Welcome to sweaty season. The next 4-5 months can be troublesome for those of us who have a tendency to perspire. I’ll never forget that day in 6th grade, sitting in Mrs. West’s class, when out of nowhere I felt that first (of an infinite amount) trickle/stream of sweat emerge out of my armpit and then cascade down my side. I wasn’t even warm! It freaked me out, which only made me sweat more. Some of that sweating has faded with adolescence (thank goodness), but the annual emergence of summer turns those faucets back on for many. Here’s some tips/ideas on how to still look your best when it’s hot out, while ALSO keeping the perspiration at least somewhat in check.
Natural Fabrics: wear Tropical Wool, Hopsack Wool, Linen, & Seersucker. Avoid Regular Cotton.
- Suitsupply Navy Havana Fit Hopsack Wool Blazer – $449 (similar to above)
- Bonobos Unconstructed Italian Wool Hopsack Blazer – $400
- Suitsupply Tropical Wool Suits – $449
- J. Crew Unconstructed Irish Linen/Cotton Sportcoats – $198
- Spier and Mackay Tropical Wool Suits – $398
- Suitsupply Linen Sportcoat – $449
- Banana Republic Madras Blazer – $400
- Spier & Mackay Fresco Dress Trousers – $178
- J. Crew Slim Seersucker Short-Sleeve Shirt – $69.50
- J. Crew Baird McNutt Irish Linen Shirts – $89.50
- Proof 72 Hour Merino Polo – $88
Seems obvious, but a lot of guys don’t really know what’s truly cool and what’s not. Avoid (most) cotton when it’s hot. Why? Because cotton holds onto moisture. It doesn’t wick, and it dries incredibly slow. So if you’re the type to sweat and then sweat more because you just can’t mentally get over the fact that you’re damp in certain pits and other places… avoid cotton like the plague. You’ll never dry out. Seersucker is good because of the puckers providing airflow. But heavy chino, denim, and other cottons are the worst in the heat. Especially those with stiff, stuffy non-iron finishes.
Tech-wear: Embrace it. And invest in the GOOD stuff.
- Rhone Delta Pique Polo – $88
- Old Navy StretchTech Go-Dry Cool Chino Shorts for Men – $25ish
- Rhone Commuter Shirts – $128
- Lululemon Warpstreme Commission or ABC Pants – $128
Those four items above are as good as it gets. And yes, some of them are super expensive. I can hear the trolls now: “Oh shut up Joe, you’re just trying to sell cheap polyester, high-margin junk.” Thanks. I love you too. WTF man, you try being an affordable-style blogger recommending $128 shirts and pants that are so popular THEY’RE NEVER IN FREAKING STOCK. That’s not exactly a path to success. This stuff gets recommended because it freaking works. Avoid the cheap pretenders as well as mainly cotton “tech” stuff that just doesn’t live up to its own hype.
Wear Tech-Fabric Underwear
- Ex-Officio Give-n-go- briefs or boxer briefs – $20ish
- UNIQLO Airism Boxer Briefs – $14.90
- Under Armour Men’s UA Tech Mesh 6″ Boxerjock 2-Pack – $33.97 ($45)
A specific call out because it’s that important. Cotton briefs are not gonna be your friend in the hot months. Whatcha-gonna-do, brother, when swamp-arse runs rampant all over you… and your underwear has zero chance of drying while you’re still wearing it? That’s the problem with cotton. Yes cotton is cheap. But it’s awful when it comes to sweat retention. Go with wicking, quick drying tech for underwear. It’ll make all the difference. Promise.
Cut your hair short. Real short.
So who out of the two seen above is gonna get the cooling effects of air hitting their scalp? Right. A very short back and sides, + finger length on top with a little texture looks great. See Daniel Craig, above. You could also go for the full buzz, although that could be too big of a leap for those sporting some Q levels of hair.
Hydrate. No really. Drink more water.
Think of hydration as your internal cooling system. If you’re dehydrated (like most of us are), it’s like trying to run an air conditioner that’s low on coolant. It’ll sputter and cough and work hard, but it won’t actually be crisp and cool until you get it recharged. That’s what water does. Plain ol’ H2O avoids the sugar most/all sports drinks come with, but in a pinch, try Liquid IV. It still has some sugar, but putting a packet of it in a 32 oz nalgene full of water (and then drinking it over an hour or so) really does seem to work.
Switch out your leather watch strap for a fabric NATO
The pick: Crown & Buckle Supreme NATO straps – $34
A leather watch strap can get funky and sticky right-quick during the hotter months. A fabric NATO should breathe a bit better, plus, it’s a cheap and easy way to work some color, stripes, and more frequent varied style into a favorite time-piece.
Favor suitcoats and blazers with little to no lining
- Bonobos Unconstructed Linen & Linen Cotton Blazers – $450
- Bonobos Unconstructed Hopsack Wool Blazers – $400
- Spier & Mackay Hopsack Wool 1/4 lined Sportcoats – $348
- Banana Republic FACTORY Linen/Cotton Sportcoat – $150ish
Even the best linings can trap heat. There was once a misconception that an unlined jacket was cheap. It’s not. It’s actually really hard and more expensive to make a jacket with little to no lining. It takes much more work to perfectly finish every last seam. There’s just nowhere to hide any imperfections. The Bonobos Unconstructed Blazer (in its many iterations and fabrics) is the current gold standard, but Spier also does a terrific job with quarter/butterfly lined jackets.
Take ONLY cool or COLD (!!) showers.
