“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.”
I’ve always maintained that looking good in the fall is easy – you have an unlimited options of clothes to throw and layer together.
But when it comes to style when the temps are up, it can be a huge challenge.
Since the launch of The Essential Man 3 years ago, I get a flood of emails around this time from guys asking me the same big style question:
“How the hell do I dress nice without drowning in a pool of my own sweat?”
I’m here to answer that question (and a ton more).
Today I’ve updated my biggest and most popular post yet to show you how you can survive hot weather in style.
I’ve updated my biggest and most popular post yet to show you how you can survive hot weather in style.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- How clothes can make your body hotter (and what to wear instead to cool off)!
- The key to pulling off tricky bold print and color
- My 12 MUST HAVE Essentials for your Summer Wardrobe
- And a whole lot more!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART 1: THE SCIENCE OF STAYING COOL
When it comes to your clothes, your body gets hot in two ways:
- Air getting trapped – Fabrics like wool and cashmere are great in the winter because their fibers create little pockets that trap air. Those little air molecules are trapped, getting heated by your body to keep you warm.
- Direct exposure to the sun – This one is fairly simple. Sun hits directly onto your skin, your skin gets hot.
That means in the warmer months, we want the exact opposite of these two things to happen. We want to move air away from our body and get some shade our skin to keep it cool!
Let’s talk about how we can do that.
YOUR SUMMER 2018 STYLE GAMEPLAN
AN EXPERT CHIMES IN:
ABE BURMEISTER OF OUTLIER
Abe Burmeister is the founder and designer of Outlier. Frustrated with his pants getting stained and ruined due to his daily bike rides to work, Abe designed himself a pair of pants in a grease and stain proof fabric. Thus, the OG Pants, and Outlier was born. Since then, Abe and Outlier have experimented with innovative fabrics, combining them with classic designs to create daily performance clothes built to last a lifetime.
TIP #1: SWITCH OVER TO SPRING FABRICS
A reader asks:
“Is it OK to just wear a long sleeve shirt I wore in fall/winter but roll it up because of the heat?” – Carlos
Great question Carlos.
I don’t recommend it.
There’s a good chance you’ve stocked your closet with shirts in fabrics better suited for cold months, like wool. Even if you’re more of a cotton shirt guy, your fall/winter gear is generally going to be on the thicker side. They’re designed to trap in heat, which means you’ll be a swampy mess by the end of the day.
We want fabrics that let the air flow, not trap it.
“Linen and its Asian cousin ramie are great for this because they are quite stiff, allowing for really open fabric structures.” – Abe
Make the switch and get a set of shirts made in more spring/summer appropriate fabrics.
Linen is a hot weather staple, and you’ll find a lot of men’s clothing for the warmer seasons in linen. Linen can be naturally stiff, so you’ll also find it blended with fabrics like cotton or silk to soften it up.
Other options include: Lighter cotton, ramie and my personal favorite, cupro. Cupro is a silk-like fabric made from the throwaway parts of the cotton plant. It’s extremely breathable and stays relatively cool to the touch.
TIP #2: STOCK UP ON SUMMER APPROPRIATE STYLES
Here at The Essential Man, I focus a lot of building an essential wardrobe of classic pieces. This gives you a solid, timeless style made from an extremely versatile wardrobe.
However, you can’t get around the fact that some fall/winter pieces in your closet can’t make the transition into the middle of summer.
16oz raw denim in the middle of summer? It ain’t happening
When it comes to wardrobes, it makes sense to follow the concepts of an essential wardrobe, but adjust the pieces to suit hotter and humid weather.
This means getting clothes with the right details – whether that’s fabric weight, details like lining, even a little help from technology.
Below, I’ve picked my 12 Essentials for summer wardrobes, but before I share them with you, a few more tips…
TIP #3: LOOSEN UP YOUR FIT A BIT
The tighter your clothes are, the hotter you’re going to get and feel. This goes back to airflow.
Summer is one of the few times where it’s ok to loosen up a bit and relax about getting the “perfect” fit.
Go for roomier cuts, or even size up. Give your skin some room to breathe – get a looser t-shirt, dress shirt, pants and shorts.
Think about how men in hot Middle Eastern countries dress: It’s usually loose, flowing clothes and robes in breathable, light fabrics.
TIP #4: DON’T BE AFRAID TO ADD SOME COLOR AND PATTERN TO YOUR LOOK
Summer is one of the few times where you can get a pass for wearing bright colors and wild patterns, especially if you aren’t the type of guy that normally wears that stuff.
