Good day to you my sun loving summer followers,
I begin writing this month’s post, still smiling from a glorious bank holiday with the sun shining, the BBQ’s grilling and socialising a plenty for most of the Capital. Alas, we are back to work again and with temperatures set to reach 31 degrees again today, it felt so nice to throw on a dress and some pumps and hope to beat the heat on my daily commute. This had got me thinking however; how do men do it? Still maintaining a degree of smart office attire but staying cool, so I quizzed my loved ones and colleagues to bring to you – Summer City Dressing – the Men Edition.
Hi All, firstly thank you so much for taking the time to take part in this interview. Lets get straight into it.
1) Firstly do you prefer the winter or summer months for office attire?
Dan: Winter. Considering I am originally from the north of England, I have always put more emphasis on winter attire seeing as though it can get very cold for most of the year.
Kenz: To be honest that’s a tough question as being in London is difficult in both. You have the problem of trying to stay warm to the station but then not over heat on the underground.Then again the same problem in the summer months. If I had to choose, it would be summer time even in the office, light shirts and chino’s matched with sun glasses is the best feeling when it’s home time or off for drink in the late evening sun.
Josh: Winter Months office attire.
Darren: Winter months
Paul: Winter! There’s a lot more room for maneuver when it’s cooler. I commute on the train, tube and in the car so for the vast majority of the time, the temperature is moderate so there’s more choice for work attire! I am a big suit fan and it’s nice to be able to wear a tie and jacket without getting hot. Looking professional is much easier when you’re comfortable.
Jack: I prefer summer overall but for office attire I prefer the winter months. In winter, I can add more layers and vary what I wear day to day, and I have more clothes for winter. You can’t beat a nice fitted overcoat or trench coat to finish an outfit with different textures and materials underneath. Jumpers, cardigans, thicker materials from head to toe, e.g. corduroy (if you don’t look to much of an old man) For winter a must is a Scarf, to finish an outfit, add a bit of colour or a bold pattern. https://www.drakes.com/accessories/scarves
Ed: Winter as there is more scope for different clothes.
2) I definitely am a summer fan, but for us women it can be so much easier to dress for work and stay cool in the city heat. What are your go to pieces for the warmer weather?
Dan: A loose fitting shirt and comfortable chinos makes working in the heat more bearable, but sometimes it is difficult to feel completely comfortable in this kind of outfit, especially when it is a hot summers day. Where I can, I try to wear loose fitting long sleeve t shirts, but try to be as smart as possible.
Kenz: I think the best go to for me are my Uniqlo shirts as they are made from the best materials that allow your skin to vent in this heat. To be honest it doesn’t matter where you buy your shirts or even your trousers, breathable. One feature I would pin-point with the Uniqlo shirts is the fit and the button down collars, so your style is on form even after a hot day in the office.
Josh: Short Sleeve Shirt, Chinos instead of trousers.
Alpesh: Light shirts (blue or white to reflect the rays), and some lose fitting comfortable trousers.
Darren: Lighter cotton shirts in pale colours, lightweight trousers, shorts & tee-shirts.
Paul: Light and airy! I’m not a fan of short sleeve work shirts, so longer sleeves but always lighter cotton shirts, usually more loose fitting than their winter counterparts. I prefer lighter colours too…whites, pinks, light blues (easy on the pattern) – and light grey trousers. There’s a psychological element and lighter just *feels* cooler!
Jack: For summer, I have less of a range through necessity but I do have go to pieces or items of clothing. I tend to mix my selection with higher value items that will last longer and are predominately better quality with cheaper one-season items. Linen is a must in summer. Trousers and shirts, Trousers for work but they have to be structured otherwise the fit is all wrong. If very hot I will wear a Linen shirt to work but usually a comfortable button down shirt opposed to a dress shirt with cuffs, sleeves can then be easily rolled up and in a way that is more comfortable to me personally. Smart chinos, thin socks but not stocking thin! Or no socks at all to keep the ankles free and breezy and to finish off, a pair of tan penny loafers or tassels is a good summer uniform. Generally, lighter colours such as tan and khaki are nice for trousers and chinos then earthy natural colours or browns go well. You obviously can’t beat a pristine white Oxford to pair with camel coloured chinos and mid-range brown loafers.
