The devil’s always been in the detail. But this is particularly true in summer, when — unless you take a winter break at a nudist resort — you have to rely on fewer square inches of fabric to make you look good than at any other time of year.
Though only some satisfy any form of practical need, summer accessories are often the difference between a good outfit and a great one when the mercury hits double digits.
To that end, these are the only six small additions you need to know about this season, and how to wear them.
You don’t exactly need to have worn a pair of speedos carol singing or a puffer jacket to the local lido to know that most items of clothing belong in a specific season. Knitted ties, however, are one piece of crocheted clobber that you can wear in both the middle of summer and the depths of winter.
The traditional silk tie’s, younger, carefree cousin, knitted knots have found themselves on the necks of countless raffish, devil-may-care dressers over the years (think Sean Connery as Bond or James Dean and Paul Newman), often prized for their ability to add a certain nonchalance to an outfit.
During summer, throw one on with a chambray shirt under tailored separates for a standout summer wedding look. Simply fasten with a basic basic four-in-hand knot, let the back blade hang loose behind the front and, well, sprezzatura? Completed it, mate.
– Luke Todd, deputy editor
WANT Les Essentiels
The modest tote bag has risen to become an unlikely menswear hero in recent years, and one you ‘totes’ need in your luggage arsenal this summer. Among the many reasons why, open-top carriers work far better than a backpack with tailored looks, preventing unsightly bunches and creases from developing all over your blazer. Then there’s the ease of being able to get to your things without having to whip a sack round to the front.
While cotton canvas versions do their bit for saving the planet from yet more plastic bags, the more stylish (and durable) option would be to go for a nylon, waterproof body, which can’t have its good looks ruined with any grubby marks.
A dark neutral colourway will be easier to pair with most outfits, especially any smart casual get-ups you might be putting together. Play it simple with a Breton top and some tailored trousers for relaxed attire that’s perfect for the hot, sticky office.
– Richard Jones, staff writer
Apparently the trendiest shades to be seen in this summer are gigantic sports sunglasses that look like they’ve come straight off the cover of a Daft Punk album. Biiig look. If, like me, you have reservations about shielding your face behind massive mirrored visers, there is another way. Look for some D-frame sunglasses – there are lots of good options around at the moment, and they suit most tastes and face shapes.
Big and angular without looking comical, they’ll go with pretty much everything you’re planning to wear this summer from a linen suit to some tailored swim shorts. Resist the ubiquitous Wayfarers if you possibly can and go for something a little more 70s instead. Pair them with a pair of tailored trousers, an open-collar shirt and loafers for a look that works for the majority of summer dress codes.
– Ian Taylor, editor-in-chief
As far as summer headwear goes, a Panama is nearly as old hat as you can get. So, while some are perfectly happy to wear the style smart, if you’re worried about looking like a pension-age holidaymaker on a wine tasting tour in continental Europe, go casual.
To give the panama hat a sip from the fountain of youth, pair it with a simple T-shirt, which will offset the potentially stuffy sensibility. Go for a dark block-colour design, giving each sleeve a Brando-esque turn up for maximum impact.
The trousers you wear should be slim, cut from a lightweight fabric, possibly drawstring and again dark if you want to rid the Panama hat of its twilight years. Finish off with a pair of streamlined high-top Converse in white or cream, and, like that, you’ve given the Panama hat a millennial-friendly makeover.
– Luke Sampson, associate editor
A neckerchief is a totally unnecessary item. Unlike a scarf, which provides genuine warmth to the neck, it provides no functional qualities and is instead merely an aesthetic addition to an outfit.
For that reason, you have to commit to the neckerchief and wear it with confidence if you’re going to pull it off. The aim should be to add a pop of colour, or a point of difference to a look – neckerchiefs are flamboyant and can jazz up even the plainest clothing.
If you’re up for trying it, make one the focal point of your outfit by keeping everything else minimal. Thinly tie one around your neck, over a crew neck jumper and smart, tailored trousers for a sharp off-duty look. Finish off with plain white sneakers to remove any stuffiness the neckerchief may have added.
– Charlie Thomas, senior editor
About three summers ago, people like me rolled their eyes at the apparent return of the bumbag. What I then thought was ironic fashion at its sniggering worst has since proven itself to be a surprisingly versatile, surprisingly practical accessory. So much so that people are wearing cross-body bags with tailoring and it looks natural and modern.
That’s in part because tailoring itself is more casual, but even if you’re not into streetwear (still the natural habitat for this type of bag), they can work well as part of a high-low, smart-casual look. For summer, try a boxy shirt or cropped jacket worn with rolled trousers or shorts and the belt bag, as they’re also known, slung across your chest.
– Ian Taylor, editor-in-chief
House Of Fraser
The woven belt may have been co-opted by hard-drinking fratboys, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from buckling up in this timeless accessory, which will effortlessly add texture to your look.
As a result of its connotations, getting the woven belt to work its magic requires a conscious effort to avoid wearing head-to-toe preppy clichés (think pastel polo shirts, tailored shorts, boat shoes etc.)
What a woven belt will benefit from is slightly louche styling. For this, look to a Cuban collar shirt worn over a white T-shirt, then add some dark slim-cut trousers and low top minimal sneakers. The result? You’ve given the woven belt the dressing down it so richly deserves.
– Luke Sampson, associate editor