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The Southern Trad Thread's Guide to Dressing in the Heat

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Caustic Man, May 8, 2018.

  1. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Stylish Dinosaur

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    Here's something to get your brains working on a Tuesday morning. Let's discuss dressing in the torrid heat of Summer. We all know that there is such a thing as cotton, linen, fresco, etc. but how do you actually wear it?

    Do you keep your garments loose and breezy? Do you go without a sport coat? Do you prefer the sweat protection of an undershirt or do you favor the coolness of no undershirt? What cloths do you find to be the most cool during the Summer months? Any other things to consider that I haven't mentioned?

    This OP isn't meant to be a comprehensive guide so much as it is meant to start a conversation. So feel free to add things or disagree with what I've said here.

    I know that's a lot to think about so let me try and answer them myself, first.

    1. I do try to keep my garments loose but it's less a matter of keeping cool than it is of simply favoring a looser aesthetic. From having asked several people, more than a few like looseness in the humidity for the air circulation it provides. I do agree with this and recommend avoiding tight clothes. Even linen, when worn tight, can stick to the body and at the very least be irritating as sweat makes the garment cling to you.

    2. I prefer to keep covered up in the sun. From years living in the Middle East I've discovered the value of keeping cool through covering up. But the Middle East is a dry heat, right? What about the humid South? Actually any places in the Middle East get extremely high humidity but the value of covering up remains. That's why you see local men in that part of the world walking around in loose, full length, garments that cover up all but the face and hands. Woe to the uninitiated westerner who thinks he is best served running around in shorts and a t-shirt. Covering up not only provides you with a shade, it protects you from the damaging intensity of the sun. I won't always wear a sport coat in these conditions but I'll almost always wear a long sleeve shirt. If I mist have a jacket then I'll usually carry it until I'm indoors.

    3. Although I understand the value of an undershirt, I've never worn one. Or at least rarely. I'm not a super sweaty dude so that helps. The fewer layers, the better, as far as I'm concerned. If you can suffer through it then an undershirt might provide much needed protection for those who need it.

    4. There are a lot of different opinions about which cloths are best for the heat with some favoring lightness and others favoring open-ness of weave. Ideally you'd have a light and open cloth but this can sometimes lead to an overly delicate cloth that won't hold up well over time. An informed friend claims that fresco is a better option than linen because, although fresco is often not terribly light the weave is open and allows air to circulate. The Gentleman's Gazette claims that linen is better than seersucker because although seersucker is light, it is not a very open weave and would tend to insulate more. Linen can be open but I've seen more than a few that are very closely woven. Some linens are very heavy as well with Irish linen being notoriously heavy. My own opinion is that at a certain point it stops mattering in the sense that if it's 100 degrees out you will feel like it's at least 100 degrees no matter what you wear. You're going to sweat. For that reason I prefer cloths that dry quickly like seersucker and other light cottons.

    5. An option for you daring dandies: try a cotton neckerchief dunked in cool water and tied loosely round the neck. If you've never tried this you might be surprised at how cool this simple trick can keep you. Not only does it provide some protection for the neck from the rays of the sun; it also helps to keep the skin closest to the carotid arteries cool. The presumption is that this will help to cool the hottest part of your body, the head. This can wash away, or rub off sunscreen applied to the area, so be advised.

    6. Think of your feet. We often miss this one when thinking of keeping cool but considering how much feet sweat it is worth considering. In the heat loafers are king. They tend to be more open than lace-up shoes which allows more air to circulate. Go sockles if you wish (I can't abide). Sandals and flip flops are okay if you wish but your feet benefit from being covered in the heat just like the rest of you.

    Some people claim that certain colors keep you cooler than others. Dark being the warmest and light being the coolest. I don't know if that's true and from personal anecdote I don't think it matters a whole lot in terms of felt-coolness. I prefer lighter colors in the heat just because I think it looks better in the light.

    What are your tips or things to consider for dressing in the heat?

    @Claghorn @Roycru @orange fury @Andy57 @MoneyWellSpent @SprezzaTrash @UrbanComposition @LA Guy @sugarbutch @Thin White Duke @CaptainTohm @smittycl
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2018

  2. Joe Schmoe

    Joe Schmoe Senior Member

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    This is a great thread.

