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Readers, summer has arrived here in New York City and it is definitely having an effect on how I dress.

In my heart of hearts I long to dress elegantly — head to toe linen, white shoes, maybe even a vest, like a dapper 20s dandy sailing on the Ile de France (that’s an ocean liner) en route to, I don’t know, Capri or something.

But barring a large inheritance from a mysterious stranger, I will never dress that way. I’m just not up for real style at the cost of comfort. And I hate to pay for dry cleaning.

I live in a fashion capital and I certainly wouldn’t get beer cans thrown at me out of a speeding low rider if I dressed like Oscar Wilde instead of Oscar Madison (remember The Odd Couple?). But when the mercury rises, I am simply too lazy to dress up.

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During the summer, I don’t even want to think about belts or socks, let alone jackets and ties. (Fortunately I don’t work in an office.)

When it’s hot and humid — and the summers are getting hotter here as they are in many places — even a drawstring sounds too binding, forget about an interfaced waistband.

Once in a blue moon (like when I’m modeling a shirt I’ve sewn), you’ll catch me in a suit.

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But you’re much more likely to find me in pajamas. (If only I had the courage to wear a sarong…)

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Readers throughout the world, do you struggle with the seemingly mutually exclusive dictates of comfort vs. style, especially when the weather gets hot?

Which one usually wins out?

Where you live (or work), are you allowed to dress as casually as you want?

Hope you’re staying cool, everybody!

~Peter

When native New Yorker Peter Lappin bought his first sewing machine two years ago to hem a pair of thrift store jeans, little did he know he was initiating a journey that would bring him fame and fortune. While awaiting his fortune he stays busy writing “the world’s most popular men’s sewing blog,” Male Pattern Boldness, and now contributing to BurdaStyle.

“For more than twenty years I’d lived on the edge of the Garment District without even knowing what a seam ripper was. Now I rip daily!”

(Top photo: runway looks from Hermes (2 photos) and Junya Watanabe.)

38 Comments

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    Jul 15, 2011, 09.58 AMby katensew

    Summer here too ( UK) — great to wear all those cotton dresses that I made and team them with sandals and handbag — sunglasses a must — how about a hat ? I always wear a hat when gardening or mountain walking — now, I think there is a straw hat in the loft ???!!!

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    Jul 13, 2011, 05.29 AMby corinneski

    Like Nessa I live in Australia but I live in Sydney. In Adelaide they have 45 degrees Celsius in summer but it is very dry heat. In Sydney we’ve been known to have temperatures that high but ours is accompanied by high humidity.

    Summer wardrobes for me are shift dresses (either floaty or straight) made from cotton and linen. A sun hat is de rigeur together with sandals and sunscreen. I could imagine you in loose linen trousers with cotton/silk shirts a la Peter Allen.

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    Jul 11, 2011, 08.01 PMby rochelle49

    Hi, here in Colorado we get the heat without the humidity most of the time. We are in our monsoon season with daytime temps up to 4PM or so may be 85-95 degrees Fahrenheit but humidity 3-5% until the thunderstorms come in the late afternoon. The temp drops into the 60’s to 70’s many days and stays cool until morning. I work in an air conditioned facility. I freeze at work unless I layer with vests and/or sweaters. So silk and linen and cotton are the best for the Denver metro area. Take a sweater or light coat if you go into the mountains.

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    Jul 11, 2011, 10.30 AMby lclausewitz

    Oddly enough, down here in Indonesia a sarong is something people wear to get warm, mostly by wrapping themselves up in it like a cocoon. Very handy for those cold nights when it’s your turn to pull the neighbourhood watch thing. Of course, that doesn’t mean people here don’t wear sarong when it gets hot. It’s just that the hot-weather indication comes from the upper-body garment—either a sleeveless undershirt or none at all.

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    Jul 11, 2011, 10.15 AMby urbandon

    I’m sure you have a caftan pattern floating around.

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    Jul 10, 2011, 07.22 PMby ruthw

    Yes, Pete, linen is absolutely the thing for hot and humid climates, and SOOOOOO easy to sew. And really easy to wash and quick to dry! And it gets softer and more comfortable as it ages. The other fabric for heat and humidity is silk? Why are you hesitating? Linen pants and linen or silk shirts – be quick! And so many great silk prints available – imagine the shirts you can wear!

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    Jul 10, 2011, 03.28 PMby stylememary

    Great post, Peter! I say wear whatever you want, but please keep your pants on. If you live near 7th Avenue, have you seen these women who are too hot for pants? I think they think their TOPS are DRESSES, but a shirt-dress that is too short is just a shirt—and that’s a fact.

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    Jul 8, 2011, 09.43 PMby mitmit

    Move to Denmark? ;-) We’ve had a few summer days within the last month, here in Denmark, but in general, summer here has been with lot of rain and thunder so far, so I haven’t really had a chance to be summer-classy yet. When summer finally hits Denmark, I normally wear summer dresses (to make BF happy) or just shorts and a top. I guess I’m not that much of a girl, that I would put classy over comfort, when it’s hot outside. But all in all, in Denmark you can wear whatever you want to. (both good and bad, I guess!)

