I was one of the models for The Tom James Company Spring and Summer 2014 fashion show. I don’t always model in fashion shows. The admiration I receive every day when wearing world-class custom tailored clothing from Tom James is usually sufficient. But in this case I had to say yes because my outfit was a pair of linen drawstring shorts and a linen shirt, and I really like to wear linen.
When I first tried them on in my office a few weeks before the show (sometime last December), everyone in the office instinctively said, “Wow, you look COMFORTABLE!” No kidding! That’s pretty much what you get from softened linen – the look and feel of extreme comfort. Wearing that clothing slowed my pace, and made me feel more relaxed. I think it even lowered my blood pressure! I was immediately longing for warmer weather (It was December, remember), a deck chair, and a Corona with lime!
Clothing has the power to set the tone, change the mood and alter how a person feels. In a matter of moments, the right clothing can elevate confidence, make one feel more powerful or more attractive, younger or more mature, energized or relaxed. In the case of that linen outfit, it was all about comfort and casual chic. I would wear that clothing at a tropical resort or to a backyard BBQ and be really comfortable, feeling great about how I look.
Dressing well for summer casual occasions doesn’t require a lot of clothing. You just need a few of the right pieces that you can mix and match with confidence. Perhaps as fundamental as any item for a classic casual wardrobe is the ubiquitous “polo” shirt. The name is a bit of misnomer as it was originally designed by Rene Lacoste for championship tennis in 1926. By the mid-30’s, the short sleeve shirt of pique cotton with a soft, flat collar was rapidly becoming the universal shirt choice for many sporting and leisure pursuits, including the games of polo, golf and, of course, tennis. In each case, the shirt we now know as a polo shirt replaced a much stiffer, long sleeve, button front shirt, thus providing much greater comfort and ease of movement. A basic polo shirt wardrobe should include solid colors of: white and navy, and at least one other color of choice.
A selection of shorts and cotton (or linen) pants are also fundamental to a summer casual wardrobe, keeping in mind that most denim is too heavy for true summer weather. The basic colors are khaki, stone, and navy, but one shouldn’t hesitate to consider other colors such as shades of red, orange and green.
Note: In general, except perhaps on the golf course (and especially if your name is Ricky Fowler,) choose a neutral tone for either the top or bottom of your outfit. (Neutral tones = black, gray, navy, tan, brown, white.)
As mentioned above, while polo shirts are perfect for the active pursuits, the more genteel activities of dining out, wine tasting, and socializing require clothing that is more tailored and elegant. A collection of just a few well-chosen sport shirts, both long sleeve and short sleeve, will take you most anywhere. Round it out with and a simple blazer of cotton or linen and you’re all set. (Except for the proper footwear, which we will cover in an upcoming post.)
Now go enjoy your summer in style!