For the most day-to-day versatility, I still recommend sticking to neutral colors like navy, white, khaki, olive. These color combinations mix easily with one another.
But swapping out just one item in your look – like your usual white button-up -for something like a floral print can give your look some much needed personality.
Confused about mixing and matching color? Use my “Swap Trick” to add more color and pattern to your style easily!
PART 2: YOUR SUMMER SHOPPING LIST
12 ESSENTIALS YOU NEED IN YOUR SUMMER WARDROBE
THE UNLINED SUIT
Want (or need) to wear a suit in the middle of summer? No sweat. Put away that English tweed 3 piece and get something summer appropriate. To help you out, I asked my friend Tanner to share some summer suit tips.
Tanner Guzy, writer of Masculine Style chimes in:
“The best thing a suited man can do is embrace breathable fabrics – either those in made in specific materials like linen and cotton or open, breathable weaves like hopsack and basketweaves – and opt for jackets that have minimal structure and lining. It does no good to have a lightweight jacket out of a material like seersucker if a man’s body heat is still trapped inside by the jacket’s lining.” – Tanner
The Recommendation: While I’m a big fan of linen and linen blend suits, but you can still keep cool in a suit crafted in lightweight cotton or tropical wool.
Just make sure they’re no more than 1/2th lined, 1/2th lining will give it a bit more structure and body, leaving the back unlined for more breathability. Completely unlined suits will look and feel more relaxed and casual.
One of my favorite light suits recently come from Suit Supply’s “Traveller” line. Made from high twist wool yarns, these suits resist wrinkles, bouncing back to life even after being bundled up in your weekender bag.
They’re unstructured and unlined for maximum comfort on long plane rides, making them perfect for warm days.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
- J.Crew unstructured stretch cotton suit, $266
- Saturdays NYC unstructured linen suit, $640
- Articles of Style travel hopsack suit, $1545
- Boglioli unstructured linen suit, $1,900
THE UNSTRUCTURED SPORTSCOAT
There aren’t many jacket options when it comes to summer that seem appropriate. Thankfully, a proper summer weight unstructured sportscoat can become your go-to jacket of all trades.
To sum it up – it’s extremely versatile, can be styled with a collared shirt for more formal occasions, but won’t look out of place if you decide to throw it over a t-shirt or polo shirt.
My tip? Think of it like a casual jacket that you can dress up, rather than a suit jacket you can dress down.
The Recommendation: I’ve written about the unstructured blazer before, specifically in navy. I still recommend navy as your first choice. This season, you’ve got a lot of great options. J.crew’s summer weight Ludlow blazer is a great place to start.
My personal favorite details I look out for in an unstructured blazer: unlined, breathable fabric such as linen, and patch pockets, which are more casual looking and a lot easier to use than flap pockets.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
- Suit Supply Havana, $399
- Bonobos Unstructured Blazer, $450
- Mr. P Unstructured Blazer, $480
- Dries Van Noten Unstructured cotton blazer, $775
- Boglioli Unstructured linen jacket, $1,140
THE HARRINGTON JACKET
Every wardrobe I design for clients has one requirement: An easy, go-to jacket. Something you can grab when you need to run out the door for a quick errand.
In the past, I’ve recommended the 4 pocket field jacket. This year, the go-to jacket award goes to the Harrington. (You might recognize this jacket on the likes of James Dean and Steve McQueen.)
What I love most about this jacket is it’s versatility. The field jacket had a military vibe that might work for some situations. The Harrington is minimal enough to throw over a button-up, but easy enough wear with a tee. The angled pockets are extremely comfortable, and if you pick up a properly designed Harrington, it’ll protect you from wind and rain.
The Recommendation: A Harrington in Khaki is a classic choice, while Red will give off some serious Rebel Without A Cause vibe. For maximum versatility, I’d opt for a Harrington in Navy. I personally picked up this Navy one from Bonobos.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
- Uniqlo Harrington jacket, $19
- Polo Ralph Lauren cotton-twill blouson, $165
- J.Crew Harrington jacket, $178
- Todd Snyder Harrington jacket, $348
Guys often contact me asking for tips on how to layer and put together looks that aren’t just “t-shirts and shorts” in the summer.
One idea is to wear a lightweight button-up over a tee or tank in place of a jacket, something I love personally doing. The only downside is the missing jacket pockets to hold your phone, keys, and anything else useful.