    It's counter-intuitive, but I always opt for lightweight wool socks in the summer. They are a little warmer, but they wick the sweat away from your feet and in that sense are ultimately more comfortable. They also don't smell.

    As a very sweaty dude, so when in a humid environment I always opt for the undershirt. There's really no alternative if you want to avoid giant circles of sweat on the underarm areas of your dress shirt. But a good quality cotton undershirt is very effective in soaking up perspiration. Even in 100 degree weather it should keep your dress shirt fresh.

     

  3. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Stylish Dinosaur

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    Interesting recommendation for wool socks. I too understand the great things wool can do to deal with sweat. It's more beneficial for me to stick to cotton or linen but cotton in particular can get super soggy when temps get really hot.
     

  4. palk

    palk Senior Member

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    All linen for me. Linen socks; linen shirts; linen trousers; linen jackets (or sans jacket as appropriate). I try to stick to unlined / unstructured (i.e., extremely light-weight) jackets. Lately I've been greatly enjoying linen tebas from Bel y Cia; example from their website (not me):

    [​IMG]
     

  5. Mr. Wonderbeak

    Mr. Wonderbeak Senior Member

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    As it pertains to undershirts, my mentality ultimately depends on what I am wearing. Typically with linen, madras, or seersucker I can get away from the undershirts. As Caustic Man noted above, I also tend to wear them a bit fuller cut to allow for more circulation.

    For days when I am wearing a suit for meetings, I always wear an undershirt. My go to has been a shirt made by Thompson Tee. It has a very deep v-neck so it is virtually undetectable, even when I unbutton a button or two. It also has sweat absorbing underarm panels, which I have found to work very well even on the warmest days.
     

  6. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Stylish Dinosaur

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    @palk Oh yes! Tebas. I like them for warm weather too. They almost always come unlined or half lined insofar as I have seen. What do you think of linen versus other hot weather cloths? Why do you choose it over fresco which is also an open weave as many linens are?
     

  7. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Stylish Dinosaur

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    @Mr. Wonderbeak I saw those on TV. It didn't make me want to wear t-shirts but it did make me feel lucky that I don't have a sweat problem. :-D
     

  8. kickstand

    kickstand Senior Member

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    A cotton linen blend anything is my one go to that hasnt been mentioned yet. Ive never found a pure linen shirt Ive really loved especially not one I can wear with a jacket and tie. The hottest days are fresco and seersucker jackets, cotton-linen shirt, hopsack trousers, cotton socks with loafers.

    A non clothing thing I always do is just try and not freeze myself out at home and work. The 100+ weather seems even hotter if you just left a icy cold living room.
     

  9. kickstand

    kickstand Senior Member

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    And Im sure its forbidden on styleforum but some days you just gotta loosen the tie and roll up your sleeves
     

  10. palk

    palk Senior Member

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    In humid heat, I find linen to be best at capitalizing on the moisture in the air for make-shift air conditioning; fresco breathes, but for me in humid heat it will still get swampy. That said, linen will wrinkle far more than fresco, and usually has a relatively unrefined texture (arguably part of its charm), so if I'm dressing for CBD I will go with a fresco, but otherwise prefer linen.
     

  11. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Stylish Dinosaur

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    @kickstand good catch. I did fail to mention blends of any kind at all. Cotton/linen blends are interesting. I'm wearing a cotton linen jacket today and I like the fact that it's casual and wrinkles nicely while being a little more substantial than a lot of thin linens.

    @palk the demands of one's work environment are an interesting conundrum to all these principles. I suppose in some places wearing a wrinkled linen suit to a business meeting or a meeting with a client is acceptable but I would suspect that's few and far between.
     

  12. Roycru

    Roycru Distinguished Member

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    The warmer season in Southern Arizona is longer and generally warmer than the warm season in Southern California but it is also (much) dryer.

    Just as the locals in the UK don't notice it's raining (as shown here by the Duke Of Edinburgh and the Royal Marines)......



    .....the locals in Southern Arizona don't notice it's warm.

    Had lunch on Friday at Tommy Bahama's Restaurant And Bar (part of the Tommy Bahama store) at Kierland Commons in Scottsdale AZ.

    Ate in the second floor dining room. Although it was around 100F, all the windows were open. The ladies who lunch were dressed like ladies who lunch in cooler climates. I wasn't hot wearing this (all Brooks Brothers).