Fridays at work I will relax a little so I’ll wear more linen shirts with a lightweight overshirt and a more casual shoe, a suede tassel loafer or wholecut loafer. I like to buy a jacket each summer that is unstructured and usually linen, something that I can throw on and will usually go with all of my trousers but still look smart.
Linen Jacket/Blazer – Suit Supply, Massimo dutti, Linen Trousers – Suit Supply, M&S, Chinos – Uniqlo, Charles Tyrwhit, Linen Shirts – Uniqlo, Massimo Dutti, Ralph Lauren, Shoes – Loake Eton, Justin Fitzpatrick, Baudoin and Lange, loake Lisbon, Belgian Loafers, Socks – Tabio, London Sock company
Myself, dad and younger brother at a summer wedding, suitable for work in the summer with a tie.
Ed: Sadly not many options for blokes so its button down oxford shirts (cotton) and chinos for me!
3) Commuting during rush hour can be a challenge at the best of times, but when it’s 25 degrees outside, the underground can feel double the temperature. What are your best tips for staying cool, calm and collected whilst travelling to and from work?
Dan: Again, try to wear something that is loose fitted. There is no avoiding the heat of the tube, but you can place yourself strategically next to the window at the front of the carriage, stick in the headphones with some relaxing music or an entertaining podcast…..and calmly breathe your way into work.
Kenz: Best tip for commuting in the heat don’t rush and stay hydrated. No matter what you wear you’ll over heat in our under prepared tube network, take water with you. Even the finest cotton clothes won’t stop the 40 degree heat from getting to you.
Josh: Sitting next to the window, carrying water, Choosing train times wisely, Go to the pub after work and wait for rush hour clear.
Alpesh: Always carry a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated and cool. When it’s really hot I sometimes wear shorts into work then change into my work clothes when I arrive. Leaving earlier in the morning is also a good tip to miss the rush-hour – train carriage temperature only increases when packed-in like sardines!
Darren: I try to start my day earlier to avoid the crowds and get the cooler air in the mornings. After work, it is sometimes easier to walk a few tube stops at a slower pace in the shade as opposed to crowding onto the tube. If I do have to travel, my tip is to take a handkerchief to pat down any sweat, travel light but try not to carry a bag.
Paul: From experience – don’t carry anything you don’t need to in your bag! I think losing the tie, and one shirt button undone make a huge difference, without detracting from looking reasonably smart.
Jack: First of all I try to travel early most days to avoid the peak heat so on the way to work it’s usually manageable, I’ll undo my button cuffs maybe not roll them up just yet, and not rush to get to work or break out into a sweat, I’d rather be comfortable travelling into work than travelling home. Again, on the way home I’ll try and leave at a good time so the tube is not as busy and it doesn’t hurt to wait for the tube 2 minutes behind! I will have by cuffs up so wrists are free and I may even undo a cheeky shirt button but generally, I don’t feel comfortable without a jacket, obviously lightweight in the summer and I will usually take it off for the train and tube for the way home. It’s all about comfort for me, Keep calm listen to music and when it’s too hot just grin, bear it, and look forward to a cold beer when I get home.
Ed: Don’t take a jacket and don’t rush!
4) The Brits are known for layering clothes to deal with the unpredictable UK weather (sometimes ranging from 38 degrees and sweltering to thunderstorms all in one day.) Do you have one item of clothing which is your go to, no matter what the weather?
Dan: I am a big fan of wearing an over sized shirt with a t shirt underneath, you can always whip off the shirt if it gets too hot but at the same time it is airy, therefore it is bearable in hotter weather.
