How To

6 clever ways to stay cool this summer (and still dress sharp)

By on June 15th, 2015

Before our first 90 degree day here in the Denver area, I thought it prudent to write an article on smart ways to stay cool this summer, but still look sharp. Why is this important? As opposed to say, hopping from air conditioned box to air conditioned box? Because sooner or later, you’re going to find yourself walking four city blocks for coffee (see tip #5) or stuck on a hot patio for a lunch meeting with a client. In either scenario, you would be far better off if you didn’t need to worry about sweating through your dress shirt, right?

Here are six of my favorite techniques to keep cool as the mercury rises this summer.

1. Choose smart fabrics

Cotton and linen should be your go-to picks for the hot days of summer. They both breath well and are easy to clean. And linen, as you probably know, wrinkles like nobody’s business, but that’s perfectly OK. Honestly, I think it’s the wrinkles that make it look so great.

Then there’s seersucker, that quintessential Kentucky Derby material. The pucker of the fabric helps to create little air channels that will work to circulate air around you.

2. Unbutton your cuffs

This is a great way to vent your shirt, because any additional opening will help to transfer warm air and keep you cool.

But you have to be careful and make sure that this doesn’t look sloppy. Obviously, for French cuff shirts, once you take out the cuff link all hell breaks loose, but even traditional cuff shirts can sometimes act a little unruly. So, just make sure that your sleeve isn’t too baggy and I think you’ll be fine.

And of course, you can roll up your sleeves. However, you’ll find that on really warm days, this can actually restrict air flow down your arm, because bunching up all that fabric and cinching it above your elbow is basically acting as a blockage.

3. Short sleeves

Just because you joined the ranks of the adult population doesn’t mean that your short sleeve days are over, it just means that you need to be a little more careful in your selection. Steer clear of baggy shirts and anything that makes an effort to intentionally tell you it’s “relaxed.”

And remember, short sleeve button up dress shirts are just like long sleeve shirts in the sense that there is formal and there is casual. For instance, building a shirt with front pockets in seersucker is going to be a relatively casual looking shirt, just like a T-shirt. On the other hand, choosing a fine linen with a clean front and with a strong collar is something that can be worn under a blazer.

Speaking of blazers, it is perfectly OK to wear a short sleeve button up dress shirt or crisp polo shirt under a blazer — so long as it’s hot outside. Most of the time, you want to wear long sleeves so that a little bit of your shirt peaks out from your jacket cuff and helps to frame your overall look. But in the summer, there’s nothing wrong with opting for a short sleeve linen shirt with a collar that can still hold its shape under the weight of a jacket lapel.

how to stay cool this summer

4. Unstructured jackets

Speaking of jackets, there is no reason to stop wearing them in the summertime, you just need to be smart about it. And that means wearing a lightweight, unstructured summer sportcoat. If you missed my blog a couple weeks back, here’s everything you need to know about summer sportcoats and here’s our guide on shopping for a summer weight suit.

The takeaway, is that a summer jacket will have very little to no lining. Therefore, the jacket will be more breathable and comfortable in warm weather.

5. Skip the hot coffee

I’ll be the first to admit that hot coffee in the morning is an absolute necessity for many months of the year, but when it gets really warm, consider swapping out your favorite java for its iced cousin. Same goes for tea – if you’re usually drinking hot tea, switch it over to iced tea.

The reason being is that hot liquids are only going to warm up your core temperature. In the winter time this was obviously in your favor, but in the summer it’s detrimental to your efforts to stay cool and not sweat in your clothes.

6. Go sockless

Either wearing no-show socks or skipping them all together is going to help ventilate your ankles and therefore, keep you cooler. Just be aware of the risks to your feet (consider getting a pedicure every now and again if you opt to go completely sockless).

Wrap Up: How to stay cool this summer

There are a handful of other clever things you can do to stay cool this summer, but for now, this is a good starting point. What did I miss? What are your tricks to keeping cool in the dog days of summer? Perhaps going sockless?

And if you need a refresher on some of the most practical warm weather essentials, check out this article from The Modest Man.

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