Staying fresh in a heat wave

This could turn out to be the hottest year on record. Here’s how to avoid melting.

According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2010 could go down as the hottest year on record, which raises a number of concerns — melting ice caps, agricultural disasters, health problems and, of course, sweating.

“There’s nothing worse than going for lunch and getting to your afternoon meeting with big pit stains under your arms,” says Melissa Austria, founder of Toronto-based menswear clothing store Gotstyle. “That’s all people can look at.”

If you’re a business person or, more specifically, a businessman without the option of wearing

a skirt and sandals, this may be the year to rethink your summer wardrobe. Austria says the undershirt is a good place to start. Ditch the cotton for bamboo fabric, she says. It keeps moisture away from the body instead of trapping it.

Short-sleeved dress shirts are acceptable in most workplaces, Austria says, but they should be worn tucked in, have a tailored fit, and be in basic colours such as blue or white to avoid looking like something you’d wear to a Saturday night BBQ. To make this look even more formal, buy a shirt with a nice cuff detail on the arm, or pair it with a tie for that “geek chic” look.

More adventurous men might want to experiment with showing some leg. Pair tailored cotton-wool-blend shorts that land at the knee with a light jacket. This look has been widely embraced by the financial community in Europe, says Austria, though she admits Canadians have been slower warming up to it.

Of course, if you work in a more formal environment, this outfit is not likely to fly. Jeff Farbstein, executive vice-president and men’s merchandising manager at Harry Rosen, was in New York last month, faced with the challenge of trying to look elegant at fashion shows while walking around in 35-degree heat. His uniform of choice was a cotton linen blazer and white linen pants. Farbstein says the average suit weighs 10 ounces, but for hot summer days, men should be looking to invest in something two ounces lighter.

This means switching to a lightweight wool in a high-twist weave or a linen or cotton-linen blend, which Farbstein admits creases easily. When the alternative is sweat stains, however, a few wrinkles really won’t seem so bad.

Anti-sweat arsenal

FIRST DEFENCE Kiehl’s unisex Superbly Efficient Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant Cream is unscented, is made with orange, lemon and linseed extracts, and leaves no residue. $12 for 1.7 fl . oz.

CUT IT OFF AT THE KNEES Slowly, very slowly, men’s dress shorts are popping up in the workplace. Stick with a tailored flat-front pair, like this one from New York-based label Commonwealth Utilities.

POKE HOLES IN IT The Brooklyn model from Geox is custom-designed for heat relief. Its sole features a micro-porous membrane which ‘evacuates sweat’ without letting water in. $230

BAMBOO RESCUE Bamboo T-shirts like the ‘elite’ designer V-neck from Torontobased Silverback Apparel are said to fight bacteria, prevent odour and wick away moisture. $39.99