NO. HOT. SHOWERS. This time of year. You don’t have to go ice-cold, but starting warm and then slowly backing off the heat throughout your shower makes an unignorable difference.
Use a face moisturizer with SPF… and don’t forget your ears
- Jack Black Double-Duty Face Moisturizer SPF – $48 / 8.5 fl oz
- Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream w/ SPF 30 – $62 / 125 ml
I used to wash the ever living begeezus out of my face because I thought my skin was oily, only to have it shine right back up and feel gross soon after that scrubbing. I never used a moisturizer, I was using harsh bar soap, and the end result was parched skin that got glossy and sweaty because my epidermis was trying to re-balance itself. So yeah, use a gentle-ish face wash, and moisturize. Use one with sunscreen in it. We’ve all felt the hot-hot-heat rising off sunburned skin in the past. And don’t forget your ears.
Wear breathable merino wool or merino-blend socks.
- Nordstrom Merino Wool Blend Dress Socks – $12.50
- Allen Edmonds made in the USA Merino Cool Socks – $20ish
- Made in Italy Taylor Stitch Merino Blend Socks – $22.50 midweight
- Bombas Merino Wool “Golf” Socks – $22 for those that prefer thicker/more cushioning
When we were kids, wool socks were the heavy, itchy kind. Now we know there’s a big difference between those bulky winter wool socks, and the lightweight, breathable merino kind. Cotton socks will hold onto whatever sweat your feet crank out on a hot day, making your overall body uncomfortable. Wool socks will wick that moisture away from your skin, keeping you cooler, and more likely to be blister free.
Meditate (reducing cortisol through amygdala control)
“Wait, what? Meditate? This post has taken a hard hippie-dippy left turn.”
Stay with me. There’s some research indicating that anxiety originates in two main parts of the brain. The cortex (thinking), and the amygdala (feeling/lizard brain.) And this research seems to indicate that using one section of your brain to try and control the other just doesn’t always work. Trying to out-think a cortisol dump brough on by an amygdala response is pretty difficult. Say, if someone sneaks up behind you and sets off a firecracker, it’s gonna be real hard to out-think that biological response you have. That’s oversimplifying, but to put it bluntly: 21st century modern life really takes a toll on our amygdala. They don’t call it the “doom scroll” for nothing. One way to slowly adjust that response down is through meditation. It takes the foot off the lizard-brain gas, and gives that bit of your brain a much needed break. And the effects are cumulative. If you have anxiety and often feel uneasy (sweating/stressed/tight chest) and can’t explain quite why (ME TOO!), that’s probably your amygdala. Consistent, daily meditation (start with just 3 minutes, I use headspace) can help immensely. And one of the benefits is less sweat. For real.
Carry a bandana for sweat management
This sorta goes back to the meditation thing, but if you’re the type to have random cortisol drops and break out into nervous sweats, having a bandana on hand might as well be a parachute. Because otherwise it can be a bit self perpetuating. You start sweating and aren’t sure why, and then you get self-conscious about the sweat, and so you sweat some more. Taking out a bandana and mopping up your forehead and back of your neck can feel like a “loss” to those of us who have this happen to them, but holy moly can it put the brakes on a cycle that can be otherwise tough to get out of. That… and bandanas are just handy.
Go easy on the Coffee/Caffeine
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 fires your nervous system up and thus forces your body to cool down through sweat. Add that on top of the fact that, y’know, it’s hot, and you’re pumping your body full of sweat-juice.
Cut back on the booze
“Wait, if caffeine is a stimulant and makes you sweat, then why does alcohol (which is a depressant) do the same?” Because your body freaks the f*ck out when you drink. In an attempt to maintain homeostasis (the delicate balance of chemicals in your body), your body goes into overdrive fighting off the sleepy, slow-down, numbing effects of booze. Anyone who has woken up at 3am like their bed was a furnace after a night of drinking and then can’t get back to sleep can vouch for this. Mix in an alcohol-free weakend every now and again. Shown above is actually a mocktail. A little Brew Dr. “clear mind” Kombucha, some Ritual Whiskey Alternative (don’t get your hopes up whiskey-snobs), and a splash of Stirrings Orange Bitters. Slap some mint, pour over ice, and you’re on your way.
Wear a tech polo under your suit/sportcoat instead of a dress shirt
A polo under a suit or sportcoat will never look as sharp as a dress shirt. But it sure as heck feels great when the temperatures rise. When it’s hot, like real hot, a personal uniform of a sharp, breathable, wicking, not-too-techy looking polo (try the Rhone Delta Pique or UNIQLO’s airism with the button down collar), some favorite tech pants (lululemon Warpstreme), and a lightweight wool blazer is nothing short of ideal. It feels great. And it looks pretty good too. Tenet proved this.
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 (are those still around?) The age of slimmer is better is over. Skinny jeans are dead. Some would argue they never shoulda been “alive” to begin with. But clothes with a little more space are “in” right now, and that’s certainly welcome during a long hot summer.
Good luck this summer as we roll into the real hot stuff. And remember… it’s just sweat. We’re supposed to sweat. It’s really not that big of a deal (drip drip…NSFW lyrics). That said, sweating an unusual amount could be a sign of any number of medical conditions. Even if that medical condition is, in fact, sweating a ton. I’m gonna sound like a nagging aunt here, but if you notice your body doing something out of the ordinary, talk to your Doctor. Please? Most of us guys aren’t good at doing that. But yeah, talk to your Doc. Cool? Cool. Stay frosty, fellas.