How do you stay cool in warm weather? This article offers you some concrete tips on fabric, style, and hygiene to beat the heat in summer style for men.
When is Summer?
Before we dive in, though, let’s talk semantics. Officially, summer in the Northern Hemisphere is from the solstice on 20/21 June through the end of September.
In the United States, the “unofficial” summer season is based around holidays- from Memorial Day in May to Labor Day in September.
Outside of the United States and in the Northern Hemisphere, summer tends to go from early May through the end of September.
In Asia, summer follows the monsoon seasons of March, April, May, and June. China, though, tends to recognize summer as beginning in May.
In the Southern hemisphere, of course, summer is reversed. It tends to go from 1 December through the last day of February.
With the necessary definitions out of the way, let’s talk fabric.
Choose Fabrics That Breathe!
For summer clothing , you should consider fabric made from natural fibers to stay cool in warm weather.
Linen is a fantastic natural material. It’s made from the woven fibers of the flax plant. This weave tends to be loose (“open”), allowing for greater airflow between you and the elements. This, understandably, aids in keeping you cooler. It’s also fantastically absorbent.
Cotton is a wonderful summer fabric as well.. It is also considerably light and tends to breathe well. It does have more absorbent properties than linen- which is why your cotton T-shirts feel heavy when you sweat!
Wool is more than just for sweaters and flannels! It’s actually an unsung hero of summer wear. As a natural material, it can also be constructed with a more open weave to breathe well.
A note on synthetics: Nylon, inexpensive polyester, Lycra, and other manmade materials utilize a network of tightly woven fibers. These trap heat and retain moisture, which actually makes you warmer. It’s a wonder, then, that so much of today’s activewear is constructed with it!
There are some brands (like Mizzen + Main) producing higher-quality “performance” dress shirts with a blend of higher-quality polyester. They’re pricey, but do the job marvelously well.
With that out of the way, let’s talk summer style for men.
Summer Office Style to Stay Cool in Warm Weather
To stay cool in a business formal environment, wool will still be your best choice. Look for lightweight, “tropical” wools in the 7-9oz range.
You can play with textures in perhaps a wool with an open weave. Hopsack, a loosely woven fabric, is lovely for early summer through early fall.
Formal offices like a law firm or bank may frown upon the wrinkles of linen, so we’d suggest exercising caution before attempting to wear a suit of this fabric in this environment.
As for colors, the classic hues of blue and grey are your best bet. However, in the summer months, you can go a little lighter- perhaps a dolphin grey and a royal blue. A darker brown suit is probably fine in most of today’s formal offices, but we’d suggest avoiding tan or sand-colored suits unless you live on the West Coast of the U.S.
For business formal shirting, look for an open-weave poplin. It allows for maximum breathability.
And, while it may have been popular with Dilbert and Milton, a tie with a short-sleeved dress shirt is not recommended in a business formal environment.
Come to think of it, any short-sleeved dress shirt is not recommended in any business environment!
For a business casual setting, you can be a little more relaxed, and feel free to mix your fabrics.
Perhaps a blazer in linen and some crisp cotton chinos. Or, consider a navy hopsack blazer and some pressed linen trousers. They will wrinkle a bit, but that’s part of the charm.
For shirting, we’d suggest the lighter-weight broadcloth as opposed to a heavy weighted Oxford cloth. Linen shirting, though, is likely not advised for the office.
A polo shirt in a breathable pique fabric can work well on a Friday. For a discussion on great polo shirts, you can head over here.
Finally, a note on seersucker.
The crinkles of seersucker suits recall a more leisurely era, of old money Southern gentlemen sipping mint juleps on the veranda of their plantations. And yes, it will indeed help you stay cool in warm weather.
But, it’s not exactly a strong business image, so we’d suggest you avoid it in a business formal setting.
Weekend Style to Stay Cool in Warm Weather
It can be tempting to throw on a T-shirt and shorts on sizzling summer weekends. However, we’d like to submit a few other options for your consideration
Instead of a T-shirt, consider a polo in the aforementioned pique. Or, break out that linen button-up.
Long or short sleeves are fine either way, as you can just roll the former up. We’d recommending tucking both shirts in.
A printed shirt in blue, green, or pale yellow can be an interesting play for a Saturday evening soirée, especially if it’s on a lake. They are designed to fit more loosely to allow for better airflow, so do take that into consideration.
Pants and Shorts
For long pants, consider a lightweight chino in stone, taupe, or light tan. The brighter colors will reflect the sun’s rays, thus keeping you cool.
White pants are always an option for gentlemen, if a more daring sartorial move. If attempting this, we’d suggest going with grey or tan undergarments. While many would default to white, this actually causes a contrast with the white of the pants and makes them even more see-through.
As for shorts, they most often come in inseams of 5, 7, 9, and 11 inches. While some of it is a matter of personal preference and how much “leg” you feel comfortable showing, we’d suggest playing the middle ground.
Most men under 5’8″ would do well to consider the 7″ option, and men up to around 6 feet would look best in the 9″ option.
Regarding color, you can have a little more fun with shorts. Consider Nantucket red, sage green, or perhaps a pale yellow. If you’ve got a preppy vibe and a plain polo shirt, madras can look very nice.
