Experiment with prints.
Experiment with prints.

Stay cool at work

Solids or prints? Half-sleeve or full-sleeve shirt? Experts offer formal-wear tips to beat the heat

If you do a survey on the least favourite season, summer is likely to top the chart. The Indian summer induces tetchiness, and this feeling heightens when you have to don formal wear (think full-sleeved and collared shirts, ties and jackets). But there are ways to get around this situation, say fashion experts. Here are their top tips:

Do Khadi

Opting for this Gandhian fabric in formal wear is always a cool option, says New Delhi-based Dhruv Kapur, founder of the fashion label DRVV. He adds, however, that finding lightweight Khadi fabric for formal men’s wear can be challenging. Kolkata-based Debarghya Bairagi (Dev) of Dev r Nil, a designer duo known for their eclectic designs, says: “Khadi has always been perceived as a fabric for kurtas. But it can be worn as part of formal wear, as it has no sheen and has a rough texture. One can pair a Khadi bandi (a short, sleeveless Nehru jacket) with cotton, linen or a lightweight Khadi shirt."

Go short

Short-sleeved shirts get a new lease of life every year in the menswear category. Kapur says: “Half-sleeved shirts have been there for over a decade. It is refreshing to see bush shirts coming back too." These can be worn to work on Fridays with chinos. But if you worry about a simple half-sleeved shirt’s nerdy image, there are ways to get around this too. “Invest in shirts with curved hems—they can be worn untucked," says Kapur. The key to choosing a great short-sleeved shirt, say most experts, lies in its fit and fall. It has to be perfectly slim, but not too tight, and proportionate to the shape of your trouser. And it should fall perfectly on your shoulders. Its collar types are mostly button-down, point or convertible.

Apart from short-sleeved shirts, New Delhi-based fashion stylist Amit Hansraj, who blogs at www.indiandandy.com, picks shorts as office wear. Hansraj admits, however, that only a few industries like IT (information technology) or media would accept shorts are semi-formal or Friday office wear. “Well-tailored shorts could be an option for Friday dressing, especially when teamed with linen shirts," says Hansraj. He stresses, however, that it’s important to pay attention to body-hair grooming before wearing a pair of shorts to work.

Wear it loose

Going fuss-free on the form and fit is vital when it comes to dressing formally in summer. Kapur says: “In this heat you should go for things that are easy. Avoid extremely defined and tailored looks. Even the best of cotton or linen, if snug, can make you feel hot." Choose a size larger than what you normally wear (if it looks formal enough). Jodhpur-born and New Delhi-based couturier Raghavendra Rathore prefers easy-fitting clothes, with slimming features (for example, constructional variations like vertical stitch lines) rather than contrived and fitted silhouettes for the hot season.

Play solids

The specific mood for the year is plain light and bright colours—light (powder) blue and coral. “Try shirt combinations in shades of light grey, light beige or other sandy colours," says Kapur. Bengaluru-based Karunesh Vohra, creative director of men’s formal-wear brand Louis Philippe, advocates natural and neutral hues, such as whites and off-whites, and shades of tan, beige, khaki or ecru. Rathore favours the pastel colours that he says rule in summer. Hansraj believes versatile solid colours are good for workspaces. He believes people may not take you seriously if you wear a lot of prints. “But you can deviate from neutrals and prime colours and try shades of blues, greens and greys without shine," he adds. He also insists on light-coloured trousers instead of the usual navy blues and blacks. A few examples of clubbing ensembles: a pista-green shirt with beige trousers and a powder-blue shirt with steel-grey pants.

Infuse prints

Bengaluru-based Jayanth G., head of design (menswear) at Allen Solly, says, “Experiment with prints—introduce subtle leaves or floral patterns...." This is a slightly difficult trend to pull off for work though. Kapur suggests trying abstract prints, preferably in monochrome. “Also do polka dots," he adds. Quirky prints like anchor, cycle, camera and umbrella should be on neutral base colours and worn judiciously—probably on Fridays or for weekend office dos. Every man cannot carry these off at work, so go micro-sized or understated instead.

Not experimental? Play safe with classics like stripes, checks and plaids, but in light hues. They are fail-safe.

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