Summers in the South evoke dinner parties by the pool, the sweet scent of magnolias and ultimately, higher temps and humidity ushered in each Memorial Day weekend. With the sweltering heat the season brings, it’s understandable why most guys look for any viable justification to shed a layer or two and find themselves outfitted in a golf polo and khakis or, at best, a button-down shirt a third of the year. And while we can’t argue the comfort factor that choice brings, a gentleman should always consider how best to maximize his effect on the audience with which he surrounds himself.
As the mercury rises, consider these few tips to help up your sartorial game this summer while staying relatively cool during the hottest months of the year:
The Fundamental Fabrics Factor
Not all fabrics are created equal, especially where 80+ degree temps are concerned. Those moisture wicking fabrics may seem like a bright idea for the gym, but they aren’t meant for all day wear and most are made from man-made rayon and polyester blends with chemical finishes applied to the fabrics post production. Instead, opt for options in natural, more breathable fabrics, like cotton, linen, silk, and bamboo or blends of these. Thanks to significant technological advances in natural fabric milling, you can have the best of both worlds.
Worry Less About Wrinkles
One of the underlying reasons so many guys choose a ‘less is more’ approach to their summer style is a convenience model based on an ultimate misunderstanding of ‘the wrinkle factor’. Many assume investing in lightweight summer staple fabrics like cotton poplin, linen or silk lead to much more work on the care end as the ‘wrinkle-free’ bill of goods movement certainly hasn’t convinced them otherwise. While 100% linen certainly lives by its own rules, there are a plethora of options in shirts, suits, sport coats, and trousers in wool/silk/linen and cotton/linen blends that provide the perfect balance of breathable, lightweight finishes with the sturdiness and ease of the year-round staples already in your closet.
Another point to consider is the quality at a yarn level as we’ve made it a priority at Roosevelt’s to invest in pieces for the shop in premium long-staple cottons and lightweight, high-twist wools that provide the ultimate bounce back component to keep you looking sharp all season long.
Invest in A Summer Blazer/Sport coat
We’ve gone into great detail about the virtues of the Unconstructed (or Soft) Sport Coat on the Journal before as this investment will be the best bang for your buck all season long. In recent years, sport coats and blazers have been considered a less than pleasant (and therefore seemingly less necessary) option during the warmer months as the standard heavier wool twills, bulky padding at the shoulders and fully lined attributes all led to most warm-natured’s worst nightmare. Thankfully, that era is behind us and technology in natural fabrications (see above) and garment construction have led to a multitude of sport coat and blazer options in store that not only provide the versatility and comfort every guy is after but still look just as appropriate in a board meeting as they do at the club or dinner downtown.
Graduate to A Grown-Up Polo
Wearing a sport coat over a golf polo may pass at the Masters but it’s not something we recommend for everyday wear. However, when opportunity knocks, there is a way to lose the sleeves under your sport coat while still looking like a professional. Don’t pair any tailored clothing with stripes or other bold patterns or colors in polos as those should be regulated to more casual outfits; a solid or heathered polo in a soft neutral color (think navy, mid blue, gray, white, pink, lavender) in a tailored fit, tucked into trousers or a pair of five pockets with coat on top, makes for the perfect summer alternative when a tie isn’t required. The Sunspel Riviera Polo is a shop favorite as their breathable pique cotton is the ultimate balance between comfortable and accomplished. Our Tasc polos, made entirely from bamboo, not only offer a more natural moisture-wicking factor so many guys are after, but are offered in a variety of colors to help round out your summer wardrobe.
Step Outside the Blue & Grey Box
Although easy to fall back on due to their versatility, the old faithfuls of navy blue and charcoal in menswear can sometimes appear drab once the brightness of summer is in full force. Although we aren’t suggesting you go off the deep end and invest in a wardrobe filled with madras and sailing stripes to set yourself apart, we do recommend taking this season as an opportunity to step enough outside of the box without steering too far from it. Consider a windowpane soft coat in a spring green/khaki color mix, a pair of five pockets in a vintaged Nantucket red, a suit or blazer in a higher shade of blue, or a tie and pocket square combo with a pop of color that’s sure to bring life to any basic navy blazer. Or, if navy is your comfort zone, consider an alternative like our Hickey Freeman navy tonal seersucker blazer that could easily take you from day to night on the hottest day of the year.
Armed with these considerations, you’ll be well prepared for the dog days of summer ahead and can spend more effort and time towards building your business and that golf handicap versus worrying if you’ll be underdressed for that last-minute client meeting. No matter your industry, first impressions make the difference. Don’t let yours be the bare minimum.