When it comes to dressing for a holiday, few nations have a reputation as bad as the Brits. Ridiculously baggy board shorts? Guilty. Flip-flops in the city? Guilty. And the worst of the lot – the dreaded semi-clear carrier bag used in place of a beach bag – also guilty, your honour.

Perhaps this stubbornness to take any sense of style with us on the plane comes down to the thinking that the pieces we wear on the strip won’t see the light of day grey once back home. Not so.

Do your bit to restore our battered sartorial reputation abroad this summer by investing in these seven key holiday pieces that will get plenty of wear, whether in Greece or Glasgow.

(Related: 12 Go-To Summer Outfit Combinations)

Terry Towelling Shirt

The terry towelling shirt doesn’t get a fair crack at the whip in most men’s summer wardrobes as far as we’re concerned. It’s baffling. What’s not to like about a shirt that can absorb roughly half its weight in perspiration without showing?

This season, make like Daniel Craig in Casino Royale and use the fuss-free piece to throw over your hard-won beach body after exiting the water for a seamless way to transition from beach to bar.

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How To Wear Now

“If the loose-fitting, open-necked versions feel a little too poolside cool for home shores, opt instead for a style cut like a traditional polo shirt or even a T-shirt,” says Time Out style editor Miriam Bouteba. “Pair it with cotton chinos at home, then tailored swim shorts after touchdown.”

Just remember to contrast your shades. Going white on top? Try navy or black on the bottom. Similarly, if you want to go lighter down below, opt for a black or navy terry shirt. It’s that simple.

Orlebar Brown

Breton Top

Take your style tips from the French guide to dressing like a cliché this summer. If peak Francophile is a beret, baguette and a comedy moustache, aim for a notch down on the scale to arrive at Riviera style.

Sure, Breton stripes in summer won’t win you any originality points (*sighs in French*) but as far as summer wardrobe staples go, they’re pretty much idiot-proof in any country.

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How To Wear Now

“Teamed with chinos and penny loafers, a Breton top can create a Parisian-inspired look even if you’re getting on the bus to work,” says The Idle Man editor, Tom Courcey. You’re wearing three classic pieces here, so there’s not much that can go wrong and there’s also the option of throwing a blazer or lightweight jacket over the top on cooler evenings. See, idiot-proof.

Tommy Hilfiger

Linen Shirt

Ironically, for a fabric that prides itself on keeping its wearers sweat-free, linen doesn’t have a reputation for being particularly cool (in the other sense).

If you can put that image of Simon Cowell sauntering around his yacht in the fabric to the back of your head, then you’ll be more receptive to linen’s perspiration-killing charms, particularly when put to work as a shirt.

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How To Wear Now

“Linen’s breathability and versatility speak for itself as a summer wardrobe staple, so opt for a modern white grandad shirt,” says Courcey.

As for what to wear down below, it’s a simple case of switching up the material and palette. “On holiday you’re likely to go for trousers in white, beige and pale browns, but to wear it now at home, play around with heavier pieces like chinos and jeans in darker shades,” he adds.

Massimo Dutti

White T-Shirt

The humble white T-shirt is a solid throw-on-and-go wardrobe staple in any time zone. But while it’s a piece that goes with arguably anything, anywhere, it does take on new meanings in sunnier climes.

Case in point: white-on-white (…on-white). This might initially sound fairly unforgiving, but you’re on holiday so, as the kids say, YOLO. To your protests of ‘club rep cool’ and doubts about your level of base tan, we offer you Steve McQueen, who famously made holiday all-white look like an absolute no-brainer.

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How To Wear Now

The white T-shirt was never going to be made redundant after two weeks in the Med, but the white-out look certainly might be. However, Bouteba says there are still endless ways to put this timeless wardrobe staple to work.

“Before you go, one of the best ways to wear a white T-shirt is under an open short-sleeved shirt. You can – if you’ve got the cojones – keep the all-white look going once back, but break it up with a neutral cardigan or bomber over the top.”


Panama Hat

Given that a holiday in the sun is practically one of the only times you’re guaranteed to require a hat of sorts, you might as well make a conscious effort not to look like a prat while wearing one.

Swerve the obvious baseball cap and instead go for something that doesn’t scream package holiday. Think less Frank Gallagher and more Frank Sinatra, basically.

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How To Wear Now

Noel Stewart, creative director of fabled London milliner Christys’ says: “The perfect complement for a classic vest, shirt and trouser outfit is a superfine preset Panama hat either in classic white or a check weave.”

One of those people who are eternally hat shy? Go for a smaller trilby style, which Stewart adds is “perfect for adding a punchy accent to any outfit”. Modern-day Rat Pack vibes sorted.


Polo Shirt

Few other menswear items have the same ability to be as much of a shapeshifter as the polo shirt.

Of course, when it has the collar popped or some hideous in-joke stamped on the back, it’s universally unappealing, but with the right details and wardrobe companions it can look classier than Eddie Redmayne at a country wedding.

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How To Wear Now

“There are a few ways to style a polo shirt,” explains stylist Nas Abraham, who has worked with the likes of Barbour and Gap.

“A look that will work on holiday or not involves combining a dusty pink, soft mint or oatmeal brushed cotton polo shirt with a pair of dark navy or olive chinos, roll up the hem to reveal a pair of white minimalist sports-luxe trainers [or pair of loafers] for a refined look.”


Cuban Collar Shirt

If adhering to the well-trodden tricks of style icons leaves you yawning, then fear not: hot weather dressing doesn’t need to be classic to look cool. Take the Cuban collar shirt for example (which admittedly is a rehash of an old favourite).

This season, this red-hot menswear piece will leave you feeling and looking as cool as an iceberg lettuce in the Arctic. Expect it to be rendered in lightweight, breathable viscose and come in solid block colours or summery prints.

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How To Wear Now

Not only does the Cuban collar shirt look breezy on holiday with a pair of shorts, it’s also a cinch to style for the everyday. Follow Abraham’s advice and put those pins away and get tucking.

“The subtlety of a monochromatic shirt complements tailored trousers well and the look can be made even smarter off the beach by tucking it in. Finish with a pair of brown chocolate or dark tanned leather sandals or Derbies and you’re done.”