(image courtesy of google images)
Kenz: I think the best item clothing for the unpredictable weather is a good trench coat, they are light to carry but keep you dry in the the sudden showers. My personal favourite is the Camden Car Coat from Burberry, classic design that you can wear with work clothes or even jeans and trainers.
Josh: Light weight wind breaker jacket.
Alpesh: I have a light black water proof jacket that usually sees me through various weather conditions – it pairs with work or casual attire well, so an all-rounder.
Darren: Yes, a good pair of leather shoes. I currently wear Ecco shoes which suit rain or shine.
Paul: The check shirt – cool enough for summer, warm enough for winter. It’s good taste with a collar.
Jack: If I had to pick one item or type of clothing I would have to say a jacket. Depending on weather and occasion, for me other than shoes this will make or break an outfit, whether I’m comfortable, happy and satisfied. A jacket for me will finish everything off whether it be overshirt, chore jacket, Harrington, Linen jacket, Shacket, field jacket, suede jacket, blazer or shirt I don’t feel my look is complete without one. Anyone can wear standard jeans, shirt and shoes but adding the correct jacket can transform an outfit completely, drawing comments and compliments or making you feel a little more confident (even if it’s just in your head). Also I can’t stand when men put things in their front trouser pockets! Phones, wallets or change! So I have to have somewhere to put my bits.
Ed: My blue suede brogues.
5) I have to ask this one because I’ve seen it so much lately. Socks and sandals, the age old tradition of dads on their summer vacations – has it made a firm comeback for the younger generation?
Dan: Not for me personally. This is a big no no. But then again, As a 32 year old, I often look at the younger generation and feel slightly perplexed and not just because of fashion.
Kenz: It’s a no from me.
Josh: Yes it has made a come back but I would say socks and sliders is more in fashion that socks and sandals.
Alpesh: For me it’s a no no. When I see guy’s wearing socks with sandals I can only think that they are wearing it to hide hairy yucky toes or worse… crusty ones ! Sock’n’ sandals – not a good look (even if your name is David Beckham !)
Darren: I see the youngsters wearing “sliders”, the slip on with socks, but it seems to be confined to a casual indoor scene. I’ve certainly not seen any around London or in the office!
Paul: I’d sooner wear shoes made of wood! I’m certainly not a fashionable person, but when I do see guys doing that sort of thing, I always think “you’re doing that because you think it’s fashionable, not because it looks good – because clearly, it doesn’t!”
Jack: I’m quite glad I’ve not noticed this yet and I hope it’s not making a comeback! I’m not a fan but each to their own whatever people are comfortable in, saying that, there is a limit!! At home a white sock with the slider style sandals then fair enough but down to the pub or supermarket then no. There seems to be a lot of people that like to venture out in onesies or what look like pj’s these days. (palm of the hand over the face emoji).
Ed: I hope not 😦
6) As I’m sure you can tell from earlier posts, I am a huge fan of accessories. The perfect bag, shoes or jacket can finish off an outfit perfectly and also mixing and matching can rejuvenate those old pair of trousers in an instant. What is your favourite accessory and why?
Dan: I am not a huge fan of accessories, a man of simple pleasures. A simple leather strapped watch is all I need to go with an outfit, whatever the weather.
Kenz: Simple for me, Sunglasses. A good pair is an essential menswear accessory to finish any look – work or casual. I love my Cubitts Herbrands. Mine are the clear framed with black lenses. The reason I rate these is because they fit every occasion and they’re a UK based brand that make quality glasses at a good price point. They’ll also customise your order for the same price. Supporting the UK industries is a key goal of mine.
Josh: Men’s Clutch Bag – Helps me keep/look after my personal items without having to stuff my pockets.
Alpesh: Mine has to be a black Sandquvist bag. It’s practicable, great design and has that urban city look about it, perfect for the commute into work.
Darren: My favorite and perfect item is my watch, whether in short sleeve casual tees or full length double cuffed shirts, my watch never fails to attract attention and compliment my outfit.
