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.
Which is cool for casual days at the beach or in your back yard – but what about when you go out to meet people?
Gentlemen – the rise in temperature is no excuse to let down your sartorial standards.
Instead of using the summer heat as an excuse to relax your dress code – see it as an opportunity to incorporate color, new fabrics and styles into your wardrobe.
I have readers sending me emails from all over the world – from hot climates like South Africa, India, Australia, and… South Texas, where the temperature get HOT.
A common question from tropical countries is, “I want to dress sharp and take your advice but it's hot and I can’t wear a jacket – it's much easier to slip into shorts and a t-shirt.”
It is possible to be stylish in warm weather?
With the help of the five principles and the clothing items listed below – your style will be relevant and smart for the summer months.
These principles apply in climates where the sun is unrelenting throughout the year and to every single item in your wardrobe.
Ready? Let's get started with the basics – selecting the right fabrics for hot weather.
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 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. 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 the heavier oxford weaves.
Innovations with lightweight synthetic fabrics have come a long way. Synthetic fabrics are suited for performance gear. If you are buying a dress shirt or jacket made from these fabrics – ensure that the garment is specifically engineered for hot weather.
2. Breathable Fabrics Are Best For Hot Weather
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.
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.
Hats protect your head from the sun.
Wearing a hat means you're going to keep more of your hair – the protection from the sun's rays
Read more about it here.
Long sleeve shirts –
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.
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 a 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 or 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 felt hat has holes making to allow air circulation…
Loafers with holes.
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.
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 that it reflects, more consequent heat is retained. Light reflects more off of white than is absorbed, so white retains less heat.
Since people associate the summer time 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….
Clothing Items Recommended That Will Keep You Looking Cool In Hot Weather
Hats are a classic and stylish option for men to protect their head and face 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.
A wide-brimmed straw or felt hat is lightweight and is constructed to allow air circulation through the venting holes on the sides of the hat.
Summer Jackets Must Be Lined Properly
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.
Linen Shirts Will Keep You Cool In Hot Weather
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.
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. Roll up the bottom, air circulates – loafers, have fun.
Tropical weight wool and linen trousers highly recommended. Requires ironing but looks sharp and is COOL.
Shorts are an overplayed and easy option for summer. Click here to read my article on how to look stylish in shorts.
Shoes & The Summer Heat
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.
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.
Want More On Hot Weather Dressing?
Jeans in summer? Find out How to Wear Denim in Hot Weather.
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