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How to wear black in high summer

How to wear black in high summer

It’s official, the hottest day since records began has been recorded, and while temperatures have lowered (thankfully), there’s no getting around the fact summer is in full swing and it is hot. The traditional advice for rising mercury is to go for loose and natural fabrics in light colours, particularly white. This makes sense and is actually a science – white reflects light and heat, which keeps you cooler. But black, well, looks cooler. Decisions, decisions.

Well, with a bit of planning, you can own every sense of the word 'cool'. “It’s about the fit and fabric,” says stylist Alice Watt. “You don’t want to be wearing a black hoodie and skinny jeans, but relaxed fits will be airy and literally give you room to breathe.” Materials that won’t let you down are anything natural (stay away from man-made fibres if you can), so think cotton and linen.

If you are committed to keeping things on the dark side then pay attention to what you wear and how you layer pieces together. “A rule for summer dressing is keeping everything simple and understated, especially in dark colours. Anything fussy or busy is going to make you feel even hotter,” says Alice.

A t-shirt and linen trousers make the best all-black summer combination because you’ve got lightweight fabrics in simple styles, but it's still smart enough for almost all smart-casual occasions. You can add a blazer and even wear this combo to work in a relaxed office. “I know sandals can be a bit of a no-go area for some guys, but I think in a simple outfit like this they really make a statement,” says Alice, “plus you really can’t go wrong with a pair of black Birkenstocks.”

When it comes to summer dressing, shorts are always a safe bet particularly in an all-black ensemble if you want to keep things on the smarter side. “A t-shirt and shorts are an undeniably casual outfit but when it’s all black it feels more considered because it’s all one colour and works as an entire look.” The same is true of a shirt and shorts. What might be considered on the casual side suddenly becomes work appropriate when it’s all black. “It’s all about balance,” says Alice. “If you wear a very smart look you’ll be a bit stuffy and sweaty, but two very casual items together can look a bit scruffy.”

Words: Nadia Balame-Price
Photography: Lola & Pani
Styling: Alice Watt
Styling assistant: Toby Standing