Paul: Cufflinks – a tasteful set of cufflinks can set off a shirt nicely.
Jack: Shoes are my favourite and I would say are almost an unhealthy obsession, but to name just one accessory it would have to be my Omega Seamaster. It’s obviously a luxury item but because of this I appreciate it when I wear it and it adds the finishing touches to an outfit. Not garish or overstating, doesn’t draw attention to itself and simple as a dress watch should be. For me personally less is more with most things and it can tell a lot about someone’s personality. My watch will easily accompany a smart suit or casual jeans, t-shirt and trainers. It’s comfortable, old but pristine and will last longer than me probably so I can pass it down to the next generation to look after. Plus it was a wedding present from my wife.
Accessories separate people from uniforms and outfits and draw attention to the individuality of that person so you can tell a lot about who that person is or how they want to be seen. I have a simple bracelet I like to wear for smart and casual that accompanies my watch. It’s simple and inexpensive.
Ed: Sunglasses, never leave home without in the summer 🙂
7) There has been a resurgence in recent times of comic book characters and retro games from the 80/90s are appearing in pop up bars and shops all over the capital. Did you have a favourite character or toy as a child and would you wear its image on a t-shirt at the weekend now?
Dan: I don’t recall having any standout toys or characters that stuck in my mind as a child. In the latter years, music became my passion. If I chose to wear something with a logo etc, it would have to be related to music. A favourite vest of mine, which I have had for years has a ‘Pink Floyd’ theme from their ‘Dark side of the Moon’ tour.
Kenz: For me you can’t beat Batman. As a kid I was a massive fan of the comics and films, however I don’t really follow that trend. I like simply designed clothes, so I wouldn’t be following.
Josh: Spider-Man – I wouldn’t wear a T-shirt with him printed on it though.
Alpesh: I loved everything about the 80’s/90’s. When films like Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes or Star Wars kicked off in the 70’s, it really paved the way how sci-fi film’s were seen and perceived by its audience in the 80s and 90’s. You had the best directors like Spielberg telling heart felt stories or the likes of Ridley Scott portraying such intense suspense and captivating the audience in space. Nowadays sci-fi/ superhero films have become somewhat of a cash-cow for film producers. Not sure if the passion and thoughtfulness for a good superhero film is there anymore. In short, if there was – it would be Superman 🙂
Darren: Yes, I enjoyed shows such as The A-Team, Airwolf & Knight Rider, all of which look great on a retro print t-shirt.
Paul: I was a bit of a Sonic the Hedgehog fan when I was a kid…but as a man mid-30s, I wouldn’t wear a T-Shirt with it on now! At the weekend, if I wouldn’t go on a date wearing it, I don’t wear it!
Jack: I was never really a fan of comics and never really a big gamer but I remember my first favourite character or toy was Spot the Dog so yes I’d quite happily wear that on a t-shirt today under a bomber jacket or under an open shirt. The 90’s programs stick in my memory the most such as the animals of farthing wood, Bodger and Badger or Chucklevision!! I’d quite happily wear a t-shirt with these emblazoned on the front and have done in the past. I suppose it’s quite cool and retro to wear stuff like that now as their older, I think if I rocked up somewhere with a Peppa pig t-shirt I may look a bit creepy.
Ed: I never wear slogan or novelty t-shirts, ever!
8) In many offices today, companies allow a more relaxed approach to corporate attire on Fridays. Is it as hard for men as women to decide what to wear on a Friday (questions like did I wear this last week or is this too casual seem to run through my mind) compared to your standard Monday to Thursday attire?
Dan: Personally, I very rarely worry about my attire. I am very much someone who likes to do what feels right for me and is especially comfortable. If that means wearing the same thing twice in a week, I am all for it! As long as it has been washed.
