Dressing for an occasion is always a bit of a minefield, add summer’s sticky heat to the equation and things get even more complex. On one hand you’ve got small gatherings such as barbecues with their nagging temptation to throw on an ironic Hawaiian shirt (please don’t) and on the other you've got all-out meltdown inducing summer occasions. The worst culprit is surely the summer wedding - we’re not sure that ‘formal’ attire really means anything more specific than some form of tailoring.

Here are five occasions you’re likely to run into problems at and five sartorial solutions.


Summer is wedding season. This is a fact which cruelly ignores the sweltering reality of wearing a shirt, suit and tie on a reasonably pleasant summer’s day. As if keeping your cool isn’t troubling enough, those famously vaguely prescriptive dress codes are even more unappealing. In the unlikely - and unfortunate - event that you’re attending a summer black tie wedding, your options are limited.

However, if you’ve been handed an invitation with that overused but hopelessly under informative word ‘formal’, then we’ve got some advice to take heed of - linen is your best friend. For those already wrinkling their foreheads at linen’s tendency to well, wrinkle, menswear has come up with a hi-tech solution; the linen and cotton blend.

If linen’s not your thing and you want a suit which will be wearable after the summer sun has left this hemisphere, try a lightweight cotton suit instead.

What of the rest of your outfit? Luckily, menswear’s most stylish are currently adopting a ‘less is more’ code of dressing. That means you should take your shirt collarless if you can and slip into dress shoes without socks.


To get things into perspective, dressing inappropriately for a barbecue isn’t going to cause you to become some kind of sartorially misguided social pariah. That said, if you’re going to get dressed at all, you might as well look your very best.

Barbecues and good taste have a long history of getting along rather badly, guests’ outfits are invariably sloppier than the condiment loaded food on offer. Socks and sandals? Wraparound sunglasses? The dreaded Hawaiian shirt? All synonymous with barbecues.

Do your small bit for good style this season and arrive ready to eat and appropriately dressed. Tailored chino shorts, a Cuban collar shirt and a pair of suede sneakers are the only three things you need when heading to a barbecue. Oh, apart from a umbrella for the inevitable downpour.


Unfortunately, we have no advice on how to avoid an embarrassing encounter with a colleague at your work summer party. We do however, have more solid advice when it comes to sartorial matters. Consider dressing for the occasion a fine balancing act. The mid-point on an axis between smart and casual, trying and not making an effort. Luckily the key it getting this right is surprisingly simple.

You’re still among work colleagues, so the first piece of advice we’d dispense is to resist the temptation to go into full weekend mode. Stick with a suit. Loosen things up a little by wearing yours with a T-shirt and trainers and you’re ready to chat poker faced by the bar or go full pelt on the dancefloor.


The garden party, a much less practiced occasion than the humble barbecue but one that requires a much more thoughtful approach to dressing. If you’re facing the prospect of spending an afternoon of putting to use your faux-fascinated face while greedily devouring finger food on a lawn, comfort is crucial.

A garden party ranks below a casual wedding for formality but is much more dressy than even the most gourmet of barbecues. Kind of smart, kind of casual, we know what you’re thinking - blazer, shirt and jeans should do it right? Wrong.

Opt instead for a pair of flat front chino trousers, suede driving shoes and a short sleeved shirt (tucked into your trousers with each sleeve gently hugging your bicep). Less stuffy, more stylish.


Ok, so we know it’s not an occasion in the strictest sense of the term and it may not be an occasion you’re going to spend weeks planning for (we hope not anyway) but dressing for a date during summer is one of the trickiest menswear moves to master. Sweating palms are bad enough on first dates without the sun doing its bit to make sure your forehead is perfectly reflective.

How to avoid deal-killing perspiration? Keep things simple. Wear dark denim with a light grey marl t-shirt, add some tan penny loafers and add a lightweight blazer - but don’t wear it unless it’s actually cold. You’ve made an effort, but you’ve not obsessed. Done.