The mere thought of wearing tailoring in the stifling heat of summer can cause even the most hardened of men to break out in hives – stiff, starched collars, weighty fabrics, suffocating tie knots and, of course, the sweating, oh the scarily profuse sweating.
But no matter what the occasion or your company’s dress code, there are ways to ensure you don’t spend the day constantly mopping your forehead. Follow these easily executed styling tips and you’ll be well on your way to seasonal sartorial comfort.
Go Sans Sock
Simple. All you’ve got to do is whip off those pink argyle fancies and slip your sock-free appendages into your freshly polished loafers, right? Wrong.
There are two important things to remember before you start emptying the contents of your sock drawer into a refuse sack:
Firstly, although it is a versatile look and can be styled in an abundance of ways, going sockless is not, and never will be – in this writer’s humble opinion – suitable for a particularly formal environment. Traditional eveningwear or a boxy office suit will jar hideously with this modern and laid-back styling technique. Instead, try a thinner sock in 100 per cent cotton that matches your trouser leg.
Secondly, and most importantly, don’t ditch the socks entirely.
“Never go properly sockless,” says Dean Gomilsek-Cole, Head of Design & Product Development at Turnbull & Asser. “Find some good invisible socks instead; otherwise you’ll get tacky feet from leather-lined shoes.”
Not to mention the hygiene issue. A gradual build-up of sweat that’s got nowhere to escape will inevitably lead to smelly feet (and shoes). Hit the high street for a quick fix, or – if you’re blessed with larger feet that won’t always fit a standard pair of no-shows – then consider Falke. For a few pounds extra, the brand’s nifty anti-slip silicone grip socks are a worthy investment.
- Falke Step Invisible Cotton-blend Socks
- Pantherella Invisible Footlet Socks
- Hugo Boss Stay-on Shoeliner Invisible Socks
- He By Mango 2 Pack Invisible Socks
- Topman Grey Invisible Liner Socks
- Pringle No Show Trainer Socks In 3 Pack
Flash The ‘Mankle?’
To truly embrace your sockless trotters in all of their naked glory, a cropped trouser and low-rise shoe are the ideal accompaniments. Allowing for increased exposure to the open air, a pair of cropped suit trousers is a sure-fire way to keep cool in tailoring – but be careful not to go too short, says Gomilsek-Cole:
“Showing about an inch of ankle is acceptable; don’t go any higher though, or you’ll look like you’re trying a little too hard. A trouser leg that is cropped too short will also give the adverse illusion of shorter legs too.”
If you can’t find trousers cropped to the correct length off the peg, then take the time to visit a tailor you trust and have yours adjusted. If you’re over six feet in height, ask for a narrow turn-up to be put in.
Lessen The Fabric Load
Ever wondered how those slick Milanese types saunter through a sweltering piazza in a three-piece suit without so much as breaking a solitary bead of sweat? How do our Italian cousins do it?
It’s all in the fabrication. “Crisp linen, Cool Wool and wool-mohair blends work particularly well in the summer,” suggests Sean Dixon, Managing Director at Richard James. These comparatively lightweight fabrics are much more breathable and help avoid those unsightly sweat patches.
A linen-blend suit can be found in most good high street retailers, with Spanish retailer Zara producing some of the best examples each summer.
For better quality fabrications however, it’s best to loosen the purse strings a little more and look to the likes of Jaeger for silk-linen suits and T.M.Lewin for Cool Wool styles.
- Zara Linen Suit
- M&s Collection Linen Regular Fit Suit
- M&s Collection Grey Regular Fit Suit
- Jaeger Cool Wool Slim Suit
- T.m.lewin Brando Blue Sharkskin 2-button Regular Fit Suit
- T.m.lewin Hook Charcoal Twill 2-button Regular Fit Suit
- Suitsupply Jort Navy Plain
- Jaeger Wool Mohair Modern Suit
- Richard James Blue Wool And Mohair-blend Suit
Lose The Lining
As well as heavyweight fabrics, thick linings can lead to you feeling the heat when suited during summer. Essentially an extra layer, lining serves both an aesthetic and functional purpose in the colder months but it’s worth looking for unlined or partially lined suits to ensure you stay cool once June hits.