Kenz: Well for me causal Friday’s is easy for me as you might of already realised from my answers above I’m a simple man. So all black works for me most Friday’s, I’m not ashamed to say it. Luckily for me my work place is very chilled, so a pair of jeans and a an oversized T-shirt is the go to. Coupled with a nice pair of sneakers/trainers. I may be a 28 year old professional, but still a child at heart.
Josh: Easier for men – Women are spoilt for choice in clothing & take more pride in how they present themselves.
Alpesh: Not really – I would just wear chino’s and a shirt. Sometimes I would just wear what I would typically wear on a weekday because sometimes it’s just easier – stress free Fridays! 🙂
Darren: Yes, in our office the “casual Friday” is not properly designated with some people coming in like they do Monday to Thursday, some with jeans, some with shorts. I think that companies could communicate more by sending out standard guidelines including if clients are expected in as well etc. In regards to choosing an outfit, it can be difficult as the thought of being too casual creeps in, which means that I generally dress like I do all week, except swapping a polo shirt for a work shirt, so not very casual!
Paul: I fully support the dress-down-Friday – I think it contributes to the good office atmosphere prior to the weekend. The main (rather tedious) issue in deciding what to wear I find is “will this violate company rules?” Companies vary of course, but where I work the guidelines are rather restricting, and sticking to them does rather limit what you can wear. I tend to gravitate towards smart-casual as my “standard” attire anyway so it’s not too difficult – but it is easy to slip into the trap of wearing the same “safe” items over and over – particularly with trousers.
Jack: Personally, I don’t find it hard but I do take a while to decide what to wear. This process can be week long, not necessarily a conscious decision taking a week to decide but ongoing in my head, but I plan ahead so I’m prepared and comfortable. I’ll then iron a couple of options and decide in the morning. I’ll not wear the same shirt a week apart, not because anyone would notice and comment but I know as an almost natural reaction I will unconsciously scan what someone is wearing, then I’ll notice if they have a new shirt from the normal collection or a new Friday casual knitted Polo like someone in the next bay to me : ). I would assume this is not the norm for most men but everyone is different I suppose. I probably take more time deciding what to wear on a Friday, as it can show more of your personality and more of what you wear casually rather than the office uniform. I probably have more casual weekend clothes than work clothes so I still like to make an effort. I will wear different shoes, maybe Suede tassel loafers (again!) or a boat shoe, something not as formal In the summer I will sometimes not wear socks or take them off when leaving work, you can buy good hidden shoe socks from a lot of places that obviously help your feet breathe and make them more comfortable. Comfortable jeans and shirt or t-shirt, again finishing it off with a jacket from the casual jacket collection of the wardrobe ; ) Basically I like to change everything for a Friday even down to Aftershave/cologne.
Ed: Yes I sometimes go for a polo shirt on Fridays but I worry it is too casual and doesn’t feel and look as good as a nice oxford shirt.
9) Another trend I have noticed in recent years and fully applaud, is the colourful sock. Happy Socks to Penguin, bold primary colours or even matching sock and tie combinations – are you a firm believer and partaker of this? Is there such a thing as too outlandish or bright?
Dan: I am a big fan of happy socks. It started when I was bought a pair as a gift once, I wore them to work one day and someone pointed out that they looked ridiculous. Me being me, I ventured out and bought a lot more to add to the sock draw and it became a regular thing.
Kenz: It’s a big fat yes for me. Generally work attire is quite boring, let’s face it. Shirt and Chino’s can only do so much. Match it all with a loud, bright pair of socks – its the best way to stand out and express yourself. My go to sock company would have be Paul Smith. He does the classic socks with the well know Paul Smith stripes, however that’s not what draws me to him to buy socks. They do some excellent flowered patterned socks, that work for me.
Josh: Firm believer – Don’t personally take part in it – Brighter the socks the better.
Alpesh: Not at all, depending on what I am wearing I would wear a brighter sock on Friday’s and weekends. Why not…it’s fun and cheerful!
