By Damali and Nii B. Andrews.
For the last several days, the mercury has not gone below 90° F at our current location.
So linen is king: for its ease of wear and breathability.
It crumbles and creases in a manner that lends a relaxed air; a slow disinterested pace compatible with comfort under the blazing sun.
Make no mistake, linen can also carry over into evening attire again with a detached elegance.
During the day, neutral tones are the best; cream, beige and ivory. Olive and tobacco are useful supplements.
What is important is a minimalist but sartorially relevant poise with a timelessness that transcends costume.
A pique cotton Polo (short or long sleeved with a collar that frames the face) paired with linen pants; a light blue linen shirt with cream/beige cotton pants; these combinations always work and can be dressed up or down depending on shoe choice and accessories.
The pairing of different textures creates an interesting ensemble. The key is separates in varying neutral tones, but of course we should not necessarily shy away from color.
A linen summer dress (monochrome or print) or pant suit for the ladies; a flowing scarf provides a striking accent.
In the heat and bright sunshine, the other useful accessories include a decent brimmed quality Panama hat, a linen newsboy cap a la Gatsby, a patterned cotton neckerchief and interesting well fitted pair of sunglasses.
But beware, less is more; a nuanced balance is always best.
As the day lingers, the relaxed charm of linen comes to the fore – wrinkling spontaneously as it provides for coolness via its wick effect on the skin.
Obviously, drape helps; the clothing should be fitted, not tight.
If invited to a formal event such as a daytime wedding in such weather, a well appointed linen suit will tick the right boxes.
A linen jacket in the heat may sound counterintuitive. The key here is lightness. This makes its tailoring more challenging.
In a lightweight garment there are no multiple layers of thick canvas to provide structure, so shape has to come from the cutting and sewing.
When executed by a master, the result is a jacket that wears cooler than wearing none at all. You feel the breeze but not the sun through it.
And of course for a formal evening, a cream/ivory linen single breast or double breast dinner jacket with a shawl collar or peak lapel is a debonair look for warm weather black tie; a flower in the lapel button hole raises the bar.
In short, the hot weather provides very little excuse for cargo shorts, faded floppy shapeless polos and sneakers or flip flops topped off with baseball caps or discount shop trilbies.
Needless to say, a “wife beater” is anathema.
There are many simple options that are much more presentable including of course our traditional African djallabas, ghandhouris and tastefully tailored “me toos” – aka dzwakoto and jumper.
And again with these, linen is king.
It is the cloth for those long hot days punctuated with delicious ice cream, alfresco lunches and tall glasses of pure fruit juice loaded with ice.
We hope you are inspired!