Here in the UK, we’re great at dressing in our tweeds and wax jackets for the winter months, but not so well versed in summer wear. When the sun actually does come out to play, it always seems to take us by surprise and invariably our wardrobes are not prepared for it.
So what do we need to do to get the nonchalance of our European cousins in Italy and France, and get ready to bask in the sun?
Obviously lightweight fabrics are a good starting point, but linen is not to everyone’s taste. Luckily there are alternatives and this summer the current trend is for unstructured and unlined blazers, perfect for summer days when you still need to look smart. If you can combine this, with one that’s constructed in a seersucker fabric like this one from Alexandra Wood, that will be even better as it’s crease resistant.
So even if your travel consists of the daily commute on the hot and sweaty Central Line, rather than to exotic far flung places – you’ll arrive looking crisp as a cold winter’s morning!
Tip: If you’re broad shouldered, unstructured is a great choice but if your shoulders aren’t quite as broad as you’d like, opt for some padding at the shoulder with a buggy lining.
Short sleeved shirts can easily go a bit wrong and you can end up looking a bit “coach driver” as one of my clients put it! Personally I prefer a long sleeved shirt with the sleeves rolled 'military style' but if you’re adamant on wearing a short sleeved formal shirt then make sure it’s fitted especially around the sleeves to keep the look modern.
Alternatively, for a more casual look, check out some camp collared styles. This is the type of collar you get on a Hawaiian shirt, usually with a 50s boxy shaped body and a straight hem like this cotton blend one from Sunspel at Matches. Wear with chinos and loafers for laid back summer style.
Tip: If you suffer from excessive sweating opt for a patterned shirt which will help to disguise it.
Lighter coloured trousers in summer make a welcome change – light grey, stone, sand or if you feel slightly more adventurous - baby blue. If you think you’ll feel pale in lighter trousers with a white or pastel shirt, balance it out by going a few shades darker in your shirt colour.The ones pictured are some I bought with a client from Norse Projects on a personal shopping trip last week. They are slightly looser in the leg and a perfect fit for my client, who finds buying trousers problematic as he has large calf muscles from cycling.
Wear with trainers as shown above or if you want to go for a smarter option then consider suede and think loafers, Derbies or brogues. Colours could range from chocolate brown to tan, or even blue (though be careful of wearing with the same coloured trousers).
Tip: Match your socks to your trousers (not your shoes) or go one shade lighter for an elegant look.
T-shirts need to be replaced frequently and for a smarter look, forgo logos and go for solid coloured ones or colour blocked. Neutrals are always handy and aim for fitted but not tight. If you have a bit of a tummy a lighter block colour at the top and a darker one at the stomach area will visually reduce the effect. Many of my clients have bought Nigel Hall t-shirts which are great quality, last well and are a reasonable price.
Tip: An inexpensive t-shirt is always a good place to try out a new, bold colour if you’re not quite sure about it.
Don’t forget your accessories in summer. There’s not as many options but I love a woven belt to add some colour and interest, a pocket square in cotton or linen and a Panama hat can look striking as well as protecting you from the sun.
If you’re due to update your sunglasses, experiment with different shapes – as a general rule I would go for the opposite of your face shape ie: if you have an angular rectangular or square face shape you can go for round or curved frames and if you have a round face then go for a more angular frame.
In summer silk ties can tend to look a bit shiny in the sunlight, so why not try out a linen mix or cotton one instead or even a knit one.
And one final note – don’t forget to take a cotton sweater to ward off fierce air-conditioning or a sudden drop in temperature in the evening!
This post first appeared on tailor Alexandra Wood's blog.
If you liked this post, you may also be interested in these: