular Fit Suit John Lewis Classic Linen Suit Jacket, Navy

The Summer Footwear Showdown

“Sandals or sliders? I can only afford to buy one style this summer; which would you suggest?

Mike, via Twitter.

Why not have the best of both worlds with a pair of Birkenstocks? Previously connotative of badly-dressed, infuriatingly slow-moving tourists, this brand has had something of a rebirth in the past couple of years.

Sitting somewhere between slider and sandal, its EVA styles are comfortable, affordable (£26.95) and available in versatile colourways like black, white and blue – ideal for beach dwellers and city slickers alike.

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