We Brits do not have a great reputation when it comes to hot weather dressing. As soon as the mercury begins to climb, all sense of decorum seems to go out the window, with acres of pale skin being inappropriately revealed. We never quite manage to look ‘effortless’ in the sun in a way that our continental cousins do (this is not an argument for Brexit, by the way.)
And men, unfortunately, draw the short straw with a tricky triumvirate: shorts, sandals and swimwear. I’m going to focus on these three in this article, which I hope will help you up your game this summer, whether you’re heading to Bali, Barcelona or Blackpool.
Guys: let’s talk shorts
Shorts can be a potential minefield for the average British man. But here are some guidelines that I hope you will find helpful.
First of all, get the length right. Your shorts should end just a couple of inches above the knee – in other words, neither too short nor too long, and ideally, if they suit your frame, they should be slim cut. If you choose denim shorts, no rips please – you are not in a boy band.
Tailored shorts will ensure you look the part. Make sure to choose heavy cotton (chino) rather than linen, which will crease like mad.
Wear your shorts – denim or chino – with a good quality t-shirt that fits. Not a huge holey, baggy thing with a Hard Rock Café logo circa 1987, but a slim fitting, good quality t-shirt in a complementary colour. If it’s chilly in the evening, add a fine knit jumper (keep it fine, you don’t want to add bulk) or a stylish sweatshirt (again, no logos) for when the sun goes down. Chino shorts, by the way, look particularly sharp with a Breton striped t-shirt – this is a classic look that never dates. You can also add a casual blazer to this look.
Sandals and socks – no, no, no!
It’s hard to believe, but sandals and socks had a brief fashion moment earlier this spring as Bottega Veneta styled dual strap sandals with chunky socks. Thankfully that moment ended. So what are the best styles to go for?
Here are some of my favourites:
- Soft leather sandals will keep your feet comfortable. Choose classic Birkenstocks (which come in a range of shapes, styles and colours) or Hudson woven sandals (see the box) – all of which can be worn with chinos, jeans and shorts
- Rubber pool sliders are waterproof and comfortable. These have been around for the past couple of years and will take you from poolside to bar with ease
- Thong sandals are more substantial (and less sloppy) that a traditional fl ip fl op. Kurt Geiger are doing a lovely navy version this year that would look great with the chino shorts-Breton t-shirt look (see the link below). Make sure your toes are not hanging over the end.
If you can’t bear to bare your feet (or invest in a pedicure), choose breathable trainers, canvas deck shoes or luxe espadrilles. A pair of classic Converse in white or navy is an easy starting point if you’re unsure. And to keep things fresh, invest in some footie socks that don’t show – they’ll keep your feet happy and your trainers sweet.
Style, fit, colour
Whatever style you choose – tailored or casual – they should fit you properly. Tailored swim shorts are usually slim cut and made from polyamide. They often come with a button or popper fastening and are sized by your waist measurement, which usually means a better fit than drawstring or elastic alone.
If you prefer a casual cut that gives you more room in the thigh, choose a traditional short in mesh-lined nylon or polyester. These are less formal than tailored shorts and range from mid-thigh length to more generous board shorts. Whichever style you choose, they should be no longer than just above the knee and no shorter than mid-thigh.
Colour can make the difference between you looking yacht-ready… or not. When choosing colour, consider your skin tone, just as you would with any other item of clothing. Muted and neutral colours (navy, grey, olive green) look better on fairer skin, while brighter and jewel tones (yellow, bright blue, red) look fantastic on darker skins.
If you’re going straight from the beach to bar, choose a subtle tailored style (not board shorts or garish prints) which are easy to pair with a polo shirt or linen blazer. Orlebar Brown is great for this as their swim shorts are made from a quick-drying material - see below for further details.
- Orlebar Brown: http://www.orlebarbrown.co.uk
- Paul Smith: http://www.paulsmith.co.uk/uk-en/shop/mens/swimwear
- J Crew: https://www.jcrew.com/uk/mens_category/swim/65tabswimshorts.jsp
- Mr Porter: stocks a range of upmarket swimwear brands including Club Monaco, Vilebrequin and Hartford: http://www.mrporter.com/mens/clothing/swimwear
- Birkenstock: www.birkenstock.co.uk
- Hudson London ‘Matto’ woven leather sandal: available at www.asos.com
- Adidas Originals ‘Adilette’ textured rubber sliders: available at www.mrporter.com
- Kurt Geiger ‘Kalil’ navy thong sandal: http://www.kurtgeiger.com/men/shoes/sandals/kalil-navy-leather-kurt-geiger-london
- Denim – HE by Mango: http://shop.mango.com/GB/hebymango/clothing/shorts
- Chino – Scotch & Soda: scotch-soda.com
Tel: 07833 084864