It’s hot out and you wish you could be in nothing but your underwear, but you have to be around people and look professional.
These are the essential things you should know when picking out your summer wardrobe.
Pick The Right Fabrics
Fabrics are the most important aspect to consider when you want to look hawt when it’s hot. You want the fabrics you wear to be made of natural fibers, constructed with breathable weaves, and feel lightweight.
Natural fibers wick away sweat and tend to dry faster; breathable weaves allow air to flow to your skin and cool you off; and lightweight materials keep you from being too insulated. No matter what you’re wearing, you’ll want it to be made of these fabrics:
- Cotton (poplin, seersucker, madras)
- Wool (100% lightweight or tropical weaves)
Avoid heavier versions of cotton, like twill and oxford weaves, and skip the silks and synthetics, like polyester. These heavy fabrics will cling to your skin and trap sweat, making you feel warmer and less comfortable.
Pants should be 100% cotton chinos or dress pants made with tropical wool or lightweight cotton weaves, not denim jeans. Jackets and blazers should be unlined or half-lined to promote breathability. When in doubt, weigh clothing items against each other—the lighter the better. And hold fabrics up to the light. If you can see through it a little you’re in good shape.
Go With Lighter Colors
Lighter colors reflect light, which means less heat being absorbed into your body. Darker colors absorb light and heat you up. You don’t have to be decked out in all white to beat the heat—light blues, yellows, pinks, etc. do the trick—but you don’t want to be decked out in all black either. Think of it like this—you’ll probably be cooler wearing a 100% cotton long-sleeve white shirt than black synthetic t-shirt.
Wear Looser Clothing
Tight clothes cling to you and don’t allow your sweat to do its job. You need to give your skin some breathing room by wearing looser clothing. Air flow is key.
You don’t have to wear clothing that’s a size up or anything, just choose apparel that facilitates that much-needed air flow and doesn’t constrict. Skinny jeans, tights, and sweatpants are not a good idea.
Dresses and skirts are a great option as well since they perfectly balance air flow and comfort. Even so, you’re better off with looser styles over fitted ones. That form-fitting black cocktail dress may look great on you, but it’s going to slowly cook you alive.
Choose the Right Shoes
For men, Antonia Centeno at Real Men Real Style recommends loafers with holes (for the breathability), moccasins or boat shoes (because you can wear these without socks), or Italian leather shoes (since the leather is usually thinner than western-style leather shoes). Whatever you pick, let those puppies breathe as much as you can.
For women, any open-toe dress shoe will do the trick, but flats with lightweight no-show socks (or no socks at all) work great too.
Manage Your Sweat
Sweat—that’s really what this is all about. No matter how breathable and lightweight your clothing is, you’re going to sweat. And that’s good because your loose clothing will allow airflow to cool you off some.
That said, you’re still going to sweat a lot and you need to control it as best you can.
When you’re wearing a short-sleeve or long-sleeve button up, wear an undershirt with it. Preferably a 100% cotton undershirt (v-neck t-shirt or wife beater is ideal). It might be a bit warmer to do that, but the cotton will wick the sweat and keep your nice outer shirt from looking like a damp kitchen rag.
Also, always carry a handkerchief in your coat pocket or purse for wiping sweat away from your forehead and neck. If you use your shirt sleeve, you’ll just make yourself look even more sweaty.
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