If you watch the runways, spring fashion always looks like a treat: beautiful, lightweight overcoats, interesting layering, and all kinds of colors. Unfortunately, if you’re like me, the reality is that summer is a slog. Every spring, I struggle with the conflicting emotions of looking forward to warmer weather and dreading the inevitable heat. It’s made worse by my inability to wear anything but shorts when the temperature nears 80, and my ingrained fear that I look like an overgrown child when wearing said shorts.
Of course, if you work in an office building, you probably have the added complication of air conditioning, which often means that while indoors you need to wear a parka over your warm-weather clothing if you don’t want to succumb to exposure. I haven’t managed to entirely solve this problem, and I suspect that anyone who does is lying. Even so, there are a few things I’ve managed to work out for myself, style-wise, that make the heat tolerable. I’m not saying that they’ll convince you that a 100-degree day is “pleasant,” but they may at least offer a starting point for your non-suited style when you don’t want to wear running shorts and a gym tank top.
- Light, slouchy cardigans and shirt-weight jackets
This one sounds counterintuitive, but if you live in a place with a lot of sun, a light outer layer (especially if it has a collar) can help both to block the sun and cool you down. It also solves the pocket-problem: with multiple sets of keys, EDC’s, vegetable-tanned leather wallets, phones the size of paperbacks, and whatever else, if you’re not carrying a bag you’re probably going to need pockets. I’ve amassed a small collection of pieces like this. My three most-worn items, however, are a linen shopcoat from Blue Blue Japan, a shirt-weight printed blazer from ts(s), and a denim noragi from Epaulet. All three offer the perfect compromise of warmth for the occasional chilly morning or air conditioning unit while being relaxed and light enough that being outdoors won’t melt you.
There are a few brands offering pieces like these, and it shouldn’t be surprising that many of my favorites hail from Japan. Visvim’s perennial noragi is an obvious example, but I really like what ts(s) is offering for this spring, including this great cardigan. Another good bet is Blue Blue Japan, which is showing off such beauties as this reversible jacket. Stephan Schneider also often has lightweight shirt-jackets for the spring season, which are quite nice but a bit more akin to actual outerwear than what I tend to favor.
The other perfect summer option is the Bill Cunningham special, the French chore jacket. If you’re not going to go the vintage route (try Etsy), look at brands such as Vetra and Carrier Company rather than fashion-forward names, as the relaxed cut will be more comfortable in the heat.
- Loose, cropped (or rolled) trousers
I know that in an era when trousers and jeans are still skin-tight, “relaxed” sometimes means nothing more than “you can almost move in them.” But I’m specifically talking about loose pants, pants that mostly don’t touch you except at the waist, and which swish about when you walk. Admittedly, these are still rare, and are often found at brands who excel in wide-legged repro gear (think navy coveralls, and that sort of thing). However, there are plenty of options that won’t make you look like a deck hand.
The first of those is, nonetheless, naval-inspired. The 4-pocket “overpant” style (so called because its ancestor, the 4-pocket navy pant, was worn over your other pants for extra warmth) has been appearing in more and more stores. I’m currently wearing two different pairs, both of which have proven acceptable for the summer heat. The first is from Evan Kinori, and is a pattern he regularly releases. For this spring, there’s a linen-cotton denim model, which can be worn a size (or two) up for added breeziness. Kinori also makes a lightweight field shirt/jacket, which I don’t own but can recommend after seeing it in person.
The second is a pair of Shockoe Atelier’s 4-pocket trousers in their “Como” denim, which are much more jean-like, but look great when rolled or cuffed to the ankle. There are a couple of sizes left, so you may be in luck. Of course, to go along with your noragi, it only makes sense to try something like these Blue Blue Japan wide pants. I’m wearing a similar style in the photo below, and they really are ideal for summer.
With all of these styles, I like to wear either chunky, chukka-type shoes or low-profile sneakers. Think simple canvas Vans or other plimsolls, although I’d guess that a loafer or slip-on would look great as well. That said, if you’re after something less similar to the jeans you’ve been wearing all winter, I’d recommend one of two types of trouser:
- Loose, lightweight navy trousers
Either let them puddle atop your shoes or crop them at the ankle – or do both. Navy offers a nice respite from the current trend of black-trouser-white-Common-Projects look, and lends itself better to brown footwear. I don’t find this particularly exciting, but if you’re after simple, navy trousers are simple.
- Gurkha trousers
Forum member @TTO has often shown these off in our WAYWT thread, and without saying too much, I think they look great with both casual and tailored clothing. I’ve seen these styled really well when they’ve been hemmed to an ankle length, and the shape is, I think, easier to pull off than you may realized. Off the top of my head, you can find them at What Price Glory.
- Loose, lightweight navy trousers
Hopefully, this helps to alleviate at least some of the tedium of looking through your closet when summer hits and thinking “I can’t wear any of this, I guess I’ll wear hiking shorts again.” If you have other summertime favorites, feel free to share them below.