Comfort is a dirty word in fashion. Fashion is not supposed to be comfortable – we’re supposed to suffer for our “art”. Being in the business of fashion (albeit pretty far away from catwalk and couture), I rarely make fashion choices on the basis of how comfortable an item of clothing feels.
However, having just returned from a tour of the less glamorous parts of Hong Kong and China, and visiting the manufacturers who are putting together my latest designs for the season, comfort became my primary concern.
You see, unbelievable as it may sound, air-con is a rare luxury in a sweaty Chinese clothing factory. The workers and management may have grown acclimatised to the high temperatures and humidity, but EX’s Style Guru is much more accustomed to the benign weather conditions of the modern office. And so, having finished another long day in the factory, the daily ritual of peeling sodden clothes off my back and wringing out my underpants has inspired me to guide you, dear reader, into making the right fashion choices to stay cool and yet retain your rakishly effortless sense of style.
No longer just the staple of James Bond’s safari suit, linen has been adopted as a key fabric this season, and modern man can now experience the exceptional coolness and freshness that Roger Moore et al have enjoyed for years.
How you wear it is up to you – it’s as versatile as cotton, and designers have been creative in its application, so if you need to be smart for the office then Italian luxury-brand BOGLIOLI or Britain’s mistress of minimal, MARGARET HOWELL, have some great tailored jackets.
It doesn’t stop there. Linen is a great fabric for knitwear and shirts; head over to the master of the relaxed preppy look, RALPH LAUREN, for fantastic classic cable knits or to his heritage-inspired RRL label for more off-duty but equally wearable linen creations.
If your budget doesn’t stretch to designer then Frances Walker, Head Designer at UK retailer, JIGSAW, has used linen in his latest collection. However, rather than wait for items to be shipped, you can also check out PUDU, an Aussie brand now trading in Singapore.
With the heat and humidity in Singapore, selecting the right footwear is always tricky, particularly for the office or smarter occasions when a battered pair of flip-flops just won’t do.
Fear not, for the leather sandal is enjoying a revival, and as long as you make sure you don’t wear them with a pair of white towelling socks, you can banish the memory of your dad in the 70s for something much more directional.
British brand YMC has some smart, edgier sandal/shoe hybrid styles and the bigger fashion houses like HUGO BOSS, VALENTINO and DOLCE & GABANNA have revived the Roman sandal silhouette.
If the memory of your geography teacher’s Birkenstocks are still too raw, then go for a more structured woven slip-on like the ones crafted by RIVIERAS. Somewhere between a sandal and a loafer, they’re smart enough for a summer wedding or the office, but teamed with a pair of ORLEBAR BROWN shorts and a SUNSPEL polo, they’re equally at home by the pool.
Now pass me my wet wipes while you check out my shortlist of ‘in gear’ this month…