It only feels like yesterday that I was putting away my ski boots for the start of Summer, and now Labor Day is only one week away, signaling the end of Summer. Labor Day: the weekend where there are several “end-of-Summer” parties, final polo matches in the Hamptons, yacht parties in Cannes, guys’ weekends at Marquee in Vegas, and, of course, at least one wedding where the bride and groom (wrongly) assume that you want to spend your final long weekend of the year with them and their family. This all begs the question, “What does a rakish bon vivant wear to these season-ending bashes that is appropriate for the occasion while still making a statement?”
A stylish summer party calls for a stylish summer suit. And that suit is a well-tailored khaki one (whether you opt for a solid khaki or a patterned one is your call). The goal is to keep the suit dressy but casual. Opt for flat-front pants with tab sides (not belt loops), which make for a cleaner look. Keep the lapels notched and thin (but not too narrow—you are not going for the Williamsburg hipster look). Pair the suit with a white linen shirt (per my earlier posts, either buy a slim fit or get the shirt tailored), and wear it with the top button undone (just make sure that you trim, not wax, the chest fur, so that you don’t look like an extra from Saturday Night Fever). Since this is the summer, go sans tie. Instead, opt for a colorful silk pocket square in purple, yellow, or orange, worn in a “flower” or “stuff” fold. Bonus points if you can pull off a small carnation in your lapel.
As for footwear, embrace the end of Summer and go sockless (if your feet sweat, sprinkle talcum powder directly into your shoe, or snag a pair of Falke invisible socks). Although brown slip-ons are fine, show some élan with a pair of off-white, blue, or red driving moccasins (Tods is the classic for this purchase). But if your event is on the beach, feel free to go barefoot. After all, it is the summer!
Finally, if your event is during the day, you need some shades. As I have stated before, do not wear your Oakleys, croakies, or southern frat-boy sunglass apparatus. Instead, pull out your tortoise shell Persols or Ray-Ban aviators with tinted lenses. Remember, your sunspecs are as much a part of your rakish outfit as the rest of it. Your clothes should make every woman look at you, turn to her date, and secretly think that he should take his cues from you. Trust me, by the end of the night, he (and she) will.
A rakish Summer look calls for an elegant Summer cocktail. Let me suggest a Blood Orange French 75.
The original French 75 was first created at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in 1915. The drink was said to pack such a kick that it felt like being shot with a French 75mm howitzer artillery gun. The drink later appeared in the original Savoy cocktail book and made its debut in America at the Stork Club, in New York. Try this summery version:
2 oz. Tanqueray Ten gin
1 small blood orange
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. simple syrup
***Muddle the blood orange in a shaker and add the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake vigorously with ice and strain into a champagne flute. Top with at least 3 ounces of champagne (add more if your glass will hold it). Garnish with a blood orange twist.
If the bar is out of blood oranges, order an Airmail:
1 1/2oz. añejo rum
3/4 oz. lime juice
1 oz. honey syrup
***Shake rum, lime juice, and honey syrup in a shaker over ice. Strain into coupe glass and fill the remainder with champagne. Garnish with mint leaf with a dash of bitters on top.
Finally, for a touch of the Old Country, instead of a Negroni, order a Famiglia Reale:
1 oz. Plymouth gin
1 oz. sweet vermouth (preferably Dolin)
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Champagne
***Add all ingredients to an Old Fashioned glass. Add ice and stir 5-6 times. Garnish with a twist of grapefruit.
Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone. But don’t fret; Fall is right around the corner with a whole slew of new cocktails to keep us warm. Stay tuned….