Summer Lightening


As global warming threatens to end a lifelong British interest in the weather and summer becomes year-round, we need, more than ever, to consider how to look presentable when it's 110 c in the shade in Shropshire. Unless one doesn't perspire (seek the advice of your physician), or one is interested in discovering how much sweat a good weighty barathea can hold, it is imperative that we maintain sangfroid in the blazing sun, without letting sartorial standards wilt with the geraniums.

The Linen Suit

It's a suit, so just because it's made with linen shouldn't preclude being smart. The same rules of flair and dash apply; the idea that to keep cool you need to be baggy is a fallacy. A well-fitted linen suit will look good, and it's the lightness of cloth that cools you, not having billowy sails of canvas flapping about. If you like the slack, amorphous appearance, then wear a moo-moo and sink into obscurity.

Avoid: Man from Del Monte, Miami Vice or the ex-pat in Dubai. Aim more for Alex Guinness's arrest at the end of the Lavender Hill Mob, or Klaus Kinski's symphony of creases after trying to transport a paddle steamer over a mountain in Fitzcarraldo

Blazer and slacks/flannels

This can be a winner, especially if you keep to the classics. A navy blazer with white shirt and light slacks is airy, without being fairy. It has gravitas, if required, with the addition of a cravat or a tie. Unless you're a member of a club that requires you to wear its colours in blazer form, don't be too bold. Many golf clubs have made the mistake of choosing garish coats for members, thinking that distinctive means elegant, but where possible steer clear of these gaudier patterns, particularly club stripes.
Avoid: Nicholas Parsons, club stripes and pocket motifs usually reserved for the Royal Corps of Commissioners.

The Safari Suit

A tricky one to carry off. It's one thing to face-down a black rhino at 30yards with only one round left in your 500 nitro-express, but it takes another kind of courage to walk about Soho in a safari suit. Even in Africa you may wish to distance yourself from this classic, to avoid been mistaken for an American game-tourist drunk on Out of Africa. ItŐll take pluck, but can be done with dignity. Just avoid parody. If you go out wearing a monocle, fez and swagger stick, in a khaki safari-suit, you'll look like the office buffoon bound for a fancy dress party. If striding purposefully in a well-fitted tropical suit, with pockets holding a startling array of gadgets, pieces of animal tusk and fragments plundered from Egyptian tombs, you'll look like the assured man-of-action you are.
Think Alan Whicker. If you can carry it off as he did, then good for you, but perhaps the moustache is the most important accessory to work on.



An acceptable alternative to suit and tie, planters can set you apart, even from those in more elaborate attire, but only if done with conviction. Consisting of slacks, shirtsleeves, with the collar open to the third button, this is a cool response to a heatwave, but a few simple rules need to be applied:
1. Shirt and trousers with sharp creases. 2. Sleeves rolled-up no more than three-fingers below the elbow, and then ironed. 3.Do not wear socks if in deck shoes. 4. No sandals.

This is ideal for working in the heat; whether cutting-back artichokes when they're browning, or editing a magazine in a sweltering garret; it's practical style, evoking images of Gene Kelly directing, and making dance appear masculine. Or Randolph Scott relaxing after a spot of play fighting with Cary Grant in their shared house in Hollywood, and appearing somewhat less masculine.