Raise the clothing bar, but lower the temperature
September 7, 2009 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Cool-temperature work clothing? I want to wear business casual clothing, but it's all so goddamn hot, especially with an undershirt. What's your secret for wearing business dress shirts and trousers and staying cool?
posted by Cool Papa Bell to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Don't wear an undershirt? But I'm a grad student, and a lot of my shirts have funny-looking sweat stains, so maybe you shouldn't take my advice.
posted by madcaptenor at 12:49 PM on September 7, 2009

Don't shop at JC-Penny or Wal-mart. Shop at REI or a sports clothing store. You want fishing gear (Columbia PFG is a good brand to look for) or sweat-wicking fabrics. Undershirts, too.

I buy all my biz-casual clothing at REI these days. Including khakis.
posted by SpecialK at 12:50 PM on September 7, 2009

Oh, definitely wear an undershirt, by the way -- there's nothing more disgusting than seeing every curve of some guy's sweaty man-tits. Just wear an underarmor or equivalent shirt.
posted by SpecialK at 12:51 PM on September 7, 2009

I dress similarly to you for work, it sounds like, including undershits. One thing which helps me a lot (I take the subway to work, and the platforms are brutally hot in summer) is to drink a very frosty-cold iced coffee on my way. I'll either make one at home or pick one up walking to the subway. A lot of ice is key - a truly iced coffee will be a lot colder than just a drink you pull out of the refrigerator. It may not sound like much, but it really does help me cool down a great degree and reduce sweating. If your office itself is too warm, or if you have to travel outside a lot, this also ought to help.

One other thing I will sometimes do on the very hottest of days is wear a bandana around my head on the commute in to work (and pray I don't see anybody I know, because yes, it looks ridiculous). I know it seems counterinuitive, because you are adding more clothing. But I find that I'm a lot hotter after I shower and my hair is wet, which usually leads to sweat on my forehead and the back of my neck. The bandana prevents sweat from streaming down my face, and I find that less unpleasant than the alternative. (And no, I'm not willing to invest the time in blowdrying my hair in the mornings.)
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 12:54 PM on September 7, 2009

natural fibers are the only way for me (socks included): a very light wool suit -- like Loro Piana's 160s, for example, or anything "fresco di lana" -- is always cool, just wear a nice open collar 100% cotton shirt (choose a thin, light fabric), and you don't really need a tie. undershirts are lame anyway. wearing a midnight blue suit, a white shirt with an open collar (not button down, it's pretty lame), black shoes and black belt, you can even remove your jacket and still look cool
posted by matteo at 12:54 PM on September 7, 2009

I mean, check out Zegna's "Ultra Light Suit", the fabric weighs 220 grams per meter, you can't get any lighter than that
posted by matteo at 1:00 PM on September 7, 2009

(and I advise against linen even if it's very cool and light for the summer -- unless you buy the thickest, most expensive kind, generally available at a tailor's anyway for bespoke suits -- it's just too wrinkly and looks pretty assy by early afternoon)
posted by matteo at 1:02 PM on September 7, 2009

Oh, definitely wear an undershirt, by the way -- there's nothing more disgusting than seeing every curve of some guy's sweaty man-tits. Just wear an underarmor or equivalent shirt.
posted by SpecialK at 3:51 PM on September 7 [+] [!]

Undershirt yes, underarmor ... underarmor makes me feel cooler, but wicks all the sweat away from my body, directly into my shirt, and makes me look like a sweaty mess.
posted by Comrade_robot at 1:11 PM on September 7, 2009

Silk if you can afford it. I read a novel partly set in Houston where the men wore silk suits to work.
posted by brujita at 1:44 PM on September 7, 2009

I actually found the izod golf pants to be AWESOME for work casual. They are permanently creased, look professional and breath! They are made from the high tech perfomance clothing like underarmor. Hands down the best summertime business pants I have found.

My internet is not working properly right now, but I believe its the Performx line of clothing from izod.
posted by wile e at 2:05 PM on September 7, 2009

Ice-cold water and coffee help me, as do rolling up my sleeves at my desk, which you may or may not be able to get away with.

Also, eponysterical.
posted by Aizkolari at 2:53 PM on September 7, 2009

Undershirts seem to be a real northern hemisphere thing. Few guys (esp younger guys like myself) where them in Australia, where it gets frickin' hot as hell in summer. I'm with Matteo - light suit, 100% cotton shirt (with anti-perspirant) and no tie. It doesn't get much cooler (heh) then that.
posted by smoke at 4:55 PM on September 7, 2009

Really cold drinks (ice water is my standard) all day are what keep me cool at work. In the Japan land of Cool-Biz, sleeve-rolling up, hand fans, short sleeves and cold drinks are what make it.
posted by that girl at 5:58 PM on September 7, 2009

I agree with matteo as well.
I work in the Middle East and have my suits made of high super number (150 or higher) wool in a fresco weave. The weave really makes a big difference.

I also agree about the linen. I wear linen for casual clothes almost exclusively and it is wonderful, but it wrinkles far too quickly for business wear.
posted by atrazine at 1:40 AM on September 8, 2009

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