Life is to be enjoyed rather than endured and part of that enjoyment is being able to wear a seasonally specific shirt; a shirt designed with summer in mind; the resort shirt
As Shakespeare was fond of saying, ‘summer’s lease hath all too short a date.’ There are dragonflies with a longer lifespan than some summers I have experienced on our sceptred isle, ‘this other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection [hard to get away with that claim today] and the hand of war.’
Summer can be such a rushed business that if you are not obsessive about clothes you might eschew the idea of a summer wardrobe. You can see that I have given these matters thought and arrived at the conclusion that the customary concession to the fleeting appearance of warmth, viz. to open the neck and roll up the sleeves, is nowhere near good enough: it is a bit like taking the sun by lowering a window in a car door rather than driving a convertible.
Life is to be enjoyed rather than endured and part of that enjoyment is being able to wear a seasonally specific shirt; a shirt designed with summer in mind; the resort shirt. I have to thank Messrs Rowley and Butcher at Budd on Piccadilly Arcade for introducing me to the concept of the ‘Lido’ collar, which with its curved edged collar with a facing on the inner side, is intended to be worn open, but can be buttoned up in extremis should one need to wear a tie (a remote possibility these days unless you are overly interested in clothes – which I am).
It goes without saying that I have never had to fasten a Lido collar and wear a tie, but I like knowing that I can (even if it would mean carting a tie back and forth to the beach, just in case).
When it comes to ready-to-wear solutions one has to turn to southern Europe where they actually see the sun for weeks at time.
Bel, an outfitters founded in Barcelona and famous for inventing the Teba shooting cardigan/jacket crossover, has also worked similar magic on a summer linen shirt that is a hybrid of the spread Lido and a generous button-down collar but without a collar button – the effect is to give the impression that one has taken the decision to wear a warm weather shirt rather than been caught out by the sun.
There is a similar sort of thing over at Loro Piana, which has a shirt called the André. Designed for warm weather elegance with facings that positively plead with you to wear them open-necked, in common with the Bel shirt, Loro Piana’s André flouts conventional collar construction preferring to dispense with the two-piece collar comprising ‘stand’ and ‘fall’, abolishing the tyranny of the neckband.
People who live in warmer countries take these things seriously. For instance, the Madrid maker Baruc has even designed and patented a collar that is not really a collar at all and attached it to an updated, less frivolously pleated version of the Cuban guayabera: as a European interpretation of a garment from the tropics it is fascinating.
I have only worn guayaberas in Havana, where, technically speaking, they are considered a winter shirt, albeit made of linen and intended to be worn untucked.
Hitherto this has not been a problem for me as I tend to visit Cuba during February. I am dying to try out Baruc’s version on home turf, but am mildly trepidatious. Happily Lord Byron gave me a way around this difficulty, when he observed: ‘the English winter – ending in July, to recommence in August.’