Summer dressing is notoriously tricky for men, but following the basics and a few clever investments should see you put your best foot forward over the next couple of months.
It’s one of life’s paradoxes that the season which, weather-permitting, requires the least amount of clothing has the potential for the greatest number of fashion nightmares.
Granted, the unpredictable nature of the Irish summer makes dressing something of a daily conundrum, but it needn’t be so; with a little know-how and some wise investments, you can look great, keep cool and not put an immaculately clad foot wrong between now and autumn.
While many men’s wardrobes are the visual equivalent of an E.L. James novel, summer presents the perfect opportunity to diversify from black, navy and fifty shades of grey. They may be ultra-safe, but dark colours can appear jarring under the sun, so consider adopting a more colourful approach over the coming weeks.
Whether it’s a pair of red chinos, a baby blue linen shirt, a teal V-neck or some camel-toned loafers, such lighter-coloured options all work wonderfully as colourful alternatives to the usual rotation.
Don’t go overboard, though: steer clear of Hawaiian-style novelty shirts and, unless you’re running at night, anything neon.
In a blazer, crisp shirt or a pressed polo T-shirt and dark trousers, you can go just about anywhere. And that’s why a smart, well-fitting blazer is a fail-safe, ultra-versatile summer essential.
Summer shirts are crucial, encapsulating the values of good dressing: fine detail, subtle nuance and a personally honed stance that’s largely unaffected by fads. Keep it simple this summer with checks, stripes or plain designs that are both on-trend and timeless.
Style-wise, swim shorts present a perfect way to inject some colour and pattern into your wardrobe. Sure, you can play it safe with a discreet, monochrome design, but, for those of a more adventurous nature, consider brighter designs with eye-catching prints and patterns, which will make you stand out for the right reasons.
We may have been wearing them since we were small boys, but that’s not to say that all of us have yet mastered the art of short pants. The length is, we cannot stress enough, vital. The best advice? Go for a tailored pair that falls a few inches above the knee.
No longer the preserve of preppies and Wimbledon changing rooms, the new breed of polo T-shirt is infinitely more stylish than its billowing predecessors. Skip the loose-fitting, heavily-logoed and garishly patterned options, though, in favour of more elegant plain designs. Take care, too, to ensure that the fit is right - slim-fitting but not clinging –and you’ll have a right to bare arms all summer.
Whether for form (looking good) or function (protection from the sun’s glare), no summer is complete without a pair of sunglasses. While you can, of course, drop the best part of a week’s salary on a pair of designer shades, there’s a great choice of wallet-friendly frames that will do the job for the next few months.
Just don’t skimp on quality, though: look for lenses that are labelled as ‘UV 400’, which blocks all UVA and UVB rays, and give your eyes the protection that they deserve.
The chino continues as the default summer trouser of choice, filling that gap between casual and formal while being more summery than denim, which can feel heavier and less breathable.
While they may be available in every colour of the rainbow – red and olive are particularly popular this season –they don’t always need to be ultra-bold and bright. A light washed-out shade, such as faded blue, is a tamer way to still have fun with the trend.
Whether you’re looking to shield your scalp, face and neck from the sun’s rays or keep your cool when the temperatures soar, the smartest heads this summer will be wearing a hat. For a stylish choice, consider a modern take on a fedora, trilby or Panama. Pick the type that suits your head shape and personal style best and you’ll up the ante of any smart-casual outfit.
Functional as well as fashionable, a versatile bag – one that will carry your gym kit, your beach paraphernalia or even your holiday essentials – is the ideal summer accessory. Opt for a durable design in a dark colour and it will reward you with years of loyal service.
While the season’s official footwear is undoubtedly the flip-flop, there’s a wealth of far more flattering and comfortable options. Tasseled loafers, for instance, are one of the most versatile styles of summer footwear around - they dress down a linen suit, dress up a pair of chinos and even work with grown-up shorts as long as a long-sleeved shirt is involved.
Going sockless can look undeniably chic, but sweat-soaked feet will feel anything but. If you’re keen to rock the sock-free lock, be sure to wear a no-show liner (aka invisible socks), which will avoid slippage while retaining any nasty odours.
No matter what your budget, following these tips will help raise your style game this summer and mark you out as a man of distinction, rather than just an Irishman abroad.