The solution? The shacket, which is exactly what it sounds like.
You get the best of both worlds: the lightness of a button-up shirt to add some layers to your look, with the functional pockets of a jacket. A perfect option for when it’s too hot for a Harrington.
Note: You’ll often find shackets listed under “lightweight jackets”, “Chore Jacket”, or “Overshirt”. Key details to look for are external pockets, no lining, and button closers.
The Recommendation: The most important part of a shacket are the pockets. I prefer shackets with patch pockets for their ease of use. You’ll find shackets made from all sorts of fabrics, from the standard lightweight cottons to linens, and luxe lightweight options like tencel. It all depends on the look and feel you’re going for, as well as your budget. As a starting point, look for something in a cotton in a neutral solid color.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
- Bonobos chore jacket, $128
- Brooklyn Tailors Denim shirt jacket, $175
- Folk Cotton overshirt, $180
- Todd Snyder Linen shirt jacket, $248
THE LINEN SHIRT
Even the standard cotton button-up can be too much in the middle of summer. When it comes to a proper summerweight linen button-up, it’s hard to beat the variety offered by J.Crew.
Stock up on all your daily standards, the white oxford, and the pale blue stripe. Then venture and try a few summer colors.
You can go short sleeved if you want, I prefer to just roll them up.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
- Uniqlo Linen shirt, $19
- Club Monaco Cross dyed linen shirt, $98
- Bonobos Washed Linen Shirt, $98
- Todd Snyder Linen shirt, $188
THE PRINTED CAMP COLLAR SHIRT
I’ve been shouting about how much I love camp collar printed shirts for the past few years, and it seems it’s reaching its peak. So I recommend you jump on this really fun trend this summer before it dies down next year. (You heard it here first.)
The great thing about this trend getting really popular this year? You got tons of options, from the more subdued repeating graphics to full on Hawaiian tourist mode prints.
The Recommendation: I recommend you pick up two camp collar print shirts this season, one “safer” option in a neutral color and graphic pattern, and one fun, colorful, bright option.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
- J.Crew Floral camp collar shirt, $59
- Bonobos Rivera short sleeve shirt, $88
- Polo Ralph Lauren Camp collar shirt, $125
- Todd Snyder Indigo Camp collar shirt, $158
- President’s Camp collar shirt, $200
THE SUMMERWEIGHT T-SHIRT
Just because the t-shirts in your drawer say cotton doesn’t mean it’s the right option come summer.
The Recommendation: Most brands will release basic tees in thinner, breathable, lightweight fabrics during the summer.
The most common summer weight shirts will come in a tri-blend (a blend of cotton, polyester, and rayon). These will be soft and airy, and are often what’s used to give a shirt a “vintage feel”.
For something more natural, look for t-shirts made from “Supima” cotton, which is a premium cotton made from a variety of cotton that has longer fibers, making them more durable and softer than the average cotton.
You’ll also come across some premium cottons blends with linen, silk, or ramie, which will add to the softness, cooling factor, and price.
Here are some of my favorites this season in all price ranges and fabrics.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
THE SUMMER WEIGHT POLO
Cotton piqué, that waffle-y textured fabric we all associated with the polo, can act like a sweat lodge come mid summer. Like the summerweight t-shirt, it’s time to lighten up your polos.
While you’ll lose the signature structure of the polo, what you get in return is a relaxed, effortless look.
The Recommendation: The same suggestions for the summerweight tee applies here. Brands will often cut polos in their t-shirt fabrics, so you’ll have a wide variety of options to choose from. My personal favorite this season are the tri-blend LA Polos from Bonobos.
Cover your essential bases and pick up neutrals (like white, navy, and charcoal grey) then add some colorful options after to brighten up your looks.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
- Uniqlo U Supima cotton polo, $19
- J.Crew Slub jersey polo, $39
- Onia Linen blend polo, $85
- Orlebar Brown Cotton jersey polo, $125
- Todd Snyder Italian silk & cotton polo, $188
THE SUMMER WEIGHT CHINOS
The chino is the perfect middle ground, versatile pant. It can go places jeans can’t, like dressed up with a sportcoat, Oxford shirt and dress shoes for formal business meetings.
It’s extremely easy to dress down — rock it with a t-shirt and sneakers, it’s not going to look out of place.
Summer chinos, like all the other items on our list, will be a lighter weight fabric version of what you’re used to in the fall.