An overly structured suit will feel bulky and stifling in warmer climes too, so shed those shoulder pads. Bear in mind, though, that an unstructured suit jacket is not as forgiving to your body shape, so if you’re not 100 per cent sure on how to style this look, consider making an appointment with an in store advisor or personal shopper to try out some outfits – they will know what works for your body shape and be able to make suggestions. Any large menswear retailer worth its salt offers this service nowadays, so make enquiries and see if your favourites are doing the same.
If they are, always come prepared: “If you’re visiting a stylist or personal shopper, do a little research in advance and see what you like the look of,” says Giles Farnham, Style Studio Manager at River Island. “Bringing some suggestions helps your advisor find the perfect look for you.”
Toss The Tie
In oppressive heat, a tie can feel less an elegant accessory, and more a kind of silken, sweaty hangman’s noose. Luckily, there are more seasonally-appropriate ways of looking polished.
“If you can afford to look a little more casual, a cotton jumper with a white shirt looks great,” says Farnham. “Team with a pair of slim-fit chinos and some fresh white plimsolls for the perfect Riviera-inspired look.”
The collarless, or ‘granddad’, shirt is also a worthwhile option. Being a time-honoured staple, brands across the pricing spectrum have put their stamp on the design this season, whether it be high street heroes such as Reiss or COS, or high-end labels like Boglioli.
For an ideal summertime weekend look, try a crisp white granddad shirt teamed with an unstructured suit and a pair of minimal leather trainers.
- M&s Collection Pure Cotton Crew Neck Jumper
- He By Mango Textured Cotton Sweater
- John Smedley Marcus Crew Neck Merino Wool Sweater
- Reiss Watkins Pocket Polo Shirt White
- Uniqlo Men Dry Pique Short Sleeve Polo Shirt
- He By Mango Cotton Polo Shirt
- Club Monaco Waffle-knit Cotton-blend Henley T-shirt
- Reiss Freeman Long Sleeve T-shirt Grey
- Nudie Jeans Fairtrade Organic Cotton-jersey Henley T-shirt
- New Look Black Formal Long Sleeve Grandad Collar Shirt
- Reiss Barnaby Grandad Collar Shirt Grey
- Officine Generale Auguste Cotton And Linen-blend Poplin Grandad-collar Shirt
While most of us will have learned the hard way, there’s little worse than being the idiot braving twenty-something degree heat in a dark grey wool suit. Dark colours – particularly black, navy and charcoal – naturally attract the heat, and that’s the last thing you need when stuck in your car or straphanging on public transport.
So, try going a few shades lighter instead. “In a casual environment, beige and soft grey make for strong looks,” says Charlie Casely-Hayford, designer and co-founder of esteemed British menswear label Casely-Hayford. “In more formal environments, opting for a lighter blue over a navy is a nice touch as the colours will always appear more vibrant in the summer sun.”
Brightening up your tailoring often means toning down how you style it. “Wear your brighter suit with a crisp crew neck tee. A Henley or a granddad shirt are both good for creating a relaxed summer look too.”
Wear a Henley with your suit to the office on a Friday, and shed the jacket in preparation for the pub in the evening. German brand Schiesser and characterful British label Paul Smith both have strong offerings, but you’ll find no shortage of high street alternatives either.
- Asos Slim Fit Suit Jacket In 100% Linen
- River Island Beige Linen-blend Print Slim Suit Jacket
- Zara Stretch Linen Suit
- Austin Reed Contemporary Fit Linen And Cotton Jacket
- Reiss Lute B Jacquard Weave Blazer Grey
- Reiss Shannon B Slim-fit Blazer Stone
- Suitsupply Hudson Blue Plain
- Austin Reed Contemporary Fit Linen Jacket
- Burberry London Blue Slim-fit Cotton Suit
Wearing a suit in the summer shouldn’t feel like an obscure form of torture. Armed with these simple guidelines, you’ll see that your suit can be just as versatile year-round, so long as a little more consideration is made for fabrics, construction and colours.
How will you style yours for the summer? Any tips for sporting tailoring hassle-free once it starts to heat up?
Comment below to let us know.