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How To Dress For Hot Weather – What To Wear In Humid Weather To Keep You Cool

Fashion, What To Wear Guides
Monday, 14th August, 2023

What To Wear In The Heat Of The British Summer

We all love the summer and everything it brings, including the good weather (most of the time!)

But when the temperatures go up, you might be wondering what to wear in the hot weather.

It can get humid, close, and sticky, no matter if it’s day or night. You’ll still need to wear clothes, so this guide addresses that.

Here’s what to wear when we’re having a spot of hot weather. From the best menswear to the coolest fabrics and materials, you’ll learn it all in this guide.

The Best Fabrics To Wear In Hot Humid Weather

When it comes to dressing for the heat, there’s certain fabrics that deal with things better than others. Keeping cool in the heat first starts off with wearing the right fabrics.

These are:

  • Linen
  • Cotton
  • Polyester

You should make sure the fabrics you wear are lightweight, and avoid any heavyweight fabrics. That includes any heavy fabrics listed above, and of course fabrics such as wool and leather.

Linen Shirts

Linen is the fabric for Summer tailoring, and it’s the perfect choice if you need to look smart while keeping cool at the same time. I’ve got myself a brand new linen shirt and it’s proving to be a good buy this season.

Linen is very thin, it’s very fine and therefore good for the heatwave we’re currently experiencing.

There’s plenty of options available, with high street brands such as ASOS, H&M and Uniqlo all offering great options, as well as higher end brands too.


It is a more breathable fabric, and can keep you cool. However it will absorb water, i.e. your sweat.

This is obviously not good, and you’ll end up with a soaking wet T-shirt, that’s soaked in your sweat. – Not a good look, or a good smell either.


There’s a good reason why gym wear, football shirts and athletic wear is usually made from polyester.

It deals with water, or this case, sweat, well. The wicking properties draw sweat away, and definitely leave you feeling much more comfortable than a cotton T Shirt would.

Ultimately the choice is yours; If you’re prone to sweating you may opt for polyester, if you’re hot but it’s not causing you to sweat a great deal, you may be able to get away with a thin, light cotton tee.

Brands to consider in this one would be the sports brands; Think about Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Reebok and Puma.

Cotton vs Polyester: T Shirts

T Shirts (especially white t shirts) are the obvious choice when it comes to wearing something on your upper half, but there’s a bit of a problem when you want to keep cool.

You have a choice between a blend, or something which is either cotton or polyester.

Both are good in their own ways, and for most scenarios you’d pick cotton. But we’re talking about the phenomenon of a British Summer here, so it’s a little different.

The Best Fit For Hot Weather: Loose Or Oversized Fits In T-Shirts

There’s no doubt that the more room your body has to breathe in your clothes the better it is.

There’s nothing I like more than a good slim fitted t-shirt, but when it comes to dealing with the heat, a more generous fit is better.

Go for an oversized fit when dressing casually. It will feel a lot nicer than a tight fitting tee.

Short Sleeves Over Long Sleeves

It almost goes without saying, but you should choose short sleeves shirts and t-shirts over long sleeves.

Long sleeve t-shirts are traditionally a lot smarter, but if you’re in a situation where a button up shirt is required, a short sleeve t-shirt may do the job.

When it comes to t-shirts, there’s no doubt that a short sleeve variant is a must.

Wearing My French Connection Micro Dot Polo Shirt In Sky Blue

Swap Shirts For Polos

There’s no doubt that a shirt, especially a smart shirt is a piece of formal clothing. But if the occasion dictates you can go smart casual, a polo shirt could be a great alternative in the heat.

A short sleeve polo shirt will still leave you looking smart in the summer. While it’s not formal in the dress code sense, it still looks the part in most smart casual settings.

Wear Light Colours In A Heatwave

Continuing on from above, you should embrace light colours in all the clothes you wear.

Light colours absorb less heat from the sun, whereas darker colours absorb more heat.

If you’re thinking about wearing that brand new black fitted T-shirt in the blazing sun, you may want to think again, and swap it for a crisp white tee.

Wearing the right pieces made with the right materials is key to dressing smart in a heatwave.

Chino Shorts For Summer Style

Smart Chino Shorts

I know what you’re thinking, you don’t wear shorts in the UK, only on holiday right? No! It’s perfectly acceptable to wear chino shorts in your usual day to day life.

When it comes to work, you may want to check your dress code, but chino shorts are smart, and should be acceptable in a smart casual environment.

Sweat Shorts For Relaxing In The Heat

When relaxing chilling out or what you can wear more casual clothing, sweat shorts could be considered.

They can be a thick fabric, but since there isn’t too much fabric, will be a better choice over stuffy jeans or trousers in the heat.

The Best Trousers To Wear In Summer

So you may be asking the question, I don’t want to wear shorts, what should I wear?

Well the answer is chinos or light trousers. When I say light, I mean it in every sense of the word. Light in colour and lightweight.

When you’re thinking of colours think White, sand, light grey and beige.

If you’re feeling particularly colourful, you may want to add in some pastel colours into your wardrobe too.

White Jeans For Summer

Avoid Wearing Denim Jeans When It’s Humid

If you’re looking at wearing jeans, then you should wear light colours, and also make sure they’re super light weight.

Ripped denim will give your legs a bit of extra cooling, and of course white jeans are always a good thing, as you’ll know I love that trend for Summer.

I styled mine above with a nautical T Shirt, as well as a linen jacket.

Most of the time you should look to avoid denim jeans. A lot of jeans are a thick heavy fabric which is not breathable or good in the sun.

Lighter Footwear Over Leathers

For your footwear options, you should be considering comfort, weight, materials and of course style.

In the heat you’ll want to ensure you’ve got some light footwear on that’s breathable. Formal shoes look great, but the thick heavy leather doesn’t do your feet any good in the heat.

For casual occasions, sports trainers will work well, since they’re built to deal with sports. Lighter footwear such as canvas shoes including Converse are light options that work well in summer.

If you can get away with it, sliders or flip flops could be an options, especially for around the house.

Hats, Sunglasses & Accessories

Another must have for hot weather are fashion accessories. I am talking about hats and sunglasses.

I love to wear sunglasses in the summer, and if it’s sunny outside, they’re needed.

When it comes to a hat, you’ll want to wear one of these to protect your head if you’re out in the sun for prolonged periods of time.

You can go for a classic baseball cap, or if you’re feeling some 90’s or festival style, go for a bucket hat.

Outfit Ideas For Dressing In The Heat – Smart Casual

Uniqlo Linen Shirt, T Shirt and Chinos For Summer 2018

I really love my linen shirt, and also a white cotton tee along with some light coloured chinos.

The shirt can be worn buttoned up on it’s own, or layered with the tee, but when it’s so hot, I’d probably skip the layering.

How are you coping in the heat?

What do you prefer wearing in the uncomfortable sticky hot weather?

Let me know what you think of these ideas on what to wear in the hot weather, and if you’ve got your own tips on how you’re coping, let me know in the comments.

You can read the full guide on summer fashion this year which provides a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about style this summer.

Michael Adams

About Michael

Michael Adams is the founder and editor of Michael 84, blogger from Newcastle, UK. Sharing men's fashion tips, style advice and lifestyle information for all guys.

  1. Matt Said,

    Loving those smart chino shorts I definitely need to pick up some of those! Looks like this boiling weather is here to stay for at least another couple of weeks.

    Matt //

    posted on Friday 27th July, 2018 at 7:15