The Recommendation: I always recommend for the first pair you get, go with a neutral color like khaki, navy or gray. It’ll give you the most versatility. After that, it’s free reign.
Places like Bonobos and J.Crew have an army of colors for spring summer for you to choose from.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
THE LOUNGE PANT
I first learned about the lounge style pants while working at Robert Geller, one of the few designers who really pioneered it.
The lounge pant is everything you love about the whole “athleisure” trend, without everything you hate. (Mostly the “I just left the gym but not really” look).
It’s a relaxed pants with casual details like cuffs and drawstring, but made in nicer fabrics like linen or cotton rather than sweatpants jersey.
This is my favorite pant on the list, as they’re extremely comfortable and, because of their slightly more formal fabrics, are a lot more versatile than tailored sweatpants. Lounge pants can easily take the place of any outfit you have that would call for chinos.
The Recommendation: Robert loves using Japanese made Tencel, linens, and cupro, a silk-like fabric made from the throwaway parts of a cotton plant. Cupro is silky and extremely cool. Look for lounge pants in these fabrics.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
- Uniqlo Jogger pant, $29
- J.crew Drawstring chino, $88
- Bonobos Beach pants, $118
- James Perse Cotton poplin pants, $245
THE PERFECT SHORTS
Shorts are a no-brainer when it comes to hot weather style.
Two ways to go wrong?
- Picking the wrong fabric
- Buying shorts that are too long.
Linens are a nice option and can look extra casual with its wrinkles. For a crisper look, opt for a chino cotton.
The Recommendation: The trickiest part for most guys is getting the length right. What length you should get depends on your height, so you want to go by where the shorts hit.
The sweet spot is 1″-3″ above your knees. Any shorter will get into brief territory. Anything past your knees is too long and start to look like shrunken pants.
And while you can get away with wearing shorts that hit exactly on your knees, it’s a fine line. Better to go a bit shorter and make them look perfect.
“Hello men- it’s shorts weather now so remember the old rhyme: At or above the knee, That’s what we like to see, Longer than the knee, A juggalo ye be.” – Cathy Humes
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
- Uniqlo Chino shorts, $19
- J.Crew 7″ Stretch shorts, $65
- Club Monaco Cotton twill short, $70
- Mr. P Bermuda shorts, $85
THE COOLING UNDERWEAR
I’m a notoriously light packer, and Ex-Officio Give-n-Go boxer briefs were my savior during a month-long trip to Europe.
I got first turned onto these by Tim Ferriss. Ex-Officio boxers are made of diamond weave nylon/spandex treated with Aegis Micro shield. What does these mean? They’re extremely breathable, keep your goods cool, and repel odors.
Originally designed for campers, they wash and dry extremely quick (Wash em while you’re showering or in the sink, and they’ll hang dry in a couple of hours).
While Ex-Officio likes to say you can survive with 1, maybe 2 pairs, I found 3 was the perfect number for a minimalist packer. For non-travelers, you really can’t have too many.
ON YOUR FEET: 5 ESSENTIAL SUMMER SHOES
Put away the boots. When it comes to putting together the perfect set of shoes to throw in your summer rotation, I have a few requirements. They should be versatile (work? weekend errands? date night?), light (in color, materials, or weight), and easy to wear.
- The loafer: Your office workhorse. Works perfect with a suit that can double duty as your nice date night shoe. For maximum versatility, go with brown or black, and don’t forget to get some invisible socks. Loafers by New Republic, $78
- The light colored sneaker: Essential Man readers will know how much I love the versatility of a minimal white sneaker. But I’ll be honest with you, I’m having a bit of white sneaker fatigue, so let’s use this opportunity to add some color to your summer look. Pastels are really in right now, especially soft pinks. If that’s too out of your comfort zone, go with a soft sky blue, pale yellow, light grey, or even eggshell white. Sneakers by Vans, $90
- The suede slip-on: The addition of suede turns this highschool favorite into the grown man’s Vans. Suede gives your look a bit of much needed texture and personality. It also lets you pull off an effortlessly cool look by rocking these with your summer suit. Suede slip-ons by Officine General, $415
- The knit sneaker: The running sneaker is go-to “running out to grab coffee” shoe. Lighten it up for summer by going for a knit sneaker, which let’s your feet breath. While you can play it safe and insure maximum versatility by going with an all white or black pair, brands like Nike offer some stylish multi-colored knit options that shouldn’t be missed. Knit sneakers by Nike, $150
- The espadrille: Nothing turns a woman off more than open toed shoes. (Seriously, see this study). While you’ll get a small pass when it comes to flip flops and pools, consider the espadrille your shoe of choice when you’re walking around your resort this summer. Espadrille by Casta˜ner, $105
HOW TO GO SOCKLESS WITHOUT ENDING UP WITH GROSS FEET
It’s not just a style choice. You’d be surprise how cooler you’ll feel by letting a bit of your ankle show.
