During the warmer months, dressing cool and feeling cool can get difficult. And with the official start of summer this Monday, it's only going to get worse (far worse for some of you) before it gets better. That calls for action. This series will periodically provide you with some tips on beating the heat this summer, from clothing to furniture to accessories to refreshing drinks or whatever miscellaneous topic we find fitting to include.
The need for breathable fabrics
As the weather heats up and the days get longer, the layers are coming off and the fabrics are getting lighter and more breathable. It can be uncomfortable enough being hot when you're just lounging around the house, but when at work, it's downright disruptive. So how do you dress for work and warm weather simultaneously? You know you can't start rocking t-shirts and shorts on a regular basis. Well, some of you can, but most of us can't.
You can easily create outfits friendly for the heat by substituting some of these fabrics for your normal articles of work attire. You can get jackets, pants, shirts, and even shoes that will be lighter, thinner, have better moisture wicking properties, and are more breathable. Read our list below for the characteristics of these great warm weather fabrics.
What is there to say about cotton? Well, it's soft, lightweight, breathable, and has good moisture wicking properties! The downside to cotton is that it wrinkles easy, and also the sheer diversity of different weaves and blends available. So this makes it more difficult to predict how helpful a cotton article of clothing will be in the heat.
Chambray has a higher thread count and consists of a finer weave than cotton. This results in a more breathable fabric which resembles a softer and thinner denim.
Another type of cotton with many dimples and bumps, assuring that the material won't stick to you even when it's humid or you're sweating. It looks light, and might one say... fun? The puckered texture also helps you avoid wrinkles and seersucker a favorite of Southern and British gentleman alike. It's popularity arose from the British who started wearing it in their more tropical climates. It does wonders in heat and humidity.
Linen is made from the fibers of the flax plant, and has been produced for thousands of years. It has lower thread count ( 80 - 150 ) than cotton ( usually 200+ ) and though it might feel tougher at first than cotton or other fabrics, it's like fine wine and gets softer with time. It's downfall is the god forsaken wrinkles... If you're wearing it to work, keep in mind that a linen blazer or jacket won't be as likely to wrinkle as a shirt or pants, but it's still a risk. To avoid the wrinkles, manufacturers frequently blend linen with less wrinkle prone materials.
Despite the fact that it's incredibly light and breathable, it's also incredibly durable. It can also absorb a good amount of water before you begin to feel that it's damp.
Tropical weight wool
Compared to heavy duty winter wools that weight out to 18oz/yard, tropical wool can come in at as little as 6oz/yard. Tropical wool also doesn't wrinkle easily, which is another benefit. Suits made from this are sure to ventilate you. Just remember, this wool doesn't fare well against water and heat.
Silk is incredibly light as I'm sure you're aware of, and throwing some into your wardrobe will surely make you look dapper and keep you cool. Even though silk clothing can be a bit flashy and emasculating, you can get blends with silk in them to give you the functional benefits without the flashy aesthetic. But that doesn't mean that there aren't any silk pieces that are acceptable for work; as always, use discretion.
One thing that you need to keep in mind about silk though, is that harsh sunlight breaks down the fibers and fades the color over time.
This is a fiber made from cellulose, a sugar inside plants. As it is a man-made fiber, it doesn't handle moisture as well as cotton. It is heavier and not as breathable as cotton, but it can drape better and doesn't wrinkle as easily, so there is a trade off. It can feel really smooth and soft, but there are environmental trade offs when manufacturing it. The chemical processes involved create much waste and can be toxic.
This is made from high twisted wool with multiple yarns. Fresco has a hard touch and coarse feel, but is very breathable due to the high twist. It's dense and durable as well, so that's why you'll usually see this fabric used in jackets. But with fresco, you can keep the jacket on during these next few months instead of shedding the layers.
By incorporating a few key pieces made from these fabrics into your summer wardrobe, you'll be sure to beat the heat. But remember, just because it's summer doesn't give you the right to check all notions of business attire at the door. Some of these fabrics, cotton for example, are more suitable to wear frequently. On the other hand, if you start rocking a little too much silk or linen, you might get some new nicknames or get to be known as a flashy dresser. But, then again, it depends on the context of your workplace and your usual style.
I hope the options I provided will help you beat the heat, keep cool, stay frosty, or whatever expression you prefer. Here at A Gentleman's Attire, we're going to stay committed to giving our readers more ways to look and feel as good and comfortable as possible this summer. Stay tuned, we'll have