Alan Moore chats to the Ayrshire Magazine about how to dress for summer
When it comes to cocktails, I like my drinks like I like my women; strong, complex and sultry (I’m sure my wife would agree)
The Negroni has been my aperitif of choice to accompany the distinctly Mediterranean climate that Ayrshire has been enjoying of late. A potent mix of Campari, gin, vermouth and sass; sipping a Negroni transports you to yachting on the Amalfi Coast or cycling the Lakes of Como, perfect with charcuterie and sunshine. Alas the reality is that al fresco dining in Maybole is far removed from that of Milan, however there’s no reason why we can’t look as good as our Italian brothers whilst we share their weather.
Summer for me evokes images of a bronzed Jude Law cavorting around Capri a la The Talented Mr Ripley, jazz, ice cream, cigars, beaches, boat trips and plenty of great food, shared with even greater company. Yet when summer finally hits us we often struggle with what to wear; maybe it’s our peely wally completions or pessimistic caution that dictates that we either cover up or bare all. Rarely do we strike the balance of comfort and style, usually sacrificing one for the other.
The Italians are kings of cool, the effortless style and flair on show at the recent Pitti Umo in Florence is to be revered, and it’s an event that provides much inspiration for summer styling. Borrowing a few tips from those who spend more time in the sun than we do, I’ve complied a guide to looking sharp when the temperature rises
I know a lot of gents who go through a ritualistic sheering in the summer months; trimming beards and hair to militant standards for the purpose of keeping cool (or running faster, one of the two) I’ve never felt the need to do this. Yes, a shorter haircut and clean shave is lower maintenance and cooler than a mane of hair and bushly bristles, but my advice is to prune and cultivate, not harvest. Consider using a lighter weight hair product than usual and a gentle moisturiser to keep skin hydrated and nourished whilst also protecting against dry air and harsh sunlight. I also change my fragrance twice a year; reserving deep and smoky musks for winter, opting for lighter notes of citrus and bergamot when the sun is shining.
On a sweltering hot day, the last thing you want to think about is wearing a suit. However, the right fabric and paired with the right accessories, a suit can be the perfect attire for an afternoon of indulgence or an evening of sophistication. One of my top rules in styling is to avoid synthetic materials. Synthetics are man-made fibres that usually have chemical sounding names or sound like they’re from the future; polyester, acrylic, rayon, Kevlar, lastex are all products that help to cheaply bulk out the fibre content of a garment. The problem with these kinds of materials is that they don’t have the natural wicking properties of natural fibres, too long in the sun could result in you feeling like a melted Calipo, dripping in sweat, trapped in plastic!
Lightweight wool or linen is perfect for summer suiting. Look for blazers and trousers that are half lined or unlined with light construction to add a twist of sartorial nonchalance to your look; the aim is relaxed yet confident. In my opinion pastel tones are a bit too fashiony and don’t have the same timeless elegance or versatility of ivory, olive or navy which will never go out of favour. I know some gents who don’t like how creased linen can get, consider this part of it’s charm and embrace it, paired with a sharp blazer or shorts will look more Venice than vagrant.
I’m an advocate of a tie, even when it’s hot a tie can look great and smarten up any outfit. That said, summer is about relaxed, loose expression; unbutton an extra button on your shirt, roll up your sleeves, unbutton a couple of cuff buttons and get some air flowing around you. A crisp white cotton shirt will look fantastic with any combination of suit or separate, equally adding a linen in shades of pink, blue, stone or clay will add a rich texture to the look. A round neck Breton or block coloured tee under a well-fitting suit or blazer can make for the perfect casual look, but make sure the materials complement each other well, to get this right is an advanced technique! Pocket squares are a nice way to add some colour or pattern to an outfit. Keep it light and flouncy, leave the straight folded pocket squares for the office, instead lay the square in the palm of your hand, pick it up from the middle and stuff it into your pocket, then forget about it.
Avid readers will notice that In almost every style guide I’ve written since October I’ve made reference to Boat Shoe or Loafer weather, well dear readers, now is that time. Whether you’re planning on quaffing prosecco on deck whilst going from port to port or strolling through the marina; boat shoes, loafers or moccasins (sockless of course) give an air of bon vivance, of raconteur, of rakish charm. They paint a picture of a man who has come from somewhere and is going somewhere else, a man who has a story to tell and a story to find. Soft, textured leather adds depth and history whilst luxurious velvet and suede convey an air of intrigue and mystery.
Wild prints of tropical florals or birds of paradise enjoy moments in the sun every now and then when they are deemed fashionable, yet I think these bold and bright colours are timeless and transcends fashion trends and forecasts. A statement print on a shirt, tie, or pocket square can make for a natty and confident statement of personality. Good design will always remain good design and peacoakery at this level should be admired. Remember the rules of balance, bold patterns should be offset with subtle block colours to make the most of the statement.
Tom Ford would say that gentlemen don’t wear shorts unless their playing sports, but what does he know? Shorts are perfectly acceptable summer attire, in fact I would encourage them. Shorts are tricky to get right but if you narrow it down there are really only two choices; dress or swim. Dress shorts are like trousers with no calves, they are the same material, have the same pockets, same belt loops (or side adjusters if you’re well versed in tailoring) and worn on the same occasions albeit warmer. Dress shorts can be paired with shirts, polos, tees or fine knitwear in the evening for a refined and mature look. Swim shorts are perfect for lazy days by the pool or at the beach; swim shorts in bold patterns and prints can be fun and equally stylish as the more reserved dress short. However, mix the two at your peril.
Dressing for summer is about getting the perfect balance of comfort and style, looking great but also feeling relaxed and comfortable.
By the way; to make the perfect Negroni mix equal parts Campari, Gin (preferably one that’s heavy on citrus botanicals) and sweet vermouth, serve in a short glass over plenty of ice with a traditional orange wedge garnish. Pair with local charcuterie and a soundtrack of jazz for a perfect summer afternoon.