The arrival of summer brings with it the promise of warm weather and fun activities in the sun, but for those looking to make an impression with their carefully-selected menswear, summer can also bring a lot of fashion troubles.
Unfortunately, no matter how high you crank your A/C unit, the heat in months like June and July can be absolutely oppressive in Cincinnati. And severe heat and humidity can severely restrict your potential wardrobe options, leaving many men looking to strike an impression with the choice between a mediocre outfit or a day drenched in sweat.
Fortunately, however, these aren’t the only options: if you know where to look, there are actually plenty of garments engineered to maximize air flow and cooling while still keeping you looking put-together and stylish. Whether you’re looking to build a summer wardrobe from scratch or just add a few new items that can help you beat the heat, this list has everything you need to achieve amazing summertime looks without feeling the heat.
Number One: Linen, Seersucker, and Poplin Garments
The name of the game in the summertime, above and beyond all else, is fabric selection.
Whether your style is polished and preppy or a little more on the casual side, there are literally hundreds of nearly-identical looks that can be worn in any season so long as you select garments made from materials appropriate for each season.
If you’re looking to pull off a classic tee-shirt and jeans look but also be more comfortable out in the sun, consider switching that cotton tee for a linen one to feel an instant change in your comfort level. Alternatively, swapping your favorite button-down for one made from poplin can provide a similar comfort increase for slightly less casual occasions. And, of course, seersucker shorts are a summer menswear staple for a very good reason.
These breathable summertime fabrics might be a little outside of the comfort zone of less dedicated menswear fans, but spending a little time in-store or online getting to know how they look and feel can have a transformational effect on your summer wardrobe. Not only will they make you feel more comfortable on those 90-degree days in our near future, but also add an unexpected pop of texture that can help push your outfit to the next level.
Number Two: Outerwear Options That Won’t Make You Sweat
One of the major fashion struggles that I find myself facing in the summer is layering. In colder months, it’s rare to see me out without at least one additional layer adding extra detail to my outfits, but on a hot summer day, it can be hard to add the layers I like without also feeling uncomfortable outdoors.
Fortunately, just as before, there are options: you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice the effortless appeal of a casual jacket over a button down just because it’s hot outside. Once again, as it often does in menswear, it comes down to fabric selection and appropriateness for the occasion.
Light jackets, bombers, and raincoats made from materials like nylon (or even some lighter weights of cotton, although I’d advise you to tread lightly) can add extra oomph to an outfit without weighing you down. Additionally, there are plenty of linen and other lightweight suiting options which can help you look appropriate for any formal occasion.
For many items, shopping online is a great way to efficiently compare options, but when you’re dealing with specific fabrics and weights, I’d recommend opting for an in-person visit. You’ll simply be better able to gauge how thick and heavy an item is when it’s in your hands or on your body rather than on a webpage: fortunately, we at Hellman Clothiers’ are centrally located in Downtown Cincinnati and happy to help.
Number Three: Shoes Without Socks
This might seem like a relatively small change, but it can make a big difference: simply selecting shoes that allow you to ditch your socks -- or at least wear extremely-low-profile ankle socks instead -- can go a long way toward increasing your comfort.
Even better, a lot of these types of shoes are totally on-trend right now, and perfect to amp up any summer outfit. In an article about mens’ footwear I wrote last week, I specifically shouted out espadrilles, but a nice pair of loafers is another great selection.
I’m also going to tenuously recommend sandals at this point (after all, they are a great choice for warmer weather), with the distinct caveat that I find a lot of more typical sandal styles to be a little plain and unimpressive. Going for something with a little more of a strappy look -- a Birkenstock, for example -- would be my personal preference, but ultimately, sandals are a great choice as long as they are considered thoughtfully.
Number Four: The Perfect Summer Accessories
In my opinion, summer accessories can be a silver bullet for your warm weather wardrobe, adding little bits of detail and excitement that can liven up even the most basic tee-shirt-and-shorts fit.
Sunglasses are a great place to start: the most important thing to look for when shopping for glasses of any sort is looking for something that compliments the general shape of your face. In the same way that even the finest garments won’t look good on you without proper fit, even the trendiest, most expensive sunglasses won’t look appealing unless they work in conjunction with the architecture of your face itself.
Additionally, a little bit of jewelry can add a lot of personality and character -- personally, I’m partial to watches, but rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings are all great choices to reflect your personal style.
However, if there’s one area of your wardrobe to not skimp out on financially, I’d say it’s here: I’m far more likely to notice a cheap-looking watch than to tell the difference between a $5 or $95 cotton tee shirt.
Ultimately, with a little bit of insight into materials and styles, you’ll be able to pull off a diverse variety of impressive summer looks, no matter your sense of personal style. Summer doesn’t have to mean just relying on tee shirts anymore -- unless, of course, you want it to.
Looking to get started picking up your perfect summer outfit? Hellman Clothiers stocks the absolute finest in American and European men’s fashion.