Dressing for the office during the heat of the summer can be a steep sartorial challenge. Trying to balance keeping cool while looking professional is a delicate art—one that requires you to pay close attention to the details of the clothes you choose to wear. With this in mind, we sat down with the impeccably dressed Brian Sacawa—menswear expert behind He Spoke Style—to pick his brain on how to beat the heat (or your overly air-conditioned office) in serious style.
What are the key pieces in your summer office wardrobe?
I love a dark-chocolate-brown linen suit. I like brown because it is not navy—it is something a little different. It will make you stand out but still has enough formality for an office environment. I would pair it with a light pink or peach shirt and deep-oxblood loafers.
Another piece that’s great for summer is a light-blue denim shirt. This would also go really well with the chocolate suit. I like [this style] because you can wear it with a tie, but also, if you are going out after work, you can easily lose the tie and dress down your suit.
Summer is a great time for a pair of suede driving shoes. Tod’s are the classics. You can do the Gommino in a dark-brown suede, or if you’re a little bit more adventurous, go for a dark blue. They are a great shoe to wear with lighter pants. I personally love a nice pair of cream linen trousers. They are an essential in my book.
I also love a Panama hat because no other accessory has the ability to completely transform an outfit than a hat. And for the summer, a Panama style is a great option. It would look amazing paired with that chocolate linen suit.
How do you stay cool while wearing a suit in the summer?
I have a few tips. First of all, you want to pay attention to the fabric. Cotton and linen are good—both are very lightweight and very breathable.
I also think that during the summer you can get rid of the tie. It keeps the look casual, but it still is dressed up. Taking the tie off is almost like built-in air conditioning, because you don’t have something around your neck making you hotter than you already are.
On really hot days, instead of doing a regular button-up shirt underneath [your suit], go with a polo shirt. Because the shirt doesn’t have a very strong collar, I think that ones that have three or four buttons work better than the traditional two. You can also experiment with putting the collar on the outside of your jacket, which gives it the appearance of having a bit more strength.
How do you incorporate the season’s biggest trends into office-appropriate looks?
Incorporating a polo is a bit of a nod to the ’70s trend, but for summer, people are playing around a little bit more, having more fun.
It can be hard to incorporate this into office wear, but pocket squares are an easy thing to play around with. Instead of doing a classic fold, do something a little bit more exiting, something with a little bit more flair. You can also have some fun with the texture and color of your tie. Wear a linen tie with your suit, or try a dark orange or green patterned [style].
How do you survive over-air-conditioned offices in style?
You have to layer. If you know that you are going to be cold, pack a lightweight cardigan in your briefcase. That way, if you don’t really want to keep your jacket on during the day, you have something to throw on while you are at work.