The British Summer – Don’t Leave Home Without It, by Alix Waterhouse

May 27, 2021 15.19

I have had a houseguest staying with me from California. A week ago we had rain, sun and hail all in one day. Confused, he asked me, ‘when is the summer coming?’ I shrugged. Until that point I hadn’t considered it. I’m from Yorkshire, I’ve learned not to hope for or expect sunshine.

The next morning, the clouds parted and the sun beat down, confounding my expectations. Frequently, in the British Isles, we need to cope with a variety of weather conditions. Maintaining a degree of elegance and comfort throughout the British summer requires the preparation of a few basic essentials. I don’t mean abdominal exercises or hair removal (although I wonder how many fashionable full beards will make it through what is tipped to be our hottest summer on record), but rather, practical preparations in terms of portable attire for shelter and shade.


For those of us in need of a recap or for visitors befuddled by our unpredictable climate, here are some golden rules for British summer dressing, to get us safely and stylishly through the next few months:

1. Check the forecast. Of course I recommend the BBC.


2. Still be prepared for anything.


3. Hats are a stylish way of both keeping dry and providing protection from the sun. My favourite this year is the Regimental Brisa Panama (below) from Christy’s.

Christys Hat


4. A good old-fashioned waterproof. Feel warm, dry and slightly smug in this men’s blazer from Water Off A Duck’s Back (right)

Water off a Ducks Back

or this chic Queensferry Mackintosh (below left)



5. Sunglasses. Don’t be without. Fan Optics are handcrafted in the best materials (below)



6. Scarves. Great when you feel sun exposed or the clouds creep over and it’s chilly. Also perfect for accessorising. Age of Reason create stunning prints (below right).

Age of Reason Studios


7. Umbrella. If there’s going to be a downpour, have one close by. Fox, have been keeping us dry since 1868.



8. Shoe. For a safe option go for lightweight and breathable, with a closed toe. (Avoid squelchy, slidy, wet foot experiences at all costs). I am a big fan of Barkers or Cheaney for brogues (below).


If you have space carry a pair of flip flops (if you know of a British brand please let me know) or better still some Ju Ju jelly shoes all the way from Northampton (below).

Juju Shoes


9. The ‘lobster’ is not a good look. Award winning British beauty brand Liz Earle make a fabulous Mineral Sun Cream (below right)



10. A backpack or tote.  From Ally Capellino  to carry your summer essentials  around (below right)

Ally Capellino


Failing that a Somerset Willow Hamper packed with cucumber sandwiches


and Sipsmith Summer Cup to get you through come rain or shine.