Over the last several weeks here in Kraków there were days when temperatures were over 36 degrees. That’s way too much for me.
I’m aware that not everyone feels the temperature the same way. I saw the pictures from the latest Pitti, with people sporting their three-piece suits in over 40 degrees. I’m afraid doing that would simply kill me. Anything above 25 is a discomfort for me, anything above 30 is pain, and during the hottest days of the last few weeks I just tried to not move out of my flat, or even not move too much at all.
So whenever I had to leave – I do have work, after all – I would wear something like this:
No jacket. There are several guides on the internet about a perfect summer jacket: they’ll tell you to go for lightweight, open-weave fabrics, no lining, minimal padding, light colours. With clothes like that, there really is no excuse to not wear a jacket at all times!
No. Please, stop. Go away and leave my boiling body alone.
I know, I know. I’m being overly dramatic. But I am a little fed up with the internet guides telling me that another layer of fabric doesn’t make that much of a difference, because I know it does. And the hottest days of summer is where I draw the line – my comfort takes precedence.
If you work at an office where the dress-code compels you to wear a jacket and tie anyway, well, I’m afraid I won’t be of much help. But maybe at least your office is air-conditioned.
A linen shirt works best for me. It can’t be cut too close to the body, it has to let the air circulate. That’s also why linen’s so good: you rarely find it densely-woven.
An alternative I’m also happy with is a cotton pique popover. The fabric breathes well and is very lightweight.
Poplin, oxford, even fine royal oxford didn’t work as well. I tried them, and I felt the difference. A linen or pique shirt is really a better option than even a cotton jersey t-shirt. Long sleeves cover your arms better from sun (and can be rolled up if needed); undoing the top two buttons provides better air circulation. And again, because this is by far the most important thing: the fabric does much better job making you feel less sticky and horrible.
I don’t like shorts. I don’t feel good wearing them. And I’m still dressing for the city, so I like to feel that what I have on me is at least somewhat appropriate. The standards are looser the more intense the heat, but they’re not gone completely.
So I find linen trousers a good option. Open weave of those trousers really does make me feel every little gust of wind. Linen is a better fabric than cotton in this case even more so than with shirts. Cotton used for trousers is mostly twill, and it’s woven densely, even when it’s lightweight.
And like with shirts: the trousers should have a little more room in the leg to let the air flow.
I mostly wear loafers, with no-show socks. Some may not like the sight of bare ankles, but getting rid of high socks is a little bit of comfort on a really hot day.
I wrote about shoes for summer before, and I’ll reiterate briefly: aside from loafers, moccasins (like driving mocs) are good, and surprisingly – unlined suede chukkas too. Canvas espadrilles might work as well, but I still haven’t tried them. I just find a sole of a real shoe, with elevated heel, very comfortable, and a flat sole – not so much.
Also mentioned in the post I linked to above. A panama hat is probably the easiest hat to wear in terms of style. But it’s got a practical application as well: it protects your face, ears and the back of your neck from the sun, and it turns out it really works. So I recommend a model with a wider brim, to make the full use of it.