I know, from experience, that some gentlemen are a little
uncomfortable with how creased linen becomes while wearing, but
that should be considered part of its charm. That said, I prefer
not to wear linen head-to-toe but to mix it with items in other
summer fabrics, such as wool fresco, silk, solaro, madras or
seersucker. I enjoy the juxtaposition of a crumpled linen shirt
with the sharp crease in a pair of mohair trousers.
When selecting a summer jacket, you will probably consider
something unstructured. There is a widely held belief that this
style of tailoring should somehow be cheaper, as there is less
lining and canvasing. Of course, cheaper unstructured items are
available, but the best pieces (often from southern Italy) require
expert cutting and tailoring techniques to achieve the desired
silhouette. Take Sartoria
Inglese from Apulia, for example: their
signature cut requires only minimal padding, but through the
selection of cloths with character and a distinctive cut they
create garments that have the presence and authority normally
associated with more traditional constructions. For a Savile Row
take on this idea, look to Richard
James, who offers a softer, updated version of
their house model realised in linens and blends.
For more formal events, add a tie in unlined linen or bright
printed silk from Drake’s,
Sexton or Calabrese
1924. Your pocket-square can be in plain linen
or printed silk in bright colours. But don’t wear a tie and
pocket-square because you feel you have to, wear one because you
want to when the occasion doesn’t strictly require one. Dressing up
a T-shirt with a neckerchief is a sophisticated yet simple approach
to summer dressing and also protects the collar of your jacket from
perspiration. Neckerchiefs look equally good with a polo shirt,
especially when they have a proper two-piece collar and long
sleeves and button-cuffs like the ones made by Naked
Clothing and Rubinacci.
Such a simple accessory can add a little glamour to the most simple
of summer outfits — very ‘Duke of Windsor in exile’. Unlike the
former Edward VIII, I prefer trousers without belt loops; the
Gurkha-top style from Anderson &
Sheppard and Rubinacci are practical and add
visual interest without the additional bulk of a belt.
Socks are best discarded, and Belgian loafers strike the right
chord. Also consider penny loafers or even white or tan
For summer occasions, you will probably be invited to something
with a cocktail dress code. This ‘Johnny-come-lately’ to the
dress-code dictionary is unique in the sense that it is the only
one that is based on what women will be wearing rather than
focusing on gentlemen’s attire. It first appeared in the 1960s as
an alternative to ‘lounge suit’ and with an emphasis on dressing
for the evening. A midnight-blue suit would have sufficed, worn
with a white shirt, but it soon grew into something more glamorous.
A blue or black dinner jacket worn with cream or ecru trousers is a
reverse of the traditional white dinner jacket and dark trousers,
and is spot-on for cocktail dress, especially when worn with velvet
Albert slippers. In fact, wearing velvet slippers will add a
cocktail twist to most ensembles (sans socks).
Ralph Lauren is the master of gentlemen’s cocktail dress, and
they will occasionally subvert dress codes, but always with taste
and a respect for tradition. This season they are offering a khaki
linen field coat with satin-faced lapels. This is absolute genius.
The original dinner jacket was a lounge coat (an informal garment
at the time) with satin facings applied, and as the modern
military-inspired field coat is becoming accepted business dress,
this is merely following tradition. I haven’t been this excited
about a new development in men’s eveningwear since I saw a Hacking
jacket-styled dinner jacket replete with ticket pocket and throat
latch, again from Ralph Lauren, in the early 2000s. A cocktail
jacket is simple to dress down, and my preferred method is to layer
a simple piece of fine gauge knitwear underneath.
But we should also take inspiration and learn to dress up our
sports jackets. A Regatta-striped blazer worn with evening trousers
and traditional furnishings is an imaginative take on cocktail
dress. But you could try the same with a denim blazer.
Historically, it was acceptable to substitute your dinner jacket
with a blazer while at sea, so the look is not completely without
precedent. And while it takes a brave soul to wear black tie just
for the hell of it, cocktail dress succinctly adds a little
elegance to the most understated summer soirée. Perhaps with a
little more effort, the British will lose their reputation for
dressing poorly in the summer months. I won’t hold my breath.
Cream herringbone single-breasted jacket, New & Lingwood; green
silk shirt with multicolour print, Marol; mid-blue cotton and wool
trouser, Anderson & Sheppard Haberdashery at The
Rake; green and red wool pocket handkerchief, Calabrese 1924
for The Rake.
Photographer Assistant: Christy John White
Fashion Assistant: Veronica Perez
Grooming: Hair by Joe Mills, founder of Joe & Co Soho, using
Make-up: Daisy Holubowicz using Laura Mercier