It can be really hard to dress well when the mercury rises to Mercury-like levels. BUT… it can be done. Add your tips for dressing well during the summer, while not turning into a puddle of sweat in the process, in the comments at the bottom of this post. Now, eyes off the thermometer. (nsfw-ish)
#1. Pick the right fabrics.
Seersucker. Lightweight cottons like madras. Linen. Tropical wool. All are designed (by humans, or nature) to breathe and keep you cool. The pucker of seersucker creates air channels. Cotton can hold onto moisture, but if it’s lightweight, lifts easily off the skin with a breeze. Linen is as breezy as it gets, and tropical wool (lighter & thinner than standard wool suiting fabrics) breathes and wicks. Avoid the heavy & stiff stuff (even if it is cotton) and embrace the wrinkles of the lighter, natural stuff.
#2. Embrace the usage of polos under your blazers.
The short-sleeve dress shirt is usually avoided by all but Homer Simpson and doorbell-ringing religious representatives, but a non-logo’d polo in a trim cut shouldn’t be considered as the same. Pick one that’s solid in color, has a deeper placket if possible (those lines elongates the torso), and one with a collar that won’t get unruly against the lapels. It should look great with the blazer on, and if you’ve got to take off the jacket, it looks more natural in hot weather than a long sleeve shirt.
#3. Lose the all-cotton undershirt.
First, sweat doesn’t cause those yellow stains. It’s aluminum based anti-antiperspirant. And second, the hard truth is that an all-cotton undershirt just doesn’t provide any real benefits to most. All it does is suck up and hold the moisture in your pits… reminding you, all day, that you’ve got wet pits. Which for some of us, that simple idea makes us sweat even more. It’s a never ending cycle of madness. Even when your body cools down? The cotton is still damp. Because it’s cotton. WET PITS. It’s a tough thing to bail on (it’s a habit many of us developed as kids), but try, just try, skipping the undershirt for a day. Or, go with a wicking & fast drying synthetic undershirt (above: UNIQLO Airism – $12.90, Under Armour – $35 for 2)
#4. Cool off… in the shower.
No hot showers this time of year. It just seems to raise your core temp, and as soon as you get out of the shower you start to sweat. Start off warm (not hot) and slowly turn the water down as you acclimate. Finish off with a burst of water cold enough to deflate your lungs (and send other pieces/parts scurrying for cover).
#5 Favor jackets with less lining
A blazer’s shell can be made of something ultra-breathable like linen, but if the interior is fully lined in a crappy, plastic-bag like polyester, you’re gonna feel like you’re wearing… wait for it… a plastic bag. An unlined wool blazer will be cooler than a linen or cotton blazer that’s fully lined in polyester. Look for jackets that are unlined or partially lined, like UNIQLO’s cotton/linen blazer, B.R.’s double breasted linen/cotton, or the J. Crew Ludlow in Italian Cotton (if you can find it). If it is lined, make sure it’s in something that at least breathes a little bit, like Bemberg Rayon or Acetate.
#6 Avoid non-iron / wrinkle-free shirts
Ever wonder why higher end shirt-makers (think ratio/clothing, ledbury, etc…) don’t usually, if ever, make non-iron shirts? It might have something to do with not wanting to dip all that effort into a vat of who knows what. Yes, some wrinkle-free / easy care shirts are light, flexible, and cool. But others have been treated to death, and now feel more like a crappy, scratchy, stuffy synthetic hybrid fabric. Save the non-irons for the seasons that don’t end in “ummer”.
#7 Unbutton your shirt cuffs.
It’s a little thing, but it seems to help in a pinch. The theory behind some putting cologne/perfume on their wrists, is that the blood flow in that area produces heat, and thus releases the scent slowly over time. Is that B.S.? Maybe. But unbuttoning your shirt sleeves (even if they’re under a blazer) tends to increase airflow up your arms.
#8 Go easy on the Coffee
If you’re downing an entire hot pot of coffee in the morning (or, rolling through one throughout the day) consider cutting back, switching to iced… and supplementing with decaf. Caffeine is a stimulant, which can fire your nervous system up and thus force your body to cool down through sweat. Add that on top of the fact that, y’know, it’s hot, and you’re going to be due for an extra swipe of deodorant before ever leaving the house.
#9 A little less hair. Everywhere.
Even down… well… GOOD LORD THAT’S VAL’S MUSIC (again, nsfw-ish). Yes, this makes a difference. Obviously, don’t go to extremes. No need to slash and burn (and then itch and scratch). Just clear the brush that might have gone unattended in the spring. Even Mr. Snuffleupagus appreciates his summer time hairdo.
#10 Swap out your insoles
Even the most breathable shoes can cause swamp foot after a while. The cause is usually the deteriorating state of the insole, after years of barefoot wear. Even if your insoles are in good shape, consider being proactive, and pick up a pair of these washable, cotton-terry insoles from the German maker Pedag. Eight bucks, and they’re one of the Amazon Prime “add on” items.
BONUS: #11 Wear clothes that don’t fit so darn tight.
Marilyn doesn’t get her “ankles” cooled if she’s wearing a Herve Leger bandage dress. Look, nobody wants to regress and go back to wearing a size or two too big, but opting for a “straight” fit instead of a slim or skinny fit this time of year wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Circulation increases. It’s tough for a garment to catch a breeze if it’s painted on.
Your turn guys. What are your strategies for staying cool, while looking your best, during the hottest time of the year? Leave it all in the comments section below.