Summer always comes with a relaxed and laid-back vibe.
When the temperatures start to rise – men everywhere start dressing like they’re off to the beach.
The temptation to dress in shorts and t-shirts with flip-flops is strong, but gentlemen – the rise in temperature is no excuse to let down your sartorial standards.
In this article, we show you how to dress sharp in hot weather. With the help of the 5 principles and the clothing items listed below – your style will be relevant and smart for the summer months.
Ready? Here's what we're covering in today's article:
- Buy lightweight clothing and fabrics
- Stay cool with breathable fabrics
- Protect yourself from the sun with hats and glasses
- Avoid lined blazers
- Choose lighter colors
Let's get started with the basics – selecting the right fabrics for hot weather.
#1 Buy Lightweight Clothing And Fabrics
As a general rule – the best fabrics for tropical climates are lightweight and made from natural materials such as cotton or linen.
- Feel the weight of the cloth – is should feel light.
- Hold it up to the light – if you can see through it a bit – that’s a good sign.
- Natural, light fabrics tend to dry faster – a bonus when you sweat.
Lightweight 100% wool is a great option too. There is a general misconception that wool is better in winter but the truth is, lighter weaves of wool are suited for hot weather.
Heavy fabrics tend to cling to your skin and trap sweat – adding a layer of heat between the fabric and your body.
Instead of wearing heavier versions of cotton – such as twill, which is what your jeans are made of – opt for poplin, seersucker and madras cotton. Broadcloth cotton dress shirts will be cooler than dress shirts made with heavier oxford weaves.
#2 Stay Cool With Breathable Fabrics
High temperatures combined with high humidity can make life uncomfortable – especially for people not used to tropical conditions.
Humans maintain a cool body temperature by perspiring heat away from the body.
It is important to allow air circulation to maintain a cool body temperature.
Fabrics for hot climates should maximize the flow of air through the clothing, allowing heat and moist air to escape.
The fabrics should be breathable.
Fabrics that trap moisture tend to create unpleasant odors. Natural fibers are generally better at soaking up moisture from the skin and allowing it to evaporate from the outer surface.
Cotton is extremely comfortable and allows your body to breathe with ease. It absorbs excess sweat. Linen and other natural fibers also breathe and are good at absorbing moisture.
These fabrics tend to breathe more than synthetics such as polyester.
Just because a fabric is lightweight does not guarantee that it is breathable – a trash bag is lightweight but not breathable.
Some fabrics trap heat by creating an insulating layer over the skin. Synthetic and fabrics that are of thicker weaves tend to reflect heat back to the body and inhibit the outward flow of warm, moist air.
Synthetic fibers tend to be water-repellent; they allow sweat to build up, reducing evaporation, and causing discomfort and irritation.
Silk is not a good choice as it tends to retain heat. Silk can lose some of its strength through exposure to strong sunlight and perspiration.
With its natural ability to breathe, wool is better than polyester fabrics – especially in tropical weight wool suits.
#3 Protect Yourself From The Sun
While it is important to look your stylish best in the heat – protection from the sun’s harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays should be a priority.
Clothing is the most basic form of protection against the sun.
The more skin covered – the better. Long pants cover better than shorts. Long-sleeved shirts are better than t-shirts.
A walk of an hour or more will give you lots of sun exposure on your head, shoulders, neck, back and cleavage.
Polo t-shirts don’t cover your arms and short-sleeved henleys leave your upper chest exposed to the sun. Opt for long sleeves and t-shirts that cover the sensitive area at the base of your neck.
Finally – don't forget the sunglasses! But don't just grab the first pair you see – make sure you know how to find the right sunglasses for your face shape.
#4 Avoid Lined Blazers (And Polyester)
The construction of a garment – the way it is made – is just as important as picking the right fabric for men’s clothes in hot weather.
The lightweight and breathable properties of fabric can be rendered useless if the garment is constructed in a way that doesn’t emphasize these properties.
A polyester lining on a 100% lightweight wool jacket restricts the breathability of the wool – making it a poor option for hot climates.
Blazers are usually lined with polyester, satin or silk – none of which breathe well. This traps heat in the layer between the fabric and the lining.