How do you pull it off without being plagued by blisters and swampy feet?
The trick is to not actually go sockless. You just want to look like you are thanks to no-show socks.
Many stylish guys you see walking around baring some ankle most likely are still wearing socks. So if you want to pull this off the right way, get some no-show socks.
My favorites are from a brand called Falke. While they’re not perfect, they’re better than most out there and come in a variety of colors.
General rule, you want to match the color of your sock to your shoe for maximum invisibility. Alternatively, if your shoe has a different lining color, you can match it with that too. (For example, my brown loafers today have a black lining, so I wore black no-show socks).
One last note, no-show socks are different than ankle socks. Ankle socks, as the name implies, end at the ankles. No-show socks are cut much deeper.
PART 3: SUMMER OUTFIT IDEAS
HOW TO PULL OFF THIS SUMMER’S BIGGEST TREND: THE CAMP COLLAR PRINT SHIRT
You might recognize the style by its other names, like the Hawaiian shirt or bowling shirt.
Floral prints are a favorite fabric choice for designers that screams summer, but a simpler solid camp collar shirt can work in more serious looks on the job.
Whether you go for something low key or big and bold, the key to wearing one is to let it be the star.
Pair it with neutral pieces, like a white tee and black lightweight chinos. Or pull a Jeff Goldblum and be extra bold by throwing it under a suit.
THE GROWN UP’S GUIDE TO WEARING GRAPHIC TEES
On The Essential Man, I often advise guys to ditch graphics and prints on shirts for a cleaner, classic look.
It’s not that I hate graphic tees, it’s just that guys do them EXTREMELY wrong and end up looking like they’re stuck in college.
How do you pull off a graphic tee without looking like you’re 19?
Easy, skip over cartoon characters, ironic pop references, and crude puns.
Brands like Saturdays NYC churn out minimalist graphic tees for the older guy with refined taste.
When it comes to the prints, letters, and words with bold type design are a great place to start, as is simple shapes. Finally, photo tees are a great option if you’re looking for a graphic tee with a bit more color.
For a more in-depth guide on wearing graphics like a grown-up, click here.
YOUR BEACH KIT, UPGRADED
From the perfect polo to flattering swim trunks and my favorite sunscreen, here’s your summer beach kit, upgraded.
- Your easy carryall: Kitsune Tote, $50
When it comes to bags, I’m a tote guy. They’re simple and get the job done. Perfect for groceries, even better for a quick trip to the beach.
- The all-in-one sunscreen: Image SPF 32 Sunscreen, $39
Us men love an all-in-one product (You know you have a shampoo/conditioner/body wash in your shower). This sunscreen has all the right features – enough SPF to protect your skin from harmful rays, moisturizer to soften your skin, and a subtle smell. I love this one so much I used it everyday.
- Sunglasses so affordable you won’t hate yourself if you lose them: Warby Parker sunglasses, $95 and foldable case, $15
Sunglasses are essential to protect your eyes from the blinding sun rays bouncing off the sand. Warby Parker is always my go-to when it comes to stylish eyewear that won’t hurt my wallet. I recently picked up their origami case and can’t imagine how I’ve lived without it. Fold it flat and throw it in your tote and avoid that annoying bulk.
- Look like you’re trying harder than most guys: The LA Polo by Bonobos, $68
This tri-blend polo feels like a vintage tee, airy, breathable, and looks great on its own or under your favorite summer sports coat.
- The most flattering swim trunks: Bulldog mid-length swim trunks by Orlebar Brown, $245
Let me be blunt: most swim trunks are ugly. They’re usually too wide, too long, and extremely unflattering, making you look like a kid at the public pool. Orlebar Brown takes notes from classic italian swim trunks from the 50s and 60s, offering a more tailored trunk with adjustable tabs instead of a drawstring. The result is a refined, flattering, grown-up pair of shorts that says “I vacation in the South of France” and not “I’m at a motel pool in Florida”.
