Warm weather is a great boon. We feel better when the sun comes out. We look better with a sun kissed glow. We smile more whilst the sun is smiling upon us.
However it comes at a cost. We live in a nation that is predisposed to conserving heat and preventing heat loss. Therefore when it’s warm our buildings quickly overheat because they were designed primarily to conserve rather than dissipate heat.
All of which brings the question How to Dress for Warm Weather? If one is able to dress as informally as one likes then the answer is simple. T shirt, shorts and flip flops are the best way to go.
However, as cool as this guy looks, it’s hardly professional wear is it? Plus, lets face it the look above requires a six pack, which few os us have.
For those who have to work or have some expectation of a dress code it is less simple. Over the last week in particular, this has been a tricky question for me as I have had one or two semi-formal events on very hot days in poorly ventilated rooms.
So how to dress on warm days? Here are my top 10 tips.
1. Maximise ventilation
If you were in a hot room you would open up a window or door. With clothing you also want to think about ventilation. Can you get away with short sleeves? Do so. Can you get away with shorts? Go for it. Can you live with one less button done up on your shirt (without looking like a Simon Cowell wannabe)? Excellent. Even better if can you combine all three.
In cold weather we use layers to trap air which has an insulating effect. In hot weather you want to attempt to do the opposite. So far so obvious. However, you will only get so far by shedding a jacket or a waistcoat. You might want to have a more back to basics approach. Yup, I’m talking about underwear. To put it delicately, the smaller your smalls, the less layering you have to contend with, and the less you will overheat. Boxers will keep you less cool than briefs, for example, because they have more fabric. Similarly, wearing shorter socks or indeed discarding your socks entirely may just lower your temperature. The really brave (or risqué) may even want to take minimising layers to its logical conclusion…. You know what I mean.
3. Plan for sweat
If it’s hot that probably means you are going to sweat. So how will you manage that best? Some of us who need to keep BO at bay will need to be more intentional about multiple showers per day. If you’ve been on a Tube in summer, especially if you are 5’2″ or under, can I get an amen? When it comes to dress the sweaty might be better off if we don’t get rid of all our layers. This is in contradiction to point2 above. Sometimes you need a T-shirt under your shirt to absorb the sweat and minimise unsightly wet patches. And God forbid the really sweaty should decide to go commando. Don’t do it. A wet back is bad enough. A wet bum? No. Better to be a bit warmer but at least stay dry.
4. Stay loose
Given the need for ventilation, loose clothing will keep us cooler than close fitting clothing. It is also more comfortable when you are overheating. So that shirt that is slightly too big, or those trousers that are slightly too loose might just be what you need in warm weather.
5. Choose your fabrics
Fabrics that breathe and are cool to the touch are simply better in warm weather. Lycra is, of course, incredibly useful for dispersing heat, and for drying out after a sweat, but I’m not sure it’s the best option here… Instead try cottons and linens, which were invented for this kind of weather.
If you can’t get away with shorts, wear linen trousers. If you must wear a suit or blazer, can it be linen? Leave your twill shirts at home and wear your cottons, especially poplins and end-on end. Avoid overdoing the linen though. A linen shirt under a linen suit is a bit like trying to rhyme maid with made.
Linen, of course, tends to be regarded as a little informal, not least because it crinkles so easily. However, there is always cotton and an increasing number of linen blends available now which have much of the benefits of linen but crease less readily. However, most linen garments look informal primarily because they are designed for informal use, rather than the inherent informality of the fabric. It is possible to find formal trousers, and indeed suits, cut like any other formal trousers but made of linen. They are hardly any less formal than trousers in any other fabric. M&S have a pretty good range at the mo.
6. Change regularly.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to change clothing then do so. In cooler months you might be happy to move straight from work to the pub. In summer you might prefer to bring said T-shirt, shorts and flip flops with you to do a quick change immediately after work. If you can squeeze in a shower as well, go for it bro. People on the Tube will appreciate it.
7. Avoid accessories which keep your clothes close to your body. Braces (or suspenders) are great in cool weather. They keep your shirt pressed against your skin and improve insulation. In warmer weather they put you in danger of overheating. Belts do the same, as do ties and cuff links. Obviously if your trousers don’t fit properly you may have a problem avoiding both braces and belts…. Summer might be the time to make sure your waistlines are properly adjusted so they fit properly if a little loosely.
If you can’t roll up your sleeves, leaving the sleeves unbuttoned might give you just a little more ventilation. If you need to wear a tie, can you leave the top button undone. Try not to look like a rebellious sixth former, though; try not to make it too obvious.
8. For similar reasons keep your pockets as empty as possible. If you have a breast pocket full of stuff it will press your shirt against your chest. Result, you’ll feel warmer. Similarly, trouser pockets full of mobile phone, keys and wallet have an identical effect. This is where you might want a man bag to put all that stuff. Don’t slink it across your chest, however, or you will undo most of the work you’ve just done in emptying your pockets!
9. Where possible, choose lighter colours. Darker colours absorb more sunlight. Lighter colours reflect more and so are marginally cooler. If you’ve been hankering for an opportunity to wear your cricketing whites, this is your moment. It won’t make a huge difference but, with apologies to Tesco, every little helps. Do you see what I did there….
10. Wear sunglasses at every opportunity. If you can’t wear them hook them into the front of your shirt. If you can’t feel cool, you might as well look cool. 🙂