As we continue to bask in the glory of what is surely now destined to be The Hottest Summer on Record, we thought this month we would turn our focus to an issue that will be bothering many a well-dressed gent in these muggy times - sweat and body odour.
It may not be the kind of thing we like to talk about in polite company, but facts must be faced - when temperatures are this high, many men sweat a lot more than usual. This is even more of a risk if you go about your working day in a business suit, or if you are attending a wedding or social event dressed in your finest tailored ensemble.
Not only is sweating not conducive to looking and feeling relaxed, cool and sophisticated, it also sets off all sorts of anxieties about odour and sweat marks. So assuming that we can expect these abnormally warm conditions to persist another couple of months, what can be done about these troubling issues?
The good news is that when we sweat due to heat, the odour it leaves behind is not usually that strong. That is because your body’s primary objective is to lose water so it can be evaporated on our skin and cool us down.
When we sweat because we are stressed or excited, on the other hand, you body is trying to send out chemical signals of the kind that animals use to say ‘don’t come near me’ or, perhaps, ‘come as close as you like…’ Either way, this is the smelly stuff.
If we could guarantee we would only do the first type of temperature regulating sweating, then a liberal application of deodorant would do the job. We all know that deodorant has only a limited effect in neutralising odours over time, but for mild-smelling cool-us-down sweat, that should be fine.
The problem is, when we are hot, we also tend to get stressed. And that is where the bad odours come from. This is why people reach for the anti-perspirant, to stop the issue at source.
Bear in mind, however, that sweating is your body’s natural cooling mechanism. Covering yourself in anti-perspirant on a hot day, and then putting on a suit, could leave you feeling unbearably hot as your body fights to lose moisture. The best solution is to use anti-perspirant in the areas where most of the odorous sweat is produced (i.e. underarms and groin), but use deodorant everywhere else.
Stubborn sweat marks
Avoiding sweat marks on a hot day is more of a challenge, if we accept that covering ourselves in anti-perspirant is not the best idea. The trouble is that most fabrics recommended for a summer shirt or suit will either absorb or ‘wick’ sweat. This is a good thing in the sense that it takes moisture away from your body, leaving you feeling comfortable and dry, and helping with the body’s cooling mechanism.
But the downside is that moisture soaked into or through a material will eventually become visible.
Absorption and wicking are technically two different things. While natural fibres like cotton soak or absorb liquid into themselves, synthetics like nylon and treated cottons do the opposite and resist water absorption. Instead, through the process of capillary action, they actually force water between fibres and away to the outside. This is wicking.
While this is great on, say, a football shirt because it means the fabric doesn’t become heavy with sweat, on a dress shirt it means the outside will soon become noticeably damp. Equally, fabrics which absorb moisture will darken visibly.
Ultimately, there are two options to overcome sweat stains, neither of which is ideal on a hot day. One is to wear an undershirt made of an absorbent fabric like cotton. Cotton will hold the moisture away from the outer shirt, unlike a wicking material where the liquid will pass through and soak into the outer fabric.
The other option is to keep your jacket on and hide the evidence. Although how much you will enjoy your day is open to debate.
There is still plenty of summer left and plenty of opportunities to dazzle in fine summer garb. So whether you are looking for a shirt to impress in or a full made-to-measure suit for a late summer occasion, get in touch and book yourself in for measurements today.