Let’s start by busting some jargon. What is ‘utilitarian’ menswear? At Rake Towers, we think of it as clothing that’s lightweight, practical and not unpleasant to wear in the last throes of summer — when it’s stuffy and humid. There’s an art to dressing for this awkward transition between August and September. Let’s face it, in 30-degree heat it’s tempting to give up on looking put-together, even for style-heads. Thankfully, ‘utilitarian’ designs are the solution — functional garments that nonetheless retain an element of design and are cut in cooling, breathable cloths.
Your best friend in any kind of warm weather is, of course, the lightweight linen shirt, and the breezier the better. What, though, elevates a summer shirt from a hum-drum spread-collared garment to something worthy of utilitarian status? A simple answer, really: aside from cloth, colour or pattern, it’s all in the collar. Structured spread collars are nightmarish things to wear in humid climes, so swap your formal or semi-formal shirts for designs with unlined collars, Cuban collars, or indeed no collars at all — see Salvatore Piccolo’s striped linen grandad collar shirt (overleaf). Myriad leading brands make shirts like this: from Doppiaa’s palm-printed camp collar shirt (seen here) to Magnus & Novus’ superb ‘leisure shirts’, cut with rolling one-piece collars designed to be worn open at the neck, to Giro Inglese’s relaxed Italian designs, and even Anderson & Sheppard’s casual linen shirts in fun block colours.