- Your summer staple hat: Straw Fedora by Goorin Bros, $180
Headgear in the summer should mostly be avoided, with the exception of a classic straw hat. The key is to get one with a proper wide rim (2″+), which will shade your face from the sun. When it comes to color, go with a classic natural or white.
- The new and improved flip-flop (really!): Flip-flops by Tidal, $28
Tidal did the impossible and made the summer staple even better. They applied concepts from premium running shoes to make the most comfortable flip-flop ever. Made in NYC, the flip-flop features arch supports, unique sole mold for better traction when wet, and is constructed from a “memory” polyurethane that bounces back which each step.
PART 4: THE FINAL 10%
So you got the big stuff down, it’s time to fine-tune things.
HOW TO NOT GET SKIN CANCER
Did you know that an SPF 15 sunscreen blocks out 93% of UVB rays (UVB radiation is a major factor in skin cancer), while SPF 30 gives you just 4% more protection? So, should we even bother with higher SPF sunscreens?
“Sunscreens with a higher SPF should offer more protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is linked to the vast majority of skin cancers, as well as premature skin aging and eye damage.
But the answer is not that simple.
Higher SPF values offer some safety margin, since consumers generally do not apply enough sunscreen.” Says Dr. Steven Q. Wang, a board certified dermatologist and Head of the Dermatology Section at Memorial Sloan Kettering Basking Ridge.
“I suggest products with SPFs no lower than 30 and no higher than 50. In addition to an SPF of 30+, your sunscreen should include some combination of the following UVA-blocking ingredients: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone, ecamsule, and oxybenzone. Sunscreens with both UVA and UVB protection may be labeled multi spectrum, broad spectrum, or UVA/UVB protection.”
The Recommendation: My personal favorite, Prevention+ SPF 32 by Image, $39 hits all the spots that Dr. Wang recommends. Along with being SPF 32, it’s also a moisturizer with a light scent and goes on matte, perfect for men.
HOW TO ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES SO THEY STAY UP
I’m personally not a huge fan of short sleeved button-up shirts. I prefer rolling my sleeves.
In this video, my good friend Barron of Effortless Gent shows you a few ways to roll your sleeves up so they never come undone!
My personal favorite: the double foldover, which is also apparently known as “The Italian” method.
YOUR UNDER-APPRECIATED BEST FRIEND: THE HANDKERCHIEF
There’s no way around it — when it’s hot, you’re going to sweat. And the handkerchief is the perfect pocket companion for the occasional forehead and neck swipe.
Sure, it’s a bit old school, but it’s a lot classier than your shirt sleeve or a bathroom hand towel. (The latter a favorite with many New Yorkers in the summer)
You can go wild with your choices, I personally just like a classic white cotton/linen handkerchief and stash it in my back pocket.
(Note: A pocket square and a handkerchief are the same thing. The only difference? How you decide to use it. A pocket square is for show and should never be used to wipe off sweat, blow your nose, or console a crying female companion. On the flip side, I do not recommend folding up a sweaty handkerchief to use as a pocket square. That’s gross.)
AN EXPERT SHARES HER TIPS ON PICKING THE PERFECT SUMMER COLOGNE
There’s a mental shift your mind goes through when you start a new season. Suddenly, the thought of hot toddy’s, scarves, and beanies repulse you.
Some things just don’t fit in when temperatures heat up, and that includes your cologne. It’s time to put away that cologne that makes you smell like you’ve been locked in a cabin for the last 3 months and get fresh.
I reached out to Rachel Beider. She’s a certified aromatherapist and owner of Massage Williamsburg and Massage Greenpoint.
She’s studied scent at Cinquieme Sens at Pratt, NY Institute of Aromatherapy, and in Botanical Perfumery. And she’s here to help you pick the perfect scent and drop some cologne 101 on you.
Q. Most guys I’ve talked to haven’t considered wearing different scents for different seasons. They just find a scent and wear it all the time. Can you give us a quick primer on what makes a scent “Fall/Winter” vs “Spring/Summer”
Rachel: I prefer warmer scents for cooler weather, and more uplifting or refreshing scents during warmer seasons.
For Winter, [you’ll find] lots of dry wood, spicy vetiver, and peppery notes, like elemi. (Editor’s note: Vetiver can be describe as smelling like earth/soil/dry grass)
In summer, I like notes of lime and bergamot, clean cotton and linen, and sexier woods like Brazilian Copaiba or even light florals like linden blossom. These can round out any scent.
