Dressing well in high summer isn’t just about knowing what looks good. Sure, there’s a large element of that, but you also need to think about what’s going to keep you cool, comfortable and stop you from ending up a sweat-soaked wreck come midday.
Certain silhouettes, cuts and fabrics can help you to keep your body temperature low when the sun is blazing. Working these pieces into your daily wardrobe is the best way to nail summer style. What you want are pieces that balance style and hot-weather practicality. Things that can keep you cool and looking sharp at the same time.
Below are some of our favourite pieces for dressing well in high summer, covering everything from shirts and shorts to shades.
Linen has been the go-to fabric for garments in many of the world’s hottest corners for millennia. It’s lightweight, breathable, wicks moisture away from the skin and dries incredibly quickly. This makes it perfect for staying cool.
A linen shirt is a great tool for looking like you’ve made an effort even when the weather’s roasting. It’s smarter than a tee or polo, but the crinkly fabric gives it a laid-back vibe that plays well with other summer pieces like shorts and sneakers.
Stick to light colours to maximise linen’s cooling characteristics.
Towelling fabric is pretty thick and heavy, which you might think makes it an odd choice for summer. However, it’s also highly absorbent, which makes it a great option for beach wear or throwing on at the end of a pool day.
It looks great too, and it’s heavily textured, which is a rarity in summer fabrics and means you can easily add a touch of character to your outfits.
A selection of well-fitting plain white T-shirts is one of the cornerstones of a solid high-summer wardrobe. Find one that fits you like a glove and stock up.
These things will be the foundation of lots of your warm-weather looks, whether you’re wearing them on their own or layering them under an unbuttoned shirt or light jacket.
A traditional cotton baseball cap is always a solid option, but if you’re prone to getting sweaty it could end up damp and sweat stained, and cotton twill doesn’t dry very fast.
Instead, go for a lightweight cap made from either linen or a synthetic fabric that’ll keep your head cool, and dry quickly in the event that it does get wet. Check out running-style caps from the likes of Noah, Patagonia and Battenwear.
Winter dressing is easy to nail as it allows lots of scope for experimentation with different textures. The same cannot be said for summer dressing. However, there are certain fabrics you can work into your seasonal wardrobe to spice things up a bit, and seersucker is one of them.
This puckered summer-friendly fabric is cooling, quick-drying, light and breathable. It works great for short-sleeve camp-collar shirts, so why not give it a go instead of linen or plain cotton?
Another great textured option is a knit polo. It’s breathable, stretchy and comfortable, just like a regular polo, but it offers a slightly smarter and more interesting alternative.
Wear it for smart-casual summer occasions, with things like chinos, smart shorts and loafers or minimalist sneakers.
Shades are probably the most important summer accessory. You’ll be wearing them a lot, so they’re worth getting right and spending a bit of money on.
The most important factor is to make sure you pick a pair that complement your face shape. Generally speaking, the goal is to balance out the proportions of the face. That means if you have a very square, angular face, a round frame will be best, while conversely, those with round faces will benefit from a square frame.
Just like any other season, there will be times in the summer when you’ll need to make a bit more of an effort. When those times come, an unstructured blazer is a great tool to have at your disposal.
With its relaxed shoulders and slight slouchiness, it’s much more laid-back than a regular blazer, making it perfect for nailing that chilled-out summer tailored look. For bonus points, go for linen.
To match your unstructured blazer, a pair of linen trousers will keep you cool even when the time comes to get suited and booted. Plus, you can pair them with things like T-shirts and sneakers, which increases their versatility.
Not all summer settings are shorts appropriate, and when those times come you’ll be glad to have a pair of these in your wardrobe.
Don’t be fooled by the name – swim shorts don’t have to be worn in the water only. In fact, if you buy the right pair, you can wear them for pretty much all summer casual settings, minimising the number of garments you need in order to cover all bases.
Check out Orlebar Brown and Frescobol Carioca, who both offer tailored swim shorts that can easily go from beach to bar. Or, for something more casual, a pair of Patagonia Baggies is always a solid option.
Put that leathery, woody cologne away for the nice weather and pick up something bright and zesty instead.
A good summer fragrance allows you to sign your warm-weather ‘fits off with an olfactory flourish. Aim for floral, citrusy and fresh as opposed to rich, deep and smoky.
Loafers are surprisingly versatile, and they make a great alternative to a dress shoe in most summer settings that require you to don some tailoring.
Go for brown suede and wear them with everything from shorts and camp-collar shirts to summer suits.
Flip-flops and pool sliders might be practical, but they’re doing nothing for your style game. Sandals accomplish the same job and look a whole lot better while doing so.
Check out Birkenstock’s EVA Arizona version for something you can wear on the beach or around the pool. It’s essentially still a slider but it looks a bit more intentional.
Canvas sneakers make great summer beaters. They’re breathable, affordable and they look great when they’re worn in.
The classic styles from the likes of Converse and Vans will always work well, but check out smaller brands like Novesta and Stepney Workers Club too.
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