For a while it looked like it would never come. Up until July 4th, you still had to wear a wool sport coat to parties.
When you were a kid, summer was your time off to try new things, explore new places, and arrive back in school fresh, taller and tanner. Why stop now?
The Modern Gentleman’s Rules of Summer:
1) Summer is a fantastic time to try new things with style. Everyone, no matter what your job might be, understands that after work you may have some traveling to do. Why not mix it up a little with some seersucker pants? They’re great for summer, somehow never get sweaty, and they look better beaten up and wrinkled.
A great designer to look at is Billy Reid, who grew up in the wetlands of Louisiana where it was constantly hot and humid. He’s created quite the collection of lightweight suits with seersucker and seersucker-inspired fabrics.
2) The Modern Gentleman will not be wearing a belt or socks until mid-September. It may seem brash at first, but once you get used to the feel of leather shoes against your feet, this can be quite fun. We’ve discussed a few rules of style for the Modern Gentleman before, but summer is the time to test them out. For example: if your pants are just the perfect length and they break once before your instep, who’s going to know that you are sockless? Also, why wear socks when a bit of baby powder in your shoes feels so much nicer?
The belt issue is a bit more difficult. Summer is the time to eat heartily, laugh often, and wear suit pants over your swim trunks. The proper pair of trousers will look fantastic without a belt. It helps complement your natural shape to wear a pair that tapers at the waist, rather than your typical pair of slacks (which are usually straight-waisted). Designers spend an inordinate amout of time designing the fly and button of your pants, and few people ever see them because we men tend to have one or two belts that we automatically wear without giving it a second thought.
3) Replace your regular Starbucks routine with homemade non-alcoholic drinks.
Wherever you are, it’s five o’clock somewhere. In summer you spend all day evaporating, and it’s helpful to keep hydrated. Cocktails are wonderful to enjoy on a summer evening, but why not find whatever tea has been collecting expiration dates in your cupboard, add water in a covered pitcher, and leave it in the sun for the afternoon? This drink reminds the Modern Gentleman of his dear grandmother, who was sweeter than honey-kissed iced-tea, and is a Kentucky favorite:
Wild Sassafras Root
Fresh Honey (it is good for the soul and the immune system to always eat local honey from local bees, rather than import some other state’s pollen).
put it in a large glass pitcher
forget it was in the refrigerator
smile from ear to ear every time you open the door.
4) Remember when you were a kid, and all of the sudden that guy with the pool became the most popular guy in school? People would show up to his house in trunks and towels with snorkels in tow saying, “Hey man, what do you feel like doing?” That little guy loved the attention, and now he has a boat. So go on and visit him. Give him a hand swabbing that deck. Bring some iced-tea.
5) Right now you should take a moment and reapply your sunscreen. Because you should already be wearing sun screen, carefully working on your tan.
6) Just about the most fun you can have in the summer is to meet up with old friends and talk about what you were doing together that summer ten years before.
7) Swim trunks should always be modest, functional, and always, always have that sewn-in net. Vilebrequin makes a stunning line of men’s swimsuits every year (but there’s no law saying you must have the latest suit ever year. Also, isn’t it a wonderful feeling the first time you pull that old swimsuit out of your wardrobe?) As far as swimwear goes you just need to be honest with yourself. Speedos are for speed-swimmers. Board shorts are designed to be long and protect a surfer’s legs from getting waxed by the edges of the surf board. They also protect him from pretty girls. You may notice that surf shorts do not have any underwear sewn in. This is because you are supposed to wear a more tasteful swimsuit underneath it.
8) Summer reading is for children, beach books are for menopause. Summer is a great time to challenge yourself with a great book. This summer, the Modern Gentleman re-read Hemingway’sThe Sun Also Rises, which is basically a fun-to-read guide for early 20th century Americans about continental European manners, styles, and fashion. There is bullfighting, cocktails, and dressing-for-dinner.
After that, it is on to Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, which is daunting at 800+ pages. But it is more fun to cut the paperback edition into the original 10 books (literally – with an Exacto knife), and slip it into your pocket.
9) Sunglasses are one of those things that’s like having a nice wristwatch: you can buy one, wear it for the rest of your life and never worry about matching it to your clothing. Also, like wrist watches, they can be passed down for generations. The Modern Gentleman wears his grandfather’s folding aviators from World War II. If you don’t have family heirlooms on hand, remember that Ray Ban has never made an ugly pair of sunglasses.
10) If you have even the slightest curl in your hair, the humidity and salt water are going to have a lot of fun at your expense. Embrace it. First of all, a shorter crop might be easier to manage. Second of all, millions of women spend hours with a curling iron because they would give anything to have your hair. So enjoy it.