Paul Galvin: Keeping your summer cool
Don't lose the style plot just because the sun has come out, warns Paul Galvin
Published 19/06/2011 | 23:59
It's high summer -- a dangerous time of year for men's fashion. A feast of short pants, shorter legs and piggies that really should have stayed at home. Summer fashion in Ireland shouldn't really exist, should it?
I mean, we don't really have a summer in the first place. The sun would be a splendid help if it didn't play hide and seek in the clouds. And the look does nothing for us, in the second place. It feels totally forced and fabricated to me.
We are not really built for summer, and by summer I mean hot days, which can be any time of year in our cantankerous climate. We sweat a lot and get winegall.
We should go into hibernation. Lose some weight and spare everybody the sight of us in our shorts and sandals accessorised with beer pouches, sweat patches and hairy toe knuckles.
It's different for girls: all buffed and beautified, they can reveal themselves in all their womanly glory with skimpier, sexy outfits. It always amuses me how quick men are to wear shorts. They offer little shape or structure and often reveal a little too much.
It's not as if it's ever that warm that we can't handle a pair of slacks, linen pants or three-quarter-length trousers, is it?
Linen is a great summer fabric and is an alternative to going down the shorts route, but it seems to have disappeared from our wardrobes.
Shorts are worn a lot instead. That's the beauty of fashion, bunions and all. And who am I to tell anyone what to wear?
However, what follows the shorts disconcerts me a little. In our sun-induced delirium, taste can melt. The Jaysus sandals break out to reveal Jaysus, Mary and Joseph feet. "Ah Jaysus, look at yer man's sandals.... Ah Jaysus, Mary and Joseph will ya look at his feet!!"
The polos, too. Vests get a whirl and reason can get lost. Before you know it, fashion overkill is alive and kicking and we have the mangled toes to prove it.
There's a time and place for shorts, sandals and vests, of course: the beach. The Oz generation of Irish people who travelled the world on the back of the Celtic Tiger have been responsible for creating a new look in Irish fashion. I call it 'Bondi chic'. Hell, I did it myself, but never all at once.
Baggy hibiscus-print boardshorts -- with butt-crack showing -- flip-flops and T-shirts, vests or hoodies. It's a good look... in Bondi. It's found its way to Ireland now, though, on the backs of backpackers and somehow it's not quite so cool in the town square on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon.
There should always be a clear distinction between beachwear and urbanwear and this can be achieved with just a modicum of taste. The key to summer dressing is that it shouldn't be a complete sea change for you; you're bound to look silly if it is. It should be subtle.
Mixing key summer pieces with what you normally wear allows you to look the part and not like a middle-aged man on his way to summer camp.
For example, shorts. If you must, try them with trainers instead of sandals and a shirt instead of a T-shirt. Or with a vest under a hoodie. Fred Perry and Diesel do simple white canvas ones that are light and breathable. Penneys does them too. They look smart and they allow you to do something else very important: hide the trotters.
I don't hate anything in this life, but I must admit I have a mild distaste for feet. Well, just ugly feet. Which brings me to another summer staple: sandals. This might sound funny, but I think I might give them a lash with socks. I love the look on girls, so why not give it a try?
There's a pair of black Dior leisure sandals on the go that look cool. Something tells me they would work best worn with socks.
I do like my Havaianas. They're a bit pool boy, but for the beach they're great. They're neat and simple and you can dress them up. I've worn them with skinny jeans or three-quarter-length trousers, a V-neck and a cardigan to get around town. But not in a while.
T-shirts and polos shirts are unavoidable. Teamed with knee-length or three-quarter-length shorts, trainers and a blazer, they create a cool city look for a Friday night out.
Tom Tailor is a new European brand available at Swords and Blanchardstown and it does this look really well; great summer and casual shorts with vintage-inspired tees. You can toughen up the shorts with a Tom Tailor denim shirt, which I'm wearing to death this summer.
The brand also does fun swimwear and is very reasonably priced. It is bringing some European sophistication this summer, so check it out.
My favourite look for summer is simple -- wearing shoes without socks. It's simple but fresh and sophisticated. No feet infliction on anyone. Nice trainers or brogues with ankle-length trews, no socks, a vest with a blazer and I'm away.
Accessories can make all the difference. The right shades are vital, as is a nice light, citrus-inspired, daytime aftershave. Straw hats if you're feeling Mediterranean; sweatbands to keep you cool. Beads with your V-neck, too. All of which I'm a little old for, so I'm just suggesting.
So, there's my summer style advice. Take it or leave it. If you're taking the piggies to the market, wear shoes without socks, socks with sandals or shorts with shirts.
Wear the right shades, wear the right aftershave, wear straw hats and, most importantly of all, just wear what you want.