Nothing challenges our wardrobe quite like the British Summer season. One minute our only goal is to remain chic in 30-degree heat; the next, we’re conjuring up an ensemble for when the inevitable rain clouds arrive. So what trusty layers do we call upon to help elevate our summertime looks? We asked actor and writer André Larnyoh to provide us with his helping formula, inspired by the work of Slim Aarons and our latest lookbook.
The Rules of British Summertime
I’m always a little bit heartbroken when I’m harshly reminded that Summer in the United Kingdom will never feel or look like a Slim Aarons photograph. The only pool high society people lounge at here is the one above Soho House and that’s only if they can a) get in and b) find a spot.
The latest Spring/Summer lookbook reminded me that even though Brighton will never be The Riviera, a change in wardrobe is still needed for high summer. Inspiration can still be taken from those photos – Camp collar shirts, straight cut linen trousers and loafers sans socks – but all in a more appropriately subdued colour palette of pastels and earth tones. It suits the setting much better because, let’s face it, the weather here is too temperamental in June and July to be out in bright yellow shorts and red cabana shirts. The worry is less looking out of place lounging in Arnold Circus with a canned G&T and more about catching a cold.
I’ve come to accept that when it comes to getting dressed for the myth that is a British Summer, the name of the game is to be ready for anything. To put it plainly that means having layers. Which isn’t ideal, layering is what you do for the Winter. This is the season to show some chest, but I’ve learned the hard way that by 4pm my lack of chest hair means I will feel the cold wind on my skin.
Therefore, I’ve resigned myself to making sure that I carry a lightweight layer with me if I know that I will be watching the sunset on Southbank. Having a jacket of some kind on you is always good, but I’ve found that long sleeve knitted polo shirts are usually great things to have to hand and can easily be shoved into a bag. When the temperature drops just a little bit, it can be thrown over your standard oxford or linen shirt with the collar falling over the Cuban style collar of the polo. The double collar effect is a bit rakish, but I’ve grown to quite like it.
SCARVES AREN'T JUST FOR WINTER
Lightweight scarves are something I’ve only recently come around too. I originally wasn’t too sure about them, but when you think about it they make for a louche accessory to suddenly pull out to keep the chill at bay. The instinct would be to knot them at the neck, but something I’m quite fond of doing with the Tamaki Niime shawl scarves is to wear them like, well, shawls. The texture of the material adds something to an overall look when draped over the shoulder and loosely tied at the front. It’s a way to retain some elegance while changing things up.
HAVE FUN IN THE SUN
When those long awaited hot summer days do finally arrive, and the temperature is pushing 25 degrees consistently, that is finally when I feel free to truly loosen up. Camp collar shirts were made for days like these, and you can never have too many. With a few buttons undone, they are such a carefree alternative to your standard button up. The one piece collar opening also allows some much needed ventilation to waft through when a summer breeze is picked up. It also looks great when laying flat over the collar of a jacket, making a suit look a little less stuffy when everyone around you is having a good time. Tucked into a pair of pleated linen or seersucker trousers, the overall look is a nod towards the mid century charm that we assume came out of those Slim Aarons pin ups.
None of these thoughts bring me any closer to that fantasy of being at Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, but they certainly help me feel like there’s such a thing as a Summer in London.