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    Jul 8, 2011, 04.13 PMby marlorcor

    I understand your pain; I live in Oklahoma and the temperatures are 100+ degrees every day, with humidity hovering between 70-80%. It is absolutely horrific. Sometimes, dressing up whenever the weather is so disgusting just doesn’t feel worth it, but at the same time, I’d hate to go through an entire season of the year looking sloppy. I think the answer is to just only do indoor activities for a few months! :)

    1 Reply
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      Jul 8, 2011, 09.17 PMby Peter Lappin

      Or move to Australia!

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    Jul 8, 2011, 04.00 PMby mlakin

    Yes, summer in London has not been very promising so far, so my concession to summer wear in the office is to wear one less cardigan than usual! What I find lamentable about summer dressing in the UK is that people take the appearance of a tiny bit of sun as an excuse to wear as little as possible. Going shirtless in town (men), or wearing a skirt you really shouldn’t walk up steps in (women), make me grind my teeth. It’s actually cooler to cover up and keep the sun off your skin. I see a lot of traditional dress from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in my part of London. I think a loose fitting cotton shalwar kameez (long tunic and loose trousers) is a master class in effortless summer dressing; so much better than straps and zips and underwear that pokes out. Speaking of which, my least favourite thing has to be unlined white linen trousers or shorts. People who wear them either don’t look in the mirror, or don’t care that everyone they meet that day is going to see their knickers.

    1 Reply
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      Jul 8, 2011, 09.18 PMby Peter Lappin

      (Note to self: dump white linen trousers…)

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    Jul 8, 2011, 01.12 PMby suzetewilliams

    Hi Peter, I’m sure you’d give David Beckham a run for his money wearing a sarong, you should try it. My husband did (albeit in Bali) and he looked quite cool wearing it. The summer is not as hot in some places in Europe and hot as hell in others. You look really dapper in a linen suit, you should do it more often. xx

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      Jul 8, 2011, 02.33 PMby Peter Lappin

      Thanks, Suzete! I think I’ll save the sarong for Bali… ;)

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    Jul 8, 2011, 12.49 PMby dbrewgirl

    The heat definitely wreaks havoc on fashion here in NC. either the actual temperatur or the heat index has hovered and sometimes surpassed the century mark for most of the past month. I am so loving the maxi dresses right now! Its like wearing my favorite tank top except I don’t have to look for a coordinating bottom to wear with it and its quite a few steps up on the fashion rung. Forever live the maxi dress for we southern ladies!

    1 Reply
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      Jul 8, 2011, 02.33 PMby Peter Lappin

      I don’t know if I could get away with a maxi dress… ;)

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    Jul 8, 2011, 12.14 PMby suzeb

    I’m with you, Peter. I live in NYC too but am from the Pacific Northwest cool climate of Vancouver Island. Therefore I wilt in the 90% humidity here — AND I don’t wear anything that is close-fitting for five months. I just can’t stand the heat build-up with something form-fitting (or the sweat rings). Or worse: synthetic! Never. It’s all loose cotton tunics or dresses for me in a New York summer. The heat definitely affects all my fashion choices.

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Jul 8, 2011, 02.35 PMby Peter Lappin

      NYC is humidity city!

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    Jul 8, 2011, 06.03 AMby Nessa *

    Oh my Gosh – I am sitting here wearing a scarf in front of my heater! Haha! It is winter in Australia at the moment – you are making me pine for hot, hot summer! I would love to wear a sundress right now : P

    4 Replies
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      Jul 8, 2011, 10.40 AMby Rikki Cade Battle

      lol what part of Australia are you from, hear in England its rather well indecisive for a lack of a better description. English summers are filled with rain thunder lightning and sun all in one day. I went to Sidney a few years a go during the English Summer/ Australian winter and i swear there was know difference in temperature.

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      Jul 8, 2011, 02.36 PMby Peter Lappin

      Nessa, you are living my dream. LOL

    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Jul 8, 2011, 02.36 PMby Peter Lappin

      Nessa, you are living my dream. LOL

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      Jul 8, 2011, 10.09 PMby Nessa *

      Hey Rikki,
      I am in Adelaide (South Australia), so we have the hottest summers in Australia (days up to 45degrees C (115degrees F).
      It actually isn’t even that cold here in winter, but I live for the summer!

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    Jul 8, 2011, 03.19 AMby Ivelisse Couret

    Well I’m from Puerto Rico and summer initiate very early here.But this year the heat is almost unbearable.Sewing is not easy this summer.So much to do in my house.My daughter is on college vacation and my husband vacations are postponed until August.So when my daughter begins college my husband will be on vacation so the sewing time with the heat and people around me all the time lets little time for me and for sewing.but from time to time i steal a couple of minutes to do a little work and maybe in September i will finish the top i start in the first days of June.I"ll post it when it’s finished.Family comes first!

    1 Reply
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      Jul 8, 2011, 02.37 PMby Peter Lappin

      I’ve been to PR. Gorgeous but HOT. Good luck with the top!

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