The Deputy Style Editor of Men’s Health UK talks to us about how to spot a summer suit to beat the heat, his suitcase essentials and the place he goes to seek a change of pace from London life.
What should you look for when investing in a suit for the warmer months?
It’s a common misconception that tailoring is a no-go during warmer weather, you just need the right kind. It amazes me every summer how many men I see in the city in the same heavy wool-flannel or poly-blend suits they wear in winter, then complaining about the heat. If you’re considering a new summer suit the first place to start is the fabric.
Look for tropical wool cloths, which are milled with a more open weave and feel airier as result. The weight of the fabric, which is traditionally measured in ounces, is also key. An 8-9oz cloth is very light and perfect for summer, whereas 9.5oz-11oz is mid-weight and more suited to year-round wear, while higher weights are better for winter. Wool-linen and linen-cotton blend fabrics are also a smart choice in sultry climes due to their breathability. To identify a tropical-weight cloth, hold the back of a jacket up to a light source – it should almost be sheer and you’ll be able to see your fingers through it. This indicates a fine, open weave that will help regulate your temperature and keep you comfortable, even on a rush-hour commuter train stuffed to the gunwales.
The Italians have long been masters at producing tropical-weight wools, which should come as little surprise given that temperatures in Italy can regularly hit the high 30s. Although DAKS is a British brand, it makes a point of using Italian cloths for this reason. For the SS19 collection, DAKS has sourced cloths from the Loro Piana and Lanificio F.lli Cerruti mills – both of which have pedigrees that stretch back to the 19th century, so they’ve had plenty of time to perfect their craft. Linings are also an important consideration – look for jackets with half or ‘buggy’ linings, in Savile Row speak. These typically have a lining through the sleeves and around the shoulders or just half the back. It might sound like the tailor is saving himself some work, but partially lined and unlined jackets are a sign of a truly skilled craftsman as all the seams and innards of the jacket are on show – so there’s nothing to hide shoddy workmanship behind. Of course, the main benefit of removing a layer of fabric is to enhance that all-important breathability.
Tell us about your suitcase essentials for a summer break?
I always pack a selection of printed short sleeve shirts and a tropical weight single-breasted blazer – usually in navy or cream and a decent pair of swim shorts. Tailored ones preferably, which look good away from the pool as well. When you’re on the road, packing items that can multitask is a solid strategy, although I always seem to be terribly overweight at the check-in desk.
Sandals are also an essential part of my holiday kit. A lot of men seem to have an irrational fear of baring their feet, but I wore sandals all the time growing up, so it doesn’t faze me. My parents were born in the Far East, where sandals are the norm as you need to slip your footwear on and off when you go into houses and even certain public buildings. It’s considered pretty rude to trample across someone’s house in your shoes. And actually, when you think about it, it’s not very hygienic. I also think it’s a good idea to give your feet a chance to breathe during warmer weather.
What is one of the biggest style faux pas you see during hot weather?
Inappropriate footwear. I see lots of guys walking around in high summer wearing the heavy boots, brogues and trainers that they wear in winter. If you’re a bit cautious about exposing your toes in sandals, a decent pair of woven or suede loafers is a safer alternative.
Is there an item in your wardrobe that you couldn’t live without?
My watches. My father always taught me to wear a watch to keep tabs on the time and I feel really lost without one. A lot of people I know just rely on their phone for the time, but I find digging around in my pocket for my phone a faff. It’s far easier just to raise your wrist. I also like the fact that watches are an extension of your personal taste.
Men have less ways of expressing themselves with their attire than women – most of us don’t wear much jewellery for example – and your choice of timepiece can say a lot about you. I also think a lot of men like watches because of the mechanics of their engineering. I’ve always been fascinated with beautifully engineered things, from steam trains to analogue cameras and manual typewriters – and watches also fall into this category.
What is your favourite holiday destination?
There are many, but the one place I find myself constantly drawn back to is Venice. The reason why I love it – apart from its obvious aesthetic qualities – is the fact it makes you slow down to a more human pace. The first time visited, I’d planned a military-style sightseeing schedule, but within a few hours, I realised it isn’t possible to stick to such a rigid program in Venice. You constantly get lost in the ancient winding streets, the vaporettos – or water buses – move at a glacial speed and you find the natural rhythm of the city just makes you to take stock, slow down and go with the pace of the water.
You just do what you can in a day and whatever you miss, you do tomorrow or the next time you come. Then you stop and have a spritz and some incredible squid-ink pasta or bigoli – a local dish made with white onions and anchovies – and soak up the atmosphere. The absence of traffic and pollution and the ebb and flow of the lagoon waters has an incredibly calming effect, too. I’ve always said anyone suffering from PTSD needs to be prescribed a week in Venice and they’ll be over it.
As the home of the Biennale, Guggenheim collection and other countless treasures of art and design, Venice is also a city of great style. The Russian-American poet and essayist, Joseph Brodsky, spent many winters in Venice from 1972 until his death. In his 1989 book, Watermark: An Essay on Venice, he describes how the white marble and reflections on the canal waters makes visitors more aware of their flaws, encouraging them to put more thought into their appearance and the clothes they put on their back. It’s definitely a city for dressing up.
shot on location at The Chewton Glen, New Forest.
PHOTOGRAPHY - Francesco Foroni
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