Summer is coming.
But you still have to dress up.
The winter wool suits soak up sweat like a sponge.
How can you still retain the formality you need and beat the heat?
Though summer is synonymous with leisure, fun, and ease, it can be a difficult time for menswear.
Remaining stylish while staying cool is more of a science than an art.
It requires different fabrics, knits, and blends. It can get overwhelming.
Here are some tools that will help you stay as cool as possible without diminishing style.
What Fabrics Are Best For Hot Weather?
Lightweight Breathable Cotton
For clothing, Egyptian cotton, and Australian cotton are known to be of the highest quality in the world.
There are dozens of different types of cotton but what's most important is the way in which they are constructed in your garment. What you want to know is if it's woven or knitted.
Knitted cotton is what's usually found in sweaters. The knits of the fabric are closer together and not as stretchy. This allows less air to flow through the fabric thus keeping body heat in.
Woven cotton is the exact opposite. Its construction is a bit more loose with wider gaps between strands. These gaps allow more breathability. The air can travel through the fabric easier, thus releasing heat.
An additional benefit of woven cotton is its elasticity. Because it's construction is looser, the fabric stretches more. This is great for comfort, especially in the hot summers.
Common examples of lightweight cotton include:
Seersucker – Probably the lightest cotton weave, seersucker is slow and expensive to produce but very comfortable. It has a much more distinctive dimple pattern than poplin, giving it a wrinkled appearance.
Seersucker is used for shirts (usually short-sleeved), trousers, and suits, though the latter are usually not seen outside the United States.
Poplin – Poplin has a faint dimpled texture that comes from using two different sizes of threads in the weave. The dimples make tiny air pockets, making the garment much more breathable and faster-drying than a flat weave. Poplin is a common choice for higher-end polo shirts and summer dress shirts.
My recommendation is to make sure that your cotton shirts are woven. A 100% cotton shirt with a tight weave such as knit is not the way to go in the summer. Cotton is very absorbent. When you sweat during the summer that moisture will absorb into the fibers. Because a tightly woven shirt doesn't give as much and holds in heat, you will literally be wearing a sweatbox.
Linen is a summertime favorite. It's made from the flax plant and is widely heralded for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather.
It's a durable textile that's twice as strong as cotton. It's a good absorbent of prints and dyes. Its elasticity is lacking and known to wrinkle easily. The wrinkle effect may be a turn off to some but I think it adds to the character of the fabric.
Another great characteristic of linen is that is resistant to damage from abrasions. It also doesn't retain moisture. This fact comes in handy when sweating during the blistering summer heat.
Linen is the fabric that will allow you to remain the coolest in the summer months. It's usually used in more of a casual or leisurely look but there are some great linen suits that will keep you stylish and cool.
Now I know that you're thinking wool is for winter or at least for cooler temperatures.
As a generalization you're correct. There are, however, some tropical weight wools available. It's considered tropical because it's worsted (medium weight) yarn.
This type of porous weave aids in the breathability of the fabric. It also has a degree of wrinkle resistance. One such example is lightweight Fresco.
In addition to understanding and using fabrics, there are some nuanced styling tips that will help you remain cooler in the summer.
Now is where we start getting into sweat-wicking material.
Synthetic fibers do a great job of allowing moisture out of the body (like sweat) while still blocking moisture from entering (like rain). The most common synthetic material to look for is polyester.
The benefits of a synthetic fiber include:
- Moisture Wicking
- Easy to Clean
- Dry Fast
Look for a company that incorporates synthetic blends into their dress shirts to retain formality while still keeping you cool in the heat.
Along with knowing the right fabrics to sport during hot months, you have to know how to build your wardrobe. It's imperative that you know what pieces work best and an interchangeable wardrobe will do just that!
An interchangeable wardrobe has a few pieces that can be mixed and matched to create many different outfits. The advantages of having this kind of wardrobe are that its
- Saves time
15 Item Hot Weather Wardrobe
Two Hot Weather Polo Shirts
Navy and white are the best choices due to versatility. It's a great shirt for dressing up and down. A polo can be worn at the office, on the golf course, or traveling during summer vacation. The shirt has a woven construction that maximizes breathability and comfort.
It also can be worn in a few different aesthetics:
Business casual – wear with a suit or with just trousers/chinos
Causal – wear with jeans or shorts
Your belt should be made with quality leather that can handle many wears. It should also match your other leathers. Make sure you pay attention to the buckle, too.
Make sure that it's the same metal as your favorite watch and other accessories. This continuity is a great style element.
If you decide to bring different color shoes, try making it a reversible belt. If the shoes are gray, it's not an issue because gray is a non-color and can match with black and brown belts.
Business Hot Weather Wardrobe
Three Breathable Dress Shirts
It is the summer, but we still have to go to work and other semi-formal or formal events. As such we can't neglect the dress shirt.
You should stick with the basic colors: white, navy, and light blue. These colors are neutrals that will work with any pair of pants and blazer that you have.
Your neckties will work well with them too. It's important that you pay attention to the fabric and construction that was mentioned earlier in the article.
There are a number of different types of dress shirts but the ones that will work best in the summer months are:
- Broadcloth/poplin – Generally thinner and lighter fabric that's tightly woven with a smoother wear
- End-on-end broadcloth – Woven with white and color thread giving off a great texture and color combination.
- Seersucker – Woven with a puckered (raised) look that promotes air flow.
