The JFK guide to dressing for summer

With warmer months on the horizon, there’s much to be learnt from the former US President and icon of men’s style, John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy’s life achievements were numerous. He marshalled the Cuban Missile Crisis. He established the Peace Corps. He fought hard and righteously for the civil rights movement. And, as every effortlessly cool photograph of the ‘60s president proves, he embodied preppy, Ivy League style.

But, now term time has finished — and school’s out for summer — we’re looking to the former POTUS for inspiration on how to continue our collegiate style through into the warmer months. So, from his boating fashion to his relaxed, down-time uniform, here are the JFK looks you should be adopting, and the products with which to do so…

The polo neck is the perfect seaside style choice

With the temperatures soaring, there’s no better choice of T-shirt than a polo. Ideal for lounging by the coast, these style staples are perfect for bridging the gap between casual and formal. JFK always opted for colours either neutral or nautical, keeping the palette restrained and the cut loose.

Orlebar Brown’s retro 007 range offers up this beachside retro charm in buckets-and-spades, particularly with the ribbed collar and cuffs of this cotton-terry offering. Ralph Lauren’s long-sleeved polo is just missing a JFK-style ice-cream drip — and Sunspel’s cotton-piqué polo is crafted in a solid seafaring blue.

The JFK guide to dressing for summer

Orlebar Brown Dr No Polo Shirt

£165

Buy Now
The JFK guide to dressing for summer

Ralph Lauren Cotton-Piqué Polo Shirt

£85

Buy Now
The JFK guide to dressing for summer

Sunspel Cotton-Piqué Polo Shirt

£95

Buy Now

Knitwear is not just for the colder months

Take a ribbed-wool, incredibly soft, shawl-collared leaf out of the former president’s book and embrace casual knitwear this summer. True, in the sun’s full glare these woollen pieces may be too much, but if you share JFK’s love for boating, there’s nothing better to keep you warm on the waves.

And they’re inimitably stylish, too. Just look at Brunello Cucinelli’s wool-blend cardigan, with a comfortable cut, luxurious handle and smart collar — the ideal partner in style for Orlebar Brown’s tactile cotton-terry towelling polo shirt. Or, if you’re more into sweaters, try J.Crew’s mélange cotton offering; naturally breathable for summer.

The JFK guide to dressing for summer

Brunello Cucinelli Shawl-Collar Cardigan

£2050

Buy Now
The JFK guide to dressing for summer

Orlebar Brown Cotton-Terry Polo Shirt

£115

Buy Now
The JFK guide to dressing for summer

J. Crew Mélange Cotton Sweater

£90

Buy Now

Channel your inner sailor with a classic jacket and sunglasses combo

If there’s one thing JFK mastered outside of the Oval Office, it was crafting a perfect yachting outfit. From his white trousers and matching canvas sneakers to his sunglasses and presidential leather jacket, everything just works with this get up — and it’s one you should be imitating thread-for-thread.

So start off with a good leather jacket. That means shearling collar and a structured cut, such as this option from Mr P. Your sunglasses should be kept classic also; tortoiseshell Ray-Ban Wayfarers for effortless flair. And those statement socks add a pop of colour that draws the eyes and adds a touch of individuality — go to Oliver Spencer for these.

The JFK guide to dressing for summer

Mr P. Leather Aviator Jacket

£875

Buy Now
The JFK guide to dressing for summer

Ray-Ban Wayfarer Sunglasses

£120

Buy Now
The JFK guide to dressing for summer

Oliver Spencer Cable-Knit Socks

£20

Buy Now

For relaxing at home, dress down your workwear

And then there are the lazy afternoons, spent shirking responsibilities in the sun and prepping tons of meat for balmy barbecues with friends. These are the times for which you’ll be tempted to throw on flip-flops and shorts. Do not do this. Instead, turn to JFK, who perfected his off-duty look by dressing down his workwear.

Keep your Emma Willis cotton shirt, but lose the tie. Instead, maybe throw on an Ivy League crew neck jumper, like this from Luca Faloni. But always keep your shoes, socks and trousers smart — with a nice central crease down the middle of a pair such as Oliver Spencer’s seersucker trousers.

The JFK guide to dressing for summer

Emma Willis Light-Blue Cotton Shirt

£240

Buy Now
The JFK guide to dressing for summer

Luca Faloni Cashmere Crew Neck

£390

Buy Now
The JFK guide to dressing for summer

Oliver Spencer Seersucker Suit Trousers

£180

Buy Now

You’ve learnt to dress like JFK, now learn to drink like the Rat Pack…

Further Reading