Menswear: How to do smart seasonal dressing - most importantly, the wedding abroad
Tie or no tie? Plain suit or patterned jacket? Shoes with or without socks? Our Fashion Editor sought tips on how to do smart summer dressing, starting with that infamous menswear headache - the wedding abroad
Interrogating Paul O'Connor, Group Buying Director at Brown Thomas, for menswear tips, I start with my own pet hate: that insanely popular suiting combo of blue suit with tan shoes.
Ever the style sage, Paul politely explains that perhaps it is the colour of the shoes that might be wrong and that dark brown shoes might be the answer rather than bright walnut ones.
Paul is a fan of the navy jacket, or suit, teamed with a crisp shirt jazzed up with a tie but he cautions about going "too patterned". Instead, he suggests adhering to the 'tones of' approach, like in our shoot where the navy suit works well with tone-on-tone navy spotted tie and pocket square. But what if you are trying to figure out if a tie is even required, say at a summer wedding?
"Well that depends on how casual the bride wants to go and if they're on a beach and they're barefoot, then go for no tie and open-necked shirt," says Paul. However, if the couple's only hint is 'smart casual' on the invitation, well then "you really have to know the bride and groom," says Paul.
Considering different style and budget dilemmas, Paul recommends that if you are going to a summer wedding and you want to get away from the business suit you are wearing every day, light grey can look great worn with a blue shirt that will brighten it up so it won't look as officey.
If, on the other hand, you intend to wear the suit you wear to the office, to completely change the look and feel, introduce new shoes and a crisp new shirt and tie. Add in a pocket square which might be new to your look and don't forget to add cufflinks. Paul says: "I always think when you put on a double cuff shirt and cufflinks that you feel more dressed up."
Our discussion covers the handy mac, and on suit shapes takes us through Tiger of Sweden (which a lot of young guys go for because of its slim fit), sharp modern tailoring by Paul Smith, Corneliani, Gieves and into luxurious brands like Zegna, Canali and Tom Ford - famous for strong shoulder tailoring.
"Most guys now are doing some form of exercise and there's no point doing the work in the gym and then wearing old suits that you had before. If you are working out, off the peg isn't necessarily going to work and if you have 44in across the chest/shoulders and a 30in waist, you are going to have to go down the 'made to measure' route because otherwise, everything is going to be out of proportion," he points out.
The buckled monk shoe is fast becoming the 'must have' shoe with its signature strap. Good with suits, chinos and jeans, a suede version is proving increasingly popular - and as for that other chestnut, socks or no socks, Paul is quite direct. It's yes to 'no socks' if you have tanned feet, no if you have hairy legs, and if your feet are pale, keep to the socks but "never go for too short a sock," he advises.
When it comes to formal weddings, the most common mistake, says Paul, is to wear an ordinary shirt with a placket as opposed to dress shirt which has no buttons. Park the "I've a white shirt, that will do" attitude, he says. A navy dress suit is a smart alternative to black.
If, perhaps, you are concerned about taking your jacket off in the heat, Paul recommends a made-to-measure shirt so you won't have excess fabric on the sleeves or body. Apparently this is a massive growth sector and made-to-measure shirts can be ordered with one enlarged double cuff with enough room for a big chunky watch. And we all know boys and their big watches!
All clothes and accessories from Brown Thomas
Photographer: Alexander Beer
Stylist Darren Feeney
Model: Mark Cox, IMG Models
Grooming: Darren Hau