- Sweat-Wicking Polyester – Polyester does a good job of wicking away sweat rather than absorbing, showing those embarrassing pit stains.
The main thing is to make sure that the shirts are woven and not knitted. Woven shirts will allow your body to ventilate more than knitted shirts.
Another additional trick to remain professional while cooling off is to roll the sleeves of your shirt up. This is much more professional than a short sleeved shirt.
Three Lightweight Trousers
Your trousers should be neutral. Navy, gray, and khaki are perfect for the summer months. The construction of them should be sturdy yet breathable. Worsted wool trousers have a stellar aesthetic and will help you stay dry. Linen is a great option too but its generally reserved for very casual environments.
Chinos are perfect for hot weather. as well Especially if they are lightweight and sweat-wicking. However, a lightweight cotton or any of the fabrics mentioned above work great too.
Roll up the bottoms for better air circulation, slip on some loafers, and stay cool and stylish. Shorts are an overplayed but easy option for summer as well.
Stay away from seersucker for the purposes of interchangeability. The textured and patterned fabric are too noticeable and won't allow multiple wears in a short amount of time.
Remember that jeans are a poor choice for summer. They're heavy, hold in moisture, and formal jeans are dark colored (which means they absorb the heat).
A Pair of Shorts
Shorts are the obvious choice when it comes to hot weather, yet many men stray away from wearing them. The purpose of having shorts in this wardrobe is to round it out by completing its versatility. Shorts can be paired with a polo or a long sleeved button-down. Shorts give you a completely casual look.
Still, follow the rules about fabric when purchasing and wearing shorts as that will make you even cooler. When it comes to the length of shorts, wear what's comfortable. A general rule is to have the shorts stop at your knee.
I also want to provide you with some other style tips that can help you as you stylishly fight the hot months.
Casual Hot Weather Wardrobe
One Pair of Sunglasses
It's hot and sunny so you need to protect your eyes. Again, ensure that the frames are the same metal as all other metals in your outfit. There are dozens of styles of sunglasses and varying price points. Try on as many as you can until you find the stylish pair that's right for you.
Two Pairs of Shoes
Summer style is a lot less formal so brown shoes work well. Loafers and double monk strap shoes are summertime favorites as they are stylish and comfortable. Notice that they are slip-on shoes and not lace-ups.
During the hot months, no show socks are acceptable and if you want to roll up your pant leg to show some ankle, it looks better with a slip-on shoe.
There are other options that will allow you to remain stylish while sporting a bevy of different looks.
Moccasins – Moccasins are usually made with a softer, more pliable leather. They are usually worn with casual looks such as jeans and a sports coat or chinos and a pique polo. They can be paired with a suit but because it's a casual shoe, don't wear a necktie.
Canvas sneakers – The canvas material is very breathable. Wear these with jeans, shorts or chinos.
Boat shoes/topsiders – These are made with lightweight suede, leather, or canvas material. They are for casual looks only. Wear them with jeans, shorts, or khakis.
One Or Two Unstructured & Breathable Jackets
Guys, it's hot and jackets are layers. One jacket is sufficient and should be a lighter color. I suggest gray as it will work well with trousers and shirts. The type of jacket that's going to keep you dapper and professional while helping you stay cool is an unconstructed jacket/blazer.
A soft, deconstructed or unconstructed jacket is one that has:
- no canvas
- no fusing
- little or no padding
- no lining except in the shoulder and through the sleeve
- no roping.
It's generally made from cotton, linen, or polyester. All of these elements are removed so that the blazer can be breathable.
A navy tie and a crimson or burgundy tie would fair well during these months. They are standard colors that work all year and will look great in the office or on a date night.
Consider two different styles of ties so that you can spice up your look. Also, make sure that each tie is made from a breathable fabric like woven cotton or linen. Remember, the goal is to stay sharp and cool.
Versatile Hot Weather Wardrobe
3 Hot Weather BONUS TIPS
1. Breathable No-Show Socks
Wool dress socks become a heat magnet in the summertime. Of course, going sockless can ruin the soles of your shoes, and create a sticky and uncomfortable feeling throughout your day.
The happy medium to get the sockless look you want and still stay cool is the no-show sock. They keep your legs cool since there are no knee high dress socks under your pants.
Ideally, you want a no-show sock that is breathable. That way, moisture can escape as air passes through, to keep your feet from locking in sweat all day. This is done with synthetic fiber and cotton blends in the socks. Thus it retains comfort and function at the same time.
2. Maintain Your Hygiene
Again, this may seem like common sense but let's refresh ourselves nonetheless. As men our days are often filled with rigorous activity. As such we must make sure that we are dry.
Use an antiperspirant versus regular deodorant. An antiperspirant will help to manage sweating as well as provide a great scent. Sweat control is needed during the sweaty and heat-filled months.
Another thing to consider is lotion. Purchase and use a lotion that has sunblock in it and use it on all parts of your body regardless if it is exposed to the sun or not. Keeping healthy and moisturized skin is just as important as what's covering your skin.
3. Light Colors Are your Friend
Basic physics – dark colors absorb more light. Therefore, they are going to be hotter.
Light colors reflect light – making them cooler to wear in the summer.
Dark shades of blue, purple and green generate thermal energy when exposed to intense sunlight. Lighter colors generate less thermal energy under the same sunlight conditions.
Light reacts to colors in different ways, depending on how much is absorbed or reflected.
Light colors to wear are:
- Baby Blue
- Light Gray