Four cool tricks for wearing tailored looks that beat, rather than stoke the heat
By Jason Basson and Luke Kuisis
Have you heard of spontaneous human combustion? It refers to a bizarre form of death by fire that is more common than you'd think. Say what? It's a thing, people. You can google it... And while it might not be as watertight in scientific terms as, say, round earth theory or global warming, it also doesn't cohabit the same world of pseudo-scientific fantasy as crop circles.
So, in an effort to help you avoid a similar tragic fate we have devised a solution for you: a roundup of the things you can do and wear to look smart and stay cool in tailored separates. Goodbye suit of slow torture; hello summer of style!
Look Smart in Shorts
Defying all logic, it turns out you can actually look smart in sweat shorts (yep, here's how you can wear sweatpants to work). And while we might not recommend this look for the boardroom, it's perfect for the off-duty smart guy who wants to appear as effortlessly styled as the laws of physics allow, at the same time showing a carefree nonchalance. Doing this successfully comes down to subtle styling and grooming. A lightweight blazer is a must, as are leather loafers or boat shoes, swanky shades, a strict grooming regime and a spiffy watch. If you aren't brave enough for sweat shorts, simply swap them out for a pair of chino shorts. Just not boardies or boxers, obviously.
What do meringues and Merengue dancers have in common? Answer: both look cool and complex, but in fact simply rely on air that is stylishly whipped into a frenzy. So, if you have any hope of moving around in a suit this summer you will have to make choices that are more about air flow than basic style alone. We're talking cool, breathable, lightweight fabric choices like hemp or linen. That and items with anti-microbial properties so you don't smell as funky as you look. Other sensible choices include unlined, unstructured blazers that not only improve your thermodynamics, but also give you that soft-tailored, effortless look that is so appropriate for summer.
Go for Cool Details
There's cool and then there's cool. And for summer it's important to have command of both, so you look and feel like a boss while keeping tabs on your internal heating. First step is making appropriate colour choices. White, grey and light blue are obvious options, but shades that we often skip over are khaki, camel and all the other soft, neutral earth tones that work miracles in the heat. Then rumour has it that a micro print can help diffuse some heat. Give it a try in the shirt of the season, the resort shirt. Once you have these basics down, the next step is to consider accessories that make you look like the very definition of summer: things like straw hats, woven belts, brogue detailing on your loafers and a messenger bag. The strap-on look just feels easier and looks less fussy than a standard in-hand briefcase.
Style for Summer
You don't have to wear a blazer to look smart. A pair of formal trousers and a button-up shirt are perfectly acceptable, too. Once upon a time tradition would only have allowed for a few simple styling tweaks, like a turn-up on a sleeve or the unbuttoning of a collar to add a certain je ne sais coolness to your look, but these days the laws are more lax. For instance, a short-sleeve shirt is more acceptable at work. Mandarin collars are less formal and aren't only worn by waitrons at the Holiday Inn buffet. You can layer a shirt over a tee and your look will still be considered smart-casual. Boxier cut trousers, cropped or rolled hems are fairly commonplace, even in 'smart' styling. And just about everybody ditches their calf-length socks in favour of the hidden sock in summer, these days. It's all sensible and allows for ventilation. You can also wear sneakers with formal separates and people won't look at you like the village idiot, anymore.
Next week we'll share more sage advice on how to break up a suit into its separate components for daily smart-casual solutions that you can wear to work this summer. Stay tuned.