“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.”
That magical transition time between spring and summer has passed.
lNow we’re stuck in the middle of a hot and humid summer – wearing as little clothes on as we can legally get away with.
Hot weather style right now sounds like an oxymoron.
Imagine being out enjoying the warm weather, cold beer in hand, looking absolutely amazing in more than a tank top and shorts.
All without completely melting into a pool of your own sweat!
I’ve updated my biggest and most popular post yet to show you how you can survive hot weather in style.
linIn this guide, you’ll learn:
- How wearing fewer clothes can actually make you feel hotter!
- A simple trick I teach my styling clients on how to wear more color and pattern (especially if they don’t really wear color and pattern!)
- My 14 MUST HAVE Essentials for your Summer Wardrobe
- And a whole lot more!
WANT TO SAVE THIS GUIDE TO READ LATER?
Heads up! This guide is massive! I’ve put it together in a new, searchable PDF format so you can read it anytime offline. Just click below to download.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
If you’re reading it on the site, you can use this table of contents to skip to any part of the guide:
Part 1: The Science of Staying Cool
Part 2: Your Hot Weather Style Gameplan: Build The Essential Summer Wardrobe
Part 3: From the Boardroom to the Beach: 3 Looks to Get You Inspired
Part 4: The Final 10%
Part 5: Speed round! Common Hot Weather Problems (And How To Fix Them)
HOW WEARING FEWER CLOTHES CAN MAKE YOU FEEL HOTTER
What if I told you wearing a tank top and shorts can actually make you feel hotter?
When it comes to 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 heated by your body, keeping your warm. In the warmer months, you want exact opposite to happen. You want air flowing freely away from you.
- Direct exposure to the sun – This one is fairly simple. Sun hits directly onto your skin, your skin gets hot. Get some shade, you cool down.
So, how can we use these two concepts to give ourselves more style options in the heat?
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.
OPENNESS IS KEY
“It’s not about how light your clothes are, it’s about how open they are. The more airflow the better.” Abe notes.
“Linen and its Asian cousin ramie are great for this because they are quite stiff, allowing for really open fabric structures. We tested a ramie jersey fabric last summer that was absolutely amazing in hot humid conditions. We don’t really talk about upcoming releases but we be nuts if we didn’t want to bring that stuff back (even if it is crazy expensive!)”
WICK WICK WICK
“Sweating is how your body cools off, so any fabric that helps wick moisture away from you will cool you off. This can happen by moving moisture along the fiber surface, or by absorbing it into the core of the fiber.
Linen and ramie win again because they do both for a maximum cooling effect in high humidity.
Wool actually does surprisingly well here too because it has the ability to absorb moisture while staying dry to the touch, it can actually suck humidity out of the air around you.
If you are super active in the humidity though, a wicking polyester is sometimes the best bet as they wick on the surface but don’t absorb, staying dry and lightweight.”
“Ramie and linen have one huge weakness, the Sun. The same structure that gives them great airflow also lets the UV rays right in.
For UV protection, merino is king. Sheep stay out in the sun 365 days a year with no problems because their wool is a natural UV blocker.
They use a specially commissioned intimate blend of 17.5 micron merino, and a wicking thermobuffering polyester to create a lightweight, quick drying and odor resistant fabric that lets you stay in the sun 25 times longer than usual.”
Now that we got our quick science lesson, let’s put this knowledge to real world use.
Your gameplan this summer:
KEEP THE AIR FLOWING
Opt for clothes in breathable fabrics like Abe mentioned.
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.
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. (No pun intended)
Go for roomier cuts, or even size up. Give your skin some room to breathe – get a looser t-shirt, dress shirt (See photo, right), 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.
COVER UP TO AVOID DIRECT EXPOSURE TO THE SUN
Sun directly hitting your skin can make you feel hotter (and also give you something nasty called skin cancer), so cover up!
Just remember that open summer fabrics like linen can still let in UV rays, so opt for fabrics with good UV protection, or put on a layer of sunblock. (You can find sunblock recommendations in Part 4 of this guide)
STOCK UP ON SUMMER APPROPRIATE CLOTHES
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 14 Essentials for summer wardrobes, but before I share them with you, one more thing…
ADD COLOR AND PATTERN STRATEGICALLY
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 (really, you can pull clothes at random and they will match and work.)
Later on in this guide, I’ll show you how to strategically add more color and pattern to your summer look without overdoing it.
