If you live in a city with seasons as temperamental as New York’s–with its frigid winters and sweltering summers–then you’re probably used to tailoring your wardrobe to the weather. You have your wool sweaters set aside for winter, your shorts and tanks for summer, and everything else in-between. But if you’re a young professional, summer can be a difficult season to dress for with few options that are both work and weather appropriate. Summer means having to do more with less, so we’ve outlined four great tips for beating the heat without sacrificing an ounce of style.
LIGHTEN YOUR LOAD
My go-to work bag is an old Filson 256. It’s rugged, long lasting, and in many ways it’s the perfect bag but for one detail: it’s weight. Made from 22 oz. cotton twill with bridle leather trim, it starts out heavy and only gets heavier once packed. In 90-degree weather, it’s more a burden than anything else.
For a lighter option, go for a bag made from synthetic fibers. Years ago, this would have meant settling for a chunky bag in black nylon. Today, you can find a number of great brands playing around with different colors and synthetic materials, making luxe wares that are both stylish and inexpensive.
Case in point ECOALF, an outfitter best known for making clothes and bags out of recycled materials. This briefcase is a fantastic option for work, and it’s made entirely out of recycled plastic bottles (27 of them, to be exact). So is this great convertible briefcase-to-backpack. In addition to being environmentally friendly, ECOALF bags are also incredibly lightweight by virtue of the materials used. The deep navy and anthracite keep the aesthetic professional, and as a bonus the bags are waterproof.
Edinburgh Organizer Briefcase – $155.00 $93.00
Cambridge Convertible Organizer – $129.90 $77.95
Denim in the summer is a tough sell, and if you’re like me and prefer your jeans raw, it’s even harder to justify. Most jeans are simply too thick and too heavy to be worn comfortably June through August, and with so many summer-friendly fabrics out there, why bother with denim at all?
Fret not, denim lovers, because you can have your cake and eat it too. The key to wearing jeans in the summer is to go light. No, not color, but weight. To put things in perspective, 14 oz. is a standard mid-weight cloth. Anything under that classifies as lightweight, and a handful of brands are filling this void in the market.
Naked and Famous, a Canadian brand known for using quirky fabrics, has a number of lightweight denim options. This pair made from 10 oz. Japanese selvedge is perfect for the office, with its dark finish and minimalist aesthetic. For something lighter in color, Naked and Famous also makes this unusual pair out of pineapple selvedge chambray, an 8 oz. cloth that uses 80% cotton and, as you may have already guessed, 20% pineapple fibers. They’re cut looser, and the lighter grey cast is ideal for a casual night out on the town.
For a slightly more affordable option, Levi’s has a great pair of lightweight jeans in their popular 511 cut. The “Shiny Look” wash is made from a treated 8 oz. cloth developed specifically for warmer weather. With its darker wash and matching stitching, the “Shiny Look” is a smart and inexpensive addition to your summer wardrobe.
Naked and Famous Lightweight Selvedge – $158.00
Naked and Famous Pineapple Chambray – $180.00
Levi’s “Shiny Look” – $78.00 $49.90
DITCH THE BELT
Belts are useful, and if your pants have belt loops, you should wear one. But in the summer, having a thick piece of leather cinching your waist can be uncomfortable to say the least, and it won’t do anything to keep you cool. So what’s a man to do?
The answer: side-tabs. Side-tabs are essentially little belts made of the same fabric as the pants, anchored on either side of the waistband. They allow for a beltless look without sacrificing the utility that belts provide. One of my favorite New York shops, Epaulet, currently has a made-to-order program for their famous Rivet Chinos with the option of including side-tabs in lieu of belt loops (as well as a number of other great customizable options). The available fabrics are also made from a lightweight 8 oz. American cloth, which should make for a great pair of summer pants.
Epaulet Custom Rivet Chinos – $155.00
Linen is, for a number of people, a summer staple, but in my opinion not a great one. Sure, linen is light and airy, but it’s also sheer, oftentimes scratchy, and it wrinkles far too quickly to be work-appropriate. Instead, opt for a shirt made of madras. Originally from India (then the city of Madras, now Chennai), madras is a beautiful hand-woven cloth prized for it’s airiness, softness, and beautiful bold colors and patterns, many of which pay homage to classic Scottish tartans. Since its introduction to the American market in the 1950s, Madras has become a favorite among American prepsters and a staple of heritage brands like Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and J. Press.
If you’re worried about pulling off loud patterns, don’t be. The key to wearing madras without looking like an extra from Mad Men is to subdue the rest of your outfit. Contrast the bright bold patterns of your shirt with darker pants. If you wear a tie, make sure it’s monochromatic and pattern-free so as not to clash with the shirt.
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