The remarkable heat in London over the past two weeks has led to a few questions from readers as to the best way to stay cool in tailoring. Here are my top five tips.


1 Wear linen


Linen is a wonderful cloth: breathable and cool to the touch. Although each has other benefits, ceteris paribus I vastly prefer it to cotton, fresco or other high-twist fabrics.


Linen will wrinkle, of course, but go for an 11-ounce weight or heavier and the effect will be reduced. And you don’t need to have it in cream or tan either, so there need be no concerns about associations with colonial overlords. Navy linen can be nice, and my favourites are chocolate, tobacco brown and grey.


2 Go sockless


“But it’s hot today, and I don’t have a linen suit.” So first thing: take off your socks. If you generally wear over-the-calf socks, like me, this can make a vast difference to the coolness of your legs. It goes against the point of over-the-calf, of course, as you are exposing ungentlemanly leg hair, but needs must. The look is particularly effective when everything else is formal: navy cotton suit, shirt and tie, calf slip-ons…and bare ankles.


If you find this uncomfortable, try the cut-away socks that sit below the line of the shoe – often called trainer socks. Trunk in London sells some good Tabio ones, as does A Suitable Wardrobe.


3 Wear a hat


Keeping the sun off your head keeps you cool. You may feel sweaty – and cooler, therefore, when you take the hat off – but the direct sun is always hotter. So wear a nice panama. Not a tiny little trendy trilby, but a proper hat.


If you want to avoid those colonial associations, again, try it in a colour other than cream, such as Brent Black’s caramel-coloured Safari editions. And wear it with a bit of panache. Think Jude Law in The Talented Mr Ripley: cocked back, or tipped to one side, with big bronzed grin.


4 Lightweight everything


There are lightweight versions of almost everything you wear. Lightweight shirtings, lightweight chinos, linen socks, unlined shoes and of course lightly constructed jackets. The problem with all of them is that the weather is rarely warm enough for long enough (at least in the UK) to justify it. There will be perhaps three weeks a year when I think I really need a lightweight shirt.


The one item that I think it is worth investing in is a Neapolitan jacket. Anyone can use a lightweight cloth, but I have tried summer jackets from four English tailors and none of them compare to a Neapolitan construction. Get one in a lightweight wool/silk mix, and you can wear it with a cardigan when the weather cools down.


5 Put up with it


You can wear more clothes in the heat than you think. First, it is often cooler to be covered up, as mentioned under point 3. Direct sun on the skin is the enemy. And second, you get used to wearing more clothes over time. Even in the depths of winter, most men today would feel weird in mid-weight flannel, because they’re not used to it. Try wearing that lightweight Neapolitan jacket for a few days and see if you get used to it.  



Picture: At Camps de Luca, Paris. Hat just out of shot; stiff Corthays not quite suited to going sockless.