(Editor’s note: bergamot smells like earl grey tea: sweet with a hint of citrus)
Q. What do you get when you buy less expensive cologne vs investing in high quality cologne? Is there a notable difference?
Rachel: Very inexpensive scents should be avoided because they tend to have an overpowering projection (too strong) and annoying silage (the trail that scent leaves behind you). Cheap stuff also wears off quickly, so people tend to over-apply.
Q. What do guys absolutely do wrong when it comes to their cologne?
Rachel: The over application of scent is my biggest no no. Scent should draw you in, not repel you. It should have a very nuzzling and embracing quality.
Some do’s and don’ts:
- Don’t use too much! Your neighbors shouldn’t be able to smell you.
- Don’t spray it on your wrists. The idea about spraying fragrance on your wrists was started by department stores. Every time you grab a new item of clothing and check it out, the motion wafts the wrist scent toward your direction. They want you to keep smelling it as you shopped and entice you into buying.
- Spraying in the air and walking through is a bit of a waste.
To start, I’d suggest ONE spray onto your shirtless chest, or ONE spray between the shoulder blades. (Just reach over your head and spray towards your shoulder blades.)
I like scents on the back for a man, because when I go to give them a hug, I get a whiff of their scent from over their shoulder. It’s not too overwhelming.
Be cautious about the neck, especially if you’re on a potentially amorous date – no one wants a mouthful of scent.
Q. What colognes/cologne traits do you absolutely HATE and think men should stop wearing?
Rachel: I’m not a fan of scents containing dihydromyrcenol, which is a lemony, sharp, bleachy smell found in many “sport” colognes.
(Some colognes that have dihydromyrcenol: Davidoff Cool Water, Acqua di Gio, Ralph Lauren Polo Sport.)
Q. Ok, one of the things I like to do at The Essential Man is bust stupid style myths, like using the color wheel to learn how to mix colors. One I’ve never quite believed was the idea that colognes can smell different on you based on your body chemistry. I’m not sure if I believe it. I mean, Acqua Di Gio smells the same on every dude on his way to a club in the Meatpacking. Is there any truth to this?
Rachel: Not true.
Scents will last longer if your skin is more oily than dry, so that may have something to do with it.
Another myth is that you should smell coffee beans between testing fragrances – but that actually only adds one more confusing scent to process. Better to smell the clean sleeve of your shirt to reset your palate.
Rachel’s Favorite Spring Colognes for Men
From top, left to right:
- Raymond Matts: Tulile (fresh, green, citrus, polywood). $200 (contact Raymond Matts at email@example.com)
- Escentric Molecules: Molecule 1 (sandalwood, cedar, fresh), $60, Barneys.com
- Comme Des Garcons: Hinoki (incense, moss, dry fresh wood), $120, Nordstroms.com
- Scotch and Soda: Barfly (citrus-herb, lavender, sandalwood), $55, Scotch-soda.com
- DS & Durga: Burning Barbershop (lime, spruce, lavender, hay) $155, dsanddurga.com
HOW TO PICK THE PERFECT PAIR OF SUNGLASSES FOR YOUR FACE
Have you struggled trying to find glasses for your face shape?
Here’s a foolproof style that looks good on everybody.
Go with a classic d-frame. Rounded bottom, slightly rounded top. This is one style that’s impossible to mess up.
While black is the easy choice, don’t be afraid to go lighter, like a tortoise (my favorite) or a light brown. You’d be surprised how much it a light brown pair of sunglasses can brighten up your look.
CONQUER MAN JEWELRY THIS SUMMER
For many men, jewelry is the last hurdle when it comes to personal style.
Anything beyond a watch can feel excessive and unnecessary. The great thing is, not only is it more acceptable for guys to rock a bit of man jewelry outside of watches, it’s so much easier to do now with all the options.
I always encourage my private clients to start dabbling with a few accessories, whether it’s a leather cord, small necklace, or metal cuff.
It’s like that final drizzle of truffle oil on a dish – it could work without it, but a little can make a huge impact.
Here’s some advice:
LESS IS MORE
Good rule of thumb: the bigger your personality, the more jewelry you can get away with at once.
My style has always leaned towards the subtle — I like it to accentuate me, not define me. If you’re like me or are just starting out, I recommend starting with one small accessory – a small necklace, a thin bracelet, or, if you’re a bit more eccentric, a pinky ring.