14 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.”
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
$1000 AND UP
Brooklyn Tailors Wool Basketweave in Marled Grey $1,145 (Peter’s Pick)
Articles of Style Midnight Linen Suit $1,395
THE UNSTRUCTURED BLAZER
There aren’t many jacket options when it comes to summer that seem appropriate. Thankfully, a proper summer weight unstructured blazer 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
$500 AND UP
Orlebar Brown Blue Edgar Slim-fit Unstructured Linen Blazer $495
Havana Navy Plain Traveller $499 (Peter’s Pick)
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 out like “faded fern” green.
You can go short sleeved if you want, I prefer to just roll them up.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
Uniqlo Premium Linen Shirt $29
$50 AND UP
J.Crew Slim Irish Linen Shirt in White $69 (Peter’s Pick)
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.
THE LIGHTWEIGHT 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. 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.
If you’re looking for extra benefits like added softness, breathability, and wicking, you’ll find t-shirts made from linen, ramie, and cotton blends like silk. Of course, you’ll pay a bit of a premium, but trust me when I say wearing one of these premium t-shirts in the middle of summer will change your life.
Here are some of my favorites this season in all price ranges and fabrics.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
$50 AND UP
John Elliot Supima Cotton and Micro Modal Jersey T-shirt $65 (Peter’s Pick)
The loafer to me is basically a grown up version of the Van slip on: It’s easy to put on and take off, and extremely versatile. They’re completely appropriate for that summer wedding, but go perfect with a polo and shorts for some rooftop drinking. I’ve officially made these my go-to shoes for the summer!
The Recommendation: When it comes to styles, I prefer a clean, tassel-less loafer in a black or brown. If you want to push even more summer vibes, you can find loafers in brighter colors like light gray, tan, even blue.
Like most of my footwear come summer, I also like wearing them with invisible socks. (For invisible sock advice and recommendations, jump to Part 4)
OTHER GREAT RECOMMENDATIONS
THE SUEDE SHOE
This might surprise you, but suede is one of my favorite materials for summer.
In the Summer styles lean towards casual. Fabrics get more relaxed. Colors get brighter. Looks soften up a bit.
Suede plays perfectly with it. It adds some texture to your look, and the visual softness of suede chills out your vibe compared to regular leather shoes.
The Recommendation: Any lace up, like an oxford or derby, will be extremely versatile. Wear it to work with a suit, or dress it down in a shorts with no-show socks.
A slip on loafer is another great option for something a bit more casual, as well as the always favorite desert boot.
When it comes to color, a natural camel suede or light brown is what I recommend as a first option. After that, a blue suede gives you a lot of style cred, like the pair below by Want Les Essential. Just be careful not to get them wet during those summer downpours. Treat it with a suede water repellent spray, like this one from ReviveX.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
THE BREATHABLE SNEAKER
I’ve never been a sandal guy. I save that for the beach, chilling around a hotel, or when I’m running downstairs to take out the trash.
A open fabric shoe and perforated leather, like the Jack Purcell’s below, were the old go-to summer sneaker.
Now, thanks to innovations in construction, we’ve got the perfect option for summer, the knit sneaker.
Extremely light and breathable, you can find all the classic styles like Stan Smith, Superstars and Air Force 1 in knit variations.
The Recommendation: White is definitely the most versatile color. If you prefer a bit more color, Nike’s flyknit line has a ton of options in classic styles.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
Greats G-KNIT Sneaker $89
THE LIGHTWEIGHT DENIM
Denim thickness is measured by weight of the fabric in oz. The higher the oz, the thicker the pair of jeans.
Your standard raw denim weight hovers around 16oz. In the middle of summer, it’s not the smartest choice when it comes to pants.
For those that miss their denim blues in summer, you’re in luck. Brands like Bonobos and Naked and Famous have lightweight denim specifically for warmer months.
Tip: Remember what Abe of Outlier said, it’s not about how light the fabric is, it’s about how open the weave is. While these light denim options are much better than your standards, they can still feel a lot warmer because denim, by nature, is a pretty tight weave. A great way to combat this is going for a relaxed cut for a loose fit.
