The English summer is as ethereal as it is ephemeral. Blissfully warm weeks with soothing breezes and calm evenings are punctuated, sometimes daily, by storms and lightning floods. Holiday plans, social events and, of course, barbecues are convened and cancelled at the whim of the elements. Our summer wardrobes are also at their mercy.Assembling a suitable tailored wardrobe for the summer months is no mean feat, especially for men, who are often expected to retain their suits even on the hottest and most humid of days. Investing in warm-weather clothing may seem foolhardy considering the season's volatility; many men will probably conclude that a wool suit has a versatility that one of linen or seersucker does not, and on the face if it, who could blame them? But building a durable collection of suits that enable men to retain their cool, comfort and creative edge during the summer months need not be difficult or expensive. Moreover, an appropriate range of summer clothes will give the winter wardrobe a break and increase its lifespan.
But where to start? The linen jacket or suit is the quintessence of the English gent's summer wardrobe. Period dramas are replete with aristos replacing their heavy and sombre winter suiting with linen suits of cream and other pastel shades. This bucolic tradition endures, popularised in part by Baz Luhrmann's lavish reinterpretation of The Great Gatsby and a more general interest in vintage vogues, but the creation of new fabrics that blend the linen with cotton or silk helps to give the jacket or suit a durability that prevents it from becoming overly crumpled. Summer fabrics do not mean that a strong silhouette is sacrificed. Linen woven with silk remains delicate, but the texture of the fabric, not to mention its subtle sheen that comes to life when the clouds part, provides a unique and contemporary twist.
Another option is seersucker. Often overlooked, at least in Europe, this cotton fabric has a wrinkled appearance because the threads of the fabric are pulled together when it is woven. The undulations in the fabric mean that it does not cling to the body and allows air to circulate, so it is interesting to look at and highly efficient in hot conditions. Usually produced in colourful stripes or gingham, seersucker has sufficient versatility to appear both smart and casual; it works well as part of a preppy look and has long been popular in America. At Regent this season you will find a grey striped seersucker cotton jacket, there are further options available for made-to-measure suits and jackets.
A navy blazer is a particularly shrewd option if the thought of a suit makes you sweat. A tailored blazer can add a helpful touch of distinction - think Pitti Uomo street style - if formality is necessary for an evening club or bar. Navy blue is sufficiently versatile and can be paired effortlessly with trousers in contrasting colours and textures. Unlike seersucker, which has not always been in vogue, a tailored blazer is unlikely to date. Depending on the occasion, any jacket can be enlivened and personalised with a silk or linen pocket square. Bold colours are presently in vogue and remember the mantra of Prussian King Frederick II, l'audace, l'audace toujours l'audace! (even if he were thinking about matters military rather than sartorial). To complete the look and to really show one's cool, sunglasses are a summer essential. Whilst Ray Bans have long been popular, thanks in large part to America's JFK, styles by Triwa are similarly priced but handcrafted and more unique.
By adopting some of these suggestions, your wardrobe won't let you down this summer, even if the weather does.