There are two things most men concern themselves with when getting dressed in summer: firstly, ‘Do I look good?’ And secondly, ‘Can I be sure I won’t sweat my balls off in this?’
Getting kitted out for long, hot days (and balmy nights), requires modular outfits that allow for individual pieces to be swapped in or out depending on the time of day, temperature and the place you’re headed.
To help stay cool, look cooler and not get caught out in an unexpected rain shower, here are 10 no-fail formulas to see you through to autumn.
Bomber Jacket + Breton Stripe Top + Trousers
A naval staple at its core, there’s no arguing the Breton stripe is a menswear classic that skews more casual than smart. But there’s something about its French heritage that makes it so much more refined than a piece of fisherman’s kit.
Combined with lightweight tailored trousers, a long sleeve Breton top works just as well for a dinner date as it does on a stroll to ease the hangover the next day.
Dress it up with a smartly-cut bomber jacket in the evening or keep things to just one layer in the midday heat.
Lightweight Suit + Grandad Collar Shirt + Trainers
Staving off sweat is about more than shedding as many clothes as legally possible, it’s also about flexing a little sartorial savvy when it comes to things like suits.
When the occasion calls, don’t suffer in a stiff three-piece. Instead, opt for a lightweight option (in materials such as cotton or linen blends) and ideally a brighter colour that won’t absorb UV rays.
If the dress code permits, like in the case of a smart-casual wedding, team with a grandad collar shirt that not only adds on-trend appeal but also omits the need for a tie and gives you a bit of breathing room around the neck.
Short Sleeve Shirt + T-Shirt + Chinos
Just like pinstripe suits, short-sleeved shirts get a bum wrap on account of years of abuse at the hands of guys who should have known better.
Rather than rolling them out in baggy fits with over-the-knee cargo shorts, use them as top layer to add a point of interest to an otherwise classic menswear duo.
Chinos and a T-shirt provide a solid foundation to put to work anything from a floral Cuban collar number to a vertical stripe shirt.
Better yet, you can dial up the formality of this look by buttoning the shirt up to the top two or three and tucking it into slightly more formal trousers.
Blazer + Shirt + Cropped Trousers
Feeling the heat in the office? Cut loose with a look that’ll let you breathe.
Small tweaks – like choosing a trouser that lets you feel the breeze on your ankles, losing the collar on your shirt or simply undoing a couple of buttons – helps keep sweat at bay without receiving a finger wag from the boss.
What’s more, you won’t need to pack a change of clothes for the post-work round either.
All-White + Bomber Jacket
Bronzed like menswear don David Gandy? No? Then you’d better start catching rays (or faking it), because all-white isn’t going anywhere.
Once the preserve of 1990s boy bands, head-to-toe white has been topping the menswear trends charts for a few seasons now. And for good reason: it’s easy, light-reflecting (and therefore sweat-preventing) and works just about everywhere.
A white vest and shorts might come off a bit Magic Mike, but change tack with a white T-shirt and chinos and you’re onto a winner.
If not comfortable with a white-out approach, mix and match shades of cream, stone and off-white, then spike your look with a piece in a darker colour for contrast. Especially useful if you’re nearly as pale as the whites you’re wearing.
Mac + Tee + Jeans
A typical British ‘summer’ might best be described as grey and sweaty, but on the rare occasion it’s bright and breezy, reach for something seasonally appropriate that can still stop a chill in its tracks.
Cue the mac. Lightweight, modern and slim cut for a flattering shape, it promises coverage without the cumbersome bulk. Opt for one in a brighter colour such as cobalt blue, camel or burgundy and you’ll steer a staple that’s traditionally reserved for the rainy season into something more summer-ready.
Here, ripped jeans and a T-shirt roughen up the mac’s clean lines, but it can just as easily be teamed with a linen shirt and cropped trousers for an equally versatile, albeit more squeaky clean take.
Field Jacket + Polo Shirt + Cropped Trouser
Like all menswear pieces lifted from the military, the field jacket comes packed with all the versatility a man needs to meet the demands of modern life. (As well as generously sized pockets for pretty much everything you’ll need this summer: sunglasses, a bottle of SPF and a can of ready-mixed rum and ginger).
Give the jacket a look that’s more smart-casual than desert squad by flanking it with pieces that skew slightly more sartorial – like a polo shirt and tailored cropped trousers.
Rounded out with a pair of minimal trainers, it will be your new go-to for city breaks and country getaways.
Linen Blazer + Polo Shirt + Trousers
There’s no disputing that these days a T-shirt is a happy bedfellow with tailoring, but sometimes you need a little more structure to your silhouette.
A polo offers the best of both worlds: it’s lightweight and breathable like a T-shirt, but (crucially) comes with a collar, helping cut a slightly smarter figure without having to resort to a stuffy button-down shirt.
The beauty of this look is you get all of the polo’s sportswear appeal worn solo with some trousers, but can leverage its more sartorial side by slipping into an airy blazer. Riviera style made simple.
Harrington + Lightweight Knit + Coloured Chinos
There’s a school of thought that says bright colours don’t work for much other than the beach. But we say that’s a little reductive (and very, very boring).
It’s not so much that colour can’t work in a variety of situations, it’s that only certain colours can. A lime green T-shirt won’t mesh as well with a suit as it will with petrol blue swim shorts, but that’s not to say racing green wouldn’t.
This look mixes two versatile colours – bottle green and burgundy – with a neutral base (in the shape of a classic beige Harrington jacket) for a mash-up of hues that cuts through the monotony of menswear’s most overused colours.
Denim Jacket + Tee + Jeans
Sure, denim is a hardwearing fabric that does its best work when standing up to rough conditions; but it has a valid place in summer, too.
That said, squeezing into a pair of raw jeans isn’t the smartest move on a brow-drenching day, but lose the weight and you’ll keep your cool. Lightweight denim (ideally under 12 ounces) is more flexible and breathable than its heavier counterpart, letting you keep that rock edge without overheating.
Combine your jeans with a washed denim jacket and a T-shirt for an off-duty look to boss the weekends in. Pro tip: button the jacket all the way up for a slightly smarter finish.