How To be Fashionably Cool

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Welcome to
Part II in our hot weather dressing series. In this article we’ll
cover general guidelines to remember when dressing for the heat
and specifically get into hot weather headwear, footwear, and lower
body clothing. If you haven’t read it already, please make
sure to read A
Man’s Guide to Summer Dress Part I
before diving into this
article. Although I try to make these articles capable of being
stand alone pieces, they do build off each other and are best read
in order.

Starting
Where We Left Off

In Part
I
we spoke about the three things that you should remember when
dressing for hot weather: 1) keep it clean, 2) keep it light, and
3) keep it understated. Building off those three guidelines, we’ll
expand with two more.

4) Natural
Fibers
– When selecting the clothing you’ll wear in
hot weather, always check the label to see what the garment is made
from. Despite all the advances we’ve made over the last one
hundred years, we have not yet developed an affordable alternative
to nature’s cellulose based fabrics. Quality plant fiber fabrics,
with cotton being the most popular, have for over a millennia successfully
wicked away heat and provided protection from the sun. The natural
properties of plant fiber fabrics allow them to dissipate heat and
pass moisture through – exactly what you want when the temperature
rises.

5) Loosen-up
– Please note that I do not advise you to wear your clothing
two sizes too big. What we are aiming for is enough room to allow
air flow as you move about normally. Tight clothing that hugs the
body, especially if closely woven, will not allow air to flow over
the skin. You want to encourage airflow so that the sweat on your
skin evaporates.

Typically when
I wear a sport
jacket
and dress
shirt
, I’ll unbutton my cuffs to allow more airflow up
into the sleeves. I’ll also refrain from wearing a tie and
instead wear a v-neck undershirt with one to 2 buttons left undone.
FYI, this is where a pocket square comes in very handy as it adds
a bit of color and lets others know you chose not to wear a tie,
not that you forgot one.

Hot Weather
Clothing Specifics

Lower Body
Menswear – Shorts, Jeans, Chinos and Dress Slacks

Shorts

Shorts are
casual-wear, period. No matter how you dress them up they are not
in the same league as trousers made from a similar fabric. Outside
the US they are not universally accepted as appropriate for wear
in public; many still view them as children’s wear or suitable
only when worn for sport. Looking to make a strong first impression?
Think twice about wearing shorts. That being said, shorts are not
going anywhere and are accepted as casual weekend and active wear
throughout the US.

How should
shorts fit?
– For summer wear anything that sits 3 inches
above the knee (give or take 2 inches) is perfect – higher
it starts to enter the territory of gym shorts, lower and they begin
to look like capris…..which along with jean shorts men should
always avoid. Shorts should fit with two to four inches of room
in the hips depending on personal preference.

What fabrics?
– Short fabric should be cotton; not only is it the perfect
fabric for hot weather, but its durable properties allow you to
wash it a bit rougher in order to remove any grass or food stains.
As for summer colors, think light and airy. Light khaki, tan, and
even white if you’re not attending a bar-b-que are fine. Madras,
a summer staple with Indian origins, is a multi-colored patchwork
fabric made from very lightweight cotton. It was introduced into
the US market over 50 years ago and has established itself as colorful
but safe summer classic for the younger man.

Short style
– The simpler the shorts, the dressier they will look. Hence
cargo shorts with their oversized pockets, logos, and loops are
the most casual and best reserved for the young man. On the other
end of the spectrum are the sleek dress shorts you see for golfing
– complete with belt loops and pleats; these are meant to be
worn with shirts tucked in and are made from tighter woven cotton
fabrics.

What to
wear with shorts
– Shorts naturally are at home with t-shirts
and sandals. Most of us consider it dressing them up when we wear
them with a polo shirt, so pairing them with anything more formal
than a short-sleeve button up sport shirt requires a bit of sartorial
sophistication. Be very careful when looking to pair shorts up with
garments such as a blazer – it’s a look very few can pull
off. Better to move up and put on a pair of trousers.

A quick note
on Jeans, Chinos, and Trousers – since we just covered these
in the wardrobe
series part II
, I’ll simply focus on these clothing articles
as they pertain to hot weather wear.

Denim Jeans
& Heat

Blue jeans
are not my first choice when it comes to lower body wear on a day
exceeding 90 degrees. Although normally made from cotton, their
extremely tight weave and treated fabric inhibit much of the positive
attributes of the fabric and with no vents they can trap in heat
and cause excessive sweating. The only exception would be very lightweight
denim that has been washed extensively.

Cotton Chinos
& Heat

Often a better
choice than jeans as cotton chinos have a looser weave that allows
more air to flow between the fabric and your legs. A gentleman who
finds he’ll need to be wearing these throughout a hot summer
would be well advised to ensure the length of his chinos are hemmed
with no break. This slightly short length may not be “sartorially
correct” to some; however, it will promote airflow when he
walks, separating the pant leg from the shoe.

Dress Trousers
& Heat

Tropical wools
or high end cotton weaves should be the fabrics you look for in
a good pair of summer dress trousers. By far these are some of the
best lower body coverings for summer; lightweight and breathable,
they promote proper airflow and resist trapping heat. Wool will
drape better and resist wrinkling but is more fragile and less breathable
than equivalent weight cotton. Cotton is usually less expensive,
more durable, and found in more lively colors, but unless custom
made, is often less flattering to a man’s figure due to the
stiffness of the fabric.

Read
the rest of the article

July
17, 2010

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