The Alexander Kraft guide to elegant summer dressing

From styling your summer footwear to mastering the art of white trousers, here are the fashion aficionado’s top seasonal dressing tips…

Dressing for summer can be dreadfully difficult. Should we sacrifice style for comfort? Do we abandon tailored fits? Which fabrics should we be avoiding? It’s a stuffy, muggy minefield. And perfecting this art of elegant summer dressing? That’s a craft.

Enter the most elegant man in Monte Carlo. Alexander Kraft is the most rakish man on the Riviera; the CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty France and founder of the newly-stitched ‘Alexander Kraft Monte Carlo’ collection; a capsule of key, refined pieces to sharpen up even the loosest fitting summer wardrobes.

“Summer dressing is all about simplicity and layering,” Kraft tells Gentleman’s Journal. “The trick is to wear less — but to combine better! One of my key tips for maintaining some sartorial class, even in the hottest climates, is to employ a simple, neutral colour palette and have one elegant anchor piece paired with other, more casual pieces.” 

“Summer dressing is all about simplicity and layering…”

“For example,” he adds, “if I’m wearing a long pair of rather dressy linen trousers, I might combine them with a less formal polo shirt and espadrilles. On the other hand, if I am wearing Bermuda shorts, I would combine them with a dress shirt — arms rolled up, naturally, never ever short-sleeved — and Belgian loafers. It’s all about balance and discreet touches of elegance!”

It’s insightful, indispensable advice. So, using examples from his latest collection, Alexander Kraft has guided us through the choppy waters of summer dressing etiquette. On a trip aboard the handsome J-Class yacht below, here’s Kraft’s smooth-sailing guide to modern men’s summer style…

Loafers span every summer dress code in comfort

“I love loafers, summer or winter, both for their comfort and their understated and unfussy style. My go-to loafer is a tassel loafer — suede or dark brown burnished calf in the Italian tradition — that looks great with almost everything, from a formal suit in the city to the most informal Bermudas-and-shirt combination on the beach. 

“However, my preferred summer option is a Belgian loafer as they are lighter and add a touch of elegance to otherwise more casual outfits.”

A long-sleeved polo shirt is a versatile summer essential

“I think a long-sleeved polo with certain dressier elements is a perfect universal weapon in any man’s wardrobe: It’s extremely versatile, flattering, and can be dressed up (with a suit or a Rivera-style white trousers and jacket combination) or down (with jeans, chinos or Bermudas), making it a great choice for almost any situation. 

“They are easy to maintain, durable and extremely versatile – what’s not to love? And, if you have one in each of the universal colours of navy, grey and white, you have almost infinite possibilities to create stylish and yet comfortable outfits…”

Knitwear isn’t just for winter — just opt for lightweight woollens

“This is all about the right material and the appropriate weight. Obviously, you don’t want to wear a chunky lambswool sweater or a heavy cashmere roll-neck on the Riviera, but a light cashmere sweater can come in very handy on chilly mornings and/or evenings — and always adds a nice touch to any outfit. 

“You can wear such a light sweater over your polo shirt for a sporty look, under your jacket for a semi-casual look, or just over your shoulder when it gets too hot. And of course, they can be offered to a damsel in distress should the woman in your life feel cold…”

Don’t be afraid of white trousers

“I think many men are actually quite intrigued by the white-trousers look and would like to try it — but they’re simply afraid of getting their trousers dirty! But frankly, since we are not living in the 19th century anymore, white trousers are quite easy to maintain.

“Most cotton and linen models can be washed in the washing machine at cold temperatures, or otherwise be easily dry-cleaned. From a style standpoint, I would avoid gleaming white trousers and go for subtler, off-white and ecru shades. In my experience, once somehow has tried the look, they are very quickly converted to it!”

Statement blazers make for perfectly presentable layering

“I think the windowpane check jacket and the solid navy linen blazer are two summer essentials that are extremely versatile: The windowpane jacket works best in more informal situations, while the blazer is a safe bet when a slightly dressier look is required. The key is to keep the rest of the outfit pretty neutral to counter-balance the formalness of the jacket in summer.

“One should also plan for rapidly changing British weather by having some additional layers of clothes — such as a linen jacket or a light cashmere sweater — at hand so they can be added or removed whenever the weather gods play havoc. These can also transform an outfit and make it more, or less, dressy — whatever the situation requires.”

Find sunglasses that work for your face — and stick with them

“Personally, I just have two pair of sunglasses: Ray-Ban Aviators that look (like most aviator sunglasses) good on almost anyone, and Persol’s Steve McQueen frames that work very well for me, and are not only beautifully made — but also have a great historic connection, as the name suggests! 

“As so often in life, I think less is more: Once one has found a pair of sunglasses that works with your face, one should stick with them!”

Further Reading