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A Civilised Summer Style

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In the cold winter months, we often dream of warm summers. We idealise summer and associate it with carefree release and rest, going on vacation and walking on long, sandy beaches. Summer is drinking cocktails in beach bars next to the sea, doing nothing all day and all of that is very attractive. But back here in reality, summer is knocking is already knocking on our doors and temperatures are already above 30 degrees celsius. You’re walking through the city and literally melting into the asphalt. The reality is that for most of us, vacation is just two weeks and we have to spend the rest of this hot, sweltering season in our cities. If you don’t have the fortune, as I don’t, to live next to a body of water, you’ll have to ooze around the hot asphalt every day. Naturally, a question arises: how do we maintain a civilised summer style in these long, hot months. 

Now that I think about it, I’ve always found it very difficult to maintain my style in the summer. For every other season, I could say I’ve found a style that makes me feel comfortable and sophisticated, but not for summer. I like structured pieces and my most common item of clothing is the blazer. They give a degree of sophistication to your look and can easily upscale it, even though the other pieces you wear could be more casual. For example, you can look very classy even when wearing a blazer with jeans and sneakers. 

I can wear blazers in every season except summer, except maybe in the evening. But in the summer, the blazer can be replaced with a dress shirt. The dress shirt also has the structured look of the blazer. Importantly, it won’t just be an item of clothing to round out your summer outfit, but can also be combined and worn in other seasons as well. It’s very important for an item of clothing to fit in multiple outfits so you can extract maximum value out of it. 

civilised summer style in a linen shirt

The first thing we need to do when planning our summer outfit is to seek out materials that will protect against the heat and won’t encourage additional sweating (we have quite enough of that as it is). This means that we can dismiss all unnatural materials out of hand right away. 

As far as I’m concerned, the number one summer fibre is linen. Yes, I know it crumples, but that just adds to its charm. Why does everything have to be perfect? 

Linen protects against strong sunlight. It doesn’t absorb sweat and it’s easy to wash. In the past, people used to wear linen underwear because it’s resilient to frequent and intensive washing. It’s perfect for warm weather. I recommend that you obtain t least one linen shirt. Pick a brighter colour and make sure you have extra space. As a woman, I find that I’m very comfortable in a men’s linen shirt which is 2-3 sizes oversized. 

Why oversized? The answer is very simple. If the shirt is stuck to your body, it’ll cause a lot more sweating and sweating is never elegant or stylish. Air circulates more freely in a looser shirt. I likewise wouldn’t recommend tucking the shirt into your pants or skirt. If you’re brave, and male, you could steal the look of Alain Delon and Maurice Ronet in La Piscine , where they wear loose, long sleeved shirts tucked into their trousers but fully undone, except for the bottom button. This will allow air to course next to the upper body. However, I still think this look is a lot more appropriate to going out at night or when we’re physically at the beach (instead of just in our heads). 

An oversized linen dress shirt can be very easily combined with thin, baggy linen trousers or silk pants, baggy shorts or a skirt. I’m speaking here about the fully frilly look. Usually, I want clothes to follow my body line, but due to the extreme temperatures, I believe we can tolerate a degree of nonchalance in our style. 

For our feet, I recommend open-foot sandals or cloth sneakers, and you must also have a broad-brimmed summer hat such as for example a Panama hat. Another option in summer shirts are retro Hawaiian shirts, which have come back in fashion and are widely available in second-hand stores. Some are silk, which are very pleasant to wear but harder to maintain. Others are rayon or viscose which are also pleasant to wear and easier to maintain. I’ll add that this style is more relaxed, so if you work in an office with a dress code, you might not be able to wear it, except on your days off. But if you’re in a more creative line of work or work from home, you can try this style and thereby turn the city into a big, civilised beach. 

As you may have noticed, the goal of our summer look is to not reveal too much skin, which if you’re asking me looks vulgar, but is also dangerous, as exposing skin to the summer sun opens us to the dangers of sunburn and wrinkling. And no matter how relaxed this style is, it is still far more civilised than wearing a tight sleeveless shirt and hose, leaving very little to the imagination and everything to the merciless sun. 

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