Tropical Thunderstorm

How to dress with elegance when the temperature is sizzling.

Alan Gardener

The expression ‘the empire on which the sun never sets’ was a poetic way of saying the British Empire was so global that it was always daylight somewhere. An English crown colony since 1684, Bermuda is the oldest remaining British overseas territory. Warmed by the Gulf Stream and the Bermuda-Azores High, it enjoys a subtropical climate. But, surrounded by ocean, the humidity is oppressive in summer.

To combat the damp heat, Bermudian tea shop owner Nathanial Coxon hemmed the uniform pants of his employees in 1914. Tea lover, and frequent customer of Coxon’s, Rear Admirable Mason Berridge thought they were “a bit of old Oxford and a bit of the Khyber Pass.” With the British Army stationed in Bermuda in World War I, he decided to adopt the style for his fellow officers, and coined them “Bermuda shorts.” They quickly caught on with British officers stationed elsewhere, whilst in Bermuda – they became part of the banking uniform. Nowadays, made from lighter materials, corporate businessman still wear knee-length socks, dress shirt, tie and blazer to work with their Bermuda shorts. Bolstered by frequent appearances of JFK and Jackie Kennedy sporting iterations, they became an in-vogue garment in the 1950s. And during Bermuda’s heyday – as a glamorous hideaway for American high society in the ‘60s, and ‘70s – a normal day could include luncheon at The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in Hamilton, croquet at Duncan McMartin’s mountain-top court on Elephant Walk, finished by a dinner party given by the McMartin’s at the Ace of Clubs. Transported by elegant horse-drawn carriages, Bermuda shorts worn with polo shirts, and accessorized with loafers and knee-length socks would be the typical attire for the smart daytime engagements.

During a heatwave, there’s no better garment than a refined pair of Bermuda shorts – to stay liberated, whilst symbolizing high-end casual elegance. At the summer edition of Pitti Uomo, the mercury naturally rises within the walls of Firenze’s Fortezza da Basso. Wearing Bermuda shorts can be high-risk, but as some of the sartorially competent have shown over the years, the reward can be very high. Finished by skilled artisans, classic features are key. Without any of: side adjusters, cuffs and fishtail-back detailing, shorts can look limp. Comprising all three of the aforementioned traditional trimmings, the supremely elegant Alexander Kraft Monte Carlo Bermuda shorts provide you with a sophisticated foundation.

After seeing his friend, the 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley sporting a polo shirt, French tennis star Jean René Lacoste modernized it – to become less restrictive. Lacoste himself first wore one in 1926 at the US Open, and it caused a sensation. When polyester entered the fray in the 1960s its authentic provenance started to become tainted. Its reputation stabilized in 1972, when Ralph Lauren launched his first polo shirt, with its tagline “it gets better with age” being a welcome jeer against its polyester rivals. It may have experienced a few twists and turns, but the point is that a slim-fitting polo shirt knitted from high-end Italian cotton is the perfect partner to Bermuda shorts. You’ll find elegant versions on this platform – even the buttons are genuine and responsibly-sourced mother-of-pearl and on the left hip (where gentlemen traditionally have their initials embroidered on bespoke dress shirts), one finds the discreet-yet-chic embroidered logo of Alexander Kraft Monte Carlo.

For boardrooms in Hamilton knee-length socks should be mandatory with Bermuda shorts, but when the advection of hot air arrives in social settings in Paris, Milan, or on the Riviera – it is cordial to wear Bermuda shorts and beautifully-crafted loafers with no socks.

Sometimes, in semi-formal settings during a heatwave, it is practical to give your tailored jackets and trousers a rest. But, if you don’t have other adequate outfit options at your disposal you have to soldier on. On this platform, in the form of Bermuda shorts, polo shirts, and loafers you have ready-made alternatives for when it really starts to sizzle this summer.

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