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Clothes for specific weather

How to stay stylish when it’s boiling

How to stay stylish when it’s boiling

The British summer comes with no guarantees. But whether it’s thanks to global warming or just freak weather patterns, the hot days are definitely getting hotter. And if you’ve ever accidentally worn black jeans on the sunniest day of the year, then you’ll know that extreme heat poses sartorial challenges that make a downpour seem like a walk in a damp park.

“You must avoid the temptation to strip off,” says Thread stylist Alice Watt. “You’re not on a tropical beach, sadly, and your wardrobe has to reflect the reality of where you are and what you’re doing. Nobody wants to look like they’ve just been kicked off Love Island.” More to the point, shedding clothes doesn’t necessarily mean you drop degrees.

The better approach is to copy those who live in truly hot climates; cover up in fabrics that beat the heat for you. “Often, guys don’t consider summer clothes to be their ‘real’ wardrobe, because it only gets worn for a fairly short amount of time,” says Alice. “So they skimp on quality and buy poor fabrics in bad fits.” Translation: clothes that cling in the wrong places and don’t breathe. Instead, build your wardrobe around materials like cotton, linen and seersucker, which move cool air in and hot air out.

“Your summer wardrobe is more casual than winter, but that doesn’t mean everything works everywhere,” says Alice. “My biggest bugbear is seeing flip-flops in the city. They’re for the beach only.” If you won’t consider your fellow commuters, then at least pay heed to your own feet – your toes shouldn’t be that close to the grime, discarded food and broken glass that litters most pavements.

For a more grown-up way to tackle soaring mercury, Alice breaks down four looks that will help you keep your cool anywhere. In every sense of the word.

The office with an any-weather dress code

Photographed: Hardy Amies tropical wool suit (£295)T.M. Lewin cotton-linen shirt (£49.95)T.M. Lewin wool-linen orange tie (£39.95)

Sadly, you can’t take a sick day every time the sun comes out, so you need clothes keep you the right side of the dress code without giving you heat stroke. “Fabric and colour are vital here,” says Alice. “If you wear your everyday suit, you’ll melt, so look instead for fabrics that are built for heat.” Cotton or tropical wool, which is woven with larger gaps in the fabric to encourage air flow, are ideal, as is linen if you can get away with a more rumpled vibe. “If you can add colour, try a tie in an ice cream shade, to give your suit a summer twist.”

The office with a sunnier dress code

Photographed: Moss London cotton knit polo (£40)Paul Smith slate blue chinos (£125)G.H. Bass suede loafers (£125)

If you can get away with being less formal at work, summer’s the time to lean in. A polo shirt is the perfect alternative to long sleeves, but be wary of stepping down too far. “It can look very casual very easily,” says Alice, “so it’s important to make sure everything around it feels smarter.” That means leather shoes rather than trainers, and definitely no sandals. Swapping jeans for chinos offers a double-win: “They’re smarter and cooler, so they’ll make your commute that much more bearable.”

A barbecue where you want to make an effort

Photographed: Wax London poppy print short-sleeve shirt (£80)Boden blue chino shorts (£45)Vans dark blue OG trainers (£59)

A barbecue is your chance to relax, eat food that’s mostly charcoal, and push your style slightly outside your comfort zone. But that means ‘fun’, rather than ‘novelty’. Bold prints are perfect, but avoid anything that feels funny rather than stylish. “Think a 1950s, retro vibe,” says Alice. Camp collar shirts are perfect for that modern throwback vibe and will channel the likes of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, without looking like fancy dress. “It lets you break away from the nine-to-five, but you can always cover it up with a jacket if it starts to feel like too much.”

The day as the kids’ sherpa

Photographed: Oliver Sweeney forest green rucksack (£149)Hammond & Co. seersucker shirt (£42)MVP cargo shorts (£26)

Planning a family day out that doesn’t get derailed by rain is a win in itself, but don’t let meteorological good fortune distract you from the importance of prep. If you’re running back-and-forth to the ice cream van in between games of frisbee, you can end up a sweaty mess unless you’ve picked the right fabrics. “Seersucker is a wonderful summer fabric,” says Alice, “because it’s lightweight and breathable. Plus the texture elevates simple looks.” You’ll also doubtless need to carry a lot of stuff to keep the wee ones entertained, which is where a backpack shines. Look for one with plenty of storage but not too many details, so it doesn’t distract from your outfit. Then your hands are free to wrangle the kids.


Words: Nadia Balame-Price