The Recommendation: Naked and Famous is an ideal all around versatile option because of it’s weight and raw indigo color. For more color options, Bonobos’ summer weight denim easily has the most variety of washes.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
$100 AND UP
Bonobos Summerweight (10oz?) Denim $138 (Peter’s Pick. Note: Bonobos does not list the weight of their denim. Reviews I’ve seen online have noted them as being 10oz)
Naked & Famous 10oz Sunrise Selvedge Denim $154
THE SUMMERWEIGHT 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
Bonobos Summer Chino $98 (Peter’s Pick)
$100 AND UP
Outlier Futureworks Pants $140
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
$100 AND UP
Hartford Troy Linen Drawstring Pants $210
THE PERFECT SHORTS
Shorts are a no-brainer when it comes to hot weather style.
Two ways to go wrong?
Picking the wrong fabric, and 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.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
Uniqlo Chino Shorts $29
THE STRAW PANAMA HAT
Abe of Outlier chimes in again:
“Sunblocks are a greasy pain in the ass made out of sketchy chemicals. A big hat, light rash guard and quality beach umbrella are the critical trio for blocking the sun without sunblock.”
When it comes to my choice – nothing beats a classic proper Panama hat.
Breathable so your head doesn’t become a swamp, light and made of straw to signal summer vacation mode.
It looks perfect with a summer suit and suede derbys, or a polo, rolled up chinos with your feet propped up, drink in hand. Hey, if it’s good enough for the original Bond and Jay-Z, it’s good enough for me.
The Recommendation: Straw/natural with a black band is the classic style. A wide, flat brim is ideal for shading your face. Going on vacation? Look for a Panama hat that can be folded and be rolled. (Video: How to fold a Panama hat)
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
$150 And Up
Goorin Bros. Blue Notes Straw Hat $150 (Peter’s Pick)
THE LOGOLESS POLO
The polo shirt has gone through a bit of a revival lately (thanks in part to great examples like Mr. Bond).
They’re the perfect middle ground between a button-up shirt and a t-shirt. You can wear it solo, or throw it under a suit jacket and it’ll still be appropriate.
For the summer months, go with lighter fabrics like linen, linen blends (cotton or silk), or lighter cotton piques.
The Recommendation: A light fabric polo in navy is a great place to start, like this linen polo from NN07. White polos just never looked right to me, that color is better saved for a classic t-shirt. Brands tend to go all out when it comes to color selection, so don’t be afraid to try out brighter colors and textures. Just make sure you go logoless, as alligators and polo players give everyone flashbacks of college bros with popped collars.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
Uniqlo Dry Polo $14 (Peter’s Pick)
Sunspel Cotton Mesh Polo $140
Let’s take the Essential Summer Wardrobe and show you the true versatility of these pieces.
Here are 3 solid looks for 3 situations to give you a bit of summer sartorial inspiration.
LOOK 1: GET SMART AT WORK
Smart casual is all about adapting to the situation. And there’s no better time to flex some smart dressing muscle than doing business in hot weather.
If your workplace is a little more relaxed, you can get away with going with a separates look. (If not, just throw on your full summer linen suit and call it a day)
Combine an unstructured, breathable sports coat with a pair of chinos, throw in the suede derbys and you’re most of the way there.
A lightweight oxford shirt is a simple choice. If the temperatures are heating up, opt for linen instead of cotton to keep extra cool.
Finally, a knit tie is the perfect way to play up the airiness of summer dressing.
LOOK 2: TAKE YOUR LUNCH OUTSIDE
Whether it’s on a grassy hill or a table set on the sidewalk in front of a café, taking your lunch outside is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the sun and people watch.
Swap out the easy choice of chinos for something a bit more relaxed, like these lounge pants from Club Monaco.
This look can easily be dressed down a bit with a pair of knit or minimal leather sneakers. Here, I’m dressing it up pairing it with leather loafers.
Top it off with a panama hat, a pair of sunglasses, and a cold drink for the perfect afternoon.
LOOK 3: POOLSIDE DRINKS
“Summer style sucks for dudes.” Says Jian DeLeon, a style writer who’s contributed to places such as GQ, Complex, and New York Magazine.
“Especially guys who have an average build and a skinny fat body like me. Clothes are a way to sort of armor up and provide a form of wearable confidence and expression.
Warm weather isn’t conducive to that since it’s not layer friendly. On sweltering days I opt for a short sleeve shirt worn open over a white tee, especially in loud prints. Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet is sort of the aspiration with that look.”
Leo in Romeo + Juliet is a great inspiration for some warm summer night drinking at a hotel pool.
Tropical and Hawaiian shirts and prints are really big this summer, and are a great opportunity to have fun with your look.
