Learning what to put on, rather than take off, in hot weather might sound contradictory, but unless you’re spending the sunny season unwinding in a German naturist resort, it’s a necessity.
That’s not to say there aren’t some savvy ways of keeping your style stock rising in line with the mercury, mind.
For proof, here are 10 fail-safe ways to dress in the heat this high summer season. AKA the outfits you need to look on point, without passing out.
Linen Shirt + Tailored Trousers
Whoever said you can’t look good when it’s hot as balls just didn’t know their stuff. And by stuff we mean fabrics.
Arming yourself with the knowledge of which fabrics breathe, and which ones make you sweat, is the difference between staying cool and wearing a sauna.
This pairing – provided you opt for a lightweight cotton or linen trouser – helps you stave off sweat without having to bare too much skin. Try mixing a neutral top with a bolder colour down below (and vice versa), or a head-to-toe tonal dressing approach for a more contemporary effect.
Breton Top + Navy Shorts
Even if it’s Rochester rather than the Riviera that you find yourself in this summer, it’s worth packing some of that French panache. Namely, the Breton top.
Still as fresh as it was several centuries ago, this Gallic classic is the ideal fix for men who fancy wearing a bit of pattern without running the risk of having their mates take the piss.
Keep it classic with a traditional long sleeve style (which you can, incidentally, easily team with an unstructured blazer) or steer shorter if it’s just too damn hot.
Short Sleeve Shirt + Tailored Shorts
The gold standard of most high summer looks is an outfit that allows you to stay smart without needing eight cans of antiperspirant to avoid rocking sweat patches.
This combination offers the clean lines of tailoring with less of the cloth, meaning you can look put-together enough for an al fresco lunch without dripping on it.
Be sure to get the fit on point. Err too baggy or too skinny with either the shorts or the short sleeve shirt, and you’ll turn a tried-and-trusted summer look into something distinctly Scoutmaster.
Floral Shirt + Chino Shorts
There’s something liberating about beach holidays. Something about all that sun that helps you to finally flip the ‘off’ switch, flip on the flip flops and unwind.
This can have both good and bad results for your wardrobe. Good, because you’re temporarily less uptight and more willing to experiment with pieces normally well out of your comfort zone, and bad, well, bad for exactly the same reason.
Case in point: the floral shirt. An attention-grabbing holiday essential, a floral shirt can make or break your look. Keep to shallow water with well-fitting, muted styles if you don’t want to end up a fashion victim.
Lightweight Suit + Plain T-Shirt
It should go without saying that to beat the heat and still look smart requires a hefty dose of sartorial savvy.
While a grandad collar shirt is a great way to give some breathing room around the neck at the start of the season, the even hotter high summer months call for an added step.
Providing the dress code permits, sub in a premium T-shirt cut from a breathable cotton-jersey or Tencel under the jacket. To dress the look up, stick with a full suit rather than separates and tuck the tee into the trousers, before finishing with a pair of Derbies or dark, minimalist sneakers.
White Jeans + Blue Chambray Shirt
For some guys, white jeans just don’t cut the mustard like their blue counterparts. Either that or they’re worried about where said mustard might end up.
Condiments aside, there’s no getting away from the fact that bleached-out denim comes into its own when the mercury peaks.
Of course, there’s still room for blue denim elsewhere. Use crisp white jeans in a slim fit to provide the foundations for a breathable chambray shirt up top for a look that’s the best of both worlds.
Plain T-Shirt + Printed Shorts
Print is powerful. Place it on a body part that you’ve been training, and watch it work like steroids.
Been hitting those lats? A botanical T-shirt turns yours into wings. Been squatting PBs? Watch striped shorts turn your already solid quads into sequoia trunks.
This pairing – firmly business up top and party down below – is great for guys who have been hitting the shoulder exercises, but don’t want their inverted triangle exaggerated to Johnny Bravo proportions. Stick with neutral colours for the T-shirt and opt for shorts that are cut slim, but which won’t turn your thighs into sausage meat.
Printed T-Shirt + Denim Shorts
Wearing thick, raw denim in summer is an experience so uncomfortable that we’re convinced it’s among some of the CIA’s more obscure torture methods.
Thankfully, though, many brands have taken pity on denim devotees in recent seasons, releasing lightweight styles that promise all of the style, with none of the gross stickiness.
Opt for a pair of shorts in a light or acid wash and combine with a printed T-shirt up top for an outfit that looks fire but won’t send you up in flames.
Polo Shirt + Tailored Trousers
You might not think something as innocuous as a shirt placket could be inconvenient, but try nursing a post-dinner bloat in 35-degree heat and then get back to us.
If you want to lose the restraint of a shirt but stay looking refined, try a polo shirt instead. One of sportswear’s greatest contributions to the smart-casual wardrobe, a polo is basically a glorified T-shirt with a collar – which means it’ll let you feel like you’re lounging, but make you look much better turned out.
Pick up one in piqué, Pima cotton or a linen-cotton mix for optimal breathability and pair with lightweight, tailored trousers – you’ll give JFK on a yacht a run for his money.
Vest + Swim Shorts
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more divisive hot fashion potato than the vest. But it’s all in how you wear it.
Team this warm-weather saviour with a pair of smartly cut (not too tight, not too baggy, mid-thigh length) swim shorts, and you’ve got a look that says even though it’s brain-meltingly hot, you still had the self-respect to style it out.
That said, if you haven’t seen the inside of a gym in years, a more forgiving T-shirt is probably a safer bet.