We’re smack in the middle of summer, which means hot days and a jam-packed schedule that leaves little time for wardrobe changes. If you’re feeling sartorially challenged this season, here are some tips and rules for summer dressing that will let you sail through the summer in comfort and style.
1. Workwear needn’t be heavy.
At times it can seem like the office leaves you stuck between a rock and a hard place come summer; if you wear a suit, you’ll swelter in the heat, but if you skip it you risk looking like a classless intern. Luckily, you no longer have to make that choice. These days you can find suits of lightweight silk or cotton that feel super-light and won’t leave you sweating.
It’s also high time you trade in that black suit for one in cream, grey or another light shade for the summer months. Muted tones of sage and blue are stylish and summery but still reserved enough to wear to the office.
2. Blazers aren’t just for button-downs.
Yes, gents–you can wear that sportcoat for every other occasion in life besides work, and you can wear a simple t-shirt underneath. Look for a fine-gauge knit, aka not the t-shirt you wear to the gym. You’ll be able to wear a lightweight blazer with chinos and even shorts for a casual summer look that’s neither stuffy nor uncomfortable. This is a great way to upgrade your casual summer style without sweating it out in long sleeves.
3. You can travel with a carry-on.
Flying away for a few days and don’t want to hassle with checked luggage? You, too, can fly with a carry-on; all it takes is a bit of genius packing. First, wear your blazer or jacket on the plane; this item is likely the most bulky thing you’ll take, so it makes more sense to wear it en route than try to stuff it into your bag. Next, wear a pair of shoes that can work with a variety of outfits–a nice pair of brogues works with shorts and pants alike. (Again, you save room in your luggage by wearing a bulky item en route.) Finally, pack items of clothing that can easily be mixed and matched; choose a “base” of black or brown for your shoes and belt, then sync the rest of your travel wardrobe accordingly.
4. It’s time to upgrade your carryall.
Summer means you’re toting about picnic lunches and blankets, books and laptops, a change of clothes for the beach, etc. Don’t get stuck toting your life around in a ratty old backpack; instead, invest in a nicer option–military-style canvas or leather totes are an excellent choice. As an added bonus, these bags are stylish enough to go to the office on a casual Friday, so you can go straight from work to the park or the beach without pause.
5. Let’s upgrade your jean jacket, too.
Yes, the denim jacket is an all-American staple. But a chambray button-down is so much more stylish, and you can easily wear it unbuttoned over a t-shirt if you wish. If you’re brave enough to try the denim-on-denim look, here’s what you need to know:
- Two different shades, please–preferably the darker wash on your jeans, and the lighter on your shirt.
- Tuck in your shirt, and grab a nice belt (brown is better than black).
- Under no circumstances should you wear cowboy boots. Roll up the cuffs and wear brogues or try a really trendy trainer.
6. Fashionable shorts do exist.
Please, don’t try to revive the cargo short; let it rest in peace. Instead, embrace summer’s new, more fashionable shorts: cut one to three inches above the knee and slim through the seat and thighs, these are definitely not “dad shorts”. They’re casual and comfortable, yet still stylish enough to pair with a blazer and a straw fedora for a weekend barbecue. And while we’re on the subject of shorts…
7. It’s time for a new swimsuit.
The board shorts must go. End of story. We’re not saying you need to go directly to a Speedo, but a slimmer-fitting pair of swim trunks in a punchy color or pattern is infinitely better than those over-long, over-baggy trunks you wore last year. Best of all, they’ll still look acceptable once you’ve left the beach.
8. Let’s inject a little color into that wardrobe.
Men, if you’re afraid of wearing bright colors in the summer, fear not. Soft shades of sage, sky, lemon and rust let you inject a small amount of color into your wardrobe without going crazy. Brighter hues of cobalt, mustard and jade green can easily be paired with soft neutrals (like grey or camel) to lessen their intensity.
9. Now is the season to make accessories count.
You’re wearing less layers than ever, so now is the time to really have fun with accessories. Straw fedoras help keep the sun off your face and crush flat in luggage while traveling. Bow ties are lightweight and trendy, and effortlessly upgrade your summer style from “so-so” to a semi-formal level for a date or summer wedding. A classic pair of sunglasses, like Wayfarers, automatically make any summer outfit ten times cooler and make up for a complete lack of other styling details.
And let’s not forget jewelry. Bracelets, oversized watches, pendants–all add a finishing touch to an outfit that says “I took time getting dressed today”, yet they weigh next to nothing and won’t make you sweat.
10. Finally: just skip the socks.
No socks with sandals. Ever. In all seriousness, this is one of the worst fashion crimes you can possibly commit. Instead, chill out with low-cut trainers or a stylish pair of brogues minus the socks. If you do find a stylish pair of sandals for the summer months, by all means, enjoy them, but always sans socks. If you find that skipping socks leaves your feet sweaty, wash and dry them, then apply a layer of baby power to keep them cool and dry. You can also rub a bit of anti-antiperspirant across the heels or anywhere else your shoes tend to pinch and rub; this will help you avoid a blister and keep you comfortable all day long.