A Week in Warm Weather: What a Man Should Pack

Golf courses?  Beaches?  Exotic deserts?  Sure, sign us up.  A man should always be grateful for the chance to travel somewhere warmer.  And if you’re a reader that happens to live somewhere warmer, don’t panic — this advice will be helpful for you, too.  A lot of your wardrobe may already look this way.

Leave us a comment if we missed anything!  Because today’s article is designed to give the well-dressed man all the knowledge he needs to survive a week’s vacation somewhere very warm…

Shorts are at home on the beach

Warm Weather Basics

A vacation abroad or just summer at home follow the same basic rules, as long as the sun’s shining regularly and the mercury is creeping up past 75F.  If you don’t wear the right clothes you’re going to end up desperately seeking out climate-controlled rooms and staying in them as much as possible — not a very adventurous lifestyle or vacation.  Always stick to the cardinal rules of dressing for hot weather to keep yourself comfortable, active, and still stylish:

1) Light, natural fabricsallow your skin to breathe, air to circulate and your body temperature to remain comfortably low.  Cotton, linen and silk are the best natural fabrics to wear in hot weather.

2) Light colors reflect the most sunlight and heat. Whites, baby blues, grays, creams, yellows and tans will keep you feeling cooler than blacks, navy blues, or any other dark colors.

3) A looser fit helps your body vent heat away from your skin.  Baggy, oversized clothes don’t look very flattering, but a shirt and trousers in your size and fitted more loosely than a dress suit might be will help keep you feeling breezy.  Avoid anything with enough excess fabric to fold over on itself and bunch up — that’s just going to make you uncomfortable and unattractive as well.

4) Wear a hat and your brain box will thank you.  The sun can be harsh in warm climates, especially if you’re not used to it.  A lightweight hat with ventilation (mesh webbing or punched grommets both work well) keeps the direct sunlight off without trapping heat or making you sweat too much.

Packing for Warm Weather

If your summers are warm in general, you can take this advice for your home wardrobe as well.  We’ve written it specifically for a man traveling to a hotter climate, but don’t let that stop you.  All of these are good ideas for a warm climate:

Breathable Underwear

The warmest parts of your body are the armpits and the groin.  Having these parts warm in winter is a godsend, but during hot weather an overheated crotch is hell.  Keep everything cool and avoid heat rash with lightweight underwear that wicks moisture away from the skin.  Athletic clothing manufacturers make excellent products out of cotton/spandex blends, often with other synthetics specifically designed to remove moisture, usually in both looser boxer styles and more fitted boxer-briefs or briefs.

Plain cotton works all right in a pinch, but doesn’t deal as well with moisture as some of the newer synthetics — if you wear cotton underwear, be sure it’s loose enough to sit a little bit off the skin.  That will keep sweaty underwear from clinging right up against you.

Underwear on the upper body serves the exact same function of keeping moisture off the skin and away from the body.  Invest in a quality undershirt to absorb perspiration and keep your dress shirt from getting sweaty.  The extra layer is not going to add a lot of heat, and it’s well worth it to have something that’s actively helping your skin stay dry and well-aired.

Shirts:  Polos, Sport Shirts, Short-sleeved or Long-sleeved?

There’s a wide range of shirt choices for warm climates.  Any of the options just listed can work.  So can a T-shirt, in terms of comfort, though they often have thick hems that gather sweat and add heat, but a T-shirt isn’t really a good-looking guy’s first choice.  If you do wear T-shirts in the heat, opt for very close-fitted ones, and then only if you have the body to make it work.  Be honest with yourself!

The culture you’re traveling to is worth researching.  People in the U.S. aren’t going to care if you wear short-sleeved shirts for comfort in the summer.  We’re casual here — as long as you’re not going out to fancy night clubs, it’ll be fine.  European summer destinations can be less forgiving, expecting well-bred men to stay in collared, long-sleeved shirts, and Middle Eastern and African nations can be stricter still.  Do your research before you go, and don’t plan on baring your arms unless it’s done locally.

Light colors and fabrics will keep you cool and classy

Polos and short-sleeved shirts are appropriate for the beach and other casual environments during the day.  If you are going out during the night to a restaurant, dancing or a walk along the beach, then make sure you pack at least one long-sleeved buttoned poplin dress shirt in a plain or simple pattern in a light color.  You can always unbutton the cuffs and loosely roll up the sleeves to your elbows.

Pants: Khaki, linen trousers

Let’s be very clear here:shorts are reserved for the beach only pretty much every place outside the US.  If you wear shorts in European cities, you will look like a tourist.  Asian, African, and South American cultures will find it even stranger.  Leave the shorts at home and find fitted trousers made from light cotton or linen instead.

Make sure you find the lightest fabric weight (some cotton khakis are woven in a thick, canvas-like texture meant for cooler climates).  Linen is even lighter and has a very soft drape to it, but cannot be pressed as crisply as cotton — save it for your more casual trousers, and have a pair of cotton khakis on hand for when you need to look sharpest.

