by Anthony Enright
Summer is here, and it’s time to to beat the heat by shedding the layers and breaking out your casual wear. This is definitely a time when for most of us comfort trumps fashion, but donning casual summer duds doesn’t have to mean that style goes out the window. Nevertheless, considering how little practice we Minnesotans have with summer dressing, sometimes we need a little help to give our warm-weather style a boost. For a dose of inspiration let’s consider some style icons for timeless ideas on how to look cool while keeping cool this summer.
Ok, you don’t look like Steve McQueen, I don’t look like Steve McQueen (and we never will) so we’re not going to be able to exactly replicate the languid cool that Stevie emanates in these photos. However, there are a couple of great lessons to be learned here. The first is the power of a pale monochrome (or near monochrome) color scheme to make a simple T-shirt and chinos look clean and classic rather than schlubby. Also notice the fit on both pieces, not so loose that it looks sloppy, and not so tight that it looks constricting. The effect is simple and casual but somehow also elegant. Second, see how the accessories tie it together, the white sneakers (looking suitably lived in) and Persol sunglasses complete the look. Nearly any guy can pull something similar together, just watch the fit and don’t get to fussy; keep it cool. (Click on images below for links on where to buy for each item.)
When considering style icons Pablo Picasso may not immediately spring to mind, and though not all his sartorial choices were sound, he could rock a nautical sweater like nobody’s business. Picasso made this look a uniform of sorts, and clearly it’s flattering enough to work on guys of all ages. The nautical look is perfect for summer and easy to wear with lightly colored shorts or trousers; it also looks appropriate with a range of warm weather footwear. For added comfort, you may want to nix the sweater and opt for a lighter T-shirt option like the one below (which incidentally is made by the same company who manufactured Picasso’s infamous togs and comes in navy as well as Pablo’s trademark white).
Does any single article of summer clothing have more potential for helping a guy look like a fool than swimwear? I would say no. Speedos (even whatever square-cut speedo hybrid you’ve convinced yourself is acceptable) are best left to competitive swimmers and people named Daniel Craig. Surf trunks or baggy shorts down to the knee just make you look like you’re fourteen, so also avoid those. What’s the right trunk? See above. As always, Mr. Newman epitomizes effortless style in trunks cut not too high and not too low. They’re not baggy, but also not skin tight, giving them a timeless quality. If you must express your individuality you’re welcome to go with a pattern, but a dark solid pair like the ones below will likely be your go-to for years to come.
In the 1960′s and 70′s Terence Stamp was one of the bad boy dandies of the jet-setting British fashion set. He was well known in that era for his impeccable if flamboyant style. In this photo, far from being flashy, his refined taste shines through in the perfect version of the much maligned polo shirt. Though I often think of polo shirts as the go-to for suburban dads (Paired with in cargo shorts for that Old Navy ready backyard BBQ!) when cut well and worn right they can be the ideal summer shirt. They’re somewhat formal by virtue of the collar while still managing to be comfortable and versatile. Again, they key is in the fit, it should skim but not hug the body as per above while fitting snugly at the shoulders. A good polo is partially about material (there should be a bit of stretch to the fabric) and partially about a refined cut (a nice version available at MartinPatrick3 is below). You may spend more on this piece than may seem strictly necessary, but finding a good polo can give you that rakish ease that epitomizes summer style.