Unlined blazers and half-lined jackets are your best options in the summer months.
You have the option of slimming the bulk on your blazer by opting for one without an inner lining.
A looser fit on clothes helps in the circulation of air. Baggy or oversized won’t look flattering – a linen shirt fitted slightly looser than a dress shirt will keep you feeling breezy.
#5 Choose Lighter Colors
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.
Since black naturally absorbs more light than it reflects, more heat is retained. Light reflects more off of white than is absorbed, so white retains less heat.
Since people associate the summertime with sunshine and heat, light-colored clothing may enhance moods in keeping with the season.
Perhaps fashion designers traditionally produce summer season collections in shades of white, beige, pink, and yellow, and people seeking to appear fashionable follow those trends.
Whites, baby blues, grays, creams, yellows and tans will keep you feeling cooler than blacks, navy blues, or any other dark colors.
Brighter colors will also make you easy to spot in a crowd. Take advantage of the bright weather and rock some color….
How Can Men Look Stylish In Hot Weather?
#1 Buy a sun hat or Panama hat
Hats are a classic and stylish option for men to protect their heads and faces from the sun.
Body heat escapes most easily from the head – you want that heat to escape while protecting your head from the sun's rays.
Wide-brimmed sun hats (straw or felt) and Panama hats are lightweight and constructed to allow air circulation through the venting holes on the sides of the hat.
#2 Wear unlined or half-lined jackets
An unlined or half-lined hopsack jacket is lightweight, breathable and appropriate for summer.
A lightweight and light-colored suit in cotton, linen or tropical wools works well in the heat – linen wicks away moisture from your body keeping you breezy.
Ensure that the lining of your jacket is breathable.
If you want to step it up a notch – pair a knitted necktie and colorful pocket square with your jacket.
#3 Leverage the linen shirt
Linen shirts are lightweight and comfortable. The only drawback is the amount of ironing necessary.
For cotton shirts – stick with 100% cotton and lightweight fabrics. Oxford cotton is a heavier fabric and if you have a choice between plain and twill – opt for plain cotton rather than a tightly knitted twill.
Herringbone is a poor choice for summer. Although it is a lightweight cotton fabric – it is not breathable.
For a deeper dive into the best shirts for summer, read my guide to men's summer shirts.
#4 Wear chinos (skip the jeans!)
Despite the popularity of jeans in any weather – they are a poor choice in the summer.
If you are still keen on wearing jeans – stick with lightweight jeans made from high-quality supima cotton.
What's the alternative? 100% cotton chinos in different colors. Chinos are inexpensive, stylish and fun. Plus – you can easily roll up the bottom to let air circulate around your legs.
Shorts are an easy option for summer – if you pick the right shorts. Read my article to discover how to wear shorts properly.
#5 Lose the flip flops – buy summer shoes
Going without socks is a summer look – but be careful because there are enough sweat glands in your feet to produce and fill a quarter cup with moisture every day. All that moisture stuck in your shoes can ruin the leather.
Wear shoes that are breathable along with lightweight cotton or wool socks in fun and bright colors. Other options are boat shoes and driving shoes worn with hidden socks. This is definitely not the season for boots.
Sandals are acceptable for social events, but flip-flops are strictly for the beach.
For hot weather – I prefer lightweight slip-ons, moccasins or men's loafers.
#6 Wear a vest or waistcoat
A vest (or waistcoat in other parts of the world) is the summer equivalent of a formal jacket. With a breathable inner lining – vests are your best option to layer your outfit in hot weather.
You could choose to leave the jacket out of a three-piece suit and wear a waistcoat with a bow tie or a necktie and roll up your shirt sleeves. A cotton or linen waistcoat will complement your chinos and add extra color to your outfits.
In hot weather – being comfortable is a priority. But with the right mix of colorful, lightweight and breathable fabrics, constructed with the right elements – you won’t have to sacrifice style for comfort.
It is possible to get a good mix of both – classic style is timeless and not restricted to seasons either. That being said, it's important to look good – click here to up your style game and learn which shoes look great with shorts.
Click below to watch the video – How Men Should Dress In Hot Weather