    The blue blazer is a seventies wool and polyester blend quarter lined hopsack blazer that is always very cool and comfortable, never wrinkles, is easy to clean (with a damp towel or a clothes brush), and is not on any insect's favorite foods list.


    IMG_0772 2.jpg

    Saw many men out walking around wearing ties and jackets on Friday. A few days earlier, when I went to the nearest branch of my bank for the first time, I wore a tie and jacket and was given a tour of the bank by the branch manager who was also wearing a tie and jacket, as were all the male staff. The female staff were all wearing dresses or skirts and blouses. None were wearing pantsuits.

    As some have mentioned undershirts, I have never worn undershirts. Usually wear unlined white or tan suede lace up shoes (or spectator shoes) when it's warmer.

    Unlike in some warmer areas, in both Southern California and Southern Arizona, even though days may be over 100F, after sundown it's often below 70F. Silk jackets keep you cool during the day and warm at night. I have several silk jackets, among them an old (also from the seventies) Brooks Brothers silk ivory, grey, and tan glen plaid open weave quarter lined tweed jacket that's always comfortable regardless of the weather, but, like many old sack coats, has totally lost whatever shape it may once have had (as well as having a moth hole in one sleeve, which doesn't bother me).
     

  13. palk

    palk Senior Member

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    Agreed, though probably more acceptable places where Southern Trad is generally acceptable / appreciated.

    I've not had good experience with cotton-linen blends and I'm starting to think it's a gimmick by the maker to boost profits: the garments wear like fully cotton garments but cost more because of the linen. I've had good luck with wool-linen blends though which for me have worn like linen but are a bit better about not wrinkling.
     

  14. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Stylish Dinosaur

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    @Roycru I'm surprised there are so many jackets and ties in Arizona. The heat isn't what surprises me about it so much as the fact that when I think of Arizona I think hippies, casual clothes, and bad food. Apologies to any "Zonies" in the room. I suppose it's encouraging to hear your description, though.

    @palk one thing I think cotton linen blends do well is to make the garment a little lighter than it would otherwise be. The cotton linen jacket I'm wearing today is significantly lighter than my 100% cotton trousers and my trousers are pretty light.
     

  15. aj805

    aj805 Senior Member

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    Agree with pretty much all your points. Probably 80% of my wardrobe is tailored specifically to deal with heat, living in the south here. I'll add:

    1. Shirts: The most breathable and coolest wearing shirt fabric is linen, linens are also usually somewhat transparent and because they wrinkle so I will normally only wear for casual outdoors occasions (beach, etc) or under a jacket. Otherwise I am usually wearing a cotton/linen blend. These are not made equal of course and to find a lightweight one with a more open weave is ideal. Wrinkles more than say your favorite Mercer but I will take that over sweating any day.

    I actually don't find seersucker cool wearing or breathable at all (unless compared to flannel), less so than even many broadcloths I've encountered. I believe their cooling effectiveness is somewhat mythological ala Solaro.

    2. Pants: I believe tropical wool (fresco) is the coolest and best fabric here, in my experience outperforming all but the lightest linen. No wrinkling, holds a crease, looks sharp all day long. I am more apt though to wear linen normally however due to the fact that I despise dry cleaning and launder my linens at home, and the texture pairs better with my other clothes and style than does wool. Get them unlined unless they're translucent, in which case get them lined to the crotch but with linen or at least light cotton, but never poly or nylon.

    3. Undergarments: I wear linen underwear and socks, or at the very least 100% cotton boxers. Yes, this makes a huge difference over the random undergarments which normally I think have a synthetic blend. Similar to getting a linen summer jacket and having it fully lined in polyester, junk undergarments can ruin your whole rig on a hot day. Also, thin merino wool socks (such as from Pantherella) wear very cool in summer.

    4. Shoes: Suede leather breathes very well, and unlined shoes such as Alden's unlined chukkas are great in the heat.
    I also have hauraches (woven leather) that I love wearing casually in the heat, which I believe are the coolest wearing type of shoe that still actually covers your foot, unlike sandals.

    5. Hat: Even if your whole outfit is tailored to maximize coolness, you're going to sweat if a hot sun is beating down directly on your head and shoulders. Have a porous, real straw/Panama hat (not "Shantung" paper or plastic) with a 2.5" or more brim and this can make all the difference in your comfort while outside.
     

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