MIX, DON’T MATCH (TOO MUCH)
Matching isn’t about pairing things that are alike, rather, great matching comes down to pairing items that compliment each other.
Think of it this way, if you want to highlight a candy’s sweetness, you add a little salt. (Salted caramel anyone?)
If you decide to stack bracelets, necklaces, or rings, mix the thickness, materials, colors, and styles.
MY RECOMMENDATION: START WITH A METAL CUFF
If I had to choose one piece to start with in your man jewelry journey, I would recommend a metal cuff. Minimal, masculine, and easy to wear. This one is hard to fuck up.
BONUS: THE SPEED ROUND – YOUR SUMMER STYLE PROBLEMS ANSWERED
YOU’VE GOT SWEATY, SMELLY PITS
The Problem: Your pits sweat like crazy, soaking your shirts.
The Fix: SweatBlock is an antiperspirant towelette that you wipe on at night. The towelettes contain an FDA approved proprietary formula that will block sweat up to 7-days per use
With over 3,000 nearly 5 star reviews on Amazon, SweatBlock is an extremely popular and effective solution against sweat.
The only downside? While it does block sweat effectively and reduces some odor, it doesn’t eliminate it. (B.O. is caused by the lack of air flow your pits get.) SweatBlock recommends you use it along with a deodorant.
If you want something more traditional, go for a clinical strength antiperspirant + deodorant.
Despite the myths that still float around, aluminum (the main ingredient to block the sweat glands) in antiperspirants are perfectly safe to use. I’ve never been able to find an aluminum-free deodorant that could provide the same level of protection as aluminum ones. I’ve since switched to a clinical strength antiperspirant deodorant (20%) and have never looked back.
It’s actually recommended that you apply your antiperspirants on before bed to give the aluminum enough time to absorb to swell and block your sweat glands.
Don’t worry about showering the next day, it will stay on. Just avoid direct water contact and you’ll be good.
YOUR SHIRTS ARE CAKED IN DEODORANT
The Problem: Your shirts have cakey build up of antiperspirant/deodorant that seems impossible to remove.
The Fix: Toss the shirt out and change the way you apply your antiperspirant/deodorants.
I’ve tried a dozen solutions on my caked shirts and nothing has worked. It gets even worse if you machine wash and dry them, as the stuff seems to “bake” in. The best solution I’ve found is prevention.
The reason shirts get a cakey build up of deodorants is due to not being absorbed completely into your body. To ensure that your shirts don’t get a build-up:
- Apply antiperspirant/deodorants to dry pits.
- Trim your armpit hairs. Too much or thick armpit hair can prevent your antiperspirant/deodorants from being absorbed onto your skin. Antiperspirants/deodorants love to latch onto armpit hairs and transfer onto your shirt.
- Apply antiperspirants/deodorants before bed to give them enough time to absorb. If you shower the next day, avoid direct contact with water.
YOUR HEAD IS HOT AND DRIPPING IN SWEAT
The Problem: Your head is dripping in sweat.
The Fix: Megan Collins over at Style Girlfriend has a great tip:
“While switching to more breathable fabrics (shout out to lightweight cotton and chambray) is always a hot tip in the warmer months, a good haircut can be your best hot weather accessory. You can quite literally cut off a few degrees by tightening up your sides, having your stylist razor through a thick heap of hair, or switching to lighter weight products. Bonus? It’s a good opportunity to shake things up with your look; it streamlines your morning routine since less maintenance, product, and upkeep are required; and – of course – keeps you cool and dry through sweaty weather.”
Shaved Head: Even with completely shaved heads, Tom Hardy and Idris Elba are great examples of how varying the length of the side and top can make a shaved head look sophisticated, rather than a desperate attempt to beat the heat. (Bonus points for a good skin fade like Idris)
Short-Mid Length: Tighten up the sides and switch to lighter products to give your hair some room to breathe. Save the thick and slick hair for less humid temps (you’d sweat out that thick product anyway). If you decide to keep the top a bit longer (right), have your barber thin out the top a bit without touching the length.
Long: While men have been getting a lot of shit lately for the whole man bun trend, it definitely helps keep you a bit cooler. Take Style Girlfriend’s advice and ask your barber to thin out your hair with a razor. Not into the man bun? Consider reducing a bit of the length to air out your neck like actor Avan Jogia. Fall and Winter’s the time you should be growing out your hair anyway, so just like with your clothes, you should adapt a bit.
What are some of your summer essentials and style tips? Share them below in the comments!