Find trying out color and prints a bit challenging?
I got you covered.
HOW TO WEAR MORE COLOR AND PATTERN
(EVEN IF YOU DON’T REALLY WEAR COLOR AND PATTERN)
One can’t really truly embrace warm weather style without adding more color and pattern to his look.
For a lot of guys this can be a challenge, especially if you’re not really the type that sports bright colors and crazy tropical patterns. (Confession: That’s me)
How do you do it without looking stupid?
It’s not as tricky as it seems.
I created something for my clients that I call “The Swap Trick”, and it’s a perfect way to start wearing more color and pattern without feeling like you look stupid.
- Start with a solid neutral colored outfit.
- Pick one thing in that outfit (for example, the shirt) and swap it out for a more colorful or patterned variation.
Let’s see this in action.
I’ll start with an easy outfit: linen oxford shirt, navy lounge pants, sunglasses, white sneakers. The color palette,while perfectly fine, feels a little boring and safe. So let’s swap out the shirt for something a little more colorful.
We can go two ways:
- A brighter color or
- A pattern/print.
Even though the choice of a light blue shirt isn’t so crazy, you can already see it feels a lot more colorful than the original outfit.
With the print, it’s kicks it up notch more, giving a proper summer vibes!
Notice how ONE simple swap can change the entire mood of the outfit!
This is really the key to starting to wear more color: You don’t have to wear a TON of color to brighten up your look.
As a starting recommendation, I always advise to start with just one swap to get used to wearing a new color or pattern.
When you get more comfortable, gradually take it a step further.
Take a look at the progression above. Each time, I swap out one more item, making the look a lot less boring (but also getting more advanced).
The great thing is, if you feel like you went overboard, you can always pull it back a level or two and still have a great outfit.
Want some more advice on wearing color? Check out this guest post I wrote over on Style Girlfriend about how to wear tricky colors.
PUSH YOUR STYLE THIS SUMMER WITH A CAMP COLLAR SHIRT
Camp collar shirts seemed to come back out of nowhere in the last year. 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.
Need something a bit more casual?
THE GRAPHIC TEE GROWS UP
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.
Whether you go for a camp collar shirt or a casual t-shirt, use the Swap Trick to create the perfect summer outfit with ease.
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: Kiehl’s Facial Fuel UV Guard Sunscreen hits all the spots that Dr. Wang recommends. Along with being SPF 50+ and broad spectrum, this sunscreen is particularly popular because it’s scentless, ultra light and water resistant up to 80 minutes.
GO INVISIBLE, NOT SOCKLESS
You’d be surprised how cooler you’ll feel (and look) by cutting back on your socks. But a lot of men tend to make the mistake of not wearing socks at all.
Why is this a bad idea?
Because having no barrier between your shoes, especially if they’re leather, increases your risk of blisters as sweat has nowhere to wick. (Bonus: Your feet will start to smell real funky fast.)
Avoid the pitfalls and but retain the look and benefits of “less sock” by opting for a low cut or invisible sock.
This is not the same as an ankle sock, which, as the name implies, ends at your ankles. Invisible socks follow your shoe profile a lot more closely, resulting is a nearly invisible look.
When it comes to what color to choose, I go with the “match the color of your shoes” rule for optimal stealth.
The Recommendation: Match your socks to your shoes in color and opening. Shoes with larger, lower openings, like slip-on and certain dress shoes, will require invisible cut socks that are cut much deeper. Brands like Uniqlo have both options in a wide variety of colors.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org)
- 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
There are two pieces of style advice that get thrown around often that I call bullshit on.
The first is that you need to reference the color wheel to learn how to mix colors. (In the 10 years I’ve been in fashion, not a single designer I’ve worked with has ever used a color wheel.)
The second? That you need to buy a certain shape of glasses for your face shape.
I know, the advice sounds like it makes sense, but I don’t see it work in practice.
I come from the opinion that the shape of the glasses has a lot more to do with the look you’re going for, and less to do with whether you have a “heart shaped face” or “square”.
So, when it comes to recommending some sunglasses for you, I like to go with a classic d-frame style. Rounded bottom, slightly rounded top. These frames look good on everybody.
Seriously. 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.
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.
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 TO DO NEXT:
In the comments below, let me know:
- The most surprising thing you learned from this guide.
- Your #1 tip for dressing well in hot weather, especially if it’s something I missed!
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