It should go without saying, but please reserve gym shorts for the gym and jean shorts for the donate bin.
Summer layers can also be quite stylish, so long as they are thin and breathable.
To stay cool in hot weather while still wearing a jacket, consider a Safari style jacket or a field jacket.
As an extension of summer bottoms, let’s talk swim trunks.
First and foremost, know your body.
- Taller men do well in longer, boxer-style shorts of around 7″.
- Shorter men look best in shorts that fall at mid-thigh, or 5″.
- Thinner men with thin legs should consider shorts with a slimmer thigh, lest they be swallowed up by the extra material.
- Heavyset men can de-emphasize the stomach area by choosing trunks with a flat front and a waistband without elastic.
Unless surfing, skip the baggy board shorts. And, unless training for an elite swim meet, skip the skimpy brief-styles.
Most men look best, though, in shorts hitting at mid-thigh or just above the knee.
- Most of us look great in solid shorts in darker colors.
- Shorter gents can add some height with vertical stripes.
- Taller gents, though, are really the only ones able to pull off plaids.
Shoes and Socks
Tradition allows for lighter shoes and sandals for summer wear, and white bucks, de rigueur with seersucker.
For maximum versatility in warm weather , we’d suggest a pair of medium-to-dark brown penny loafers.
Driving moccasins in pebbled leather or suede can also be nice. However, we’d suggest avoiding them on long evening strolls- the light construction isn’t meant for pavement.
Sandals are OK for social events, but reserve your flip-flops for the beach. Fisherman sandals say, “I’ve been to Europe” and Birkenstocks say, “I’m a sensitive guy who recycles.”
While socks with sandals should clearly be avoided, socks with summer shoes is another story.
Socks absorb the moisture from your foot that would ordinarily seep into your shoe.
As that moisture can ruin a leather footbed and leave a nasty odor!
While some of that odor can be removed with Lysol, Febreze, or other contemporary methods, we’d suggest a no-show sock.
Not to be confused with an ankle or quarter sock, these particular devices sit under the lines of your shoe. They pick up the wetness, but can’t be seen. The best of both worlds!
Sunglasses do more than give you that ‘movie-star cool.’ Ultimately, they protect your sensitive eyes from harmful Ultraviolet (UV) rays.
For styling, consider a pair that’s relatively complementary to your face shape.
Good on you with your chiseled features! Take the edge off with some rounded frames, as Mr. McQueen has here.
Rounded frames also work well, but you’re really in luck because just about anything looks ‘correct’
Try from some rectangular frames. That will lengthen your face.
You’re a little more ‘top heavy’, so you’ll want to draw attention downward. That will visually balance you out.
You may want to consider investing in lenses with additional UV protection.
While “polarized” lens may help reduce glare and are good for driving or time on the water, they don’t offer any additionally UV protection.
Sunglasses should transmit only 15 to 35% of the available light. Test them in the store by trying them on and looking for your eyes in a mirror. If you can see your eyes the lenses are probably too light.
Glasses should fit close to your face and the lenses should be large enough to cover your entire eye area. Wraparound lenses may offer added protection; however they are neither especially classic nor versatile.
Hygiene to Stay Cool in Warm Weather
Hygiene is an essential component of summer style for men and staying cool in hot weather.
Wear An Undershirt
An undershirt absorbs moisture, protects your shirt from perspiration stains, prevents your skin and body hair from showing through a fine dress shirt and feels good against your skin.
Unlike an A-shirt (athletic or tank top), the undershirt has a tasteful image and protects underarm areas.
The fabric absorbs perspiration, which then evaporates which physicists call a cooling process.
For an excellent, Made-in-the-USA undershirt, head on over to our article on RibbedTee.
Deodorants and Fragrance
Powder (talcum or baby) sprinkled on your groin or armpits can disperse moisture and help you stay cool in warm weather.
Deodorant and antiperspirant becomes more important during the summertime! We suggest one with little to no fragrance and one that does not contain aluminum.
While the scientific consensus is inconclusive on the pore-blocking, antiperspirant properties of aluminum, we can say an aluminum-free deodorant reduces the risk of yellowing under the armpits of shirts.
That’s always a good thing to stay cool in warm weather!
A Final Note to Stay Cool in Warm Weather: Be Kind to Your Body
Water replenishes fluids, controls body temperature, and ultimately helps you stay cool in warm weather.
So drink plenty of water, go easy on alcohol and caffeine, and eat frequent small meals. Heavy, rich foods require more fluid to digest- which makes it harder to replace fluids lost through sweat.
Fruits and vegetables have high water contents, which also aid in replacement. As delicious as that cheeseburger is, the high protein content also speeds up dehydration.
Enjoy caffeine and alcohol in moderation, as both sap up water.
Exercise less outdoors and avoid exercising during the warm, middle part of the day. Perhaps try a run in the early morning.
As a final note, do remember to use sunscreen. It’s an essential component to protecting your skin from increasingly harmful rays.
Thanks for reading, and we do hope this guide helps you stay cool, dry, and stylish in the summer swelter!