Dress Code

Five Foolproof Summer Looks

Do you wear swimshorts to poolside cocktails or a suit to a garden party? Here are our off-duty solutions to summer’s sartorial conundrums

An old schoolteacher once suggested to our class that if we were to grow into well-rounded young men, we should treat education like a plate-spinning act. Each subject and extracurricular activity, he said, must be seen as a rapidly rotating disc to be kept in constant gyroscopic motion, lest it fall. A difficult feat to execute, requiring exquisite timing, attention and patience.

A rather laboured metaphor, perhaps. Yet it’s a concept that seems applicable when we think about maintaining the perfect wardrobe – achieved by investing in the right pieces at the right time, to ensure that all bases are covered, whatever the occasion. With The Dress Code we aim to fulfil that very goal with a comprehensive series of well-balanced looks – just when you need them. This week, we turn our attention to “off-duty” summer attire, an area of our wardrobes often approached in a more carefree, ad-hoc manner. As a result, it can feature pieces that are at best frayed and at worst look as if time has forgotten them. Like your good friend who says, “Perhaps it is time to let that Foghat T-shirt go,” we’re here to help you keep your plate marked “extracurricular” spinning.

DRINKS BY THE POOL

When hanging out with friends by the pool, certain forces are likely to result in one of two outcomes. Either you have a couple of drinks and head for dinner, or – after three hours of Long Island iced teas – you set about recreating the video to “Club Tropicana”. On the face of it, here we have a well put-together man. The sophisticated NN.07 linen shortsOfficine Generale’s mature grandad-collar shirt. And even the sandals: unmistakeably smart. Stowed in the bag, however, are a pair of loud swim shorts, a Frescobol Carioca bat-and-ball set and a bottle opener. Restaurant or rager, you’re covered.

THE GARDEN PARTY

When we think of “off-duty”, the term “casual” often comes to mind; maybe the image of being prostrate on a couch, idling away a Sunday. The Oxford Dictionary, however, simply stipulates, “Not engaged in one’s usual work.” Picture the scene: you’re at a rather pleasant garden party. Your boss is nowhere to be seen. You are undoubtedly “off-duty”, but your clothes should say “with it”. We like the relaxed-yet-bookish feel of this deep-blue corduroy suit from Acne Studios (we’re thinking Mr Jarvis Cocker on holiday), and you’ll be thankful for its heavier construction when the day cools. Complete the look with some penny loafers, sans socks.

AT THE BEACH

You can saunter around the old town in as many cities as you like, but everyone knows that true holidays are spent stationary on a beach. The handy thing about this look is that there’s no need to change – made with a quick-drying material, these swimshorts from Hartford will become, well, shorts, faster than you can say “a margarita on the rocks, please”. Just make sure you leave your Havaianas by the pool, and go for a more robust sandal, like these by TEVA. And remember that the sun might not always shine, especially if you’re somewhere not-so-exotic, so take this simple cotton-jersey sweatshirt by minimalist master Our Legacy.

CHECKING IN

It might be tempting for some to arrive at the airport looking like a Daily Mail-papped celebrity – all big sunglasses, woollen hat and baggy sweatpants. But if you’re not an A lister with an FA Cup win or booky-wook to your name then you need to dress comfortably but smartly and you needn’t change when you land. Go with light, breathable pieces such as this Gucci striped mohair and silk-blend sweater, the Canali wool polo shirt and these “pyjama” trousers from Valentino. And carry it off with a sophisticated leather holdall from Bottega Veneta – a brand that does them as well as anyone.

BRAVING THE CITY

A fixture on the spring/ summer runways for a few years now, things are looking all-white for men once again this season. At the recent LCM shows, designers from Alexander McQueen to Agi & Sam looked to riff on the trend once again. It can be hard to pull off, especially if you choose to emulate Mr Kanye West (or an Abbey Road-era Mr John Lennon), so we suggest opting for Gucci’s finessed bomber jacket to break things up. Slip on the newest addition to the adidas Originals ZX running family and you’ve got a look that will see you through any day off in the city, whether you’re heading to an exhibition or dining alfresco.