The white linen suit and odd trousers are getting ready to be drycleaned and stored for the duration. The spectator shoes have been relegated to the higher shelves. The seersucker and madras trousers are pressed and waiting to be swapped with the heavier woolen ones that haven’t quite made it down from the topmost hanging bar in the closet. It is September, that mixed month of cool nights and warm days.
Did I just write warm? Today the mercury will register 91ºF, if the predictions come true. It is hot enough for you? It is for me. And that presents a unique problem when one is overly concerned with the trivialities of elegant dressing. For what items of clothing will one reach given the fluctuating temperatures during these post-Labor Day weeks?
Here is where I break with tradition. If it is hot enough to require air-conditioning, it is hot enough to continue to take advantage of summer weight fabrics.
During the day, I continue to wear linen trousers and lightweight sportscoats. For the most part, I stick to darker colours, though. Navy linen trousers, or black for evenings. Patterned cotton trousers in shades of cream and brown, black and tan, black and white and plain old lightweight khakis (“chinos”) do nicely in this weather. Most often I pair them with a white, very light blue or pale pink shirt. The coats are navy blazers (single-breasted), or wheat with a light blue overplaid, or dark brown Prince of Wales check.
But what about those days which require something more formal? I am not so fortunate to own a suit made of fresco — an open weave wool which allows air to circulate and cool. But I do have a couple of lightweight and lighter coloured wool suits the jackets of which are half lined. At roughly 7 1/2 oz., they are as flimsy as a politician’s excuses for accepting certain campaign contributions. Wool, is a natural wicking agent and can be quite comfortable during these days. The trick is to let your clothing rest a day or two after having worn it, preferably in a place where it can catch the breezes and air out a bit.
Footwear doesn’t change that much. Socks are lightweight wools or cotton. I like to wear unlined suede shoes, which breathe well and are unexpected as most people think of suede for Fall use only.
Add a lightweight scarf or linen sweater for evening and you’re ready for anything.
Being well dressed requires a constant commitment to trying to be well-dressed. Eternal vigilance is the price to pay. Yes, it’s a challenge, but with a bit of forethought, careful editing and commitment, you’ll stay ahead of the game.
Does all this mean that you should cease and desist? Not at all. In fact, I think that if you made all white your signature look (especially for my women readers. We already have Tom Wolfe… ), it can work in your favour. (Well, maybe not white shoes worn all the time. And that would mean handbags that match…) As long as your clothing is in good repair, fits beautifully and is well-cut for your figure, you will be putting your best foot forward.
Or, in other words, keep fighting the good fight.