I am rather excited at present, and full of good feeling for my favourite season is about to begin. Though others hold their own delights, to my mind, summer possesses the grandest months in the calendar. Though much of my memory of summers is relatively distant – the weather has been appalling in Blighty for the past two – I still hold hope for the coming season being one of brilliance and glory. It is not simply that it is warmer and brighter at this time of year, though that has an extraordinary effect on its own. And it is not because my vanity yearns for a suntan to banish a pasty complexion.
Summer is about the greatness of nature, something which is hard to appreciate in the cold winds and rain of winter. It has taken some time, but I can now say with confidence that sitting in a flowered garden on a clear summer’s day, surveying nature and enjoying the warmth of the sun, is an experience as close to a miracle as I can conceive. As is lying on a bobbing boat in the Mediterranean, dangling your feet in the water, feeling the dying intensity of the setting sun as you gaze at the pink sky.
However, though I am always delighted to see it, summer isn’t particularly popular with some of the stuffier sartorialists. I have noted that the inheritors of Brummell are uncomfortable when the eye of heaven shines. The season not only brings out the worst in others, who are at least forced to wear clothes of respectable coverage in colder months, but also, it limits the grandiosity of the wardrobe. A harsh winter promises a glut of thick suits, silk scarves, fur felt hats; even a mild spring means a sharp three-piece with a pair of natty brogues, but a warm summer means a limited wardrobe.
However, there is a way to plan for summer, and it is possible to maintain one’s personal style when the mercury soars.
The first thing to remember is material; don’t expect to wear winter suits in summer. Summer suits in winter are certainly inappropriate but winter suits in summer are utterly unbearable. Instead of drifting through the season with élan, you will be sweating like a bull and perspiration, though natural, is inelegant. Wear lighter, brighter colours like stone, beige and cream.
Secondly, wear mixed separates. You might not own four or five linen suits, but you possibly own a few linen jackets, maybe even a seersucker, and you are likely to possess a large number of cotton chinos. Stretching your definition of appropriate formality will give you a greater range; wear seersucker with cotton chinos, or a linen jacket with fine wool trousers. Some combinations will be less suitable than others for certain occasions e.g. client meetings, but it is important to break free from the shackles of year-round suits at summer time.
Thirdly, remember that details are more readily noticed against the blank canvas of a stone linen suit. Shoes, ties, clips and pocket squares add little discomfort to ensembles but they can make or break a summer outfit. My go-to ties for summer are plain knits and club stripes in bright, saturated colours. It is possible to get through an entire summer with simply a knitted navy tie, but if you’re like me you’ll be sick of it after a week. I love wearing cotton and linen pocket squares in summer; silk just doesn’t feel right, unless it’s a slub. If you’re feeling naked without your waistcoat, scarf or other winter accessories, maximise on little treasures like tie-clips and boutonnieres.