Darren: I personally wear a trainer sock at all times with standard colours. I believe that wearing a colourful sock or tie is great if it fits your personality and the situation. Some scenarios may not be suitable for a Homer Simpson Donut tie!
Paul: Colorful socks are good – but I think you have to be able to pull it off. For me, I prefer dark socks with coloured logos – these tend to go better with what I wear anyway; but I have seen quite a few cheeky colourful examples on my commute and, where well-chosen, they do look good – often a good contrast to quintessentially smarter colours.
Jack: I applaud the colourful sock in most cases. I have colourful socks, stripy socks, and polka dock socks but I wear them in specific situations and with specific outfits. With a full suit I will usually wear a plain sock or subtly patterned and pair this with my trouser colour, overall predominant colour or with my shoes depending on the rest of the outfit. I’ll wear colourful socks when I’m more casual with a pair of jeans and trainers so I feel it doesn’t look out of place. I believe there is too outlandish and bright especially if you don’t think about the full look and just wear yellow socks with any ensemble it looks tacky. It sounds strange but you have to pick the right colours to make it look like you haven’t thought about it but somehow it goes and looks good, not a lot of people can pull this off.
A good brand for smart colourful and patterned socks is the London Sock company. You can subscribe monthly and they send you a pair or selection of pairs each month that you choose beforehand.
Ed: Yes and no!
10) And finally, for your fellow mankind who are seriously struggling with the warmer weather we have had in recent months, what tips would you give for looking smart but staying cool in the office in 2019 and beyond?
Dan: My tip is to not worry about what people think, wear what you want to wear, think about your comfort over looks.
Kenz: Fit is key when trying to stay cool and looking cool in the heat. So understand your body and dress to it. It will be timeless. Honestly it’s the best advice I could give.
Josh: Before you leave the house make sure you’ve showered, brushed your teeth and invested in some deodorant. Basic hygiene is something that will help with these issues and don’t wear colors that attract heat and cause you to sweat.
Alpesh: Wear thinner shirts, and chinos. Change at work so wearing more looser casual clothes on the commute to work in will keep you a step away from becoming flustered. If your work place has showers then use it.
Darren: Lighter trouser material, a decent pair of leather shoes and light cotton work shirts with a sleeve design that allows them to be rolled up properly to make a short sleeve. Opt for a cravat instead of tie, or add a smart light suit jacket to an open necked shirt to replace the tie.
Paul: Keep it light, keep it loose-fitting and leave the tie at home or in the desk drawer.
Jack: Adapt and think about it, make the effort. Update your wardrobe with a few key pieces that are purely for Summer. For work a pair of linen trousers or breathable chinos is a perfect addition, change the shirts you wear from dress cuff, to button down oxford or light cotton, with more room around the neck. Thinner socks, and breathable shoes. Change oxfords to penny loafers, change hard leather to suede, change black to tan. Little changes go a long way to keep cooler in the summer months, changes in colours and materials will make you feel more comfortable and make you feel good with how you look, confident. If you want to wear layers still as I do, make sure they’re the correct material or style, a linen field jacket or an overshirt with pockets for the weekday commute. Put Phones and wallets in bags not in trouser pockets! Buy shirts that actually fit around the chest and arms not the first one you see in the shop or online, take an extra 5 minutes to look at an item and try it on, feel the material, this will benefit you in the long run. For me fit is almost the most important thing but is generally not a priority for people, you don’t have to spend an extortionate amount of money to find your fit, just take a little extra time and get some advice if needed.
Here is a link to a blog that I read weekly, It’s great for people that have a passion for style and quality. I read it to get ideas, as the majority of clothes featured are the highest of quality and mostly bespoke so way out of my price range. Very interesting though.
Ed: No suits, ties or man made fabrics, button down cotton open neck shirts are a must, plus chinos and suede shoes.
Thank you all so much for taking part in this interview, I am sure the readers and myself included feel so much more enlightened to the plights men face in the warmer climes also.
Until next time,