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Summer is a time to relax and shed a layer. Minnesotans bid so long to snow and short days. Gone are the stifling parkas, mittens that never seem to dry and knit caps that make you look like a longshoreman (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). We’re as eager as children on the last day of school for the sun to shine down on us. Dressing in warm weather should be easy, yet, like many simple things it can get complicated.

Let’s consider the best solutions to dressing for some of the places where we might find ourselves this season.

Illustration by Hilbrand Bos


Country Retreat: The Log Cabin in the Woods

Anyone heading to a cabin should be prepared for the elements. Let’s start on the ground, which hopefully is covered in pine needles: What about a pair of moccasins from Quoddy or Rancourt? These two great Maine companies know what they’re doing. Chinos are always a good option. In the country, they can be cut more generously — so no slim-fits, thank you very much. Maybe some from RRL (I like the Military Pant in Olive). A plaid cotton shirt from Wythe New York feels lighter than it sounds and looks smart. And, if it gets cool at night, a substantial sweater. Longtime readers may remember that I’m partial to a big, shawl-collared cardigan, and why mess with a good thing? If you’ve inherited a hat from your grandfather, feel free to wear it now as you stride through the woods reciting any poetry you still recall from your school days.


Ocean Drive: The Seaside Life

Time by salt water is always a good time. So how should we dress the part when we’re ready to dive in? Any linen shirt works well, and there’s no reason to worry about wrinkles — think of them as a commitment to the relaxed life. Add a pair of espadrilles you brought back from Europe or an ancient pair of Gucci loafers. When it comes to an actual swimsuit, I think discretion is the watchword. My feeling is that a man of a certain age probably doesn’t want to attract attention to the middle of his body. So solid trunks are the best option. Leave the bold patterns (palm trees, sea turtles, inverted pineapples) to those attending Pilates classes five days a week. If you’re at a resort for a wedding, say, then a summery, blue-on-blue seersucker suit is highly recommended. (You’ll probably need to go to a tailor for this). A pale-blue dress shirt and a gray knit tie pull everything together. If you want to throw something risqué into the mix, then a pair of white bucks is exactly in order.


Urban Oasis: The City Apartment

What about those of us who reside in Manhattan or some of the world’s other great metropolises? What about our hectic lives? Well, that’s an issue that men have been grappling with for as long as there’s been humidity. This is what works for me, and I hope it can work for you. A sport coat — wait, before you complain about the heat — this coat can be linen, it can be a chore coat, it can be cotton. It’s good if you’re in a smart air-conditioned place for lunch. And, crucially, the coat is a system of organization: in one interior pocket lies my wallet, in the other my phone. And if it gets too hot, I simply take it off and carry it over my shoulder. Some chinos, some suede loafers (I think one should be encouraged to wear suede shoes in summer months). Add a straw hat if it’s fiercely sunny. Straw hats look better the more they’re worn and even as they’re coming apart. One thing, gentleman, that I would rather not see in a major metropolitan area is another man’s knees. So please don’t wear shorts anywhere you can’t see the water.


Altitude Shift: The Mountain Retreat

When we’re at altitude we want to move easily and look good without being fussy (a smart idea wherever you are). I like a pair of desert boots, which are stylish and lightweight. Some robust twill trousers will do (Sid Mashburn makes a winning pair). A chambray shirt is fun and a Western shirt, with pearl snaps, is even more fun. You can make a statement with your coat. Do you have a Barbour jacket that goes down to your knees? Probably not — so get one on eBay or the next time you’re at a vintage store in London. Closer to home, there’s the superb tin cloth Field Jacket from Filson with those wonderful big pockets. Now you’re ready for everything from chilly mornings to grilling at night as the stars come out, and that’s a very good thing indeed.

A Minnesotan turned New Yorker, David Coggins is the author of the New York Times bestseller Men and Style and writes a column for Artful Living.

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

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