5 male summer wardrobe fails and how to fix them

Timely advice on what to wear when it hots up

Following the collapse of the Empire and the diminished popularity of impractical white suits, identifying British chaps on holiday abroad has long been a hobby of our sniggering continental cousins and a cause for national embarrassment back home.

Sock and sandal combinations, resort-bought sun hats, tucked-in work shirts, crotch hugging shorts…it’s fair to say that UK males have, over the course of the last half century, cut pretty offensive figures on their travels.

Despite a proliferation of magazine articles lamenting the aforementioned fashion faux pas and a concerted effort on the part of womenfolk, led by screeching TV duo Trinny and Susannah, to smarten up the act of men up and down the country it appears the situation is actually getting worse not better.

Three quarter length tracksuit pants, England football shirts, clunky trainers, special ‘going-out’ shirts…they all seem to make an appearance as soon as Easyjet flights from Heathrow touch down across the Channel.

In one last attempt to strike a chord with our compatriots before everybody sets off for sun, sea and sangria, Quidco Discover offers up some timely advice on what to wear this summer.

Footwear

It shouldn’t be such a hard lesson to learn. If it’s hot, feel free to wear flip-flops or sandals; however, the moment you feel a need for the toe-hugging warmth of a sock, it’s time to change footwear. In such circumstances we wholeheartedly suggests something simple, flexible and comparatively cheap.

Espadrilles, driving moccasins and boat shoes are most definitely en vogue, but its the plimsoll, or tennis shoe, which remains the undisputed king of summer footwear. You may not have worn them since you were in gym class age 7, but they remain a timeless classic.

You can’t go wrong with a pair of Converse All Stars. First produced 95 years ago they are hard wearing, come in every colour possible and suit all seasons. Fred Perry and Italian brand Superga are also great for understated, but stylish canvas sneakers. OfficeSchuh and Size? are all well-known stockists.

Oh…and leave the socks at home.

Shorts

Let’s get a couple of things straight. If you can see the bulge of your scrotum when you wear shorts, they’re either too tight or you may need to visit a doctor. If you can only see a portion of your ankle, you’re not wearing shorts, but rather a pair of children’s trousers. Either way there’s a good chance you’re not doing yourself any favours.

Shorts should be plain and simple. Make sure they hang on or a couple of inches above the knee and sit comfortably on the hips. Blue and khaki should be versatile enough colours to get you from the beach to the bar without clashing with other items. If you’re not near a beach or a pool, don’t wear swimming or board shorts; you wouldn’t wear a wetsuit to a bar would you?

As tempting as it might be to go for something flashy with go-faster stripes, massive logo on your rump and myriad pockets, you’ve got to take a deep breath and say no. Unfortunately, if you find yourself with scissors cutting a faded pair of Levis into pound-stretching summer wear the night before you head to the airport you may be a lost cause.

T-shirts

When was the last time you saw a French dandy bounding the streets sporting a t-shirt hinting at a past as an amateur baseball player? It’s never happened has it?

I’d hazard a guess that you’ve never stumbled upon an Italian cad pretending he was a car mechanic called ‘Brad’ from Iowa? Or a Spaniard who wants the world to know he studied at a make-believe college in the American Midwest? You know why? It’s because t-shirts proclaiming such things look pretty ridiculous. In fact, brash logos and giant cartoons on any clothing are a little try hard and should be left to moody teenagers and crazed Italian footballers alone. Full stop.

If you’re going to wear t-shirts the rules are simple. Crew neck collars are preferable. V-necks are acceptable, so long as it doesn’t dip so wide and low that your naval is on display, and polo shirts are just fine so long as they’re a single block colour.

Plain white and grey t-shirts are a must in the wardrobe of any self-respecting male and are great as a layering garment under shirts and knitwear. As far as colours go there’s nothing wrong with experimenting, although if you’re looking to stretch your budget you don’t want to get too caught up in crazy fads and passing fashions. Gap, Uniqlo, Topman and M&S are brilliant for the basics.

As for fit? Well seeing as you won’t be tucking them in (will you!) make sure they sit comfortably on your belt line and that the seams actually hit you at the shoulder.

Sunglasses

We Brits don’t do sunglasses like they do on the continent. In Italy and Spain, sunglasses aren’t protective eyewear; they’re an ever-present accessory which were placed on the face just after the cutting of the umbilical cord. Our European friends don’t think about when or where to wear them…they just do.

From Land’s End to John O’Groats, it’s a very different story. We’d hazard a guess that the average British male falls into one of three groups. First there’s the guy who looks apologetic about the fact the sun is in his eyes and cautiously sports his sunglasses in the beer garden silently praying his mates won’t mock him for trying to look ‘cool.’

Then there’s the chap who, having invested in a pair of Terminator style wraparound shades for his ski trip, busts them out at the first sign of summer and wears them everywhere for four months; on the tube, during a rain storm and even while he’s in bed. The final group – the one you want to be in – includes those gentlemen who recognise when and where to sport shades and have taken the time to invest in a pair that actually suits them.

Buying sunglasses shouldn’t be a spur of the moment decision in the airport. You should try different shapes and styles and always be sure to get a second opinion before parting with your cash. If you’re not playing sport avoid the aforementioned wraparound Oakleys and instead think about the aviator and wayfarer styles made popular by legendary American specialists Ray Ban.

You don’t of course have to go for a designer label; the shape of both styles has been copied over and over by other brands meaning they suit all budgets. Once you’ve made your selection enjoy the sun…just take your sunglasses off at night or if you’re indoors .

Jackets

Just because the sun is out doesn’t mean you have to completely abandon the use of outerwear. Of course, given the clement weather you’re well advised to have an alternative to heavy coats and dark, chunky knitwear. Summer flirtations with the winter wardrobe during always look awkward; after all, nobody wants to be that guy on the underground whose sweat-inducing leather jacket makes him look like a melting Lovejoy.

A half-lined, blue cotton blazer is versatile enough to be used 365 days a year and is great for smartening up a shirt and jeans combination. However, if you’re after something with a distinctly seasonal feel, why not try a blazer made from seersucker?

A thin all-cotton material, commonly striped but often checked, it is the perfect fabric for casual jackets and fetching summer suits. A favourite of the British colonial period its heat dissipating pre-rumpled weave is great during the high humidity of the summer months and smarter and more fitted than linen alternatives.

Admittedly, blazers aren’t for everybody. As an alternative a light Harrington jacket is great for fending off a cool evening breeze, while sporty windbreakers are perfect if you’re heading off to a festival this summer.

More on Quidco Discover

Andrew Allen / Editor

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