Style / August 2019

Don't Diss Function: Utilitarian Styling

It’s true, the phrase ‘utilitarian menswear’ is about as sexy as mothballs. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need it in your life… We took to Half Moon Bay Antigua, the exclusive new resort on the island of Antigua, and home to the Rosewood Half Moon Bay Hotel (set to open in 2022) to demonstrate the chic versatility of this under-appreciated menswear genre.  

Blue linen four-pocket safari shirt, Budd Shirtmakers; blue, camel and white striped shirt with buttoned collar, G.Inglese; brown silk and linen hand-rolled printed chevron tie, Drake's.

Lets start by busting some jargon. What is utilitarian menswear? At Rake Towers, we think of it as clothing thats lightweight, practical and not unpleasant to wear in the last throes of summer when its stuffy and humid. Theres an art to dressing for this awkward transition between August and September. Lets face it, in 30-degree heat its 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, its 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 Piccolos striped linen grandad collar shirt (overleaf). Myriad leading brands make shirts like this: from Doppiaas 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 Ingleses relaxed Italian designs, and even Anderson & Sheppards casual linen shirts in fun block colours.