Footwear and Socks

You will want to keep you feet as dry as possible.  Fungus thrives in warm, dark and moist places.  A bad case of athlete’s foot can ruin a week on the golf course.  The best footwear for hot weather are sandals — flip-flops are out, for the well-dressed man, but a good pair of sturdy leather sandals with broad straps will do just fine in most situations.  They’re best worn without socks; some European styles allow for dressy sandals worn with socks as well.  It’s your call as to whether you can pull the look off or not.

A close-toed alternative is the traditional boat shoe.  These are slip-on leather shoes with visible stitching and a simple lace tie, ideal for beaches, boats, and anywhere else that’s warm but also somewhat hard on the footwear.  Boat shoes are expected to be a bit worn with use, so you don’t have to worry about polishing them, though it’s helpful to dust the sand and salt off after they’ve been on the beach.

 

If you are venturing out during the night, then bring along a pair of dress shoes and light-fabric dress socks. Rules can be broken, yet the general consensus is that open-toed and casual footwear are reserved for the daylight hours; dress shoes rule the night.  Your socks should still match your shoes in warm climates, so bring some light khaki or white socks, if those are the colors you’re wearing on your lower body.

Hats: Proper cooling head-wear

A good warm-weather hat needs a broad brim, a lightweight material, and plenty of ventilation.  Baseball-style caps are fine for the golf course (though plastic mesh backs will be considered tacky), but a good straw or cloth hat with a full brim goes best in most situations.  Pick a crown shape that works for you and make sure it has holes in it somewhere, either punched with grommets or woven in naturally.  The white Panama hat is always a classic, and most outdoors shops sell collapsible broad-brimmed hats with mesh siding that you can crush down for easy packing.

Suits, Blazers and Sport Coats

Ideally you won’t need much in the way of jackets for warm climates.  Southern gentlemen in the United States occasionally choose to sport a seersucker suit, but most men won’t have enough use for one to warrant the considerable investment.  Light-colored suits in linen, cotton, or “tropical” wools work well if you happen to have one, and if you plan on spending considerable time in a hot climate we recommend buying one; otherwise, make do with khaki trousers and a blazer.  Sometimes called the “California suit,” the navy blazer with brass buttons worn over light khaki trousers is comfortable, classic, and acceptable at all but the highest levels of formality in warm climates.  Skipping the necktie and wearing it over an open collar is less formal, but more comfortable.

If you must wear a suit, then wear the lightest fabric and lightest earth tone suit you have

Suggested Packing List for a Week in Warm Weather

The following list is a good starting point.  Use your judgment and knowledge of the what you can expect in terms of weather, social environment and your activity level to fill in the details.   Remember that your goal is to pack light, pack smart and pack sharp.

Clothing Item Suggested Amount
Underwear 6 pairs
Socks 4 pairs
Polo shirts / Short-sleeved shirts 2 pairs
Long-sleeved lightweight dress shirts 2 pairs
Trousers 2 pairs
Boat shoe or moccasins 1 pair
Dress shoes 1 pair
Activity clothing (e.g. beachwear) -
Workout clothing 1 set
Suit / Blazer jacket (if necessary) -
Lightweight cashmere sweater* 1
Dopp kit -

*Optional: Sometimes warm weather climates have warm days, but cool nights. Pack at your own discretion

How to Pack Your Suitcase for a Week in Warm Weather

Self-vacuuming travel bags are your friend.  You can stuff your underwear, socks, base-layers and beachwear into a travel bag.  This will allow more room for your sharp clothing:  more room equals less wrinkles.

1) Put the self-vacuuming travel bag in one of the bottom corners.

2) Tightly roll your towel and put it in the other corner parallel with the short-side of the suitcase

3) Loosely fold a pair of trousers and lay them on top of the travel bag

4) If you have an extra pair of shoes, now is the time to put them along the top side of the suit case (soles touching the suitcase)

5) Take a shirt and gently fold the sleeves (if long-sleeved) over the center of the shirt, then starting at the collar roll the shirt down to the bottom. Put this “shirt log” into the suit case. Do this with all your shirts and sweater (if you decide to pack one).

6)  Pack your workout clothing and Dopp kit last.

7) Put on the remaining clothes

Closing thoughts on the warm-weather packing list

Being comfortable is the most important factor to consider when you pack for your week-long trip to a warm weather climate.  Selecting lightweight natural fabrics in light colors is guaranteed to make you look sharp and keep your body cool.  Make sure you rotate your clothing.  Hang the previous day’s clothing on a chair or on a coat hanger to keep it dry and clean — the weather will be warm and sweat will most likely be unavoidable, so don’t plan on wearing the same item two days in a row.

Do you have any questions or comments about what a man should pack for summer? Would you like to share your summer packing list or how you beat the heat with style? If so, then please feel free to leave a comment in the comment box below. Thanks!

  • Hakim

    What about cargo pants? m.llbean.com/mt/www.llbean.com/llb/shop/19923 or say a short sleeve rugby shirt with a stiff collar?

  • rmrstyle

     @Hakim I’m not usually a big fan of cargo pockets unless you’re out hiking or doing something else on the “outdoorsy” side of things. In a contemporary city setting they look too touristy for my taste.